Hyper-Converged

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Take Control of Your Data Centre With Hyper-Converged Infrastructure


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It’s really hard to be part of an IT department these days. Having become the very lifeblood of an organisation, the loss of a work-reliant component of any kind can cause a revolt, scenes from the Apocalypse or even mass mutiny. Whether it’s a device, the network, internet access or email, the failure of just a single one can make your organisation grind to a halt. Let’s face it, no one wants to press something in the effort of fixing an existing issue just to get inundated in phone calls by grumpy users who can’t access anything. I’m sure that there are IT managers up and down the country nodding along, absentmindedly caressing their internal scars from the first ring of the phone and getting hit by flashbacks of an incident that frankly only an IT member can understand.

Finally, some IT genius somewhere in the world wanted to minimise the complexities and frustrations for the rest of the tech community by creating a system so simple, so easy to manage and so flexible that it would make sliced bread look like a stupid innovation. This amazing creation is called hyper-converged infrastructure and IT departments the world over are bowing down to whichever person designed it. HCI promises operational efficiency, reduced costs and manageable scaling that combines all of a data centre’s necessary components (think of your storage, networking backup and everything else) into a pre-packaged unit that can be controlled and managed by a single console. Frankly, I’d say the only reason that we don’t have a national holiday devoted to this mind-blowing achievement is the fact that cloud computing blew in, screaming for attention, and took over the hype. So, I thought it would only be fair to give HCI some of the spotlight and cheerleaders, by giving it the attention it deserves and listing its many benefits so you become Team HCI too.

Buy more to reduce cost
Obviously, anything that reduces cost becomes automatically more interesting to those who make the big decisions and have the Financial Department around their little fingers. When it comes to IT, the organisations that want to invest in any new hard- or software generally pump money into the sleekest, fastest and newest toy that’s on the market. In terms of HCI, you’ll be delighted to discover that the cost of entry of this whole new system is actually lower than you’d expect. That’s because hyper-convergence uses an economic model similar to that of public cloud providers, by using low-cost commodity hardware and scaling the data centre little by little. With this ‘Lego’ building-block approach, your IT can expand as and when you need it to.

Simplify your operations
A day in the life of your IT team involves a lot of admin and everyday tasks. Add in the complexity created by so much tech, and your IT department can quickly become overwhelmed by the little bits, rather than focusing their energy on the projects that really need their attention. Since hyper-converged infrastructure systems consolidate core storage, backup, deduplication and networking, goes without saying that hardware clutter and touchpoints get drastically reduced. All workloads fall under the same umbrella which makes it easier to migrate VMs between different appliances or data centres. With all of that previously pesky everyday admin duties taken care of, the IT department can either get smaller, or redistribute their focus into something more important. Legacy data centre hardware gets folded into HCI, which means that there’s no need to have several specialists in each resource area running around the office- IT staff only need a broad knowledge to apply infrastructure resources to meet individual application needs.

Make automation work for you
Legacy infrastructure has proven to be quite a hindrance in the face of the latest waves of tech modernisation. Because they can be so varied and complex, automation has been impossible to adopt. As hyper-converged infrastructure works on the principle of a software-defined data centre, automation of routine operations can be achieved with centralised management tools implemented. Everything is included in a unified environment, taking the headache of implementing hardware from various manufacturers or product lines. Adapting automation increases efficiency of the IT team, keeping the business as a whole agile and competitive.

Data protection
Organisations are looking for the Holy Trinity when it comes to their IT infrastructure; the ability to work remotely, having the most agile and up-to-date infrastructure, and keeping everything safe. With an organisation’s network no longer confined to the four brick walls of the building, protecting data, applications and workspaces from the evil lurking beyond the perimeter has become even more important, especially in the wake of Gen-V cyber attacks such as WannaCry. Hyper-converged infrastructure is a leader in cloud efficiency and storage, incorporating snapshotting, data deduplication and other data protection features which is exactly what you want in your corner when disaster strikes and you need to recover everything. It offers higher resiliency than traditional legacy systems, with the scale-out model relying on data being spread across multiple nodes throughout a single, or between several, data centres. If one appliance or rack goes down, you won’t have to worry about performance or availability suffering.

Feel the freedom of flexibility and scalability
Another step away from the archaic confines of a legacy system, HCI allows for greater flexibility for your data centre. Since it’s based in software, it takes a ‘Lego block’ approach to scalability, with each HCI appliance a self-contained unit that includes all of the hardware resource your data centre needs. This allows increased compatibility, and a quick expansion of data centre capacity by simply adding on an extra unit or two when needed. There’s no need for complex update plans each time you need to expand, nor do you need to plan years in the future by estimating what compute resource you might need and investing in costly data centres all in one go, just for it all to be old and out of date by the time you need it.

Simplified procurement and support
Since HCI is basically a plug-and-play unit that incorporates pretty much everything you would need in your data centre, it’s quite similar to the offerings of systems integrators. By getting one point of contact for the life of the system, your IT team can cut out a lot of unnecessary faffing about between different vendors and hardware models. This makes it more cost-effective than integrated systems, especially when it comes to upgrades. When the manufacturer makes any upgrades, the units gain the benefits automatically, without having to replace hardware.

At Cetus, we have a long-standing relationships with leading HCI vendors. Have a chat with one of our experts, and experience the benefits of HCI first-hand.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cloud, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized, VMware

Transforming Your Cloud with HCI


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Over the Christmas holidays, I went on the usual trek with my mother in the beautiful Slieve Bloom Mountains in the middle of Ireland. It’s something she does every week, heading out early in the morning to slip and slide in the mud, count trees and enjoy the fresh air, coming back with nothing but new blisters and 20+ km under her belt. Every time I go home, I always end up spending half a day with her on some forlorn mountain or canal path, enjoying some quality time and a respite from the craziness of Manchester. The thing about my mother is that, regardless of being an avid trekker for over a decade now, she gets us lost, every time, without fail. I knew this, even as we planned the loop we’d walk, even when she kitted me out with all her walking gear, and even as we set out on that chilly morning. It’s daunting, going out in the wilderness with her terrible navigation skills and a couple of paper maps- how old school- just knowing that those two hours we’d planned on would end up being double. Sure enough, four and a half hours later, red-faced and exhausted, we finally got back to the car, just in time for the sunset. And that was without getting lost!

It’s the exact same thing with your cloud journey. From where you’re standing now, it looks like an impossible trek, a steep trail that leads into the whiteness of the clouds. It’s so much more complicated than plucking some whisps from the air and staking your claim. There are so many different aspects to consider, from finding the right solution designer and designing it, to actually deploying your apps/desktop/files and all of the bits in between without causing your company hundreds of thousands of pounds in downtime. And you have to be an expert in every single bit. But unlike our water-logged orientation maps, getting to your cloud destination is as easy as taking out Google Maps. Or, as we call it in the world of digital transformation; Hyper-Converged Infrastructure.

When you’re looking at digital transformation by adopting a cloud operating model, it’s important to simplify your IT infrastructure- and that’s where HCI comes in. It integrates compute, storage, networking virtualisation and management from a single plane to make it easier for you to reduce administrative tasks. It creates the foundation for your modern data centre and private cloud architecture, sort of like a map on which you add the little details; a ridge over here, a cliff over there….

But how do you know if you find the right HCI solution? People always say ‘oh you always have your head in the clouds’ like it’s a relaxing thing- it’s not. We were literally walking in the clouds for a majority of those four and a half hours and all it did was obscure the view, drown my hair and dissolve my eyebrows clean off (a very scary sight, let me tell you). But when you’re in the thick of your cloud journey, it isn’t so bad. Look for a HCI solution that combines simplicity, reliability, predictable performance and scalability to turn that misty blob into a fluffy ecosystem that feels like cotton candy and tastes like doughnuts (I can’t promise on the doughnuts).

Here at Cetus, when it comes to cloud we recommend VMware’s vSAN. It offers an exceptional storage solution and it provides a sunny, clear path to an organised, modern virtual infrastructure, so that you don’t start your cloud journey looking into a dark forest of unknowns. It doesn’t require additional software and it consolidates all of your data centre functions to reduce that pesky complexity, while abstracting compute, storage and networking resources. Combining direct-attached storage devices, vSAN forms part of a vSphere cluster that creates a distributed, shared data store. Its HCI that reduce the issues regarding complexities and incompatibilities of traditional data centres while offering a software-defined approach to control and manage your virtual data centre environment.

When my mother gets lost on the rocky face of the mountain, she has no one to rely on but herself. Or sometimes me, but I’m useless without a phone signal. Starting your cloud journey doesn’t have to be a dreaded first step into the gloom, and you don’t have to do it alone. With the Cetus team behind you, feel confident that no matter what ravine lies ahead we’ll guide you around them and straight to the cloud without fail. If you want to hear more about VMware make sure to chat to our experts, who love nothing more than cloud and HCI.

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Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

 

Blog, Cetus Solutions, Cloud, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

Hybrid Cloud Orchestration pt 2: Hyperconvergence


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And we’re back! Who’s ready for Hybrid Cloud Orchestration part two?? If you’re not in the know (hey, we have a handy Twitter that you can follow to keep up to date with all of our blog posts), I was challenged a couple of weeks back to write a blog post on the elusive topic of hybrid cloud orchestration. After some grumbling, hair-pulling and half the day chain smoking in the sunshine, I finally got into the mood*. Surprisingly, orchestration wasn’t something completely made up by one of our alabaster techies who live in the server room**. It is an actual thing, and it’s a cool one too. I got a bit too excited with it and decided that splitting it into two posts would be nicer for everyone involved. So here we go, hybrid cloud orchestration and hyperconvergence. Go grab a coffee/tea, sit back and do try to contain your excitement.

Quick flashback to part one (for those of you who didn’t do your homework- I see you); in a nutshell, hybrid cloud orchestration is the answer to complexity. Too many sheep, not enough fences is the basic idea. Cloud enablement, if you want something more technical. More organisation, less panicking. Your IT team just needs to throw single sign on, MFA, mobility management and automated hybrid cloud provisioning at it and the complexity should all go away. Kind of. I’d recommend having a chat with one of our experts before you go throw anything anywhere though.

So, what’s the story with hyperconvergence? It’s a fairly new trend, combining compute, storage and networking in a software-driven appliance. Like orchestration, its main goal is to reduce complexity, so they’re a match made in heaven, really. It also adds greater levels of automation. The thing with orchestration is that with time it can be moulded into an effective solution. Hyperconvergence is a bit more elegant, providing practical solutions for organisations who want to manage and scale their own hardware from in-house. Don’t get me wrong, hybrid cloud orchestration is amazing. I don’t know why every IT solutions organisation doesn’t employ someone to shout it from the rooftops. However, while it is fantastic, it doesn’t provide the same level of technical infrastructure as hyperconvergence.

When it comes to the private cloud bit of hybrid cloud; hyperconvergence is another way approaching hybrid cloud orchestration. It eliminates the need for local hypervisor maintenance, or thinking about the hardware compatibility by installing on metal. It allows the customer to manage their local resources just like any other cloud resource, while also abolishing the need for disordered orchestration tools that are scattered across your infrastructure. Combining orchestration and hyperconvergence reduces time-intensive deployments for your engineers, removing the issue of virtualisation compatibility between old and new hardware.

If talking cloud and hyperconvergence excites you, make sure to have a chat with out HCI-mad experts!

*Grumbling, hair pulling and chain smoking is for comedic effect, I LOVE MY JOB!
**I’m running out of techie stereotypes, sorry.

Directors-9619Missy Beaudelot – Digital Marketing Executive
With a background in journalism and an interest in all things tech, Missy keeps our social media in check while monitoring our websites and developing our digital presence.

Blog, Citrix, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, News, Our Upcoming Events, Technology, Uncategorized

Citrix Summit 2017


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This week I attended Citrix’s annual partner conference – Citrix Summit – in Anaheim, California. As a specialist Citrix Platinum partner, we attend the event each year to ensure we are primed to inform our customers about the latest updates, announcements, vision and roadmap. You can register here to hear Cetus and Citrix deliver the very latest updates from Citrix Summit. 

The event kicked off with a vision keynote which allowed the senior leadership team at Citrix, lead by president and CEO Kirill Tatarinov, to offer perspective on industry transformation and position Citrix’s vision for helping customers leverage innovation and strategic partnerships in 2017 to achieve business objectives and outcomes.

Throughout the entirety of the keynote, tech talks and the numerous breakout tracks, Citrix’s strategy was clear and consistent. To provide integrated technology services that make apps and data secure and easy to access, and as a result help organisations of all sizes achieve the speed and agility necessary to grow and succeed in a rapidly changing world.

Within the content, some key themes emerged and took predominant focus in my opinion; Citrix’s Cloud Strategy, the strategic partnership with Microsoft, and integration of solutions (in terms of user experience and administration).

Citrix’s Cloud Strategy
There is no hesitation that Citrix are rapidly moving towards a cloud-first strategy, with Citrix Cloud providing a single place to access all Citrix technologies in the cloud. It’s quickly becoming the fastest, simplest and most flexible way to deliver Citrix technology to any device over any network – therefore a very interesting and attractive update was the launch of Citrix Cloud Accelerator; a comprehensive set of transition and trade-up offers for customers who own existing XenApp or XenDesktop licenses and want to move to Citrix Cloud. Also made available is a XenApp on Azure Cost Calculator, which is a tool that Cetus can help you use to provide you with a complete set of cost estimates for deploying Citrix XenApp on Microsoft Azure. In addition, a new Citrix Ready HCI Workspace Appliance Program was launched that enables hyper-converged appliances from hardware and storage partners to connect into Citrix Cloud.

Strategic partnership with Microsoft
Over the past year, Citrix and Microsoft have built the foundations and now Citrix are stepping it up a gear to further accelerate their joint innovation.

– The integration of Citrix NetScaler Unified Gateway with Microsoft Intune
Citrix unveil the integration of NetScaler Unified Gateway with Microsoft EMS. Together, Citrix and Microsoft joined forces to deliver to our customers a solution that offers conditional access for mobile users.  Conditional access delivers an added level of security for mobile users which helps customers protect their on-premise resources

– The launch of XenApp Essentials and XenDesktop Essentials
Available in the Azure Marketplace, XenApp Essentials and XenDesktop Essentials make it easier for customers to accelerate secure app delivery and cloud-based Windows 10 VDI, empowering IT to align apps and desktop services with business needs, while delivering the superior experience, reliability and value associated with XenApp and XenDesktop.

– Collaboration between Citrix & Microsoft on Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS)
The expanded Citrix partnership with Microsoft includes powerful collaboration to significantly enhance value for Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) customers with Citrix capabilities for delivering enterprise-grade productivity combined with device and data security managed over the network. This Azure-based Citrix solution for EMS will include micro-VPN capability for secure, identity-based access to on-premises applications on EMS managed devices, providing the most comprehensive mobility solution available in the market. In addition, later this year, the solution will also include versions of Citrix market-leading productivity apps, such as Secure Mail and Secure Web that customers will be able to manage with EMS.

Wrapping up this blog for now on the note of integration. At this years Summit there was a big focus on integration of solutions, from both an end user experience and an administration perspective, echoed in a joined up product strategy. To find out more, and hear what we feel are the most pressing updates, make sure you register for our update events, taking place in various locations throughout the UK.

Register for our upcoming cloud events, where we will demonstrate how the cloud can transform your work environment.

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Blog, Cloud, Cloud Hosting, IT Solutions, Technology, Uncategorized

Rugby Union… Who is more important the Forwards or the Backs?


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Spending the afternoon with some old school pals the conversation led onto rugby (as tends to happen with the group)…with a Kiwi, an Irish man and some Englishmen in the group when the question of who the best player of all time comes up there is always heated debate. The destructive running of Jonah Lomu, the legendary game control of Brian O’Driscoll, the boot of Jonny Wilkinson – the argument goes round and round and finally the conversation leads to the unsung heroes…

The forwards that set the whole platform for enabling some of the poster boys of international rugby to succeed… Richie McCaw, Brian O’Connell and recently for England Maro Itoje all come out as those stalwarts of the pack that put the team on the front foot. Without securing the ball, making the hard yards and carrying out lots of unseen work the back line will not function. To the none expert pundit (like me) a lot of the work of the pack in rugby is in fact “invisible” yet without it the output of scoring the points would not happen and quite often these players will have the game of their careers by being “invisible!”

This week I was away at a conference where the main topic of conversation was around IT infrastructure… The debate of on premise, or cloud or hybrid infrastructure solutions was an area of keen debate and the desire to have easily manageable infrastructure solutions that can be deployed and scaled quickly without disruption, in other words, made “invisible” to the business and customers was taking front stage.

This did get me thinking of how a direct comparison can be drawn between the unseen work of the forwards in rugby to a well-managed and deployed IT infrastructure. Taking the comparison one step further, the applications that are delivering the core business function to the end user can be compared to the back line that are kicking the points and scoring the tries. It is all too easy to blame the pack in rugby for not getting the service out to the backs and this is why the Tries are not flowing freely. When applications are running quickly and as they should no thought is put into the infrastructure that they are running on, it is taken for granted, it is invisible and yet when things start to creak and groan all end users become experts and point the finger firmly at the IT team and their infrastructure.

In the modern world of IT infrastructure the customer has a great deal of choice as to what shape that platform takes: traditional on premise servers, converged infrastructure, hyper converged infrastructure, private cloud, hybrid cloud and public cloud… there is no blanket right or wrong answer it is making sure you have a full understanding of what platform / platforms you need to deliver the correct service to the end users (or try scorers) is in place to maximise their productivity and success.

When Cetus first engage with any customer they spend a great deal of time discussing and helping set up your pack…With knowledge and experience across the breadth and depth of infrastructure solutions Cetus are perfectly positioned to help you make sure the decisions you are making now are the best for your business. We can help you ensure you can continue to offer an excellent IT infrastructure to ensure your business applications are running to optimal performance to help the business deliver its key goals (or score its Tries.)

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Our agile infrastructure solutions are built on the pretence of making IT infrastructure invisible – giving you the ultimate flexibility and scale to respond rapidly to your changing business needs and demands. With the intention of lowering risk to your business and lowering your total cost of ownership – allowing your IT team to focus on important business initiatives and driving innovation throughout the business, knowing that their infrastructure solution is ready for anything.
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Take a look at our Agile Infrastructure solutions

 

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