Casting our eye over HCI – Ruairi McBride – Ep65

I’ve spoken a bit recently about the world of Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) especially as the technology continues to mature, with both improved hardware stacks and software looking to take advantage of this hardware, it is becoming an ever more compelling prospect.

ruairiHow do these developments, an HCI version 2.0 if you like, manifest themselves? Recently I saw a good example in a series of blog posts and videos from friend of the show Ruairi McBride, which demonstrated really well both the practical deployment and look and feel of a modern HCI platform.

The videos focussed on NetApp’s new offering and covered the out of the box experience, how to physically cable together your HCI building blocks and how to take your build from delivery to deployment in really easy steps. This demonstration of exactly how you build a HCI platform was interesting, not just on a practical level, but also gave me some thoughts around why and how you may want to use HCI platforms in a business context.

With that in mind, I thought a chat with Ruairi about his experience with this particular HCI platform, how it goes together, how it is practically deployed and how it meets some of the demands of modern business would make an interesting podcast.

So hear it is, Ruairi joins me as we cast our eye over HCI (stole the title from Ruairi’s BLOG post!).

We start by discussing what HCI is and why it’s simplicity of deployment is useful, we also look at the pro’s and cons of the HCI approach. Ruairi shares some thoughts on HCI’s growing popularity and why the world of smartphones may be to blame!

We look at the benefit of a single vendor approach within our infrastructure, but also discuss that although the hardware elements of compute and storage are important, the true value of HCI lies in the software.

We discuss the modern business technology landscape and how a desire for a more “cloud like” experience within our on-premises datacentres has demanded a different approach to how we deploy our technology infrastructure.

We wrap up by looking at why as a business you’d consider HCI, what problems will it solve for you and what are the use cases that are a strong HCI fit and of course, it’s important to remember that HCI isn’t the answer to every question!

To find out more about NetApp HCI visit here.

Ruairi’s initial “Casting Our Eye Over HCI” blog and video series is here.

If you have further questions for Ruairi, you can find him on twitter @mcbride_ruairi.

Until next time.

Thanks for listening.

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NetApp, The Cloud Company?

051718_1626_NetAppTheCl1.jpgLast week I was fortunate enough to be invited to NetApp’s HQ in Sunnyvale to spend 2 days with their leadership hearing about strategy, product updates and futures (under very strict NDA, so don’t ask! ) as part of the annual NetApp A-Team briefing session. This happened in a week were NetApp revealed their spring product updates which, alongside a raft of added capabilities to existing products, also included a new relationship with Google Compute Platform (GCP).

The GCP announcement now means NetApp offer services to the 3 largest hyperscale platform providers. Yes that’s right, NetApp the “traditional” On-prem storage vendor are offering an increasing amount of cloud services and what struck me while listening to their senior executives and technologists was this is not just a faint nod to cloud but is central to NetApp’s evolving strategy.

But why would a storage vendor have public cloud so central to their thinking? It’s a good question and I think the answer lies in the technology landscape many of us operate in. The use of cloud is commonplace, its flexibility and scale are driving new technology into businesses more quickly and easily than ever before.

However, this comes with its own challenges, while quick and easy is fine for deploying services and compute, the same can not be said of our data and storage repositories, not only does data continue to have significant “weight” but it also comes with additional challenges, especially when we consider compliance and security. It’s critical in a modern data platform that our data has as much flexibility as the services and compute that need to access it, while at the same time, allowing us to maintain full control and stringent security.

NetApp has identified this challenge as something upon which they can build their business strategy and you can see evidence of this within their spring technology announcements not only as they tightly integrate cloud into their “traditional” platforms, but also the continued development of cloud native services such as those in the GCP announcement, the additional capabilities in AWS and Azure, as well as Cloud Volumes and services such as SaaS backup and Cloud Sync. It is further reflected in an intelligent acquisition and partnering strategy with a focus on those who bring automation, orchestration and management to hybrid environments.

Is NetApp the on-prem traditional storage vendor no more?

In my opinion this is an emphatic no. During our visit we heard from NetApp Founder Dave Hitz, he talked about NetApp’s view of cloud and how initially they realised that it was something they needed to understand and decided to take a gamble on it and its potential. What was refreshing was that they did this without any guarantees they could make money from cloud, but just they understood how potentially important it would be.

Over the last 4 years NetApp has been reinvigorated with a solid strategy built around their data fabric and this strong cloud centric vision, which has not only seen share prices rocket, but has also seen market share and revenue grow. That growth has not been from cloud services alone, in fact the majority is from strong sales of their “traditional” on-prem platforms and they are convinced this growth has been driven by their embracing of cloud, a coherent strategy that looks to ensure your data is where you need it, when you need it, while maintaining all of the enterprise class qualities you’d expect on-prem, whether the data is in your datacentre, near the cloud or in it.

Are NetApp a cloud company?

No. Are they changing? Most certainly.

Their data fabric message honed over the last 4 years is now mature in not only strategy but in execution, with NetApp platforms, driven by ONTAP as a common transport engine, providing a capability to move data between platforms be they on-prem, near the cloud or straight into public hyperscalers, while crucially maintaining the high quality of data services and management we are used to within our enterprise across all of those repositories.

This strategy is core to NetApp and their success and it certainly resonates with businesses that I speak with as they become more data focussed than ever, driven by compliance, cost or the need to garner greater value from their data. Businesses do not want their data locked away in silo’s, nor do they want it at risk when they move it to new platforms to take advantage of new tools and services.

While NetApp are not a cloud company, during the two days It seemed clear to me that their embracing of cloud puts them in a unique position when it comes to providing data services. As businesses look to develop their modern data strategy they would be, in my opinion, remiss to not at least understand NetApp’s strategy and data fabric and the value that approach can bring, regardless of ultimately if they use NetApp technology or not.

NetApp’s changes over the last few years have been significant and their future vision is fascinating and I for one look forward to seeing their continued development and success.

For more information on the recent spring announcements, you can review the following;

The NetApp official Press Release

Blog post by Chris Maki summarising the new features in ONTAP 9.4

The following NetApp blogs provide more detail on a number of individual announcements;

New Fabric Pool Capabilities

The new AFF A800 Platform

Google Compute Platform Announcement

Latest NMVe announcements

Tech ONTAP Podcast – ONTAP 9.4 Overview

 

 

IoT more than a sensor – Mark Carlton -Ep64

Buzzwords are a constant in IT, Cloud, HCI, Analytics, GDPR are all in common parlance in technology discussions across businesses of all type. However often these words are bandied about and serious discussions are had, however not everyone is sure what some of these buzzwords mean, what the technology consists of and importantly what positive impact does it have on an organisation? if any positive impact at all!

Let me present another contender to the buzzword Olympics, IoT or “The Internet of Things” what does that mean? What is a thing? And do I want things? let alone an Internet of them! The only thing I know about IoT was that I don’tt really know much about it!

When I heard that a friend of the podcast had taken on a new role as an IoT Solutions Architect and wrote a great introduction to IoT blog post (Demystifying IoT)
It seemed like a great opportunity to get some IoT education for not only me, but also the Tech Interviews audience.

So, on this week’s show I’m joined by Mark Carlton, who is now an IoT Solutions Architect at Arrow ECS and asked him to share what he’s discovered in his time in the role, how he sees IoT as a technology and how implementing it can deliver value to a business.

We start off by trying to define what we mean by IoT and Mark shares how, like many a new IT trend, it isn’t really that new.

We also explore why IoT is more than just sensors and how in reality IoT is a platform architected from sensors, gateways and importantly analytics tools that can help us to make sense of the data we collect and turn it into something valuable.

We discuss how often IoT projects are too quick to focus on putting sensors in lots of places rather than starting with a focus on business outcomes and asking the question “What do I want to achieve with this sensor?”.

Mark shares the importance of looking at IoT projects like any IT project, with a focus on business outcomes, the Why? How? And What? Of a project and not the technology.

We then explore use cases, how are people using sensor data to discover new things about their business. Mark also explains how it’s not only this additional data from increasing amounts of IoT that is useful but how access to large amounts of historic data is allowing us to find new trends and information which is creating brand new opportunities and ways of working.

We finish up by looking at security and compliance, both crucial elements of an IoT platform design and how it’s critical they are included right at the outset because adding security retrospectively to these platforms could be almost impossible.

Finally, Mark shares some advice on where to start and some sources of information to consider.

I hope this episode has helped you better understand this emerging technology platform and how it could serve your business, I know it certainly has helped me.

For more information you can follow Mark on Twitter @mcarlton1983

His blog at justswitchitonandoff.com

Until next time thanks for listening.

Taking a GDPR Journey – Mike Resseler – Ep63

GDPR has been a constant business conversation over the last 18 months or so, it’s discussed in the press, on the news and social media, as well as a handful of episodes of this podcast. However, much of the conversation has focussed on what you should be considering and doing to take on the GDPR challenge, while very little has come from those who have already made great strides on their compliance journey.

With that in mind, a few weeks ago I read a fascinating series of blogs from software company Veeam, this series discussed the 5 principles they followed to build their compliance program. What was interesting, was this series of posts talked about the practical steps they took, not about the technology they deployed, or how their technology could help you, but a series of posts that shared their experiences and challenges they faced building their business compliance program.

As many of us are currently on our own compliance journey, I thought the opportunity to chat with someone who is already well down this path would be of real interest, so in this week’s podcast I’m joined by Mike Resseler, Mike is a Director of Product Management but is also a key member of Veeam’s global compliance team and has played a significant part in the way they have dealt with the challenges posed by GDPR.

In this week’s show Mike shares with us Veeam’s experience. We start at the beginning with the initial advice they took and research they did into what GDPR meant to them. We discuss the importance of putting together the right team to deal with business compliance and why it was important to realise the scope of the work they were about to undertake.

Mike also explains how it was important that Veeam saw GDPR as something that would have a positive impact on the business and how, although technology would play a part, this was something that would need a focus on people, workflow and procedures.

We also discussed how not everyone was enthused by the idea of business compliance and how they saw GDPR as just a European problem and how it was important that the compliance team educated all the business to the importance of compliance.

We also look at the practicalities of building a compliance program as Mike shares the 5 principles Veeam developed to help them, we look at those steps, knowing your data, managing your data, protecting the data, documentation and continual improvement. We discuss the importance of each step and the part they have played in building a global compliance program.

We wrap up looking at the future, discussing continual improvement, training and the way that Veeam are making compliance integral to everything they do across their business.

I hope you enjoy the fantastic insight that Mike provides into the way a company builds a compliance programme and tackles regulation such as GDPR.

To find out more from Mike you can find him on twitter @MikeResseler.

The original blog posts that inspired this episode can be found here https://www.veeam.com/executive-blog/our-journey-to-be-gdpr-compliant.html

Mike and his team have also produced this video in which they discuss how to accelerate your GDPR efforts https://www.veeam.com/veeamlive/accelerate-your-gdpr-efforts.html

Hope you enjoy the show and until next time, thanks for listening.