Tag Archives: Pros

Data Center Tech ‘Graduation:’ What IT Pros Have Learned


As schools around the country hold graduation ceremonies, classic songs like Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” will be sung, played, or reminisced about by students everywhere as they reflect on fond memories and lessons learned in school. Graduation is a symbol of transition and change, a milestone that represents growth, progress, and transformation.

Just as education fosters growth in students, digital transformation drives progress in an organization and ultimately leads to innovations in the data center, but not without a few lessons learned from setbacks and failures.

In the spirit of graduation season, we asked our THWACK IT community to tell us what technology they “graduated” to in 2018. According to the SolarWinds 2018 IT Trends Report, 94% of surveyed IT professionals indicated that cloud and/or hybrid IT is the most important technology in their IT organization’s technology strategy today. But what else have organizations experimented with over the last year? Check out some of the most popular technologies that THWACK community members tell us they have implemented this past year, in their words.

(Image: Nirat.pix/Shutterstock)



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SNIA Releases Data Protection Guidance for Storage Pros


Data storage professionals may not be accustomed to dealing with data security and privacy issues like due diligence, but with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation about to take effect, many will need to learn some new concepts.

That’s what makes a new white paper from the Storage Networking Industry Association especially timely, Eric Hibbard, chair of SNIA’s Security Technical Work Group, told me in an interview. SNIA, a nonprofit focused on developing storage standards and best practices, put together a document that provides guidance on data protection, specifically as it relates to storage.

“The storage industry has for many years has been insulated from having to worry about traditional security and to a less degree, the privacy issues,” Hibbard said. “With GDPR, the definition of a data breach moved from unauthorized access to include things like unauthorized data destruction or corruption. Why is that important to storage professionals? If you make an update to a storage system that causes corruption of data, and if that’s only copy of that data, it could constitute a data breach under GDPR. That’s the kind of thing we want to make sure the storage industry and consumers are aware of.”

The GDPR, which sets mandatory requirements for businesses, becomes enforceable May 25. It applies to any business storing data of EU citizens.

The white paper builds on the ISO/IEC 27040 storage security standard, which doesn’t directly address data protection, by providing specific guidance on topics such as data classification, retention and preservation, data authenticity and integrity, monitoring and auditing, and data disposition/sanitization.

For example, the issue of data preservation, retention, and archiving is barely touched on in the standard, so the paper expands on that and explains what the potential security issues are from a storage perspective, said Hibbard, who holds several certifications, including CISSP-ISSAP, and serves roles in other industry groups such as the Cloud Security Alliance.

The paper explains the importance of due diligence and due care – concepts that storage mangers aren’t used to dealing with, Hibbard said.

“In many instances, the regulations associated with data protection of personal data or PII (privacy) do not include details on the specific security controls that must be used,” SNIA wrote in its paper. “Instead, organizations are required to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures that meet their obligations to mitigate risks based on the context of their operations. Put another way, organizations must exercise sufficient due care and due diligence to avoid running afoul of the regulations.”

Failure to take steps to understand and address data exposure risks can demonstrate lack of due care and due diligence, the paper warns, adding: “Storage systems and ecosystems are such integral parts of ICT infrastructure that these concepts frequently apply, but this situation may not be understood by storage managers and administrators who are responsible and accountable.”

One of the components of due diligence is data disposition and sanitization. “When you’re done with data, how do you make sure it actually goes away so that it doesn’t become a source of a data breach?” Hibbard said.

The SNIA paper spends some time defining data protection, noting that the term means different things depending on whether someone works in storage, privacy, or information security. SNIA defines data protection as “assurance that data is not corrupted, is accessible for authorized purposes only, and is in compliance with applicable requirements.”

The association’s Storage Security: Data Protection white paper is one of many it produces, which are freely available. Others papers cover topics such as cloud storage, Ethernet storage, hyperscaler storage, and software-defined storage.



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IT Pros Review Top Vendors


Users cite pros and cons of HPE BladeSystem, Cisco UCS B-series, and Lenovo Flex System

In many enterprise organizations, blade servers reduce an enterprise’s footprint by saving space and reducing overall power consumption. IT professionals consider a number of factors when selecting a blade server for their enterprise, including a variety of hardware integrations, easy management, and minimal energy usage.

According to product reviews by IT Central Station users, top blade server vendors in the market include HPE BladeSystem, Cisco UCS B-Series Blade Servers, and Lenovo Flex System Blade Servers.

Here is what our users have to say about working with these products, describing which features they find most valuable and offering insight on where they see room for improvement.

HPE BladeSystem

A senior network administrator at a government agency said he finds HPE BladeSystems’ remote management capabilities as one of its most valuable features:

“Having implemented this solution, it has enabled us to have remote management of equipment problems, to identify the power for reviewing the status of errors without having to be on-site, but remotely from anywhere required. It allows immediate access to the server management and immediate detection of the access logs.”

An enterprise architect at a financial services firm lauds the virtualization capabilities of the product:

“The virtual connect side of networking and the manageability through that is by far the biggest win for us. The blades come and go as racks do, but the virtualization back of it means a lot less hands on and a lot more manageability.”

 

However, the systems engineer of business technology at a transportation company noted that HPE BladeSystems can improve in terms of scalability:

“I would like to see better scalability. We have been using this solution for five years, and sometimes there are scalability issues with relatively older generations. If planned well in advance, it will make your life easier.”

Cisco UCS B-Series

Matthew M., a data center practice manager, takes a holistic point of view on what makes the Cisco UCS B-Series blade server valuable.

“The UCS environment as a whole. The hardware is easily swappable and, utilizing the boot from SAN option, you can always keep your server intact due to the service profiles. So if your blade has failures and you have a hot spare, you can transfer the service profile to a new blade and be operational in mere minutes. Huge for uptime and perfect for environments like VMware ESXi hosts, which is what I use them for primarily.”

A senior system specialist at a construction company wrote that running Cisco UCS in a Vblock infrastructure is particularly beneficial for his company:

“Running in the VCE Vblock gives us the flexibility to deploy a large virtual workload of servers. We use a mix of mainly Windows servers and a few Linux appliances. I had one blade server fail. The replacement was up and operating quickly after the blade server was swapped over.”

But Brad F., a data center systems engineer, noted areas where the Cisco UCS B-Series that could improve:

“The HTML5 interface is a much needed improvement over the old Java interface, but still needs a little work. When customers are first introduced to UCS, the setup is somewhat complex. Yet the learning curve is reasonable.”

Lenovo Flex System Blade Servers

Alejandro D., system X & P/blade/storage/ SAN hardware and software support specialist, cited Lenovo Blade Servers’ redundancy as a valuable feature:

“The features of this product that I value most are total redundancy in all its components: power, cooling, communications, fiber, administration and blades, and a data center in 8U; you can accommodate 14 servers in a BladeCenter H chassis.”

Muhammad S., a senior system administrator at a consumer goods company, provided insight into the product’s central management capabilities:

“Central management of all blade servers and performance: It helps us to access blade servers remotely even at boot time, as well, when we can access the BIOS setup remotely. Other than that, we can restart and shut down blade servers from a single console.”

However, Amirreza Y., a design and development engineer at a communications service provider, said the Lenovo falls short on the storage front:

“The storage part of this product needs to be improved. If storage is also attached to this bundle, it would be a good solution for the databases… In the new version of this product, the Flex System, the storage feature is also available with the CPU and memory.”



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10 Holiday Gifts for IT Pros


Incredibly enough, it’s that time of year again. Where did 2017 go? Well, there’s no time to waste pondering the passing of time: The 2017 holiday shopping season is here. Get ready to part with some cash to find special somethings for the special IT nerds in your life.

While it may seem like you’re getting a jump on your holiday shopping by starting before Thanksgiving, some consumers have already started, according to the National Retail Federation. A survey of more than 7,000 consumers showed that 22% started or planned to start in October and 19% were even starting in September or earlier, the NRF said.

But if you plan to avoid the mall this holiday season, you’re not alone. For the first time in polling consumers about their holiday spending plans, the NRF found that online is the top shopping destination this year, cited by 59% of those surveyed.

Even though you can shop from the comfort of your couch, online holiday shopping can still be daunting with so many choices and the pressure of finding the right gifts. If you’re having trouble thinking of something unique for the IT nerds on your shopping list, we’ve got you covered. Our collection on the following pages includes both practical and fun items, from a high-tech pillow to a Star Trek-themed mousepad. Let the shopping commence!



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Software-Defined Storage Products: IT Pros Offer Insight


Find out what users have to say about products in the emerging SDS market.

Software-defined storage promises two very attractive benefits to the enterprise: flexibility and lower cost. But how can IT pros know which software-defined storage (SDS) product will best meet the needs of their business?

Peer reviews published by real users can facilitate their decision-making with user feedback, insight, and product rankings that collectively indicate which products are in the lead.

Based on our real user reviews at IT Central Station, these products are some of the top choices for software-defined storage today.

Nutanix

A senior system engineer said, “The support we get from Nutanix is easily the best from all vendors we work with. If you open a case you directly speak to an engineer which can help quickly and efficiently. Our customers sometimes open support cases directly (not through us) and so far the feedback was great.”

However, a CTO at an IT consulting firm said while Nutanix has the ability to connect to Azure or AWS for storing backups, he would like to have the capability to spin up a backup on Azure or AWS for disaster-recovery purposes.

“Right now, you can only send a backup to either Azure or AWS. We would like to take a backup and spin it up to an actual server that could be connected to by users from the outside,” he added.

Here are more Nutanix reviews by IT Central Station users.

VMware vSAN

A senior systems administrator and storage specialist in the government sector said he finds that vSAN allows for very easy administration. “The fact that you don’t have LUNs to set up and assign is great. The ability to set up storage policies and assign them at the disk level is also a great part of this product,” he said. “You can allow for different setups for different workload requirements.”

A senior manager of IT infrastructure noted that “The vSAN Hardware Compatibility List Checker needs to improve, since currently it is a sore point for vSAN. You need to thoroughly check and re-check the HCL with multiple vendors like VMware, in the first instance, and manufacturers like Dell, IBM, HPE, etc., as the compatibility list is very narrow. I would definitely be happy if there is significant additional support for more models of servers from Dell, IBM, HPE, etc.”

Read more VMware vSAN reviews by IT Central Station members.

HPE StoreVirtual

A network engineer at a tech service firm reported that “Shelf level-redundancy is one of the big things that StoreVirtual has had before some other SAN manufacturer or SAN model brands, which is pretty nice. It can be rather expensive because you are much less efficient when you have that redundancy, but it’s definitely a benefit if you really need access to that data.

But a solutions engineer at an insurance company said the product’s user interface needs to be updated. “It’s getting kind of long in the tooth, and the user interface makes it look a lot more complex than it actually is to manage, and I think that you can mask a lot of that with a refresh of the user interface. While HPE has created a new HTML5 UI for the HyperConverged 380, it is not available to the rest of the StoreVirtual population.”

Read more HPE StoreVirtual reviews.  

Dell EMC ScaleIO

An engineer at a tech vendor that is both a customer and partner with Dell EMC likes the ScaleIO user interface. “EMC has been working with storage for a long time. Therefore, they know how to clearly present any important data, including data flow and each drive’s IOPS/bandwidth; and allow the user to easily monitor bottlenecks and problems, especially the rebuild and rebalance status of child objects. It controls them, as well as maintaining them well.”

He added that “If they could introduce a write cache feature, the product would be perfect overall.”

You can read more Dell EMC ScaleIO reviews here.



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