Tag Archives: Pros

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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A Primer for Enterprise IT Pros


The buzz around containers, particularly the Docker container platform, is hard to avoid. Containerization of applications promises speed and agility, capabilities that are essential in today’s fast-paced IT environment. But outside the world of DevOps, containers can still be an unfamiliar technology.

At Interop ITX, Stephen Foskett, organizer of Tech Field Day and proprietor of Gestalt IT, provided some clarity about application containerization. In a presentation entitled, “The Case For Containers,” he explained the basics about the technology and what enterprise IT shops can expect from it.

First off, container technology isn’t anything new, he said. “The reason we’re hearing about it is Docker. They’ve done a nice job of productizing it.”

He explained that containers are similar to virtual machines “except for this whole idea of user space.” A container, which uses operating system-level virtualization, has strict boundaries around a limited set of libraries and is custom-designed to run a specific application. That focus on one application is a key differentiator from virtual machines and makes containers important for enterprise IT, he said.

Docker, which launched as an open source project in 2013, “got a lot of things right,” Foskett said. For example, Docker Hub makes it easy to locate images, which become containers when users instantiate them. Docker also uses layered storage, which conserves space. At the same time, though, that easy storage can create lead to performance issues, he added.

Cattle or pets?

Since cloud technologies began altering the IT landscape, cattle vs. pets has become a common meme. “Many in DevOps will tell you they’re [containers] a cattle approach, but they’re not really cattle; they’re pets,” Foskett said.

While containers can be spun up and torn down quickly, the problem is that by default, Docker doesn’t actually destroy the container, which can lead to container sprawl. “When you exit a container, the container stays there with the data as you left it,” unless manually deleted with the rm command, Foskett said.

“If you run a container and stop it, and the image stays around, someone can easily restart the container and access what you were doing,” he said. “That’s probably not a problem on your test laptop, but you can’t do that if you’re engineering a system.”

Another sticky issue for enterprises: It can be difficult to know the origin of images in the Docker Hub. “You can’t guarantee it’s something good,” Foskett said. “Many enterprises aren’t too thrilled with this concept.”

He advised practicing good hygiene when using containers by keeping images simple and using external volume storage to reduce the risk of data exposure. “Then the container itself stays pristine; you don’t have data building up in it.”

Container benefits

One of the main reasons he’s excited, as a system administrator, about containers is that they allow users to specify the entire application environment, Foskett said. A consistent application environment means not having to worry about OS levels, patches, or incompatible applications and utilities

“This is the critical reason containers are going to be relevant in the enterprise data center,” he said.

Another container benefit is security, Foskett said. Security breaches often stem from escalation of privileges to utilities and application components, which affects an entire system. Containerized applications don’t contain unused utilities, so there’s less exposure to infection.

Foskett said containers also enable scalable application platforms using microservices. Instead of monolithic systems that are hard to scale, enterprises can have containerized applications for specific functions.

Getting started

Foskett advised attendees to start experimenting with Docker and Windows containers. “One of the coolest things about Docker is that it’s really easy to try,” he said.

A Docker Enterprise Edition is in the works, which will include certified containers and plugins. When you download a container from Docker Hub, “you know it’s really going to be what it says it is,” he said.

Docker Inc., the company that manages the Docker open source project and the ecosystem around it, has traditionally focused on developers, but has shifted to an enterprise mindset, Foskett said. “They’re addressing concerns we have.”

While real microservices won’t happen for another five to ten years, “the future really is containerized,” Foskett told attendees. “This isn’t just a fad or a trend, but an important movement in IT that has important benefits to people like you and me.”

 

 

 

 

 



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Backup and Recovery Software: IT Pros Weigh In


How can enterprise IT professionals know which data backup and recovery software to choose for their business? There are numerous products on the market for this critical data center function.

Peer reviews published by real users facilitate this software decision-making with user feedback, insight, and product rankings that collectively indicate which solutions are in the lead. With this knowledge, potential users are equipped to choose the product offering best-suited to their organizational needs.

Based on real user reviews at IT Central Station, these five products are some of the top data backup and recovery solutions on the market. The reviews from IT pros provide valuable insight into the products’ benefits and shortcomings.

Veeam Backup

Chris C., a systems engineer at a business law firm, shared this perspective: “With moving the Veeam server to a physical server and creating a proxy server on each of the hosts, we are able to leverage SAN-based backup, which is very fast. Jobs are completed overnight and never run into the business hours.”

Alberto Z., a senior IT engineer at a tech company, noted an area for improvement: “Determining the space for the WAN acceleration server sometimes is hard, especially if you have many source sites for the data. I would like to have a kind of storage space calculator that gives me an estimate for the size of the WAN accelerator server we are creating; give it a list of VMs to be backed up.”

Read more Veeam Backup reviews by IT Central Station users.

HPE Data Protector

Darren O., systems engineer at a biotech company, provided this review of HPE Data Protector: “The granularity of brick-level restore functionality is very valuable. We receive approximately 10 restore requests on a daily basis for your typical file/folder restore, with the odd Exchange mailbox restore request thrown in, just to keep me on my toes.”

A systems and data services leader at a financial services firm who goes by the handle HeadOfSy6f42 said he would like to have more capacity. “This can be done by having more deduplication and compression. If they can compress the data more and more, we will save more space,” he noted.

Read more HPE Data Protector reviews by IT Central Station users.

Asigra

Guy N., CEO at a tech services firm, cited  two primary improvements in the Asigra platform with the recent version 13.1 SP1:

  • “Virtualization: a tremendous variety of data protection solutions for virtual machines.
  • Cloud-2-Cloud: Office 365, Google, Amazon, etc. This is a full package of data protection platform!””

He also provided insight about the Asigra’s cost and licensing features:

“It is important to be perfectly knowledgeable about Asigra’s pricing model. It is somewhat more complex that other backup vendors, but it includes a huge opportunity for savings, especially with their recovery license model (RLM).”

Read more Asigra reviews by IT Central Station users. 

Altaro VM Backup

IT support engineer Vasileios P. offered this view: “Simplicity and reliability. I had some difficulties activating the product, but after the activation phase all went smooth…I could create VM backups from live machines without any issues. The restore process also was very quick.”

However, Chaim K., CEO of a tech services company, said he needs “to be able to restore emails to Exchange Live not just to a PST. This is a major drawback as I want to be able to restore individual items or mailboxes directly into my live Exchange databases so the user can see the email right away.”

Read more Altaro VM Backup reviews by IT Central Station users.

Commvault

Dan G., senior system administrator for a healthcare organization, wrote that Commvault’s “most valuable feature is the ability to backup over the dedicated Fiber Channel directly from SAN. There’s no impact to the network or users…Backups happen overnight instead of three days. Storage for backups has been reduced by 60%.”

He added that the “bare-metal restore needs some work. It’s not intuitive and seems to have been an afterthought.”

Read more Commvault reviews by IT Central Station users.



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IT Pros’ Happiness Depends Heavily on Co-Workers


Even if you’re well paid, it’s hard to be happy if you don’t get along with the people you work with. A study released today by Spiceworks bears this out. In surveying members of its professional network, the company found that good relationships with co-workers are more important than money when it comes to happiness on the job.

Sixty-one percent of 853 IT pros in the US and UK ranked co-worker relationships as the top driver for workplace happiness, according to Spiceworks’ 2017 Job Satisfaction Report. Annual pay and stress level came in second, cited by 53% of survey respondents.

Of course, that means that money still matters a great. As Spiceworks notes in its report, even though money alone can’t guarantee happiness, it definitely can help.

The survey also found that company size also plays a key role in whether an IT pro is contented at work. Sixty-six percent of IT pros working at small companies with less than 100 employees reported being happy, and 62% of those working at midsize organizations with 100 to 999 employees said they were content.

Fewer of those working for companies with more than 1,000 reported workplace satisfaction: 55%. They’re also more stressed out than IT pros working in SMBs: 39% of enterprise IT pros said they’re highly stressed compared to 30% of SMB IT pros.

A great working environment can offset poor pay, it seems. Spiceworks said its data indicates that IT pros working in SMBs are paid 8% less than their counterparts working in large companies. The study also showed that 43% of IT pros working at smaller companies believe they’re fairly paid compared to 54% at large enterprises.

Spiceworks also found that job title plays a key role in on-the-job happiness and stress levels. Seventy-percent of IT directors reported being happy in their jobs, compared to 64% of network administrators and 54% of IT managers.

At the same time, 54% of IT directors reported being highly stressed, compared to 44% of IT managers, 28% of network admins, and 21% of help desk technicians. Spiceworks interpreted the results as IT directors feeling their work is more rewarding because of their position of authority, which could offset the stress.

Other interesting findings in the study include that happy IT workers are nearly twice as likely to report living in an area they view as having a favorable job market, and about two-thirds are more likely to have co-workers they consider as tech-savvy. Other factors such as gender, marital status and full-time vs. part time work did not have measurable impact on workplace happiness, according to Spiceworks.



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9 Things IT Pros Want For 2017


The SolarWinds THWACK community lists its dreams for next year, including training and IoT security.



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