|By Archie Hendryx||
|June 27, 2014 08:00 AM EDT||
Archie Hendryx looks at the benefits and challenges of managing multiple IT components through a single support solution
Many public sector organisations are not changing their ICT legacy systems. As a result, they face increasing number of inefficiencies and challenges. These issues can nevertheless be overcome, and performance increased, by managing these legacy systems within a converged infrastructural environment. This approach can also reduce the risks associated with legacy systems, such as security, missing functionality, increased complexity and operational expenditure.
Converged infrastructure simplifies support as it packages multiple IT components from different vendors into one single, optimised computing solution. So it offers end-to-end support unlike reference architectures, which require organisations to deal with a multitude of disparate vendors to gain support. Converged infrastructure removes the need to manage multiple upgrade cycles, offers pre-tested interoperability and release management resources. It enables organisations to centralize the management of IT resources.
A converged infrastructure has pre-configured and pre-tested configurations while reference architectures follow certain guidelines. Converged infrastructures tend to have defined scalability. Reference architectures are completely flexible but they have no defined performance boundaries, making it less predictable than a converged infrastructure.
The components of a converged infrastructure include servers, data storage devices, networking equipment, software for IT infrastructure management, automation and orchestration. A converged infrastructure can be used as a platform for private, hybrid and public cloud computing services: e.g. infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS).
The journey towards operating converged infrastructure should begin by establishing a business case: both technical and commercial goals and objectives such as the ability to deploy new products and services to market much faster than a traditional IT model all so often permits. Reliability, data security and a reduction in infrastructural complexity will no doubt be at the core of your proposition. There may be a number of other factors in play, and many of these could point you towards developing a converged cloud infrastructure because it delivers efficiency, reduces complexity without reducing security.
Tips to improve performance
1. Restructure your complex and disparate IT technology-focused silos to a centralised, streamlined and service-oriented converged infrastructure team that will be able to do a lot more a lot quicker. Traditional designs are based on in house and siloed expertise that inevitably introduce risk as success depends on this expertise being shared and correlated between teams prior to building the infrastructure.
Speed to deployment and agility is a key factor with converged infrastructure where new project rollouts can be reduced from months to days. To enhance this, a model that includes a capacity on demand buffer model should be looked at. This enables the public sector to have additional inventory installed in their converged infrastructure for unplanned growth and projects, where the payment of such inventory is only made once it's consumed. This consequently reduces project delivery times drastically.
Another key factor is the support model, which should provide a single and seamless model. Instead of a dial in number that ultimately sends you to various departments for all the infrastructure components, the support model should be set up to manage and maintain the single product, namely the converged infrastructure. This will consequently reduce the mean time to resolution for the public sector considerably if and when any issues arise.
2. Prepare for simplified operations. Converged infrastructure offers the opportunity to simplify and centrally monitor your workloads and capacity management as well as application performance.
3. Look to fully virtualise your environment. Converged infrastructures can enable you to immediately consolidate and virtualise your workloads. This provides the flexibility to seamlessly move resources from one virtual machine to another and also avoid vendor lock in should you decide to move to another platform at a later date. Legacy systems can often cause headaches, but with a converged cloud infrastructure an opportunity arises to gain a highly virtualised, optimised, secure and a highly available but also stable platform that will improve performance while enhancing existing services.
4. Plan for data protection. Accidental data loss is perceived as the biggest security threat to public sector organisations so a backup and recovery solution that comes pretested and pre-integrated with your converged infrastructure should be a serious consideration.
5. Prepare to streamline your security policies. Converged Infrastructures offer the ability to enhance security controls and increase compliance while still offering the benefits associated with cloud. For example instead of complex and costly deployments of physical security infrastructure, virtualised appliances and enterprise software security suites offer the same features but with the added agility of being virtualised.
6. Implement a disaster recovery solution. Converged infrastructures offer the ability to quickly standardise the platform specifications between two sites as well as shift away from complex, convoluted and manual failover methods. With pretested and pre-integrated disaster recovery and avoidance solutions, failover and failback processes can be automated tasks that mitigate risk and reduce OPEX costs being introduced when protecting against a disaster.
7. Initiate a private cloud strategy. A converged infrastructure removes a lot of the infrastructure challenges associated with deploying a private cloud and offers a standardised and optimised platform that can allow you to focus on designing service catalogues, blueprints, chargeback, billing, approval processes etc. By implementing an integrated self-service provisioning model, the converged infrastructure enables a Private Cloud to be quickly deployed allowing workloads and resources to be provisioned and allocated in minutes.
8. Include a strategy to accommodate a software defined data centre (SDDC) approach. Converged infrastructure offerings are already incorporating solutions that enable a SDDC that consequently help free up even more administration time and resources. SDDC extends the benefits of virtualisation by incorporating orchestration, automation and management to core components enabling IT admin to become proactive and subsequently innovative.
Additionally the load sharing and balancing of resources within converged infrastructures and SDDC models allows for higher efficiency and utilisation as well as streamlined infrastructure scalability enabling the business to meet future and unplanned demands in a seamless manner.
The higher availability and testable disaster recovery solutions also allow the business to safeguard against the unnecessary costs and fines associated with unplanned downtime. Ultimately the streamlining of manual and complex processes into functions that are automated and orchestrated allows the business to focus on new initiatives and application delivery and consequently forget about the infrastructure that supports them.
9. Establish new internal architectural and compliance standards that cater for converged infrastructure. Instead of having to design, document and adhere to standards for every single component within a traditional infrastructure, converged infrastructures are a comprehensive product. This simplifies internal processes considerably as the standardisation, design, integration, security, availability, support and maintenance of converged infrastructures are already catered for by the vendor.
A converged infrastructure should incorporate a release certification matrix that validates all of the patches, maintenance and upgrades of all of the product's components throughout its lifecycle. To ensure this compliance an API that can scan, validate, present and monitor the infrastructure as a whole is a necessity. Unless a converged infrastructure includes this it ultimately remains a well-marketed collection of components that will offer little if any advantage over a traditional infrastructure.
Furthermore the converged infrastructure offering should include quality assurance that fully tests and validates all software updates for security and availability vulnerabilities consequently reducing ongoing risks. This will allow public sector organisations to extend their capabilities by integrating additional security and compliance controls to meet their objectives. The key here is that security and high availability is built in at the outset rather than added as an afterthought, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the business infrastructure.
10. Simplify process management. Change management, incident management, asset management etc. are all processes that can be significantly simplified with a converged infrastructure offering and in most cases automated. For example asset management becomes simplified in that the configuration management database input now replaces thousands of complex components with a single entity that has all of its components supported by a single vendor as a single product. Additionally monitoring, alerting, logging, maintenance, patching and upgrading procedures can all be automated with converged infrastructure, mitigating the risk associated with manual tasks.
With traditional deployments you need to keep patches and firmware up to date with multiple vendors, components and devices which requires internal IT to assess the criticality of each patch and relevance to each platform as well as validate firmware compatibility with other components. This requires costly mirrored Production Test Labs and then also having rollback mechanisms if there are any issues.
Coupled with these risks, the multiple vendors needed to support a traditional infrastructure lead to prolonged resolution times when issues occur. Logging a support call for a traditional infrastructure first needs the identification of who is responsible: this might be the storage vendor, the networking company, the hypervisor or the server manufacturer.
Archie Hendryx is Principal vArchitect at converged infrastructure supplier VCE
Original article taken from Public Technology Magazine.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Nov. 28, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,651
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 1,940
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 PM EST Reads: 2,042
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 2,047
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 27, 2014 03:00 PM EST Reads: 2,207
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 27, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 2,104
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Nov. 27, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,910
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Nov. 27, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,927
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Nov. 27, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,884
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 2,029
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 27, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 2,084
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 2,066
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 27, 2014 06:45 AM EST Reads: 2,144
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,734
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 27, 2014 04:00 AM EST Reads: 1,794
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 26, 2014 02:00 PM EST Reads: 2,071
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 2,246
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 2,002
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,354
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 2,228