Tag Archives: Pros

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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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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