NetApp HCI Meets Public Clouds to Simplify Storage and Processing

 

In order to compete in today’s business environment, companies strive to identify ways to simplify processes to create efficiencies and speed up their go-to-market time.  While there are many process and technology enhancements that can contribute, there is a fundamental way that organizations of all types and sizes can change the way they approach their IT infrastructure – that solution is hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), taken to the next level with NetApp Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure (HCI).

 

NetApp HCI is a revolutionary way to manage data and applications leveraging an on-premise cloud environment. NetApp HCI has changed the traditional model of hybrid cloud storage and made it possible for a company to have a system that combines on-premise and cloud functionality in the three major public Clouds.  It serves as the fabric that holds all of the pieces of your overall architecture together, allowing for seamless movement of data and workflows from one to the next, and back again.

 

How is NetApp HCI fundamentally different?

A NetApp HCI can scale compute and storage independently. Users now have the power to run applications and maintain efficient storage space needed for the workloads. Previous HCI architectures combined those capabilities, which consumed valuable resources both from an infrastructure perspective and a financial one. The traditional architecture was clumsy; NetApp HCI streamlines infrastructure solutions and makes application environment options simpler and more efficient.

A user can mix and match different storage nodes without making any changes at the compute layer and vice versa. This is incredibly powerful when it comes to expanding storage capacity or compute resources one node at a time. NetApp HCI was developed for large enterprises, so it can be scaled in a large corporate scenario, but it is accessible enough to be easily and efficiently deployed in smaller organizations and even the Edge. This makes NetApp HCI an agile technology that any industry can benefit from regardless of size or scope while achieving enterprise-grade levels of resources, performance, and protection.

Why utilize NetApp HCI?

Any corporation facing a new technology development or looking to expand their storage or computing capabilities can benefit from NetApp’s hybrid cloud architecture:

  • Speed … the system provides the highway for information to move more quickly through your organization. This means that your internal and external customers have the data and services they need more readily available as there is a smooth conduit in place to facilitate on-premise and cloud communication – regardless of what cloud your data and workflow reside in. NetApp HCI delivers an elastic hybrid cloud infrastructure that enables customers to start anywhere, run anywhere, and manage everywhere from Edge, to Core, to Cloud.
  • Scale-on-Demand … need more storage space but not more processing power, or vice versa? You can quickly scale your system, on your terms, to meet your specific needs. Due to the modular nature of the system and included automation, it is quick and easy to add or reallocate what you need as your requirements change ultimately reducing TCO.
  • Security … you can have the best of both worlds with a cloud-operational environment located on-premise, maintaining a hybrid cloud, while still securing your applications with built-in security features such as multi-factor authentication, data at rest encryption, and FIPS 140-2 Level 1.
  • Control … there can be layers of complexity when it comes to fully managing your IT in the cloud. You can gain the control and governance you need with a NetApp HCI solution.
  • Flexibility … NetApp HCI is multi-cloud and supports multiple hybrid-cloud solutions such as those from VMware, Google, and RedHat delivering an agile foundation for your private and hybrid cloud infrastructure.
  • Guaranteed Performance … in a traditional environment, you may find processes competing for resources at the same time, in different areas of your production workflow. The NetApp architecture allows you the visibility into these resource demands in order to allocate them for maximum speed and efficiency while guaranteeing performance for all of your applications through three-dimensional QoS capabilities.

 

How is NetApp HCI Implemented?

Discovery & Goal Setting: The discovery process begins with a meeting to determine your company’s overall objectives and the storage and compute needs that will be required to achieve those objectives. The goal of this process is to gain an understanding of the resource requirements needed in the environment. The team leverages assessment tools to gain a thorough picture of what is already running in the environment, what modifications may be in order, and what the key objectives from leadership may be. This might include striving for a reduction in complexity or cost, or a move to a new environment for example.

Easy Implementation: The time needed to implement is dependent on how large the cluster is, but in general it is a streamlined and consolidated process depending on the following factors:

  • If a customer already has VMware in the environment and the network is determined to be in appropriate working order, HCI can attach to an existing vCenter, so it can shift to the new infrastructure with VMotion.
  • The only migration required is moving the VMs to the new hardware, which is done through VMware’s typical mechanisms.
  • If there is no VMware present, the process entails more planning in order to implement.
  • After implementation, if you need more compute or storage, you may easily add either (or both if needed) through the NetApp Deployment Engine. The beauty of the system is that you can scale independently, using the new available nodes which are easy to absorb into the cluster.

Partner Collaboration: Partnerships are key in ensuring the success of NetApp implementations. NetApp Partners, such as Applied Technologies, hold the valuable experience and intimate knowledge of each customer’s needs, goals, and challenges. These insights allow for the creation of a comprehensive technology plan that can include the NetApp HCI solution working in concert with other hardware and software platforms for maximum performance and advancement towards the customer’s goals.

NetApp HCI’s innovative design combines the best methods for managing data and applications. You no longer need to pay for extra storage or compute you don’t need while still benefiting from an enterprise-grade infrastructure with guaranteed performance. The bottom line is, NetApp HCI creates more flexibility, eliminates complexity, and drives costs down while accelerating new services for faster time to market speeds.  As a preferred NetApp partner, Applied Technologies will help you understand how your company can leverage the system which is scalable, delivers the speed you need, and allows for the security and control you’re looking for.

To begin the conversation contact us at sales@appliedtech.pro or call 636.274.8000 to discuss your business requirements with one of our Account Managers or Practice Leaders.

In Today’s Business World, Collaboration is King

The definition of collaboration is “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.” This action is vital to businesses, who by and large, aim to bring the best minds together to innovate and push their key initiatives forward. But what happens when the team members charged with this are located in different offices regionally, nationally or even around the globe?

 

That’s where technology comes in. There’s a greater need today than ever before to remove the geographical divide and bring teams together in real time, no matter where they’re located.

 

Collaboration

 

Applied Technologies is your partner to make this happen. We have best-in-class technology resources and the strategic skills you need to develop a collaboration platform that will help propel your business forward. Today, we share our discussion with Matt Emrick, Solutions Architect, who has been working with clients for more than ten years on their collaboration initiatives. He has witnessed the industry evolve along with client needs and goals for communication, and offers his insight.

 

In the technology world, what is collaboration?

 

Matt: The world of collaboration is so vast, that it can be challenging for people to wrap their minds around the possibilities. Put quite simply, collaboration is a way for colleagues to connect, communicate and share information in the type of work environment that’s typical today. It’s a fact of business that we don’t all work in the same office. We’re spread across time zones, and have remote work forces in greater numbers than ever before. The business world needed a solution to bring these people together through technology, allowing them to co-create, complete tasks and reach goals.

In many cases, this can be achieved with the implementation of one application. This could be anything from instant messaging to video conferencing, or online meeting places like Webex. In other cases, collaboration is achieved with a longer-term and integrated strategy developed for how a company’s teams need and want to interact. This can involve multiple tools and end points for communication, such as your phone or video conference device, or meeting spaces where everything is combined from chat, project documents, and more. There are many tools and technologies available to help teams be more efficient and effective regardless of their physical locations.

 

Why is collaboration important in today’s business environment?

 

Matt: Collaboration allows businesses to develop and maintain a competitive advantage. Customers, supervisors, fellow team mates, vendors and everyone involved in a project want and need immediate answers and access to information. Collaboration allows you to connect and share information as quickly as possible. The longer it takes, the more opportunity your competitor has to respond to a customer request, and to mobilize a team to address a customer’s needs.

It’s also important because it’s no longer 100% feasible to physically be present for every meeting or work session related to your projects. The world moves too quickly. In the hours it takes to fly from place to place, your team could have completed many projects and provided service for many customers or stakeholders. All of this is done in a much more efficient and cost-effective manner. Your frequent flyer miles may not be quite so high, but your productivity and profitability will skyrocket.

 

How does Applied Technologies help companies with their collaboration needs?

 

Matt: First and foremost, Applied Technologies provides the technology needed to implement collaboration. We partner with Cisco, one of the leaders in collaboration technology who provide a vast suite of tools to enable connectivity from anywhere on any device. Cisco offers many end-point solutions in terms of video conferencing, chat, instant messaging and huddle spaces that allow for a very in-person feel to the conversation. We can help companies create a plan for what they’ll need to meet their objectives, and integrate the hardware and software to bring it all to life.

For some companies, it’s a relatively straightforward solution, and for others, we’re called upon to develop a long-term collaboration strategy incorporating all tools and end points into the overall vision. In these cases, the customer relies on our experience to help them understand what’s available, where the industry may be going, and help them create a plan for what infrastructure must be put in place to make the collaboration they want possible.

 

How has collaboration changed over the years?

 

Matt: When I started in this industry, much of the required infrastructure was located on-site. This represented a big investment for the company in terms of hardware purchase, installation and management. Today, much of the collaboration technology is in the cloud, so that investment isn’t necessarily required unless there is a specific reason that a company would need it on-site. We can help them determine the most effective and appropriate solution for their situation, specifying the infrastructure plan needed to implement collaboration. This remains a big piece of what we do.

The other change I’ve seen is company and employee acceptance and demand for collaboration tools. Ten years ago, pieces of the collaboration puzzle were either simply “nice-to-have” perks, or, companies were just dipping their toes in. Now that people have had time to grasp what collaboration means and what it can do for their business, they want more. They’re hungry for more ways to connect and make their businesses run more efficiently. We’re either adding new layers to our customers’ collaboration platforms to expand their capabilities, putting those operations in the cloud to reduce their hardware maintenance needs, or streamlining things into a single interface to simplify management if it is on site.

 

What is important for companies to know about collaboration?

 

Collaboration Media

 

Matt: In general, the possibilities with collaboration technologies are nearly endless. We live in a world where you don’t have to be in the same room to work together. Tools such as Webex Teams help drive communication and sharing, putting everything in one space. You can quickly find project documents, start a conversation, answer questions or update information in real time. You don’t have to pick up the phone, start a meeting, or email documents. Information is shared in one tool.

There’s also a great deal of power in your VoIP system tied to a contact center solution. VoIP allows for truly unified communications, and provides automation which allows your customers to quickly receive answers to their questions. It ties to all other forms of collaboration for a fully integrated experience.

 

What does the process of implementing collaboration look like?

 

Matt: We begin the process by assessing the customer’s infrastructure to ensure it meets the hardware needs to support their collaboration goals. We’ll identify whether they are best suited for on-premise equipment, and develop the plan for putting hardware and communication lines in place. The Applied team will look at issues surrounding the network. Is everything up to speed to ensure quality of service? Do they have the appropriate internet or WAN setup? Or, does it make sense for their particular situation to have their collaboration system be cloud-based?

Our planning process and the set of recommendations we provide enables us to make the implementation and use of the system as easy as possible for the customer. The systems we deploy are very user-friendly, and require very little training.

 

What are the ultimate cost savings of collaboration?

 

Matt: Aside from the efficiency benefits, there are many cost savings associated with collaboration. Travel expenses are greatly reduced, and video conferencing technology allows for people to feel that they’re in the same room. There is a savings on hardware costs, especially where phone systems are involved, because much of the technology relies on “soft phones.” This means you don’t have to have physical phones on desks. You can initiate calls on any device that’s connected to the system – your laptop, your cell phone, or tablet can work as a phone. Also, having these tools in the cloud reduces your hardware needs, as well as the cost associated with purchase and maintenance.

Ultimately, many companies will point to their operational efficiencies which are much harder to quantify. People are freed up to perform valuable work because they’re not spending their time traveling. Plus, they’re accessible so customers can get a hold of them more quickly. And with a contact center solution, calls can automatically be routed to the appropriate person (or another member of the team if that person is unavailable) for a seamless customer experience with enhanced satisfaction.

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Perhaps the key thing we learned from Matt is that through collaboration, virtually anything is possible. The Applied Technologies team has not only the vast catalog of technology from Cisco to draw upon, but also the experience and vision to create a solution that will meet the customer’s goals. Whether it’s an on-premise install or a cloud-based system, Matt and his team will make it easy to give you and your team the collaboration you need and help you envision where you may need to go in the future.   Please reach out to the team at sales@appliedtech.pro or 636.274.8000 with any questions you may have.