What is Big Data Anyway?

Most IT professionals understand the definitions of Big Data, but what they often struggle with is understanding how to monetize Big Data to deliver new insights for their organization. Ninety percent of all data was created in the past two years and continues to grow without limits. Truth be told, most IT departments focus on keeping the lights on by making sure that the hardware in their data centers stays up and running to keep the business moving. Big Data analytics are often times a “nice to have” and not a “need to have” solely based on limited internal resources, direction from the C-suite, and investment from the business. However, as IT transforms, IT becomes the business!

Staffing: Outsource vs. FTE

Projects are the lifeblood of an IT organization. Prioritizing projects are sometimes based on business drivers, like mergers & acquisitions, application development, or in some cases, refreshing legacy IT assets, all of which can be a very costly endeavor. Once these projects have been identified, companies can determine their staffing models.

Outsourcing providers generally work on one project at a time, for firms that may need assistance around business development that heavily centers on tech initiatives. These providers are also responsible for the entire project, from management to payroll, to complete customer satisfaction. Outsourcing refers to the complexities and overall support of an entire project.

As projects run over, additional costs such as overtime, insurance, and benefits do not fall on the company. So, a pro to outsourcing is that companies can focus on core business activities while the outsource works on the delivery of the project. Some cons of outsourcing can be lack of integration within your own company, which can cause additional time spent on communicating project pressure points and expectations. Additionally, project control is given over to a third-party agency which limits the customer’s ability to control the end product.

Full Time Equivalents (FTE), also known as outstaffing, are responsible for only the qualified personnel that they provide to the customer. Think of it as “renting” your IT professional. In some cases, the IT pro can be hired for as long as the business requires their services, may work onsite, and may eventually be hired by the company. Out staffing is about hiring individuals.

With outstaffing, companies have the benefit of hiring a vetted IT pro without having to pay the overhead of benefits, taxes, insurance, etc. The also have the flexibility to increase and decrease the number of specialists they hire to work on projects. Some cons to outstaffing may include communication problems between project managers and employees who work remotely, many times offshore.

So which do you choose? Both options can provide quick and actionable results for companies that either don’t have the technical knowledge to fulfill their own development initiatives, or for companies that don’t have the in-house manpower to properly execute on initiatives.

IoT: The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, or “IoT,” is constantly evolving and taking on new meanings as technology penetrates industries that generally have not relied on IT to grow. At its fundamental definition, IoT can be seen as the convergence of multiple technologies, including wireless communication, real-time analytics, machine learning, commodity sensors, and embedded systems. IoT is also the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity. These objects collect and exchange data, resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy, and economic benefit, in addition to reduced human intervention.

Wearable devices that have long been used to track human activity are now being used to track cows. IoT for cows, also know as AgriTech, is essentially internet-connected devices that assist in increasing productivity and monitoring the health of dairy cows. Just 20 years ago, dairy cows were ushered into large barns, held secure around the neck, and were manually milked, one by one, by the rancher.

Today, cows proceed into a milking station in an assembly line, where they are milked by robots, and their milk production is monitored and tested to see if any changes need to be made to their diet to ultimately increase their output. What used to take several hours with very little control over output has now transformed into minutes per cow. With internet-connected devices, we can better predict, analyze, and change the outcome for better performance.

Other “things” in IoT can often refer to heart monitoring implants, automobiles with built-in sensors, devices for environmental monitoring, or even real-time field devices that assist public safety officials with search and rescue operations.

So, as we look at the summation of hardware, software, data, and services, no industry is off limits to the pervasiveness of IoT. Leading industry experts predict that there will be over 30 billion objects connected by 2020!

Windows 10 Migration

Windows 10……it’s time to make the move! Windows dominates the personal computer world, running by some estimates, more than 90 percent of all personal computers. Windows provides graphical user interface (GUI), virtual memory management, multitasking, and support for many peripheral devices. In addition to Windows OS for personal computers, Microsoft also offers operating systems for servers and personal mobile devices.

To understand Windows 10, one must first look back at the history of Microsoft’s Operating Systems. Introduced in 1985, Microsoft Windows 1.0 was named due to the computing boxes, or “windows” that represented a fundamental aspect of the operating system. Instead of typing MS-DOS commands, windows 1.0 allowed users to point and click to access the windows.

In 1987, Microsoft released Windows 2.0, which was designed for the Intel 286 processor. Soon after, came Windows 3.0 in 1990, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, 8 and finally Windows 10 which debuted in 2015. One of the fundamental changes with each upgrade was the Intel Processor, more applications, reliability, security and enhanced end user experience.

Windows 8 was the precursor to Windows 10. Win 8 was a completely redesigned operating system that was developed from the ground up with touchscreen use in mind, as well as, near-instant-on capabilities that enable a Windows 8 PC to load and start up in a matter of seconds rather than in minutes. With the launch of Win 10, the start menu returned along with built in security features.

So, if you are looking for reasons to migrate to Windows 10 here are just a few: Speed, The Start Menu, Cortana, Universal Apps, Touch Enabled, Action Center, A Better Browser, Security, Virtual Desktops and finally the XBOX app. The key takeaway is that Windows 10 is a huge improvement over its predecessors.

How to Integrate a CMDB With IT Asset Management (ITAM)

CMBD, also known as a Configuration Management Database, acts as a data repository warehouse of sorts for IT installations. They are used to keep track of the state of assets such as products, systems, software, facilities, and people at a specific point in time. IT directors are charged with keeping track of these assets to gauge how long they’ve been in service, service levels, end-of-life dates, and latest software versions, etc.

Often, these assets are captured and tracked by a unique identifier, code, name, label, owner, or description. In some cases, there can be dozens of attributes. The challenge of CMBD is collecting the data and keeping the most recent changes accurate as they occur, especially around the maintenance of an asset. CMDBs are essentially databases that lack tools to view the data for advanced discovery.
While CMDB is essentially a database, IT Asset Management, or ITAM, is a set of business practices that support lifecycle management and drive IT decision-making. ITAM is the strategy behind the procurement of new hardware and software, extending support contracts, license versions and installed endpoints, and redeployment of IT assets for other sometimes unfunded projects as well as asset disposal. Strong ITAM programs include the end user of the system, procurement and finance and IT services groups.

Experienced IT organizations can start by labeling all IT-related assets that need to be discovered and tracked with RFID tags as part of the inventory/ownership process.

ITAM goals include control IT Asset Inventory; reduce costs of purchasing and managing assets; manage the asset lifecycle from planning to disposal; achieve compliance and create standards; and improve IT service to end users. Although ITAM and CMDB are similar in nature, they have very different goals. ITAM focuses on the financial tracking of an organization’s IT assets, while CMDB builds elements that create a network of services.

Integrating the two is critical to the long-term success of any organization, and finding a service provider who knows the process and pitfalls is key. Products like ServiceNow can assist with the discovery process and scanned data can be directly mapped to CMDB.

Turbonomic for VMware

If you want a cloud infrastructure that delivers both compute-on-demand and end users demand performance, Turbonomic is the solution. Turbonomic for VMware VRealize automation provides your organization with the tools it needs to build and manage your private and hybrid-cloud environments.
In a self-service environment, you need to ensure that new workloads don’t disrupt existing workloads, that existing workloads always perform, and that your workloads stay in compliance. With Turbonomic, your workload consumption, cost, and compliance restraints are continuously analyzed in real time. Performance is assured by automatically allocating resources as they are needed. Turbonomic decisions interface with VRealize automation workflow to provide initial placement before a VM is built and continuously throughout.

In addition to ensuring performance, efficiency, and compliance on any cloud infrastructure, Turbonomic confirms initial placement will not disrupt existing workloads. Then APIs feed those placement decisions into the vRA workflow to make sure new workloads are placed in the right cloud, data center, cluster, host, or datastore. Turbonomic will also secure sufficient capacity for future workloads. It works in harmony with existing operational policies and provides the ability to define new ones.

Turbonomic deploys as a single virtual machine in any environment. It delivers value in minutes, with no new databases to configure, no thresholds to set, and no time to learn what is normal in the environment. It also provides actionable improvements in 30 minutes or less. Turbonomic delivers key benefits for vRealize Automation customers.

F5 for Azure

For the last 20 years, F5 in the data center has provided intelligence and sophistication in the network to complement commonly deployed advanced server applications. With the modern F5 TMOS traffic management engine, data centers have achieved exceptional levels of scalability, performance, and security by taking advantage of the network, an often overlooked resource. As enterprises look to expand to the public cloud, they must make certain that the same level of network intelligence and control they achieve with F5 in the local data center can be extended into the cloud.

By extending local workloads into the Windows Azure public cloud, enterprises have started to redefine the traditional boundaries of the data center. With Azure, enterprises can take advantage of the resiliency and scale efficiencies that can only be offered by a public cloud. F5 expands on these capabilities by allowing you to secure and manage the traffic between on-site data centers and the cloud via the network.
A hybrid approach allows enterprises looking to host workloads in Windows Azure to reap the benefits of the public cloud while keeping sensitive data within the periphery of the corporate data center. With workloads hosted locally and within the Azure cloud, enterprises can manage costs, achieve the desired resiliency, and comply with data regulations. You can extend these benefits by leveraging the native traffic management and security features of the F5 BIG-IP platform.

When the Azure cloud is deployed as an extension of the corporate data center instead of a separate data center, it is most successful. Securing a seamless connectivity between the two data centers is necessary to achieve this deployment. F5 BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM), can bridge the corporate and Azure networks by creating a secure tunnel and routing between them. This will minimize costs and maximize availability and performance.
Enterprises can leverage Azure for site resiliency by using the intelligence and network management engine in BIG-IP LTM. It can support IPsec tunnels to multiple Azure clouds and manage the traffic to each virtual network, whether local or remote. BIG-IP LTM can split traffic to multiple Azure clouds based on end-to-end performance of each specific user, availability, cost, or specific workload.

If your enterprise wants to take full advantage of their cloud investment, it is important to make sure that the tunnels are optimized, secure, and fault tolerant. When you configure BIG-IP LTM as the gateway to the Azure cloud, it will secure an IPsec connection using industry-leading encryption at near wire speed. It can determine when to enable WAN acceleration features as it sends users to remote Azure clouds.
Azure is a system that enterprises can rely on to manage their critical workloads. By having F5 manage the network between the local data center and the Azure clouds, the benefits of Azure increase dramatically. You can count on the F5 solution to direct users to the local or remote resources with performance, cost, and security in mind.

Pro’s & Cons : Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is an extensive set of cloud services that IT professionals and developers use to build, deploy, and manage applications through a global network of datacenters. When it comes to your company’s infrastructure needs, you want the flexibility and choice to buy, build, or rent. All companies have a cloud strategy; some even have a cloud-first strategy. However this sometimes creates challenges related to controlling costs. Is Azure the right S3 provider for your business?

Pros

  1. Leverage your existing relationship and contracts with Microsoft to place your data in Azure. In most cases Azure is free with your Microsoft ELA, so as you look at Office 365, Sharepoint, etc, it may make sense for you to leverage your agreement to test Azure.
  2. It’s Op-Ex friendly. Many company’s financial mandates are to reduce capital expenditures on the balance sheet to help with cash flow. Azure provides companies with a consumption model that is essentially, “pay as you go.”
  3. Redundant & Resilient. Azure offers a wide area of global data centers which ensures continuous availability.

Cons

  1. Although it’s affordable to put data into Azure, it’s more expensive to take data out. Often times, there are hidden and unexpected costs related to recovering data from a cloud provider that can grow exponentially if not researched first.
  2. Single Vendor strategy. Using a single vendor can be akin to putting all your eggs in one basket, which brings unnecessary risk to your business.
  3. Credit Card Cloud Strategy. Opening an S3 or cloud account is fairly easy and the business may not have to approve this if an individual application owner is empowered to do this.
  4. Talk to your current vendors, peers in the industry, and your competitors to see what they’re doing. A multi-cloud strategy is always an option for your business needs. Whatever you decide, it’s a good idea to consult a third-party resource like Gartner for additional information.