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Why take 63 steps when you can take one?

In the latest blog from our series of conversations with partners, Ole Væhrens, Director Sales and Professional Services at Enterprise Business Partner, Proact, talks about network virtualization as a key factor in any agile, multi-cloud strategy

Cross-industry, businesses just want to work smarter, be agile and be more competitive. They don&#rsquo;t care about cloud – or getting into deep conversations about the cloud approach that will work best for them. That&#rsquo;s why, at Proact, we adopt a business cloud alignment approach. IT needs to weave in with the business and its goals, so that&#rsquo;s where our conversations with customers starts. Then we can take these business objectives and map the right cloud environment accordingly.

But what are the most common issues we&#rsquo;re seeing? Well, we&#rsquo;re still seeing that IT and the business are working at different paces – and that&#rsquo;s the real issue for needing the cloud – helping IT keep up. Take one of our customers as an example. A large Danish bank, it wanted to be more agile and use a mixture of cloud environments via our data centres, but were slowed down by the constant need to standardize using document workflows. Its IT team would have to go through 63 manual steps – checking against security and compliance policy – before it could configure each workload. Can you imagine how time-consuming those steps were? And what the business could have achieved in that time, rather than waiting for something to help them get on with their jobs? Finally, manual processes do not ensure the same high consistency as an automated process – simply because of the human factor.

So that&#rsquo;s where we come in. As part of VMware&#rsquo;s cloud partner network, we help organisations skip these steps and be as agile as possible using VMware&#rsquo;s Cross-Cloud architecture. The multi-cloud approach means our customers can run numerous applications and environments on-premises, off-premises or with a mixture of both as a hybrid cloud, and on different clouds, including AWS and Azure – whatever best fits the needs of their business.

But, the aspect that&#rsquo;s going to make or break this agile, multi-cloud approach is security. As the bank in Denmark, and a number of our other customers have found, true agility can be restricted if it isn&#rsquo;t underpinned by some form of standardization. And that, for me, is where VMware&#rsquo;s network virtualization solution, NSX, is one of the most critical weapons in VMware&#rsquo;s arsenal. It enables networking and security services to be automated and standardised – across clouds.

What does that mean? Well, for IT teams, new infrastructure can be spun up quickly while still safe in the knowledge that all security and compliance standards are met. For the rest of the business, additional resource can be spun up in the most relevant cloud environment at a time that best suits them, so they can develop new services even quicker. For customers, it means they can get other departments in the business up and running on new projects and products far quicker which, let&#rsquo;s face it, means faster time to market on any new propositions. For the Danish bank, that means new resource can be spun up in half an hour, rather than days, ensuring it&#rsquo;s always first to market with new customer propositions.

We&#rsquo;re working closely with VMware to integrate Cross-Cloud into the services we offer our customers – after all, it&#rsquo;s the best way to guarantee agility without compromising on security.

Want to know more about our cloud partners and working with VMware to get true multi-cloud agility? Keep an eye on this blog for more posts from our partners and our cloud partner leadership team to see how.

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Being the Silver Lining in a Multi Cloud world

As part of our vCAN partner guest blog series, John Coulston, Rackspace Alliances Director in EMEA, talks about being part of our VMware cloud provider network and the future opportunity of the cloud for Rackspace customers

No longer are enterprise organisations asking whether they need cloud technology, that&#rsquo;s now an accepted IT delivery methodology for most CIOs and CTOs. In a multi-cloud world, the question is how to choose the right combination of clouds to meets the needs of customers and employees, to help keep the IT function at the forefront of innovation and responsive to competition.

The technical challenge a business faces to integrate their on-premise architecture with their multiple cloud deployments, whilst at the same time align their commercial growth plans, simplify operations and achieve cost savings. It can perhaps be overwhelming for some companies:

  • Which applications and workloads should be moved into the cloud?
  • In which sequence should these be migrated?
  • How can this be achieved without causing the business disruption or downtime?

These are all questions businesses want answered, but to get it right the first time they need specialists on hand to ensure the answer is specifically tailored to their organization. After all, no business is the same – and no single approach can be used by every company.

Move with the Times

We&#rsquo;re fully aligned with VMware&#rsquo;s Cross-Cloud vision because we feel the ultimate cloud experience should be fast, simple and integrated. We are seeing significant double-digit demand for hybrid, multi-cloud managed environments. Customers are increasingly keen to balance the speed and cost savings of the public cloud with the functionality and security of the private cloud. So much so, in fact, that we are opening a new Rackspace data center in Germany using VMware&#rsquo; Cloud Foundation.

We&#rsquo;ve helped GoHenry reap the rewards of VMware&#rsquo;s private cloud. GoHenry is a UK FinTech company that helps parents educate their children in financial control using intelligent smartphone apps and specific types of cards to manage their money better. GoHenry&#rsquo;s leadership team wanted a flexible, scalable technology, but one that would keep its data secure. VMware ticked all of those boxes, but the company could not afford to devote the necessary time to managing its data centers itself. That&#rsquo;s where we stepped in with our Managed Private Cloud. Using Managed Virtualization from VMware, we gave GoHenry everything it needs to focus on its business while being confident its infrastructure is working properly. We take care of its entire cloud operation – from capacity to ad hoc requirements, leaving them to focus on their core business. Rackspace uses VMware technology to design, modify and upgrade applications so it always works efficiently and securely anywhere in the world. GoHenry was migrated by Rackspace in just a weekend, on time, on budget and with no disruption.

Business Made Simple

Rackspace helps customers move off-premise to the cloud, from VMware on premise to VMware cloud, and therefore preserve their capital investment in VMware technologies as well as adopt and integrated new features available in the VMware cloud environment. The deep collaboration between VMware and Rackspace helps us to propose innovative ideas to our customers without customers incurring retooling expenses, development risks, headcount, plus reducing security concerns. We help our customers gain real benefits from moving to the cloud without all the hassle, and ultimately that translates into faster project migration timescales. After the migration, customers ask us to continue to operate their different clouds for them because of our expertise, freeing up their time and resource to focus on their main core strategic areas. One of the great things about Rackspace is that we are more than just a 24/7 infrastructure ops team - our GSS consultancy team offer future strategy analysis and planning to help companies maximise their clouds. Our customers can enjoy all the benefits of the cloud, without worrying about the time and hassle of looking after them. Clients get access to customised hardware, plus a choice of management and control levels.

A pivotal role Rackspace provides customers is in helping reduce the complexity of their multi cloud environment. We can offer to manage it for them from one centralised system. But it&#rsquo;s not just the way we manage these cloud environments that sets up apart, it&#rsquo;s the ability to manage the many complex tools and applications that run on top of them as well.

Customers choose VMware as platform of choice – whether private or public – as the technology has evolved to such an extent that customers can consume cloud in a seamless way and move in a real dynamic way. Whether it is for extra bursting capacity or as a DevOps environment.

Partnering for Success

As part of VMware&#rsquo;s global vCloud Air Network (vCAN), Rackspace is a strategic global VCAN partner - the silver lining to VMware&#rsquo;s Cross-Cloud vision – for all companies to have the ability to run applications across clouds and devices in a common operating environment. vCAN is the ideal way to develop, promote and sell hosted services such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Backup and Replication-as-a-Service, Storage as a Service, and various other cloud services.

VMware has always led the industry in terms of R&D investment into cloud technologies, security and digital innovation. Rackspace have been providing a VMware-based managed cloud on a global scale for over a decade and add our passion to deliver an exceptional support and end user experience up and down the entire stack. It&#rsquo;s really resonating with customers - the business has grown rapidly for us.

We want to be ready to be called upon when enterprises are ready to take the next step in their cloud journey – and that means a strong partnership between Rackspace and VMware. It&#rsquo;s a VMware Cross-Cloud, but every Cross-Cloud needs someone to bring it to fruition – and that&#rsquo;s where we&#rsquo;re VMware&#rsquo;s silver lining.

[END]

Blog Footer Notes:

Rackspace will be attending VMworld Europeto showcase their VMware cloud expertise with a combination of theatre presentations, breakout workshops and 1to1 individual appointments.

VMworld Europe in Barcelona in September is a unique opportunity for companies and organisations to engage with VMware senior executives, CIOs and tech experts to hear their insights across four business-critical topics: modernizing the data center, integrating public clouds, empowering the digital workspace and transforming security.

For insights into our VMware partner ecosystem and to read the latest guest blogs, take a look at the series here, or visit the VMware Partner Network website.

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The Year of Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Deployment models have moved on significantly since the siloed IT operations of the last decade, with converged and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) transforming how organisations manage storage, server and networking. This convergence trend shows no sign of slowing: according to IDC, in the first quarter of 2017, sales for hyper-converged systems were up 64.7 per cent year-on-year.

So, can we rightfully call 2017 the year of HCI? Here&#rsquo;s what our VMware experts think:

What&#rsquo;s interesting is that there isn&#rsquo;t any one specific reason that organisations are flocking towards HCI; it&#rsquo;s a solution to numerous problems and frequently delivers customers benefits that they hadn&#rsquo;t even asked for.

The Catalonia Tax Office, for example, had several business challenges to contend with at the same time. Javier Fernandez, Head of ICT at the organisation, had to deal with the migration of corporate services to a corporate datacentre, and the upgrade of infrastructure which was largely obsolete. In addition, the company had to improve its security levels given the sensitivity of the data the tax office was managing.

&#rsquo;Investment and maintenance costs reduced significantly, thanks to an important reduction in physical communications infrastructure/systems&#rdquo; he said.

Lee Dilworth, EMEA Practice Lead, Storage & Avaliability, attributes one of the reasons for the rise of HCI as the desire from customers to do things differently. HCI is enabling customers to move towards a pay-as-you-go model when building data centres, starting with what you need but with the option to scale. This flexibility is in stark contrast to legacy systems, where everything built around over-provision and large capital investment upfront.

Simplicity of management and deployment and increased visibility also make HCI attractive, particularly for organisations that need remote datacentre capabilities, by providing a central management point.

Take ONO Academic College, the largest college in Israel. When it looked to replace its storage array, it looked to HCI to help it become more flexible. It decided to go with an SSD-based solution and was able to boost its performance twenty times over, according to its IT manager Oren Laufer, using vSAN to provide excellent service even to its remote sites.

&#rsquo;When we looked to replace our storage array, we came across the hyper-converged concept which was perfect for our flexibility needs&#rdquo; he said.

Not only were back-up times shortened significantly, but it has also meant that only one person is needed to manage the virtual storage infrastructure, leaving the IT team free to develop future applications rather than deal with routine tasks.

In these organisations and many more, VMware is helping to make this transition to a converged a smooth one that delivers ROI quickly. HCI isn&#rsquo;t just impacting IT and technology, it&#rsquo;s enabling IT teams to focus on more important issues, helping with business&#rsquo; DevOps and digital transformation initiatives, and supporting strategic goals.

To learn more about how HCI solution- can benefit your business, check out the below links:

Check out our webinar on Hyper-Converged Infrastructure here.

Test-drive our HCI solution with our Hands-On Labs here.

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Transforming Security: There’s Never Been a Better Time

As the digital economy continues to evolve, IT teams are scrambling to keep up with the changing requirements. From the demand for speed and accuracy to the need for agility and performance, it can be difficult to juggle it all and still maintain robust security.

Some of the top challenges IT is facing as the data center landscape evolves include:

  • The changing nature of applications, infrastructure, and security attacks. Application infrastructure is no longer confined to on-premises data centers but is now highly dynamic, and spread out between public and private multi-cloud environments. That makes security more complex, especially as threats become more sophisticated.
  • Increasingly strict requirements for regulatory compliance. From industry-specific requirements like PCI, FISMA, ECPA, and HIPAA, to differences in regulations from the cloud to on-premises, it&#rsquo;s not easy to get or stay in compliance.
  • The high cost of security breaches. Organisations of all sizes remain vulnerable to persistent, sophisticated threats—and the price of breaches just keeps rising. The annual cost of global cyber espionage is estimated to be around $500 billion.*

To protect applications, data, and users, organisations need to totally transform the way they view and enforce security. Download the new eBook: Transforming Security in the Mobile Cloud Era.

A three-part approach to better security

A security solution that&#rsquo;s built to tackle both current and future challenges can give you the ability to support your business and gain a competitive edge. VMware provides a ubiquitous software layer across application infrastructure and endpoints that is independent of the underlying physical infrastructure or location. This approach can help you:

  • Secure application infrastructure
  • Secure identity and endpoints
  • Streamline compliance

VMware solutions make it possible for your IT team to leverage the power of the cloud, and focus on innovation and strategic initiatives—instead of spending all your time trying to prevent costly attacks or compliance errors.

With more time and improved visibility, you can keep your organisation more secure, and help it succeed in the digital economy.

Learn more about how to achieve better security by downloading the eBook: Transforming Security in the Mobile Cloud Era.

Discover further:

  • Visit our website for more information about transforming security
  • Learn how you can build a secure application infrastructure with Hands-On Labs

You may also like our other blog articles:

  • Why a Modern Data Center is Essential for the Digital Economy
  • Empower the Digital Workspace
  • Network Virtualization For Dummies

*Source: Cost of Data Center Outages, Ponemon Institute, January 2016

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Foresee IT issues before they arise with vROps

IT failures and problems have been big news in recent weeks and while not all is revealed to the public eye as to how or why they occurred, it is safe to say no company wants it to happen to them.

Problems and failures can and will occur and there are many ways to mitigate and protect against it. One of these ways is effective monitoring of your IT Infrastructure. vRealize Operations Manager (vROps) is perfectly suited to being that single source or truth for your entire estate, whether it be Virtual or Physical. vRealize Operations Manager itself is built with resilience in mind, features such as High Availability help protect against an analytics cluster node failure.

Often when I have visited customers a reason they have opted for vROps is to consolidate multiple tools, to try and achieve that holy grail of monitoring which is the single source of truth, something vROps does very well. It offers tremendous extensibility by way of management packs, either provided by VMware, Blue Medora or the vendor of the product you want to monitor.

In addition, in this cloud hungry world, developments from VMware and Blue Medora also allow you to hook into your hybrid cloud estate. So, whether you have applications or workloads in Azure or AWS you centrally monitor and alert effectively.

There are many other reasons I have seen customers choose vROps as their go to monitoring tool.

  • Effective and concise alerting - using the ability to filter out all the back-ground noise and understand what is really going on in their estate.
  • Customisation - whether it be dashboards or reports, the customers could tailor vROps to suit their specific needs.
  • Capacity planning - with the projects feature you can present or change scenarios to vROps and it will give you instant feedback on the impact it would have.
  • Scalability - vROps can monitor a vast number of objects.
  • Strong user community offering guidance - tips and tricks to get the most from vROps

With the ever-increasing complexity of business IT, effective monitoring of your IT infrastructure is an absolute must. It is often neglected though due to budget constraints or lack of interest, but can very quickly become a priority when a serious issue occurs.

vROps helps forewarn you of a potential issue (disk growth, CPU/RAM/LAN usage) in the form of Risk based alerts. It can also troubleshoot and effectively determine the root cause of current or historical issues. The bottom line is you want to quickly know where the fire is and what caused it.

In an ideal world, you will be able to foresee issues that will arise and avoid them. In part vROps can help you achieve this or at the very least give you a firm handle on what is happening and why so you can address issues, problems and failures quickly and efficiently.

For those of you wanting to learn more about how VMWare solutions can help you automate and better manage IT operations, read our Dummies Guide to Cloud management.

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Unifying A Multi Cloud World

Richard Munro, Chief Technologist and Technical Director for vCloud Air EMEA at VMware, is instrumental in helping organisations accelerate their cloud transformation deliverables with VMware&#rsquo;s Cross-Cloud Architecture

With any strategy or plan – no matter how big or small - it can be hard for anyone to lose focus, get distracted or even take a wrong turn. We&#rsquo;re all human after all.

So when it comes to a Cross-Cloud approach which helps all lines of business drive innovation and deliver on their goals, it&#rsquo;s no different. Sometimes those leading such an approach, and those within the business striving to get there need reminding what their ultimate goal is, and need to answer specific questions to ensure they&#rsquo;re on the right path. But rather than a post-it note or some rough notes, a visual guide can be more thought-provoking and has the added bonus of not getting lost amongst a pile of other work!

That&#rsquo;s why we&#rsquo;ve created an image which employees can keep close by and easily refer to, to ensure they&#rsquo;re taking the right steps on their Cross-Cloud journey. For example, if an employee is focusing on security in the cloud, they can refer to the second strand &#lsquo;How secure is your organisation&#rsquo;, and look at each of the steps to ensure they have secure cloud management in place. The steps include ensuring security is a business wide priority, and making sure that clouds are not treated as silos.

Click the Roadmap below to expand!

This is a simple but effective way of ensuring that your employees involved in your Cross-Cloud strategy stay on the right track and are asking the right questions– so share it with them now!

Want to learn more?

  • Download our Network Virtualization for Dummies
  • DownloadCloud Management for Dummies
  • Download our Secure Digital Workspace for Dummies
  • Read our Cross-Cloud Approach: Modernising IT Infrastructure blog

Read more..

vSAN 6.6 – why it presents the strongest partner opportunity yet

Rory Choudhuri, Product Marketing Director at VMware discusses vSAN 6.6 and the HCI conversations partners can start having with stakeholders at all levels

In April, we launched the latest vSAN product update – vSAN 6.6. vSAN is one of the most disruptive technologies in the infrastructure stack. More than 8,000 customers have already chosen to transform their data center, opting to virtualize their storage function and entrust their most important workloads to vSAN. The implementation sees the data centre transformed through a hyper-converged infrastructure, which combines server, storage and network functions, all managed via a software layer to help companies lower TCO, evolve without risk, and scale so they can prepare for any workload. And, of course, for that reason, we want our partners on the journey with us as you sell the solutions to your own customers.

We&#rsquo;ve deliberately developed our vSAN6.6 kits with both the customer and partner in mind. Four new HCI Kit bundles provide an easy way for customers to get started with HCI – converging physical storage onto industry-standard servers – because they contain all the essential software needed to deploy a software-defined HCI solution. A customer can purchase any of these HCI software kits and deploy it on certified hardware from the server vendor of their choice. This simplifies the purchasing process for our channel partners, giving them a single software SKU for HCI. vSAN really does pose one of the strongest current opportunities for partners. With a HCI environment, the sales cycle tends to be turned around in 90 days. When you consider that a traditional storage solution takes around nine months, that means you can get things up and running far quicker.

What do you need to look out for when having conversations with your customers? How do you spot the perfect opportunity to start discussing a move to a hyper-converged infrastructure with vSAN 6.6? These are the things to look out for:

  1. Budget constraints

Your customer has told you they&#rsquo;re concerned with the amount they are currently spending on storage – and won&#rsquo;t be able to sustain their current spending levels. Yet storage requirements are increasing 50% YoY – something has to change. By simplifying the storage function, vSAN significantly reduces Capex and Opex.

  1. Stretched resources and increased management complexity

They&#rsquo;re finding managing infrastructure in siloes not just increasingly complicated, but it&#rsquo;s getting harder to get a true overview of what&#rsquo;s happening across the estate. On top of that, their resources are limited – who has the time to manage silo by silo? Hyper-convergence breaks down these siloes, bringing all infrastructure into one place

  1. Their old infrastructure can&#rsquo;t help them evolve quick enough

We all know how quickly businesses need to be able to move to be competitive – are your customers saying that their infrastructures aren&#rsquo;t future-ready and can&#rsquo;t help them scale in time?

  1. Put the app in charge

Instead of individually configuring LUNs, and relying on your storage admin/architect, set storage policies for the environment. Let the software run the process, both for day 1 set up and ongoing day 2 management. Put the app in charge – that&#rsquo;s what defines the requirement after all.

vSAN 6.6 readily forms the basis of conversations with a number of stakeholders across the business, but they&#rsquo;re going to want to focus on different things. Here are our tips on the conversations you can lead with different people across your client organisations – and the benefits we see attracting each one.

CxO

&#rsquo;vSAN can help you seamlessly evolve to a secure modern datacenter designed for tomorrow&#rsquo;s IT needs, at half the cost.&#rdquo;

IT Director/VP

&#rsquo;With vSAN, IT spend can instead to go to strategic initiatives that actually meet business

demand, rather than paying to keep the lights on.&#rdquo;

Infrastructure team

&#rsquo;vSAN offers performance and high resiliency for all types of workloads, including business-critic