Has your IT infrastructure helped or hindered your businesses reaction to COVID-19?

COVID-19

Here at Ethos Towers we frequently reference our core infrastructure design principles (they’re practically a mission statement):

  • Simplicity
  • Flexibility
  • Efficiency

These key areas are central to how we approach all problems and solutions, and of how the technologies in our portfolio differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

With everything that’s going on, for many of us these principles have never been so important.

Cloud has certainly helped. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings like Office 365, Salesforce and ServiceNow mean we can access some core platforms from any device with an internet connection, anywhere in the world. SaaS is specifically designed to scale to meet demand so if suddenly all staff need to work from home meaning more concurrent connections, more bandwidth used, more load across the board, then no problem (within ‘reason’); but what about the other stuff…? For a minority of businesses SaaS is all they have and need but, for good reasons, that isn’t the case for many of us. Most businesses have some essential applications and services which are hosted on traditional infrastructure platforms, whether that’s on-premises, in the public-cloud or a combination of the two. Unfortunately, the cracks in legacy architectures we always knew were there are fast becoming crevices and the more we test the boundaries, the greater the risk of a catastrophic fall.

In some areas Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings can help but many workloads simply aren’t well suited to the cloud, and anyway, the issues extend much further than agility and scalability; the effects of the pandemic are exposing us left right and centre: Frontline services, supply-chain, retail and more are all being pushed to the max; opportunistic cyber criminals are taking advantage of our guards being down; skeleton staff mean that if anything were to go wrong it could take us much, much longer to fix.

Ethos Technology are very proud of the technology portfolio we’ve put together out of the best of the new breed. Our solutions offer a number of unique benefits which can be a huge help in these trying times:

Unpredictability

One of the primary factors of the pandemic and the impact it’s having is that most of us didn’t really plan for it, or design our infrastructures to accommodate the changes we’ve had and are having to make in rapid fashion. One of the key challenges with traditional architectures, particularly when it comes to storage, is scalability. If you fill an old school array or NAS appliance to capacity you typically have to replace it with a bigger one, or add another alongside and in the process create another storage island; this is not the case with our storage vendors:

A Cohesity cluster can be scaled one node at a time, with effectively no limit; as you add to a cluster capacity and performance are scaled out linearly, and no matter how big it gets it’s still managed as one entity, with a single, intuitive user interface; additionally, all expansions and upgrades can be performed whilst the cluster is operational e.g. without downtime.

Pure Storage’s FlashArray also supports true in-service upgrades, including expansions. Adding capacity, upgrading software, swapping out controllers, even to the next generation of controllers can all be performed without service or performance impact.

DataCore’s SANsymphony storage virtualisation software abstracts and simplifies traditional SAN architecture. If all of a sudden you need to significantly increase capacity, maybe by repurposing storage you already have, or with some you’ve just bought it can be done incredibly simply, and again without service impact.

Remote Working

Ability to effectively work from home has obviously been a hot topic over the past couple of weeks and technology providers have been doing their best to step up to the plate; for example, VMware and Citrix are giving away free licenses to help people quickly increase their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) capacity but of course you need more than just management software. We’ve already touched on some of the ways our storage solutions can help but what about the other stuff? compute, network etc. Pure Storage in particular offer several solutions to help simplify things and enable the delivery of VDI resources in a hurry. FlashStack from Pure and Cisco is a fantastic option to implement an integrated VDI infrastructure that is operational on Day 1. You get the latest in compute, network, and storage components in a single integrated architecture that accelerates time to deployment, lowers overall IT costs, and reduces deployment risk.

Also consider Storage as-a-Service (STaaS); STaaS is a great way to quickly put resources in place to support remote workers. Storage is the most critical component of any virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), so getting this right is critical to productivity. Pure as-a-Service enables us to address unpredictable, ongoing requirements; capacity required immediately can be consumed via OPEX, costs can be managed over time with discounting, and the solution provides the ability to burst into the type of high IO (a.k.a. “bootstorm”) that VDI desktops experience on boot, reboot, and login. Pure as-a-Service can be provided on-premises and/or within public cloud (on AWS and soon to be Azure) with Cloud Block Store, Pure’s FlashArray in the cloud. This offers a true hybrid-cloud block storage foundation so if, for example, you need to spin up three times as many virtual desktops on-premises or in the cloud (wherever you have the resources) you can; with the same deduplication, compression, protection, management etc. independent of where it’s deployed. When they’re no longer needed, simply spin them back down again.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans

In periods of stress, the risk of human error rises. With IT distracted from standard day-to-day procedures, chances increase that systems will fail from lack of attention. You also want any resiliency, redundancy and failover measures to be as straightforward and robust as possible. There’s a good chance that due to illness, isolation measures and the like that all teams will be running at significantly reduced capacity. Everything, particularly when it comes to BC and DR needs to work first time, and with a minimum of effort.

Pure Storage, Cohesity and DataCore all include storage protection features like snapshots and replication, at no additional cost. With all of these vendors it is simple to activate snapshots and set up replication, which can help you facilitate quick recovery in the event of a system failure or data loss. Pure Storage’s ActiveCluster in particular is head and shoulders above other primary storage vendors synchronous replication functionality.

Obviously robust Data Protection is essential to any Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery strategy and Cohesity have ripped up the rule book and created a solution which, whilst being incredibly powerful, is drastically simpler, more flexible and efficient that anything else out there. The absolutely best infrastructure technologies abstract away complexity and enable business problems and requirements to be met simply, quickly and effectively; all of the solutions in the Ethos Technology portfolio fulfil this brief in spades.

Not all organisations take advantage of these types of capabilities. Now is the time to leverage data protection broadly including looking at backup and restore strategies including recovery from ransomware attacks.

Cyber Security

The public and business community’s collaborative response to recent events has been nothing short of incredible; however, there is a yin to every yang and it appears that cyber criminals are using the situation to their advantage. Fortunately, our solutions provide some unique capabilities when it comes to ransomware detection, protection and recovery. There have been reports of outbreak tracking applications coming with a hidden payload of nefarious software which gets deployed on installation. Hopefully we’ve got the best of this now; however, by far the most common threat vector is phishing, some of which can be really tricky to protect against. The best time to stop phishing emails is before they hit the mailbox, yet 25% of attacks get past existing defenses. With 82 seconds on average until the first click is lured, the second-best time is now.

Fortunately for us and our customers, we partner with IronScales who provide a comprehensive pre-post-delivery platform designed to quickly detect bad emails slipping through the prevention layer and responding to them automatically in seconds, blocking them for good. The IronScales platform leverages both AI and real-time human intelligence with the speed and simplicity to stay ahead of new threats.

In the unfortunate event that something does slip through the net all is not lost, both Pure Storage and Cohesity offer some incredible and unique capabilities to ensure any breach is quickly identified, can be recovered from quickly, and with limited consequences. Please visit these links (or contact us) for more information:

Free Consultancy!

These are just a few particularly relevant examples of how the solutions in our portfolio are different (better!) than what you may be used to; trust us when we say that there are loads more. The secret to any infrastructure design activity is to understand the art of the possible but unless you’re already a customer of one of our vendors you will almost certainly be missing a bunch of tricks which could be at your disposal, if you only knew about them. To help you we are offering completely free, no obligation web-meeting consultations with one of our Senior Architect’s to discuss where you are today, what your challenges and requirements are, and how some of these new approaches may help; think of it as an IT therapy session. This includes sessions with our CTO who’s currently holed up at home and keeps reiterating that “these consultancy sessions are keeping me sane!”, so please don’t hesitate to reach out and take advantage.

sales@ethostec.net

01295 675867

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