Drones, Phones, and Clouds, oh My!

February 26th, 2015 No comments

Drones, Phones, and Clouds, oh My!

 

Last week Alliance announced that we are expanding our partnership with Canonical to bring Ubuntu OpenStack and training to telco, MSO, and enterprise customers.  The Alliance team is very excited to be working with the team behind the clouds most popular operating system.

 

Global markets and innovation is moving much faster than IT can refresh legacy infrastructure.  This rapid innovation is resulting in IT architects and engineers being asked to design systems today that can support unknown requirements and work-flows over multi-year time spans.  To top it off, data creation is accelerating and IoT is just getting started.  It is more important than ever for organizations to build flexible and agile infrastructure solutions that can be easily managed, provisioned, and re-purposed to meet the challenges of this new era.

 

The Canonical and Ubuntu community has done an exceptional job of developing an operating ecosystem that is incredibly versatile, laying the foundation for hyper-scale public clouds as well as emerging IoT devices and mobile phones.  Our expanded partnership with Canonical allows Alliance to deliver solutions that leverage this incredibly solid foundation, and extend those solutions across the entire ecosystem with a common user experience, in a flexible, scalable, and secure way. Ubuntu provides a powerful, flexible framework that is powering innovation from the smart home and mobile markets, to hyper scale clouds in a secure, smart and standardized way.

 

Providing managed cloud services at the core of our cloud solutions will allow many of our clients to focus on higher value activities while consuming private on-premise cloud as a service. For others, it will be a short term proposition, allowing internal IT resources to become comfortable with the new role of cloud operator before taking control.  This offering will make OpenStack much more widely accessible, providing an innovation platform that is fully managed at a starting price point that is significantly less than hiring a single OpenStack engineer.

 

Alliance has developed several optional standardized and fully optimized cloud hardware configurations that can be easily deployed.  These solutions leverage best-in-class components and technologies to provide a solid initial cloud footprint as a single SKU for those wanting a highly prescriptive cloud from soup to nuts.  This approach allows us to deploy a solid foundation, on which all integration points have been fully tested, providing a smooth and successful initial deployment.  We feel that it is important to remove as much friction as possible from internal OpenStack initiatives, and that business units begin seeing value sooner rather than later.  As organizations grow, they are free to add alternative compute, storage, or network components as requirements change, or as they become comfortable with cloud operations.

 

The technology world is rapidly evolving, and we are truly excited about how IoT, big data, analytics, mobility, and cloud are shaping the global market landscape.  We will continue to innovate and strive to partner, design, and engineer solutions that help our clients not only navigate this shift, but to leverage it to improve customer experience, reach new markets and solve new problems.

 

“Technology Made Easy” is our motto, and this partnership and our approach is really about continuing to deliver on that promise.

 

Chris Williams

VP – OpenStack Division

Alliance Technology Group

 

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Choosing a Data Storage Partner: Discover the Truth Behind the Promises

April 11th, 2013 No comments

We’ve written previously about how to manage your Big Data without just adding more hardware. We explored the possibility of storing unstructured data in the cloud. And we’ve provided you with several tips on selecting your next data storage platform.data_storage_partner

But by this time you may be wondering: “ Wouldn’t it be easier to ask a consulting partner for some guidance?”

If so, you’re on the right track. The fact is, data storage is one of those areas that companies tend to approach the same way, year after year. Your volume of data grows, so you add more hardware to store it. It seems so simple.

But before you make your next major purchase of storage space – and especially if you’re considering implementing a whole new data storage platform – it definitely makes sense to get input from a data storage consultant. By working with the right partner, you can enrich your storage strategy with new insights and approaches. And that can mean the difference between paying for a solution that meets your needs for two years, and investing in a solution that becomes a foundation for the next decade.

 

What to Look for in Your Partner

So, how can you find a storage consulting partner that will truly add value to your decision process? Here’s what to look for:

  • A vendor-agnostic approach. If you’re interviewing a potential partner and they can’t go two sentences without plugging some hardware solution, that’s a huge red flag. Yes, technology consultants often make their profits in part by selling hardware. But a true partner will listen to your needs first, and think of ways to sell you hardware next. And even when they’re promoting hardware, a good partner will give you several options.
  • Multiple technical certifications. This may seem obvious, but it’s worth stating just in case: a data storage consulting firm should employ technicians who are certified in the leading storage technologies. So, don’t be shy. Ask your potential partner which certifications their staff members have earned.
  • A track record with storage. If you’re laser-focused on storage, shouldn’t you expect the same from your consulting partner? It’s OK to work with a firm that provides a wide range of IT services, but they should also be able to produce a list of successful storage technology implementations. Ask to see it.

A focus on lowering capex and opex. Let’s face it: implementing new storage technology isn’t just about finding somewhere to put all those files. It’s also about getting a good price up front and helping your company save money over time. Ask your potential partner about their strategy for helping you reduce your capital and operating expenses with this implementation.

 

May We Make a Suggestion?

If you’re looking for a storage technology partner in the northeastern U.S., we hope you’ll consider Alliance Technology Group. We have a team of highly skilled practitioners who specialize in IT infrastructure, cloud computing, and professional services – and we have an impressive track record with storage technology. To learn more about our approach to enterprise data storage, please download a complimentary copy of our new white paper, “Two Simple Steps to Smarter Enterprise Data Storage.” Or call us at (410) 712-0270 to find out how we can become your advocate in finding powerful, affordable storage solutions.

For more information about Alliance Technology Group, visit www.alliance-it.com.

 

Alliance Technology Group is an authorized IBM Business Partner specializing in IBM RamSan Flash Storage and PureSystem Cloud Solutions.

IBM Business Partner

 

Three Features to Look for in Your Next Data Storage Platform

March 28th, 2013 No comments

Can you ever have too much enterprise data storage? No matter how much you install, it seems your workforce will fill it up eventually. It’s no wonder companies have been building out their storage infrastructures at such an alarming rate over the past 10 to 20 yearsdata_storage_infrastructure

The initial reason for this data proliferation was the appearance of powerful ERP systems. Around the turn of the millennium, it seemed everyone was dipping their toes in the enterprise software pool. These powerful new systems not only automated business processes that had previously been manual and paper-based, but also allowed companies to store more transactional data than ever before.

But nowadays, the collective appetite for more data storage is being driven by another factor: a sudden increase in unstructured data. We explored this topic in a previous post, and discussed some approaches for addressing the challenge.

There are really only two ways to deal with Big Data: get rid of some of it, or manage it more effectively. Assuming you’ve decided to manage your data better, let’s talk about what you should be looking for in a data storage platform.

Selecting Your Data Storage Platform

How can you find a solution that lets you consolidate multiple storage volumes onto one integrated system? We recommend you look for a storage solution that offers these three essentials:

  • High performance without much manual intervention. We may never reach a point at which IT systems can monitor, manage, and repair themselves without any human involvement. But considering how far the technology has come, there’s simply no good reason for enterprise storage volumes to create new headaches for your IT staff. Choose the right solution, and you’ll enjoy high service levels driven by a cutting-edge grid design. (IBM’s XIV is a good example of a platform that’s designed this way.)
  • Ease of scalability. When you add new storage volumes, you’re probably doing so in response to a specific – and rather urgent – business need. So don’t select a storage platform that makes adding capacity to your infrastructure a tedious, time-consuming chore. Instead, work on a platform that will integrate new disk space automatically and handle caching and snapshot management without affecting overall performance.
  • Cloud-readiness. Our previous post also touched on the benefits of cloud-based Big Data storage. If your organization is one of the overwhelming majority of companies that are using or considering storage virtualization, then the storage platform you implement today will have a huge impact on your long-term success. Choose one that integrates with leading virtualization solutions such as VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V.

Want Two More Tips?

We hope these three tips will help you narrow down your list of possible data storage platforms. Would you like to get two more concise tips at no cost? Just download a complimentary copy of our new white paper, “Two Simple Steps to Smarter Enterprise Data Storage” to learn more about this important topic.

For more information about Alliance Technology Group, visit www.alliance-it.com.

 

Alliance Technology Group is an authorized IBM Business Partner specializing in IBM RamSan Flash Storage and PureSystem Cloud Solutions.

IBM Business Partner

 

Storing Unstructured Data: Can the Cloud Help?

March 14th, 2013 No comments

As you’ve built out your enterprise data storage infrastructure, you may have occasionally found time to stop and ask yourself: “Why are our Big Data volumes growing so quickly, anyway?”

cloud_storage_solution_providerYes, today’s transactional systems store more data than ever. And yes, if your business is expanding aggressively, that means you’ll have more customers, suppliers, and employees to keep track of.

But the real growth in enterprise Big Data comes from an entirely new species of information: unstructured data.

Unstructured data, of course, can’t be stored in the nice, neat rows and columns of a database. Instead, it comes in the form of self-contained files – many of which are extremely large. And no matter what business you’re in, you’re probably storing more unstructured data today than you were even three years ago.

A 2011 Unisphere Research survey found that 91% of companies were already storing unstructured data. More than one-third of respondents said their unstructured data volumes had grown larger than their structured data volumes, or would most likely do so within the next three years. But less than one-fourth of participants thought their current storage infrastructures could meet the challenge that unstructured data presents.

 

Common Sources of Unstructured Data

So, where is all of this unstructured data coming from? Nearly everywhere. Today’s leading sources include:

  • Office productivity software. Word processing documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations all qualify as unstructured data.
  • Email servers. Email is more than just a communication tool for many business users – it’s a way of filing away thoughts and keeping a record of projects.
  • Social media platforms. Savvy companies are using Facebook and Twitter to build relationships with customers and prospects. If your company is one of them, you’ll need to keep track of the flood of information your audience is sharing online each day.
  • Video, image, and audio applications. Smartphones have made it easier than ever for employees to capture media files that enhance their productivity and add value to their day-to-day tasks.
  • Machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies. Many of today’s technology systems communicate with each other wirelessly. That means they’re generating vast amounts of data even as you and your employees sleep.

 

How Cloud-Based Big Data Storage Can Help

Faced with data volumes that exceed the limits of their installed hardware, many IT professionals are kicking around the idea of storing unstructured data in the cloud. It’s an appealing thought: when you store data with a cloud storage partner, you typically pay only for the storage space you actually use. You can scale up easily without ever having to buy or install hardware. The maintenance burden is theirs, not yours. That can sure leave you with more time and resources for meaningful analytics.

But then the question always arises: How secure are cloud storage services? Nobody wants to hand over their sensitive enterprise data to a company that won’t put the appropriate layers of security around it. Rest assured, though, that today’s most reputable cloud storage firms are one step ahead of you on this one. They’re well aware of the security concerns their customers have, and they’ve implemented even more stringent security technology than what most corporations use in their data centers.

Of course, storing unstructured data in the cloud doesn’t have to mean handing it off to another company. There’s also the option of creating a private, or in-house, cloud of storage resources and then allotting it to your business applications as needed. Building a private storage cloud can be a good way to increase flexibility and utilization around your current storage volumes while keeping security in your own hands.

Have we got your wheels turning? We hope so. To learn more about your options for storing unstructured data, please download a complimentary copy of our new white paper, “Two Simple Steps to Smarter Enterprise Data Storage.” Or drop us a line to find out how Alliance Technology Group can become your advocate in finding powerful, affordable storage solutions.

 

Alliance Technology Group is an authorized IBM Business Partner specializing in IBM RamSan Flash Storage and PureSystem Cloud Solutions.

IBM Business Partner

How to Manage Big Data Without Just Adding Hardware

November 1st, 2012 1 comment

According to a commonly cited rule of thumb, enterprise data storage is doubling every two years. That may sound like an urban legend, but it’s not. All around us, the volume of data is exploding – to the point that it’s often referred to as Big Data.

how_to_manage_big_dataJune 2011 report, IDC announced that the number of digital files in the world doubles every two years. If files are doubling, we can probably assume that total amount of data stored is roughly doubling. It’s also reasonable to think that companies are just as responsible as individuals for the creation of new files.

In fact, IDC states that “While 75% of the information in the digital universe is generated by individuals, enterprises have some liability for 80% of information in the digital universe at some point in its digital life.”

Bottom line: the vast majority of data being created is ending up in enterprise data centers and server rooms at some point – which means the pressure will be on you to generate meaningful analytics from it. Mind you, this data isn’t all coming from desktop and laptop computers, either. In many cases, it’s coming in over the airwaves.

The Coming Surge in Mobile Data

With or without official permission, employees everywhere are using mobile devices for work purposes. They’re sending email from the road, taking pictures and videos as needed, and even recording meetings and seminars from their phones and tablets. At some point, they’ll transmit these files back to enterprise storage. That’s when your IT staff will feel the crunch of maxed-out disk space.

Cisco Systems has carefully chronicled the surge in mobile data. In a study released in 2011, they stated that worldwide mobile data traffic is increasing at three times the rate of fixed data traffic, and projected it would rise 18-fold by 2016.

It’s no wonder, then, that companies keep expanding their storage volumes to store Big Data. They don’t seem to have a choice.

 

Why Adding More Volumes Doesn’t Always Work

Faced with the challenge of storing Big Data and generating analytics from it, companies are responding by adding more hardware to their data centers. But because they view storage space as a commodity, many IT teams simply install whichever highly rated storage volume offers the most gigabytes for the price.

This approach is questionable, for three reasons:

  • It prevents the IT team from maintaining a unified view of all their storage space across the enterprise.
  • It makes it tougher to scale up storage space over time because the IT team will need to redistribute data manually to the new storage modules.
  • It forces the IT team to keep track of unique power, cache, and connectivity requirements for different types of storage modules.

So, simply adding the storage volumes that seem to offer the best value obviously isn’t a good strategy in the long run. And IT teams certainly can’t stop the flow of structured and unstructured data into the enterprise (and shouldn’t even try).

If you’re looking for a new approach, Alliance Technology Group can help. We’d be happy to serve as your advocate with storage vendors by negotiating the best functionality at the most reasonable price. And we’re offering a free white paper that takes a closer look at the issue of enterprise data storage and offers practical tips for IT professionals like you. Download your free copy of “Two Simple Steps to Smarter Enterprise Data Storage.”

 

Alliance Technology Group is an authorized IBM Business Partner specializing in IBM RamSan Flash Storage and PureSystem Cloud Solutions.

IBM Business Partner