Dead Busy! and a week in tech

busy_manIt’s been a little while since I’ve managed to get a BLOG post out, it’s been a hectic time recently, keeping the elves in order as they make toys for Christmas is a tough job!

OK, so more realistically there’s been a lot of work going on with a range of customers and lots of it has been really interesting, lots of interesting developments on how we deploy hybrid infrastructure and some excellent first exposure to NetApp’s latest version of their industry leading Data OnTap operating system, but more on that in a more detailed BLOG post Soon.

So while all this working has been going on, the tech world has been very busy, with all kinds of announcements and new technology releases going on, I thought it would be apt to maybe try to round up a few of the latest releases that have caught my eye, because I know for many of you, that you often don’t get the chance to scour the industry to often, as you have plenty on your plate, well hopefully this little round up, which if people like it i’ll try to make a weekly feature…can help…

Now i’m going to be picking out things that have caught my attention and putting a bit of a view how I see them affecting the world and I’m not pretending i’m going to catch everything, but hope you find interesting some of the things doing the tech rounds at the minute…

NetApping everywhere

Anyone who’s followed any of my social media stuff will know i’m a big fan of NetApp and their technology… what I’ve really enjoyed about working with these guys over the last 8 years or so, is that I’ve always been impressed by their view of the world and how they look to innovate their storage platforms to meet the ever changing needs… now there has been over the last couple of years a suggestion the chaps from Sunnyvale have not been innovating so much…but heck have they stepped up to the innovation plate over the last couple of months.

Some of this stuff needs a post of it’s own as some of it is really important for anyone who is looking at how they take advantage of cloud infrastructure.

What can a storage vendor be doing that’s so important to using cloud platforms… Richi Jennings at NetApp wrote an interesting post a little while a go that talks about the importance of realising its not businesses that move to the cloud, it’s data and of course it is… (read Rich’s article here)

So if you are going to embrace cloud services in your business then it’s important that the technology industry fully supports that, NetApp have definitely done that and ensured cloud and hybrid cloud is a big part of what they are about (don’t worry if you don’t use NetApp – other storage technologies are available) and they’ve been belting out the tech to support this…

  • Cloud OnTap – a couple of weeks ago NetApp announced the release of cloud OnTap as a service on Amazon AWS – yep you can drop onto the Amazon store and in minutes have yourself a NetApp storage infrastructure available in the cloud. Now in reality right now, the use of Cloud OnTap is probably most likely to pay off in your dev and test environments, but the fact that you can present storage, that seamlessly integrates with your on premise NetApp deployment and then NetApp’s cloud manager software allows you to manage all of your NetApp based storage via one single platform that’s pretty impressive. I’d also say it’s imperative that if you are going to integrate cloud storage into your environment, its got to be easy…if you tie this kind of technology in with things like express route (for Azure) and direct connect (for Amazon) which gives dedicated bandwidth into public hyperscalar platforms then the reality of moving business data short term or long term into public cloud storage platforms becomes realistic and achievable.
  • SteelStore Acquisition – So a few weeks back NetApp also announced the purchase of SteelStore from Riverbed. Although this is not particularly unique, but it does expand out the NetApp cloud integration portfolio, for those who don’t know, Steelstore is an on-premise appliance that provides a gateway to back end cloud based object stores, then the on-premise appliance interfaces with your enterprise backup solution to provide easily accessible cloud storage in which you can house your backup and archive data– why would you do this? cost and simplicity really – the idea of an unlimited storage pool available for your backups and archive, at around 3p per Gb is a pretty cheap way of backing up and archiving your data.

The last bit of NetApp news was the announcement this week of NetApp adding  support to the growing Vmware EVO rail ecosystem. what’s EVO Rail? EVO rail is Vmware’s own hyper converged platform, built on Vsphere it is an appliance built by Vmware partners to deliver an out of the box virtual platform, according to the blurb, it provides a virtual platform ready for use within 15 minutes. NetApp have announced that they plan to realease a version of this, built on Clustered OnTap giving NetApp enterprise storage above and beyond the EVO Rail storage capability built on VSAN, so if you want easy hyper converged deployment with enterprise class storage then this could be the beast for you…look out for this in the New Year.

Anyway enough NetApp – what else has been going on in the tech world?

IBM and Docker


One of the things I’m casting an interested eye over is the use of application containers as a way of delivering applications, a container gives you a self contained run time environment within which you place your application  and then this container is portable between platforms.

Docker until recently has been the only real game in town and this has been underlined by a couple of huge announcements that takes this from the Linux dev world to the wider market place.

Firstly Microsoft now support Docker containers in Azure and in the not too distant future they will be supporting Docker containers in the next version of Windows Server, then hot on the heels of this was the announcement that IBM are going to be supporting Docker in their cloud platforms as well (Have a read of the press release).

What does all this mean?

Well potentially…and I stress the word, potentially, this could shake up how we see platforms and infrastructures of the future built.

The main way today that we share our hardware platforms so we can deliver logically separate applications is via virtualisation. We pop a hypervisor on a box then install multiple copies of operating systems inside virtual machines. This of course means that we have to manage and maintain all of these OS’s and applications.

Well let’s take a look at how containerisation could completely revolutionise this. If to logically separate our apps, rather than installing lots of OS’s we could just install one OS and then logically separate our applications into containers, so that’s one operating system we need to maintain and patch etc, while keeping our applications in there logically separate containers, that’s a huge overhead reduction.

It also is potentially a useful step in the software defined future for our datacentres. If we have our apps in completely portable containers, then the ability to move between on premise, hybrid cloud, public cloud etc…becomes really easy…

A tech to keep an eye on…

Azure RemoteApp

Last up in the news round up is the release of RemoteApp on Azure. For any of you out there who have ever built a remote desktop infrastructure (terminal server for you old school folk!) you’ll realise to do this on any scale take a bit of effort and potentially quite a bit of compute to make it work.

Well RemoteApp as a service takes care of that, you spin up your RemoteApp Azure platform, drop your apps into it and heah presto there it is up and running.

I just think that’s a great use of a cloud service. To give you an idea of how much of a simplification that is, I’m currently rolling out a 400 user RemoteApp deployment for a customer, where we have gone through a test environment, some proof of concept and now we have designed the full on infrastructure which is based on 8 servers and quite a bit of compute resource, as well as 3 weeks of PS to get it built.

RemoteApp, is spin up the server, get the App installed on it…test it… if that works…click purchase and away we go (so OK a bit more work…but not much more) and we have a build.

Delivered quickly, scales at will, massively reduces the PS needed to deploy and will be updated etc. in the background.

Of course doesn’t work for everyone and for a couple of reasons actually doesn’t work for this client, however as a powerful example of Software as a service, when the environment is right, I actually think a really good one.

Anyway…that’s a quick round up of some of the stuff that’s been catching my attention in the last few weeks… it’s actually taken me a week to write this, with workload etc…so I’ve already got a bunch of other topics to update you with…hopefully I’ll get those out before Christmas.

Hope you enjoyed the post…

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