Tech Tips

How to simplify your private cloud

Private cloud
Private clouds are not the right solution for every business. Whether due to security concerns, legacy applications that don’t integrate, lack of cost benefits or other concerns, on-premises solutions may be a more appropriate approach – but that doesn’t mean such organizations have to miss out on the cloud’s benefits.

The key to gaining these benefits is to deploy an on-premises virtualization solution for both servers and desktops. As the market diversifies and services proliferate, selecting the right technology platforms to support environments across virtualization environments is a time-consuming task. That’s why many organizations are building private cloud environments to host applications and desktops using Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

Some of the key considerations when choosing a vendor are:

  • ability to manage the storage directly from the OS
  • thin provisioning and compression capabilities
  • backup speed and efficiency
  • deduplication efficiency (to reduce backup capacity requirements and improve backup speeds).

 

Whether you are looking for a domain controller, an email server, a SQL platform, a SharePoint farm or a VDI platform, these tools need to be able to be deployed quickly using plugins and APIs to streamline operations. The systems must scale efficiently and deliver when required, so you should look for a modular solution that makes it easy to scale up or down.

Ultimately, the real test of your private cloud is how well end users respond to it. If the centralized apps and desktops you’re deploying allow them to perform all their job tasks, and move seamlessly from device to device, then you’ll have gone a long way towards meeting a key business objective.

When you embark on selecting technology for your private cloud, keep in mind two critical factors:

Cost

Private cloud solutions can become expensive if they’re not engineered with flexibility and scalability in mind, so it’s vital to find a partner who’ll support your business as it changes and grows. There are also some basic hardware factors to keep in mind.

For example, CPU performance is outstripping memory performance, making memory bottlenecks a common problem. In response, many businesses are deploying four-socket servers or multiple two-socket servers to address this problem. It’s an effective solution technically but it’s also more expensive in terms of server, power and licensing costs.

Some vendors offer innovative solutions to this problem. For example, Cisco addresses this with technology such as UCS Extended Memory Technology which expands the capability of a two-socket server to support up to 48 DIMM slots or 384 GB of memory, using standard memory DIMMs and operating systems and hypervisors. This way, memory-intensive VDI environments can run two-socket x86 servers, with lower capital expenditures (CapEx) as well as lower operating expenses (OpEx) over time.

Support

Local hardware support is essential in case of device failures. On a more strategic level, you want a vendor that can provide trained specialists who can speed up deployment when you’re making changes and assist with troubleshooting when you need to solve problems. Your IT department may not be big enough to include expert support for the platform, so ensuring you’ll have access to the expertise you need is essential.

In summary, if you are looking for a private cloud server virtualization environment then you will do well to select a solution that is simple, efficient, flexible, well supported and powerful. Please let us know how we can help.

 

5-step data recovery plan for your business

recovery plan

While big data continues to revolutionize the business world, businesses are collecting and storing more personal data than ever before. This comes with the responsibility to protect that data in the event of a network malfunction or security breach and requires the capability to recover lost data in such a circumstance.

It’s imperative that businesses have a data recovery plan that defines how data will be managed and protected, and how it will be recovered in the event of an IT disaster. This is especially important as local and global privacy regulations – like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation – impose additional responsibilities (and penalties) on organizations that handle personal data (like educational records).

Step 1: Identify and classify data

You must first understand what data the business holds and where it is stored. Then you can classify it into categories that are ranked in order of importance. You need to understand which data is critical to the operation of the business, and which data is most sensitive to outside eyes.

Step 2: Audit your backup process

How is the business currently backing up its data? You should have formal data backup procedures that set out whether your data is backed up to a cloud storage service or to an external server. Data backups should be carried out frequently and follow a regular schedule.

Step 3: Assess the risks

To properly protect your data, you must identify and understand the key threats to it. This could include software or hardware malfunctions, physical damage to your data servers, misuse by unauthorized users, and malicious viruses and malware. You should also consider how a network or power outage may affect your stored data.

Step 4: Reach out to your technology vendors

Your technology vendors can often help with your data recovery plan. Cloud-based administration software and data backup and storage services, for example, will often have built-in data security, protection and backup features in place. Speak to your vendors to clarify how they manage your data, and whether they can assist in protecting it against the risks you’ve identified.

Step 5: Implement recovery strategies

In the event of a major malfunction, network outage or cyber attack, taking fast, decisive action is the key to minimizing data loss and maximizing your data recovery efforts. For every threat you’ve set out, create a series of steps that need to be followed to neutralize the event and recover the lost data. This document should be shared with all relevant employees of the business to ensure all parties understand their role when disaster strikes.

In the digital age, all organizations are fueled by data. That data helps businesses deliver the best possible outcomes, but it also comes with the responsibility to protect sensitive information from misuse. A strong data recovery plan is the most effective way to achieve this and ensure your collected data is restricted to its intended use.

Laptops are not the enemy

laptop

Laptop computers are an increasingly popular workstation choice, especially as more and more workers and employers are taking advantage of the benefits offered by allowing staff to work from home. Thus, their portability becomes a great strength – but it can also be a weakness. But are they really the best choice for your PC fleet? Let’s consider.

Laptops: cost-effective

Most laptops spend most of their time functioning as a desk-based all-in-one system, so why not just buy workstations and monitors? Simple: fleet management.

Simply put, the fewer models in your fleet, the cheaper it is to procure and maintain (just ask a transport company). Most organizations will have different PC use cases in different teams and departments, but if you can minimize the number of different models you’re providing, you can lower the training cost for IT staff and employees. And if you have team members with a legitimate need for a portable system, then it often makes good financial sense to move toward a laptop-for-all strategy, to simplify operations and gain the benefits of bulk purchasing.

Laptops: upgradeable

Laptops have a reputation for being hard to upgrade, and it’s true that some models are almost impossible to reconfigure as they use glue to hold internal components in place. But these are mostly consumer models – if you’re looking at business models, you’ll find that there are plenty of models that can be upgraded. This includes CPU, memory, video cards, storage and more. In fact, most business laptops are just as expandable as their desktop brethren.

It’s also worth considering that USB 3.0 and USB Type-C mean that there are few practical performance limitations on office systems, and they provide options for device upgrade and redeployment for devices or components that can’t be internally upgraded.

Laptops: secure

When it comes to physical security, we’ve all heard stories about laptops being left behind in planes, trains and automobiles. Then again, laptops can easily be locked away in secure office storage much more easily than desktops. If that’s not practical, there are many docking solutions that provide enhanced I/O options and the ability to physically lock a laptop computer to a desk. In either case, laptops don’t – or at least, needn’t –present an increased security risk over desktops for either physical assets or data.

Lower cost of ownership, easier maintenance, and improved functionality present a combination of benefits that should (at the very least) put laptop computers on your list of systems to consider when it’s time to refresh the fleet in your office. Your managers, and their work-from-home staff, will thank you, as will your CFO and support teams.