Thursday, December 18, 2014

CRN Magazine Names Nimble Storage ‘Storage Vendor of the Year’

CRN (Computer Reseller News) Magazine has been providing news, analysis, and perspective insights for VARs and technology integrators for more than 30 years. In 1997, CRN launched its UK edition of the magazine that is now available in both print and digital formats.

For the past 21 years, CRN has been recognizing pinnacle achievements in the UK market, rewarding those with outstanding performance in the IT channel with the CRN Channel Awards. With 25 categories for vendors, distributors, and resellers, the 2014 awards recognized the latest technology innovations and advancements.

One of the 25 vendor categories is Storage Vendor the Year. The award is open to all vendors operating within the storage arena. This includes manufacturers of hardware systems, software, components or peripherals that are relevant to the storage market.  This year, Nimble Storage, the hybrid flash storage solutions provider, took that honor.

With over 4,300 customers across 38 countries, the Nimble Storage Adaptive Flash platform has taken off primarily through the company’s indirect channel model. This platform empowers IT organizations to predict, manage, and deliver the storage required to optimize business applications and workloads across the enterprise.

Nimble Storage is well positioned to quickly expand its business by implementing a 100 percent channel model through trusted advisors that have extensive relationships with enterprises. Nimble Storage continues to focus on maintaining and growing deeper relationships across its partner ecosystem, enabling partners to be self-sufficient through resources and incentive programs that are low-friction and yield high-margins. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Juniper Networks Releases First Carrier-Grade Virtual Router

As the industry leader in network innovation, Juniper Networks has recently introduced a new virtualized version of its flagship MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routing platform with the vMX 3D Universal Edge Router. As the industry’s first ever full-featured, carrier-grade virtualized router, the Juniper vMX provides enterprises and service providers with the ability to seamlessly leverage the benefits of both physical and virtual networking. The vMX router operates as software on x86 servers and rapidly delivers services, cost-effectively allowing businesses to stay ahead of customer demand. Juniper Networks also unveiled a new set of capabilities that assist customers in achieving High-IQ networks that leverage the benefits of automation and virtualization.

Juniper vMX Router
 The vMX architecture.
With the rapid increase of networked devices, enterprises are looking for ways to keep up with the demanding network requirements and increase business agility. Many enterprises have already taken to the cloud as a solution to drive agility and efficiency as obtaining a network that is as dynamic and flexible as the cloud is critical. The Juniper Networks vMX router is a solution to this issue, delivering cloud-like agility to the network and bringing new capabilities to businesses such as the ability to roll out new applications, initiatives, and resources quickly while supporting external and internal clients. 

vMX Highlights:
  • Full MX Series supported on x86 servers – vMX runs as a software on x86 servers allowing enterprises to quickly deploy new routing services based on an established Juniper MX pedigree. Benefits of this include the reduced risk and cost of a hardware-centric service roll out and the ability to easily redeploy x86 resources to adapt with changing business demands.
  • Junos and vTrio Optimized – With Junos and vTrio, vMX also supports the same programmable Junos Trio chipset features as the entire MX Series portfolio. This brings current Juniper customers access for a feature set that works across existing virtual and physical infrastructures.
  • Designed for the Cloud – Although vMX runs natively on x86 serves, it can be orchestrated by Contrail and OpenStack and managed by Junos Space. The vMX feature set delivers the flexibility to use physical and virtual routers based on current business needs by being a consistent operator. 
By virtualizing the traditional chassis-based routing platform, Juniper Networks brings the feature-set and proven history of reliability and performance of the MX to the cloud. Combining the vMX with Juniper’s complete physical router portfolio delivers valuable tools enterprises need to maintain an environment for virtual and physical routers. With the vMX, carrier-grade routing can provide customers with greater freedom to start small, experiment with new services, grow rapidly, and stay profitable throughout the entire service lifecycle.

The Juniper Networks vMX 3D Universal Edge Router will be available in Q1 of 2015.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

VMware Means Business with Improved Management Offerings

Almost everybody has a server virtualization product of some kind, which means the growth potential for this market is shrinking. So how does VMware, the market leader in server virtualization, plan to evolve their offerings to stay ahead of competitors like Microsoft? Through management software. VMware recently announced the rebranding of their virtualization technologies management suite.

Formerly including vCenter Operations Manager, vCloud Automation Center, and IT Business Management, these products will now be under the heading of vRealize Management products. Not only is there a new name, but there are a large number of updates as well.

The most significant of these products updates is vRealize Operations 6. Previously known as vCloud Operations Manager, the updates include a new scale-out, resilient architecture that will be 8 times more scalable than its predecessor. Additional new features include advanced analytics, smart alerts, capacity planning and project management capabilities, and problem detection capabilities. Through vRealize Operations 6, VMware provides customers with visibility across applications, network, and storage devices in a single console.

vRealize Operations 6 isn’t the only update – other new additions to the vRealize Management Suite include vRealize Code Stream 1.0, and vRealize Air Compliance. vRealize Code Stream 1.0 helps customers develop code faster by working with developer tools like Bamboo and Subversion to automate the entire software release process and enforce governance across release stages. Still in beta, vRealize Air Compliance enables companies to report on the configuration compliance of their mission-critical vSphere infrastructure.

The entire VMware vRealize Suite is available in two editions – vRealize Advanced (running $6750 per CPU) and vRealize Enterprise (running $9950 per CPU). VMware vRealize Code Stream 1.0 will be available as a standalone pricing with separate pricing, which will be announced later. VMware vRealize Air Compliance is available in its beta version, with pricing to be announced later as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nimble Storage Announces the Availability of its Fibre Channel SAN Solution

Nimble Storage recently advanced their Adaptive Flash Platform with the release of Fibre Channel protocol support for the CS-series storage arrays. This release marks a significant milestone for Nimble Storage as it enables them to effectively address storage requirements that are enterprise-wide as well as quadruple the amount of markets they can serve. Nimble Storage also announced the doubling of the maximum capacity of their storage systems to support up to 1.6PBs of raw capacity and 160TB of flash per cluster.

Fibre Channel options are available for the CS300, CS500, and CS700 series arrays. The CS300 arrays offer 1 dual-port 16 GB FC NICs, the CS500 arrays offer 1 or 2 dual-port 16 GB FC NICs, and the CS700 arrays offer 2 or 3 dual-port 16 GB FC NICs.  Each of these CS-series arrays also has the option for additional 1GbE, 10GbE SFP+, or 10GbaseT cards.

So far, Nimble Storage has successfully completed 40 deployments as a part of their beta program to effectively test and validate the expanded protocol support in real environments. These tests revealed high levels of satisfaction including ease of deployment and the ability to consolidate a broad range of enterprise applications and workloads. Other results included radically better price-performance, reduced footprint, the convenience of managing multiple arrays as a single scale-out SAN, the dramatic simplicity of snapshot-based backups and replication for DR, as well as the benefits of InfoSight’s cloud-based support and management. This beta test was so successful that Nimble Storage released it a full quarter ahead of schedule. The addition of Fibre Channel to the Adaptive Flash platform has allowed Nimble Storage customers to speed up the transition from disk-centric to flash-centric architectures.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Veeam Releases Availability Suite v8

Veeam has recently announced version 8 of its Veeam Availability Suite. With this release, Veeam defines Availability for the Modern Data Center by leveraging technologies including modern storage, virtualization, and the cloud. Veeam Availability Suite v8 combines the industry leading backup, restore, and replication capabilities of Veeam Backup and Replication with the advanced reporting, monitoring, and capacity planning functionality of Veeam ONE. Compatible with VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V environments, Veeam Availability Suite v8 delivers everything needed to protect and manage your virtual or cloud environment.

Five Key Capabilities for an Always-On Business with Veeam Availability Suite v8:
    Veeam Availability Suite v8
  • High-Speed Recovery – Brand new Explorers for SQL Server and Active Directory and a new Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots for HP and Net App are now available along with v8’s already well-known recovery features such as Instant VM Recovery, Instant File-Recovery and Explorers for Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint. 
  • Data Loss Avoidance – Provides backup and replication, built-in WAN acceleration and native tape support as well as several new replication enhancements and updated Veeam Cloud Connect, End-to-End Encryption and more.
  • Verified Protection – With the use of Veeam’s SureBackup and SureReplica technology, reliable restores, automatic backup testing and virtual labs ensure that backups are successful and are available whenever they are needed. 
  • Leveraged Data – Minimizing the risks associated with application deployment by automatically creating an isolated, easily accessible environment for application-item recovery, validating virtual machine backups and replicas and perform testing, training and troubleshooting.
  • Complete visibility – Improved monitoring tools such as centralized management, vCloud Director integration and vSphere web client plug-in all provide complete visibility to the infrastructure. 
Veeam Availability Suite v8 is available now!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Great Lakes Computer Takes Strategic Inventory Position on IBM x86 Servers

In response to Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s x86 server business on October 1st, Great Lakes Computer has built a solid inventory of IBM System x3550 M4 and IBM System x3650 M4 rack servers as well as IBM BladeCenter HS23 blade servers. This strategic inventory position guarantees that our customers are provided with the availability of this product during this transitional period.

This sale to Lenovo has interrupted the distribution channel for IBM’s x86 servers and is bringing uncertainty to those who are currently standardized on these platforms. With this increased inventory, Great Lakes Computer can now provide this hard-to-find equipment to better support those customers as a stable solution for sourcing this equipment.

Taking this strategic inventory position on IBM x3650 M4, IBM x3550 M4, and IBM HS23 servers allows GLC to ease the difficulty and provide clarity during this process. By sourcing the chassis of each model, our configure-to-order process enables us to provide you with any configuration of processor, memory, and hard drive that you require.

For further information and a list of the full IBM x86 server SKUs in stock, please see our latest press release.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dell Releases a New Portfolio of PowerEdge Servers

In early September, Dell unveiled its most advanced portfolio of PowerEdge servers to date with the 13th generation. The portfolio features customer-inspired engineering that is constructed to simply management and enhance workloads. Designed to address and optimize the ever-changing spectrum of application workload requirements and industry trends such as cloud computing, big data, mobility, and software- defined networking (SDN), the new Dell PowerEdge portfolio features new state-of-the-art advancements including increased storage, processing, and memory technology coupled with systems management capabilities.

The first of the new next generation PowerEdge servers includes the PowerEdge R730xd, R730, and R630 rack servers, the T630 tower server, and the M630 blade server. Each of these PowerEdge servers run on the latest Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 processor family and include Dell’s portfolio of enterprise infrastructure offerings, software, and service. As many challenges and pressures have been forced upon IT organizations that did not even exist a few years ago, it is important to find the perfect balance of implementing new technology without increasing complexity within any data center. To achieve this goal, the Dell PowerEdge portfolio focuses on three underlying principles: simplification of systems management, accelerating application performance, and empowering workloads in any environment.

With increased operational efficiency and flexibility at any scale for the most demanding environments and applications, the new generation of PowerEdge servers are built to leverage modern storage technologies that are future-proof. New in-server storage technology provides industry-leading capabilities including accelerating the most important data, zone large datasets, and support software defined storage and optimized data placement.  Dell’s new PowerEdge servers offer flexible platforms and innovative architectures that empower customers to modify systems to meet their exclusive workload and application requirements including unified communications, business computing, virtualization, collaboration, and technical computing. 

Dell will be sharing much more on the new PowerEdge portfolio at Dell World 2014 November 4-6 in Austin, Texas.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

SDN Market Sees Continued and Expected Growth in the Coming Years

Today many IT departments are moving towards software-defined networking (SDN) in their data centers. SDN is an approach to computer networking where control is separated from the physical infrastructure and allows network administrators to manage network services and support a network fabric across multi-vendor equipment. As an emerging architecture that is manageable, adaptable, dynamic, and cost-effective, SDN is ideal for high-bandwidth and demanding applications. There are many trends driving IT administrators to this network change, including changing traffic patterns, the rise of big data and cloud services, increasing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, the inability to scale, and vendor dependence.

There are many benefits of using software defined networking including flexibility in how the network can be used and operated, improved uptime through eliminating manual intervention, lowering operational costs, infrastructure savings, better planning with increased visibility into the network, and better management through Managed Service Providers (MSP).

In a study published in August 2014 by Infonetics Research, titled Data Center and Enterprise SDN Hardware and Software Annual Market Size and Forecasts, the firm stated that it found that the enterprise and data center SDN market grew 192 percent in 2013 and is expected to reach $18 billion by the year 2018. Up from 2012, the in-use SDN Ethernet switch revenue, including bare metal switches, branded Ethernet switches and virtual switches, grew ten-fold. This increase was found to be a result of the increases in white-box bare metal switch deployments by large cloud service providers such as Amazon and Google.

At the top of the in-use SDN-capable switch in the data center is the bare metal switch, which is expected to account for 31 percent of the total SDN-capable switch revenue by the year 2018. Infonetics Research also predicts that leaders in the SDN market will emerge during the upcoming years as lab trials transfer into live production deployments. In the meantime, the transition of SDN network virtualization overlays is predicted to reach mainstream buy 2018.

To conduct this study Infonetics Research gathered data by tracking SDN controllers and Ethernet switches in-use as well as SDN-capable Ethernet switches. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Midst of Sale to Lenovo, IBM Releases Updated x86 Server Line

IBM launched a new line of System x M5 generation servers in early September despite the sale of the x86 server line to Lenovo. On October 1st, Lenovo announced that they have completed the initial closing for the acquisition of the IBM x86 server business. This series is likely to be the last release of x86 servers by IBM before the purchase goes through.

The new line of IBM M5 x86 servers is designed to support a wide range of computing environments and enterprise workloads and contains features that make it secure, efficient, and reliable. With this release, IBM hopes to expand the x86 server use case with features unique to the new M5 line including IBM Trusted Platform Assurance security features, energy-saving TruDDR4 memory, and new Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 processors. Other features of the new M5 x86 server line include added hardware support for the Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) that will enable more encryption algorithms and Windows support, and a new Secure Firmware Rollback feature that will prevent unauthorized updates of previous firmware versions.

Improved energy efficiency is also prevalent in the IBM x86 servers with new features including dual fan zones, standby mode for power supplies, and extended operating temperature ranges. The new M5 servers provide up to 131% performance improvements over previous generations for faster analytics and improved business decision-making capabilities. Each M5 server can come loaded with up to 1.5TB of memory and range from 1U to 5U in form factor height. The M5 platform comes in configurable models of tower and rack servers, dense systems, blades and integrated systems. System x servers continue to have the highest availability of all x86-based servers which is a crucial factor for business that cannot afford downtime.

IBM remains the second-largest holder of the global server market despite its decision to leave the x86 server business. IBM continues to strike success from selling fewer big ticket items than selling many commodity x86 servers, which explains its reasoning for walking away from its x86 line to focus on other areas. Lenovo will now begin the transition in countries that are a part of the initial closing which includes most major markets. The transaction is expected to close in most other countries later this year with the full acquirement in all countries by early 2015. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Juniper Networks Enhances Spotlight Secure

Juniper Networks has enhanced the capabilities of the Spotlight Secure threat intelligence platform by integrating the ability to link with firewall policies in Juniper Networks SRX Series Services Gateways. This enhancement is one more way that Juniper Networks is working to provide additional layers of defense in the effort to stop advanced malware and emerging threats.  With this new capability, administrators and security professionals can quickly take action on data from verified threat detection feeds and enhance the protection of their high-IQ networks.

As threats continue to increase, accelerate, and evolve, security continues to react with many new technologies. With a vast selection of security tools on the market, customers are still struggling to manage mismatched security tools.  As a result, gaps are left between enforcement and detection at the firewall. Juniper’s revamp of the Spotlight Secure platform addresses these issues and provides administrators with new benefits not found in any other platform.

Highlights of the new enhancements include an intelligent firewall, tight integration with the network, and advanced threat protection. Advances to the SRX firewall now allow it to consume and enforce policy based on the aggregated threat intelligence from detection technology and feeds that are located in the cloud and on premises. Cloud-based threat feeds and customer firewalls are now linked via Juniper Networks Junos Space Security Director and Spotlight Secure as they provide a sole aggregation point for many feeds into the firewall. New threat feeds for Spotlight Secure provide C&C and GeoIP feeds that adapt protection and firewall policies based on the severity of threats in the network.  These features also allow the firewall to identify and block traffic from indicated countries and /or send their traffic through added security services.

Spotlight Secure integrated with the SRX firewall brings new capabilities that allow users to effectively take on threats within their network. With an open and scalable security platform, users can now achieve diverse threat intelligence and detection to provide timely, actionable enforcement on the firewall that can stop a wide range of threats. Increased security effectiveness provides users with the ability to use and employ industry-leading technologies, delivering real-time integration between threat feeds and the firewall. With the Spotlight Secure simplified enforcement model, users can significantly reduce administration costs. Centralized management brings threat intelligence feeds, reporting, and more, available in a single pane view with Security Director, while the latest aggregated threat intelligence can automatically syndicate across the entire firewall. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

VMware Virtual SAN – Delivering Radically Simple Storage

In today’s data centers, conventional storage systems are overwhelmed as a result of huge data volumes and complex solutions. With a new approach to storage, VMware Virtual SAN is a new software-defined storage tier for VMware vSphere that clusters server-side disks and flash to create simple, high performance, flash-optimized shared storage that is designed for virtual machines.

As hypervisor-converged storage software, Virtual SAN is embedded in the vSphere kernel, which allows optimal data placement and I/O optimizations. With this unique characteristic, Virtual SAN makes integration with vSphere seamless and provides the highest levels of performance, scalability and resilience. With the flexibility to build customized storage systems in heterogeneous hardware environments, Virtual SAN can be deployed on hardware from any server manufacturer.

Storage management is made simple because Virtual SAN is integrated with the vSphere Web Client. This integration allows for simple management of both storage and compute through a single interface. At the core of VMware Virtual SAN is policy-based provisioning. Policies are created and assigned to a VM and Virtual SAN handles the rest. As workloads shift, policy adjustments are made simple and allow users to make the policies while Virtual SAN adjusts them without interrupting service. When there is a need to expand capacity or performance, hosts can be added to a cluster or disks can be added to a host. VMware Virtual SAN also has no LUNs or RAID configurations while removing the need for manual adjustments by automating time-consuming tasks.
VMware Virtual SAN

VMware Virtual SAN works seamlessly with the entire VMware stack and leverages VMware snapshots, VM clones, VMware vSphere Data Protection, and vSphere Replication for data protection, backup, rapid cloning, and disaster recovery. With built-in fault tolerance, Virtual SAN supports a failures-to-tolerate setting on a per-VM or per-policy basis allowing for granular protection of important data by distributed copies across vSphere hosts.

There are many benefits of VMware Virtual SAN including the fact that it is the first policy-driven storage product that simplifies how storage in managed. High performance is achieved through the use of server-side flash technology which enables true server-side read/write caching.

With the use of enterprise-grade HDDs and SSDs to create a converged and resilient SAN-like storage tier within the hypervisor, Virtual SAN lowers the Total Cost of Operation (TCO) by up to 50 percent over virtual storage appliances and mid-range hybrid arrays. Virtual SAN also allows users to make a low upfront investment and grow the aspects of storage that their environment requires over time. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nimble Storage Reinvents Storage With Adaptive Flash Platform

Recently, Nimble Storage released a new technology they call their Adaptive Flash platform. This technology combines Nimble’s existing, patented Cache Accelerated Sequential Layout (CASL) architecture and their cloud-based InfoSight storage lifecycle management platform. The combination of these two features enables storage resources to be intelligently and dynamically deployed to better support a wide range of mixed data center workloads.

Key benefits of Adaptive Storage include:
  • Non-disruptive scaling of both performance and capacity
  • Enterprise-class performance and capacity in a small footprint
  • Eliminate forklift upgrades for investment protection
  • Sustain peak health of your storage infrastructure 
  • A flexible, building-block approach to achieving Cloud scale

Nimble’s Adaptive Flash platform incorporates both SSDs (solid-state drives) and HDDs (hard disk drives) and is engineered to allow enterprises to add flash incrementally as they need it. The new CS700 series model offers more flash capacity than the CS200 and CS400 series with increased maximum flash capacity in the head unit as well as maximum flash capacity with the new All-Flash Shelf. The new All-Flash Shelf is an add-on component to the CS-series systems that can accommodate up to 12.8TB of SSDs.

The Nimble Storage CS200 Series supports workloads such as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Microsoft applications, and virtual server consolidation. It is ideal for medium sized IT organizations or distributed sites of larger enterprises. The Nimble Storage CS400 Series is ideal for IO-intensive workloads including large-scale VDI, SQL or Oracle server databases and offers advanced performance for large-scale deployments. Ideal for midsize IT organizations or distributed sites of larger organizations, the CS300 Array is a 3U dual controller hybrid flash system that offers the best capacity per dollar amount for workloads including VDI and virtual server consolidation. Offering advanced performance for large-scale deployments or I/O-intensive workloads such as large-scale VDI, and Oracle or SQL Server databases, the Nimble Storage CS500 array delivers the best performance and IOPS per dollar amount.

The new CS700 series arrays are targeted towards enterprise-class customers with the ability to create a four-node, scale-out CS700 cluster that delivers an aggregate of 500,000 I/O operations per second and 1 PB of capacity. The CS700 utilizes Intel Ivy Bridge processors for around 125,000 IOPS, up to 2.5x the CS400 arrays. VMware, a strategic partner of Nimble Storage, said it is combining Nimble’s Adaptive Flash technology with their Horizon 6 virtual desktop suite that was rolled out in April.

The All Flash Shelf (AFS) comes in the same 3U enclosure as the CS700 base unit, but can also be used with Nimble’s CS400 series arrays. These all-flash expansion shelves deliver up to 12.8 TB of SSD capacity and provides the CS700 with a maximum flash storage capacity of 16 TB when it is combined with the CS700’s 3.2 TB of flash. Each controller unit can also have an AFS to expand the default 4 SSDs for the flash pool. The AFS provides solid-state drive (SSD) capacity behind a Nimble Storage CS700 or CS400 hybrid arrays. The power requirement for the AFS is 200W, which is considerably less than other expansion shelves. Both the CS700 and the AFS are now generally available.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

HP Announces New ProLiant Gen9 Servers

HP recently announced a new addition to its HP ProLiant server portfolio with the release of Generation 9 (Gen9) servers. The HP ProLiant Gen9 servers will allow users to reduce complexity and cost while accelerating IT service delivery to promote business growth. This release of the new server line furthers HP’s vision for compute, the future of data center technology with the Gen9’s new technology features and workload-optimized design. The new Gen9 systems include blade, rackmount, tower, and scale-out architectures. HP has said that ProLiant Gen9 servers will launch in waves between now and June 2015.

The new ProLiant Gen9 server line is designed to address challenges such as the ability to deliver more services, applications, and storage while reducing costs by providing flexible, scalable computing resources that are tailored to users’ business goals. Optimized for convergence, cloud, and software-defined environments, the HP ProLiant Gen9 server line features many new innovations. Some of these features include converged management across servers, networking, and storage to provide a software defined enterprise as well as HP-unique PCIe accelerators and HP DDR4 SmartMemory to increase compute capacity. Other innovative technology features include quick setup, monitoring, and firmware maintenance with secure embedded management including RESTful APIs and UEFI for hybrid cloud environments and increased performance with HP SmartCache and HP FlexFabric adapters.

HP Gen9 servers are designed to run modern workloads that provide organizations with new capabilities. By deploying ProLiant Gen9 servers, businesses will be able to triple compute capacity and increase efficiency across many workloads at a lower TCO with design automation and optimization. The workload performance of applications that are business-critical will also improve by up to four times to accelerate business growth through memory, networking, and HP storage advances.

For more information please visit

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Juniper Networks Improves DDoS Protection

For over a decade, Juniper Networks’ DDoS Secure technology has been ensuring availability of critical business resources for public sector, e-commerce, and financial customers, protecting applications against volumetric flood and application layer distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. DDoS Secure utilizes advanced heuristic DDoS mitigation technology that dramatically responds to over-loading of the protected resources, automatically providing the full spectrum of DDoS defenses to detect and block attacks. Today, DDoS Secure is the most comprehensive DDoS mitigation solution that is available, delivering protection against multi-vector DDoS attacks before they disrupt applications.

Recently, Juniper announced improvements to its DDoS Secure solution that help companies more efficiently and effectively mitigate complex attacks by leveraging security intelligence throughout the network fabric, bringing them one step closer to building a High-IQ Network. The goal is to deliver tighter integration into routing and service provider infrastructures with BGP Flowspec and GPRS Tunneling Protocol (GTP) protocols to enable new forms of protection that can mitigate a variety of DDoS attacks without restricting or impacting normal service. These new enhancements allow attacks detected by DDoS Secure at the network and application-layer to be stopped closer to the source through networking protocols to make the Juniper MX Series routers function as enforcement points.

Some highlights of Juniper’s announcement for upstream attack mitigation include distributed enforcement at the network boundary to protect the edge equipment as well as the resources behind it from becoming overwhelmed, especially when large or more challenging volumetric attacks take place. Also, the use of Flowspec provides the ability to take enforcement actions such as source-based black hole filtering to drop malicious packets or redirecting traffic to select network points for mitigation.

Accurate enforcement on mobile networks with GTP network protocol unwrap include new capabilities that protect against the escalating issue that service providers face in detecting and mitigating malicious traffic originating from botnets exploiting users’ devices. Also, DDoS Secure now also provides a look into malicious and errant mobile devices by identifying both User Equipment (UE) to UE and UE to Internet traffic.

For DNS inside-out attack protection, DDoS Secure now protects the core DNS infrastructure from participating in DNS amplification and reflection attacks that are difficult to detect and can have disastrous effects on network availability. DDoS Secure also applies heuristics-based intelligence to automatically mitigate attacks by rate limiting and black listing certain DNS requests. Also, this can generate a BGP Flowspec rule that allows attack traffic to be blocked upstream at the MX.

From a security standpoint, most businesses are completely REACTIVE.  They don’t take action or implement protective measures until they experience a compelling event.  When a DDoS attack does occur, not only does the business lose money, but also the trust and reputation of its employees and customers. DDoS Secure is necessary for all business to implement into their data centers as these types of attacks continue to increase each year. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

VMware Announces vCloud Air

Days before VMworld 2014, VMware announced the rebranding of its vCloud Hybrid Service to vCloud Air. This name change was made to highlight and focus the company’s commitment to the hybrid cloud category and emphasize their belief that the hybrid cloud is the future of professional deployments.

VMware vCloud Air is built on the foundation of vSphere, is compatible with any on-premises data center, and allows users to simply extend their workloads into the cloud. Users can migrate existing virtual machines (VMs) from on premise private clouds to the public cloud or deploy new applications directly in the cloud, creating a seamless hybrid cloud. vCloud Air reduces the risk and cost of ownership by offering automated replication and monitoring without requiring any modifications to existing applications. Delivering the reliability, performance, and security users demand from a hybrid cloud platform, vCloud Air provides only one support call for on-and-off-premises clouds.

Some benefits of using vCloud Air include its compatibility, agility, and ease of use. With support for over 90 operating systems and more than 5000 applications, vCloud Air has support delivers reliable and secure service that users expect from VMware while leveraging existing investments, processes, and expertise, as well as familiar tools and services that make moving to the cloud simple. The agility of vCloud Air empowers users to do more in less time. Users can set up, tear down, deploy, and test without the need to build a new infrastructure, as well as provides room for future growth. vCloud Air is easy to use and allows users to understand and plan their budgets through a capacity-based subscription, as well as employ existing policies in the cloud and rely on the same source of support as the onsite data center.

Users can start using VMware vCloud Air in any of the following ways:
  • Develop/Test – A first step into the hybrid cloud allows users to free up on premise resources by running pre-production in the cloud and choosing to deploy on or off-site.
  • New Enterprise Applications – Using the hybrid cloud, users can host and build new applications in traditional architectures (Java). 
  • Disaster Recovery – vCloud Air provides a reliable failover environment. 
  • Packaged Applications – Allows users to use their next application upgrade cycle of existing virtualized desktops and applications and host in hybrid cloud.
  • Next Generation Applications – Move from traditional to next generation and mobile applications and test, develop and deploy in hybrid cloud with advanced tools. 

To learn more about VMware vCloud Air please visit

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How Next Generation Firewalls Can Help Control Your Business

What’s happening with firewalls?

The traditional firewall continues to be a staple in the network for security activities. Firewalls have traditionally operated on Layer 3 and Layer 4 information. In more recent years, they have become a lot smarter, which is in part due to Layer 7 Application identification and enhanced deep packet scanning. With these enhancements, firewalls began to gain new abilities including the ability to control applications and the capability to understand and identify the applications that are running in a network, allowing new application layer controls to be put into place. Next generation firewalls can also reach out to an organization’s directory services, i.e. Active Directory or eDirectory, and pull in user information for setting up user firewall policies, allowing for user and/or group-based application controls.  Referred to as Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW), additional NGFW enhancements include the ability to provide deep packet scanning, content security, gateway anti-virus, and content filtering.

What next generation firewalls deliver

Next generation firewalls give you the control, protection, and simplicity, along with the operational efficiency to support your business. It is important to maintain a balance between three main areas: operational efficiency, support for the business, and security efficiency. Operational efficiency allows users to scale centralized control and protection of resources.  NGFW’s provide support for businesses by being open and flexible with better total cost of operations (TCO).  They also offer security efficiency that protects with breadth, depth, and enhanced threat prevention. Bulk adoptions of next generation firewalls are starting now, and Gartner estimates that 70% of enterprise firewall purchases in 2014 will be next-gen firewalls.

Application awareness is the core of next generation firewalls. Application awareness enables firewalls to identify the applications that are running across it. Applications aren’t always easily recognized as some are evasive, but once identified there are a number of capabilities that are opened for use. In the beginning, visibility and tracking allow administrators to understand what applications are running across the network while gaining an understanding of what kind of security risks you might be looking at as well as what user behaviors are in play. Application identification allows users to control and set policies based on those applications. It gives you the capability to block applications you might consider risky such as peer to peer applications. User firewall controls allow different users to have different application policies based on their role and group. Policies can also be tailored by specific applications and rate limits can also be placed on individual applications, providing a nice level of control.

Quality of Service (QoS) can be applied on policies that help protect and optimize the use of your resources and prioritize the applications that are mission-critical while limiting the resources that are available for applications that are less important. Packet inspection can be used with encrypted packets and can monitor traffic traveling over https, which is important to be able to see what is in that traffic with SSL proxy. Intrusion prevention system (IPS) helps to remediate security threats and apply security controls.
Unified threat management (UTM) is where content security comes into play. UTM provides antivirus, protection from malware, and reputation enhanced capabilities.  Antispam provides multilayered spam protection and protection against APTs.  Web filtering blocks malicious URLs and prevents lost productivity, while content filtering filters out extraneous or malicious content to maintain bandwidth for essential traffic.

Juniper Networks’ next generation firewall strategy

Juniper Networks’ takes a threefold approach to NGFW by providing security, easy manageability, and scalability for all-in-one best value devices along with software that provides consolidated, layered NGFW security. Services provide integrated solutions, ApplD efficacy, and threat/app support full portfolio, while simplified management delivers UX leads engineering, highly scalable integrating management for all of the security services into a single centralized management platform that enables management of multiple firewalls in one place. Open/dynamic intelligent security provides open IPS and app signatures, as well as advanced threat protection.

Juniper’s NGFW capabilities include integrated user/role firewall that allows easy agent-less SRX AD integration, creating a flexible and scalable user FQ portfolio. AppSecure and UTM deliver better application (app) visibility and control including evasive app and tunneled app detection, open app and IPS signatures, and best-in-class content security. Simplified management features include centralized management of the complete security services suite, integrated logging and reporting, and the ability to scale to large environments.

Juniper WebApp Secure delivers what you would expect an application aware solution to deliver, including tracking, firewall controls, QoS controls, SSL Proxy capabilities, and IPS.  Integrated user firewall and extended user security options include integrated user firewall, active user role firewall SRX + MAG, and end-to-end user security SRX + UAC + NAC. All of these services are available on all of Juniper’s platforms, allowing users to choose a platform that best fits their environment and layer on security services as you need them. Licenses can also be purchased on an as-needed basis. Each device can be easily managed with Security Director. Juniper’s Firefly device also offers a virtual platform solution comes with AppSecure capabilities and UTM. When evaluating your NGFW, it’s important to remember that when adding additional services onto your firewall, you must consider the performance implications of those features or the resources that are in your firewall to make sure it can handle the added services.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Great Lakes Computer Partners with Aruba Networks

Great Lakes Computer has become a PartnerEdge authorized partner with Aruba Networks, a leading provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise.  Founded in 2002, Aruba designs and delivers Mobility-Defined Networks that empower IT departments and #GenMobile, a new generation of tech-savvy users that rely on mobile devices for every aspect of work and personal communication. To create a mobility experience that #GenMobile and IT can rely on, Aruba Mobility-Defined Networks automate infrastructure-wide performance optimization and trigger security actions that used to require manual IT intervention. The results are dramatically improved productivity and lower operational costs. Aruba is the industry leader in 802.11ac access points and focuses on building secure, reliable, and easy-to-manage wireless networks.

Recently Juniper Networks and Aruba Networks announced their strategic partnership to deliver converged wireless and wired networking solutions based on each company’s best-of-breed technologies. This partnership includes joint development efforts and collaboration to focus on items such as delivering comprehensive solutions and more value to customers and enabling technology partners to take advantage of Juniper’s open APIs. Together, Juniper and Aruba address mobility market trends with product-level integration that leverages open protocols and open APIs on Juniper routers and switches, and contextual data on users, devices, applications and location available from Aruba’s enterprise Wireless LAN (WLAN) products. With this new integration, enterprises will now be able to optimize application performance, enable mobility-centric security and policy, and reduce total cost of ownership by eliminating vendor lock-in.

Already a partner with Juniper Networks for many years, Great Lakes Computer has chosen to align with Juniper in their positioning with Aruba Networks. This partnership will allow GLC to provide the knowledge, products, and expertise of Aruba Networks, as well as the new developments that their partnership with Juniper Networks brings. Great Lakes Computer already provides wireless site surveys to help improve existing wireless deployments as well as identify access point placement and coverage for new wireless deployments. These surveys help identify issues such as gaps in coverage, insufficient data throughput, service interruptions, and a growing number of devices.

Great Lakes Computer will carry the complete Aruba Networks wireless portfolio including access points, controllers, and software, as well as provide professional services to support hardware sales. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Unitrends Releases Free Online DR Planning Tool

As the industry’s fastest-growing multi-environment disaster recovery and data protection company, Unitrends has recently announced the release of their online Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) Link service tool that allows users to build and customize a disaster recovery plan. This enables users to easily build a comprehensive disaster recovery plan and confidently respond to an outage or disaster and recover systems quickly and efficiently. Unitrends has made this online tool absolutely free providing businesses that don’t have the staff, time, or budget to address disaster recovery with an easy and automated way to do so.

The BC/DR Links delivers step-by-step guidance for building a robust disaster recovery plan and includes 1 Gigabyte of centralized storage in the Unitrends cloud. Businesses can use the cloud to store essential data such as evacuation plans and emergency contacts. In the event of an outage or disaster, users can access the data remotely from a computer or mobile device. According to a 2014 Preparedness Benchmark Survey conducted by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council, more than 60 percent of respondents do not have a fully documented disaster recovery plan. Unitrends BC/RD Link is an industry-first, saving companies countless hours and thousands of dollars for those that fall within that 60 percent. 

The BC/DR Link helps users to:
  • Build BC/DR plan with the best practices in mind while incorporating the latest business continuity disaster recovery methods, offers guidance through the process, and offers plenty of room to attach instructions, checklists, and floor plans.
  • Allows the opportunity to connect the right people by giving everyone DR instructions remotely to spring into action as a well -coordinated team in the event of an outage or disaster.
  • Securely links key people to the DR plan from any mobile device with the use of mobile checklists. 
Businesses can leverage Unitrends’ new hybrid cloud Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) offering if they are looking for increased storage in the cloud and white glove disaster recovery service. Unitrends’ DRaaS utilizes the company’s proven ReliableDR, Unitrends Enterprise Backup and Unitrends Bridge technologies and delivers recovery services for business continuity and protection of heterogeneous physical and virtual applications and infrastructure.

To get started with your FREE BC/DR planning, please visit:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Veeam Management Pack v7 for System Center Now Available

Veeam recently announced the general availability of Veeam Management Pack (MP) v7 for System Center. This product includes the full capabilities for VMware vSphere and Veeam Backup & Replication along with new Microsoft Hyper-V support. Formerly known as Veeam Management Pack for VMware, Veeam MP v7 offers new features and functionalities such as unique in-context dashboards, real-time performance from the hypervisor and enhanced visibility for proactive monitoring.

An improvement over the previous free Veeam MP v7 for Veeam Backup and the full version of Veeam MP Editions, Veeam now offers three editions to better meet customer needs. Veeam Backup FREE, Veeam Enterprise Edition, and the Veeam Enterprise Plus Edition. The Enterprise edition is a scaled-down version for businesses that do not need all the features and functionality of Veeam MP v7 Enterprise Plus edition.

Highlights of Veeam Management Pack v7 for System Center include:

  • Veeam Task Manager for Hyper-V – A look at real-time information of the memory CPU consumption for the host and the virtual machines (VMs) running on that host through an in-context dashboard. 
  • Capacity planning widgets – Proactive monitoring allows users to quickly view the state of a cluster on compute or storage capacity and predict how long current resources will last based on historical data. This ensures adjustments can be made before compute and storage resources run out. 
  • Heatmap widgets – A color-coded, drill-through dashboard view to see how an environment is performing on varying performance counters and for clusters, hosts, and VMs to research deep into the different objects and detect future issues.
  • Top-traffic light widgets – Shows various counters and the state of the counters based on user selected parameters on a color-coded dashboard. 
  • Hybrid cloud reporting – Provides capacity planning for hybrid cloud. The reports analyze the environment and recommend the cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) resources needed to run the workload either for VMware Hybrid Cloud Service (vCHS) or Microsoft Azure.

Delivering multi-hypervisor management and data protection management with application to metal visibility, the Veeam Management Pack v7 is the best third-party management pack for System Center with improved functionality, insight, proactive monitoring, extensive reporting, and additional tools to bring ease to any data center.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nimble Storage’s CASL vs Legacy Write Architecture

Nimble Storage’s Cache-Accelerated Sequential Layout (CASL) is the foundation for its high performance, capacity efficiency, integrated data protection, and simplified lifecycle management of its storage systems. CASL accelerates applications by using flash as a read cache coupled with a write-optimized data layout. The CASL architecture includes features such as flash-based dynamic cache, which accelerates read access to application data by holding a copy of “hot” active data in flash, and a write-optimized data layout, in which data written by a host is first coalesced, then written sequentially as a full stripe to a pool or disk. Other features of CASL include efficient integrated replication, inline universal compression, instantaneous point-in-time snapshots, and zero-copy clones.

Architectures that use a write cache to accelerate writes are often confused with the CASL architecture, which accelerates write performance using a sequential layout. Though both of these may have some similarities at first glance, many people miss the key elements that differentiate CASL from other architectures on the market.

The purpose of CASL is to accelerate back-end disks by turning random IO into sequential IO. Nimble’s CASL architecture has no predetermined mapping of logical block addresses (LBA) to physical locations or block boundaries with CASL’s support for variable block sizes. CASL does not rearrange blocks; it simply constructs a large set of blocks into a large physical stripe, reducing all random write operations into one.  Unlike traditional storage architectures, Nimble’s CASL write performance is not limited by disks and write caches but by the CPUs compressing and decompressing data. 

Traditional storage architectures use LBAs, which uses a map of predetermined physical locations on a disk. Data is written to disks as quickly as possible, but random, non-sequential writes have increased latency over sequential writes resulting in larger write latency. Combined with the need to read data from the same disk drives, read performance is decreased more as a disk tries to balance finding requested data and writing incoming data.

Nimble Storage is revolutionizing data storage with the CASL architecture by leveraging the unique properties of flash and disk to deliver high performance and capacity with the only flash optimized solution.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

VMware Recognized as a Leader in Gartner's Magic Quadrant

VMware has recently been named a leader of Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for its x86 server virtualization infrastructure for the fifth year in a row. As a leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure solutions that allow enterprises to thrive in the Cloud Era, customers rely on VMware to help transform the way they build, deliver, and consume IT resources in a manner that is evolutionary and based on users specific needs. VMware continues to transform IT infrastructures as customers are pleased with product capabilities, vendor support, and VMware’s leadership of developing new products to augment virtualization.

VMware has been a leader in the hypervisor market by bringing virtualization into small to medium business and enterprises across the world. VMware’s virtualization strategy embraces the data center and expansion to private and hybrid cloud computing. Gartner’s placement of VMware for the past five years highlights their vision, strategy, and offerings within modern IT. Strengths of VMware that Gartner emphasized include their virtualization strategy that embraces the data center and expansion of private and hybrid cloud computing, continued innovation, high customer satisfaction, and a large installed base (particularly among large enterprises and service provider ecosystems).

VMware’s success in the hypervisor market places them in an ideal position to extend private clouds into the public cloud. VMware vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) is a secure cloud service operated by VMware, built on the proven foundation of vSphere. vCHS supports existing workloads as well new application development, providing the benefits of cloud computing while still maintaining on premise private clouds. Available in three variations, vCHS supports Dedicated Cloud, a physically isolated cloud compute offering; Virtual Private Cloud, logically isolated, multi-tenant compute service with fully private networking; and Disaster Recovery, native cloud-based disaster recovery for vSphere virtual environments. Few companies are prepared to fully migrate to public cloud services, but VMware’s hybrid approach allows IT departments to maintain existing private cloud solutions while embracing public cloud where it makes the most sense.

The 2014 Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure is available for review at: 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Global Cost of Cyberattacks is Rising

Cybercrime continues to be a global concern with an increasing number of incidents reported each year. With more and more breaches happening, and the costs associated with them continuing to rise, it seems no business or enterprise can go untouched. Today, cybercrime is still low risk and high reward, which has contributed to its increasing popularity. We've been aware that crime of this nature has been happening for years, but do we truly know just how much it has and will continue to cost us?

Intel’s McAfee security unit and the Center for Strategic and International Studies released a study in June 2014 that drew on data that is publicly available as well as interviewed experts in an attempt to estimate the financial business losses related to cybercrimes. The report stated that worldwide cyberattack-related losses are estimated at a staggering $400 billion, with $375 billion on the low side and potentially even upwards to $575 billion annually. Findings showed that the majority of incidents go unreported as many businesses choose not to disclose attacks. Researchers also reported that collecting consistent data was difficult because of the fact that countries have not agreed on a clear definition of what is considered cybercrime.

The research examined the direct and indirect costs of a cyberattack including the loss of business information and intellectual property, the cost of securing networks, reputational damage, and the costs of recovering after an attack. The most difficult cost for researchers to estimate for cybercrime is stolen intellectual property, which holds the most value as it could be used to manufacture competing goods. As the use of the Internet for businesses continues to grow, the report states that "the cost of cybercrime will continue to increase as more business functions move online.”

Of the global study, United States companies suffered the highest losses and found that in general, "there are strong correlations between national income levels and losses from cybercrime.”  The United States also had one of the higher confidence rankings of countries tracking cybercrime within their borders. Countries that have weak laws for intellectual property and cybercrime, such as Brazil, were also found to be more targeted with their association of low-risk.

Cybercrime will continue to be an issue as technology, the Internet, and computing grows. At an enterprise it is extremely important to invest in security for your data center now to protect your organization before it ends up really costing you after an attack. "Explaining these variations lies beyond the scope of this report, but one possibility is that cybercriminals decide where to commit their crimes based on an assessment of the value of the target and the ease of entry," the report concluded.

For the complete study, please visit: Net Losses: Estimating the Global Cost of Cybercrime Economic Impact of Cybercrime II.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

New Veeam Availability Suite v8 Enables Nonstop Availability

Veeam Software will soon release Veeam Availability Suite, a solution that ensures all data and applications are accessible whenever and wherever they are needed. With Veeam Availability Suite, Veeam has created a new solution category that provides Always-On Business for today’s data centers that never stop working. Built from the foundation of the powerful yet simple Veeam Backup and Replication solution, Veeam Availability Suite extends far beyond just backup and recovery of virtual machines and data. In the past, achieving constant availability of data and applications would require a major investment in fully redundant systems with instant failover to ensure quick recovery.

Moving beyond simply the backup of virtual machines, these investments could only be justified for a few mission critical applications, leaving the majority to be served with legacy backup solutions resulting in recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) of hours or days, falling short of an Always-On-Business. Veeam Availability Suite provides a new solution in availability for the modern data center with an RTO/RPO of less than 15 minutes for all data and applications.

Veeam Availability Suite narrows the availability gap though five key enabling capabilities: high-speed recovery; data loss avoidance with near-continuous data protection; verified protection to guarantee the complete recovery of every application, file or virtual server; risk mitigation, which allows the low-risk deployment of new applications with a production-like test environment within Veeam Virtual Lab; and complete visibility, which actively monitors and alerts users of issues before they impact operations.

New features available in Veeam Availability Suite v8 include:

  • Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL – Allows users to rapidly restore individual databases back to the original or new location. This feature includes point-in-time recovery through transaction log backup and replay, enabling a specific restore of databases to a certain point in time, or even specific transactions. 
  • Replication Enhancements – New replication features include built-in WAN Acceleration with replication jobs that allows users to preform replication from backup files, as opposed to the virtual infrastructure. Also, users can perform planned failovers to facilitate data center migrations with no data loss, improving RTO and RPO. 
  • Encryption – Allows users to secure data at the source during back up, at rest with support for encryption in Backup Copy jobs and hardware and software tape encryption, and data in-flight as it is transferred between Veeam components. 

Veeam Availability Suite v8 will be released this quarter (Q3), and will be showcased this fall at Veeam ON: The World’s Premier Data Center Availability Event in Las Vegas, NV October 6-9 2014.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

CommVault Extends Offerings for Microsoft Apps & Cloud Environments

In early May 2014, CommVault announced the enhancement of their Simpana 10 software suite for Microsoft applications and environments. Released earlier this year, Simpana 10 enables enterprises to securely and efficiently discover, protect, manage and create value from data. The new enhancements make Simpana 10 ideal for protecting and managing data in Hyper-V virtual environments, managing workloads in Microsoft Azure, and new integration for SharePoint, Office 365, Exchange, and SQL Server applications.
Delivering enterprise-class compliance and eDiscovery features, CommVault Simpana software extends Microsoft’s built-in archiving support. These features include file and email analytics, a single management interface for federated search, and legal hold. Enterprises can increase the availability of data analytics, collaboration, cloud-based and mobile applications with these capabilities integrated with Windows Explorer, Outlook and other Microsoft applications.

New updates provide more automated ways for enterprises to holistically manage data with deep integration for Microsoft Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V, Azure-hosted clouds, and broad interoperability and support for Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Office 365 and Windows endpoint devices. With the use of CommVault Simpana, users can unite data protection operations such as disaster recovery and backup, and effortlessly move data from on-premises infrastructure to Azure cloud storage.

CommVault and Microsoft engineers worked together to provide improvements for Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V virtualization to optimize storage efficiency, manageability, data availability, and network resources for enterprises. These resources include Hyper-V virtual machine (VM) lifecycle management features that extend VM administration to end-users and block-based tracking support for Hyper-V. This enables “incremental forever” backups to minimize impact on production VMs, provide effective data protection and recovery and decrease network requirements. Also, a highly scalable data backup architecture protects hundreds of Hyper-V VMs in a single node by using both incremental forever methodology and a cluster shared volumes proxy backups.

The ContentStore, a component of the Simpana platform, is the single source of CommVault-managed information for all data on any storage tier from virtualized to physical infrastructure and hosted workloads. Reducing storage requirements and capturing granular intelligence about the data, the converged Simpana backup and archive process provides key enhancements including ContentStore mail, Office 365 integration, optimizes protection for SharePoint, SQL Server 2014 support, Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), file sync and upload.

The Microsoft enhancements are available immediately worldwide in the most recent Simpana 10 release. Contact Great Lakes Computer at 888-352-5578 for more information.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Web Application Firewalling – Great in Theory, Poor in Execution

One of the biggest issues in network security is securing web applications and sites.  According to a 2014 Gartner study, 70% of ALL threats are at the Web Application Layer.  In the past, traditional stateful firewalls and signature-based Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)/ Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) were the primary means of protecting your network-based applications. 

Today’s Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) attempt to improve on those protection mechanisms by adding Layer 7 Application Firewalling, Content Filtering, and enhancements to IPS / IDS.  Even adding in a dedicated Web Application Firewall (WAF) does very little to prevent Web Application Attacks.  Sure, the level of protection increases with each layer, but how much are you actually increasing the security level by building on a poor foundation?  That “poor” foundation is based on a set of flawed premises. 

The biggest of these flaws is that IPS / WAF are signature-based.  Signature-based protection is completely reactive when it comes to dealing with threats.  The entire process for a signature to be published is time consuming, not to mention that the vulnerable system is exposed or taken offline until that process is complete.  

The fact is most IPS and WAF implementations are running in “monitor only” mode due to the high level of false positives.  To avoid blocking legitimate users and potential clients, these devices might be configured to alert or simply log anything considered suspicious and nothing more.  This leaves your web applications exposed and vulnerable.  It also puts your security in a reactive state. 

Juniper’s WebApp Secure (JWAS) changes the game by being proactive in dealing with threats to web applications.  The concept is simple - Intrusion Deception.  Provide false information that a normal user is either not going to see or is going to ignore, but that an attacker can’t resist.  The moment they act on that false information, the attackers are classified and finger-printed. From there, they can have various levels of counter-measures applied to them, up to and including blocking.  JWAS deals with Bots and automated attacks as well by providing false information.  The goal is to make hacking a site or application so time consuming and cost prohibitive that attackers will simply move on.

Enter Juniper’s Spotlight Secure.  Spotlight is an online repository of attackers that have been finger-printed and classified.  JWAS uploads this information to Spotlight where other JWAS users can retrieve this information and automatically classify known attackers based on their fingerprint.  So even if the attacker moves on to another site or web application, every JWAS implementation subscribing to Spotlight can proactively take action against them at their first connection to a protected system, up to and including implementing a “block” action immediately if configured.

In conclusion, while firewalls, NGFWs, IPS and WAF offer protection against known threats and attacks, JWAS and Spotlight Secure take this to a whole new level of protection by proactively mitigating threats, both known and unknown, allowing security professionals to focus on other potential attack vectors.  Security professionals can sleep at night knowing their web applications are protected and secured.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

VMware Introduces vCloud Hybrid Service

VMware recently introduced vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS), a secure, hybrid cloud service that supports third-party and new application development as well as existing workloads. Providing agility, compatibility, and ease of use, vCloud Hybrid Service allows users to extend their current data center into the public cloud while maintaining control. Built on the foundation of vSphere, vCHS allows users to leverage the same familiar interface, network settings and management tools they have onsite, and migrate virtual machines between their data center and VMware’s cloud infrastructure.

With support for over 5000 applications and over 90 operating systems, vCloud Hybrid Service is a complete Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform ideal for high-performance, production workloads, disaster recovery, new application development, and more. vCloud Hybrid Service allows users to leverage their existing tools for a full cloud experience.

Available in three service models, vCloud Hybrid Service has an offering to fit any need:
  • The Virtual Private Cloud is a logically isolated, fully private networking service that lets users scale up and down as demands change. Starting with 20 GB vRAM, 5 GHz vCPU, and 2 TB standard or SSD accelerated storage, The Virtual Private Cloud offering is a multi-tenant hybrid cloud solution that is cost-effective and delivers expandability, value and performance. The Virtual Private Cloud offering also offers 10 Mbps of internet bandwidth with bursts to 50 Mbps, and two public IP addresses. Ideal use cases for Virtual Private Cloud include applications that are non-critical and highly variable test and development workloads. 
  • As a single-tenant, private cloud instance, the Dedicated Cloud offering is physically isolated and is ideal for security and high compliance workloads, as well as mission-critical applications. The Dedicated Cloud starts with 120 GB vRAM and 30 GHz CPU, Dedicated Cloud starts at 6 TB standard or SSD accelerated storage with internet bandwidth of 50 Mbps with bursts to 1 Gbps and three public IP addresses.  Dedicated Cloud also has the ability to allow demands to match the supply by growing and then scaling back down as needed. 
  • With recovery as a service, the Disaster Recovery Cloud offers a minimum size of 20 GB vRAM and 10 GHz vCPU and contains 1 TB of standard storage. Offering 10 Mbps of internet bandwidth and two IP addresses, the Disaster Recovery Cloud is logically isolated and delivers native cloud-based disaster recovery capabilities for VMware vSphere virtual environments. By protecting on-premises cloud infrastructures through self-service recovery options, Disaster Recovery Cloud also provides automated failover testing, planned migrations, and recovery. 
vCloud Hybrid Service allows users to build new environments in the cloud or expand existing clouds when necessary. Some key features include broadest operating system and application support, high-performance, security and compliance, seamless network integration, manageability and reliability, lower cost of ownership and low risk, and a comprehensive ecosystem and best-in-class support. Some optional features of vCHS include data protection, direct connect, offline data transfer and application catalog.

As many enterprises are looking to move into cloud-based solutions, vCloud Hybrid Service is an ideal solution for those already employing virtualization in their existing infrastructure. vCloud Hybrid Service enables you to extend your private infrastructure seamlessly into the cloud, resulting in improved efficiencies, coverage, and cost-savings.

For more information, please visit

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Why GLC is Both a Partner and a Customer of Nimble Storage

At Great Lakes Computer (GLC), we provide datacenter solutions. Our focus is in providing better technology at a great value, so it’s important for us to believe in the technology that we sell. This made it especially difficult when we were internally challenged with an inefficient virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI).

Due to performance issues such as inadequate data capture and retention, high datastore latency, and long backup durations, our sales staff experienced productivity loss while waiting for programs and documents to load. This also affected our overall customer experience because information was not readily available for engineers and sales staff during phone consultations. As a result, our sales staff was unexcited to sell VDI to our customers because their personal experience with a VDI environment was negative.

Our sales staff wasn’t alone in their complaints - our internal IT staff wasn't happy either. They were unable to virtualize SQL databases and Exchange mail servers and our backup processes were not being completed during the scheduled timeframes. To fix this issue, our internal IT staff sat down with the engineering staff and crafted a solution that would provide the performance required immediately with the ability to scale-up for future needs.

The biggest factor affecting our VDI performance was an HP EVA 8000 storage array. Having already expanded the EVA 8000 as far as possible, it was clear that we needed a new array. We evaluated several different storage vendors, focusing on how well each array performed as a VDI solution. When evaluating compatibility and optimization regarding VDI, Nimble Storage came out the clear winner. Having recently become a Nimble Storage authorized reseller, our sales staff was thrilled that our IT and engineers’ evaluation supported our decision to adopt Nimble Storage’s line of products.

Our IT and engineers worked together to install a Nimble Storage CS440G array for the storage backend of the server and desktop virtual machines. The implementation of the Nimble Storage array had an immediate impact on our virtual desktop environment. Workforce productivity has improved due to the greatly increased responsiveness of virtual desktops and server actions. The Nimble Storage array also reduced the duration to complete backups by 35% while also improving datastore latency. Consolidating the storage from a 42U rack enclosure and half of another rack enclosure into a single 3U array caused a noticeable reduction in power consumption and heat generated.

To better support our new Nimble Storage array, we upgraded the rest of our aging infrastructure with:
  • VMware Horizon View
  • Juniper Networks EX4550 switches 
  • HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosure
  • HP ProLiant BL460c Gen8 blade servers
  • HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric interconnects 

The upgrade of the aging infrastructure to support the Nimble Storage SAN solution enabled the array to perform optimally. The full implementation of the end-to-end solution including storage, switching infrastructure, servers, and virtualization software that future-proofed our data center to scale as we continue to grow and virtualize our business critical applications.

When our staff members were surveyed regarding their experience with the new virtual desktop environment, one account manager stated, “I don’t spend time with a locked-up VM anymore, allowing me to spend my time more effectively and be more responsive to my customers’ needs.” We’re happy to say our sales staff is now excited to talk about VDI, and especially the benefits that Nimble Storage can provide for a VDI environment.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Backups – Are You Using Tape, Disk, or the Cloud?

In a recent survey conducted by Nimble Storage, they asked more than 1,600 IT professionals to share their thoughts and concerns on data protection. The majority reported that they believe businesses need to protect the bulk of their data (which is increasingly generated by virtualized applications), protect the data often (minimum of every six hours) and recover data quickly (in at least six hours). It’s clear to see that most agree that data protection is a necessity, but with many options available such as tape, disk and cloud, what media are most using?

Tape Storage

Tape data storage is far from becoming the storage of the past, according to survey respondents. Results stated that half of respondents still use tape; 59% of large businesses and 32% small businesses surveyed still use tape media for backup. With large sized businesses usually having a well-established data protection infrastructure and process with longer compliance and retention requirements, tape is hard to beat in terms of cost. Although tape is still relevant, it adds complexity to the storage environment and is difficult to manage.

Tape storage is also secure, safely moving private data offline to protect it from potential threats, breaches and viruses. For enterprises that need to store archived data, tape storage is ideal because the average lifespan can exceed twenty years, providing great longevity. Those surveyed reported that they believe other media types will begin to take over the tape market share, with only 13% of large businesses thinking that tape will grow. Either way, it will still be some time before tape is a thing of the past.

Disk Storage

Regardless of business size, the vast majority use disks for their data protection needs. Roughly 70% of respondents stated that they use general disk-based storage including general purpose storage arrays for data protection. Disk-based storage eliminates many of the downfalls tape storage has including cost, easy management, and fast recovery times. With these features being a key need in businesses today, it’s easy to see why disk storage wins the popularity contest.

Backup appliances based on disk are storage appliances whose sole target is data protection and usually have built-in data management technologies such as compression and deduplication. Of those surveyed, 49% use backup appliances and of those 57% were of large businesses, 36% small businesses. Disk use and growth is expected to remain dominant in data protection (with general disk outpacing backup appliances) and 54% of respondents from large enterprises predicting that disk will outgrow and surpass all other media types.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage works well for some data protection needs such as archiving and long term backup, but it is not so well suited for aggressive data protection. Enterprise-level cloud storage allows data to be stored in virtualized pools and is typically hosted by third party companies. Here, businesses can lease or buy extra storage space that is required from a hosting company and typically only pay for what they use. Businesses are using the cloud for data protection today with 54% of small businesses and 28% of large business reported from survey respondents. Small businesses are attracted to the cloud because it allows them to skip the investment of another storage silo for data protection, and use a pay-as-you-go model.

Due to issues such as compliance, security, and service level agreements, cloud storage can be ill-suited for large businesses. Of those surveyed, 56% expected a growth in usage of cloud storage for data protection. This perspective leans towards the assumption that cloud services are replacing use cases that were previously the domain of tape. Other advantages of cloud storage include the choice of on or offsite storage options and users are provided with immediate access.


From the survey results, we can conclude that disk-based storage dominates data protection today and is expected to in the future, tape storage continues to grow slowly, and over time more businesses will transition to cloud storage. While the need for aggressive data protection will never go away, we will continue to evolve the way we store, back up, and manage data as new and improved methods become available.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New and Improved Veeam Explorers Reduce Recovery Time Objectives

Businesses of all sizes receive benefits from virtualizing Tier 1 applications such as resource allocation, high availability, workload customization, and mobility. Although great benefits are provided, virtualizing Tier 1 application workloads also brings challenges that are associated with disaster recovery, management of the virtual infrastructure, and data protection. Veeam has extensive experiencing helping enable virtualization of Tier 1 applications for today’s businesses that demand constant access to data, efficient management of exploding data growth, and minimal downtime though backup, monitoring, replication, and management of the virtual machines (VMs).

Veeam added Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange to Veeam Backup & Replication almost two years ago. This provided access inside the Exchange .EDB database file from within the Veeam backup file, allowing granular recovery of items from an Exchange database to a running Exchange server in minutes instead of hours, all without agents. Veeam Backup & Replication v8 introduces additional features for Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange including a web-based restore portal for help desk operators and the ability to recover hard deleted items.

Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint soon followed and made it possible to restore and backup everything in a SharePoint environment. This allowed the .MDF database to be available from within the backup file with item level granular recovery features to the running SharePoint servers without the need for software agents.

With v8 of Backup & Replication, Veeam introduces Veeam Explorer for SQL and Veeam Explorer for Active Directory. Veeam Explorer for SQL allows fast, transaction-level recovery of SQL databases in an easy-to-use interface.  With a 1-Click restore back to the original location, digging through a file-level system or knowing where the database or log files are located are no longer an issue. Veeam Explorer for SQL provides agentless transaction log backup and restore that allows users to restore SQL databases to a specific point in time while ensuring low recovery point and recovery time objectives (RTOs and RPOs).

Item-level recovery is made simple with Veeam Explorer for Active Directory. This allows users to easily recover individual Active Directory objects, computer passwords, individual user accounts, entire containers and organizational units instantly. Accessing and recovering accidental deletions or service accounts that need the password changed on every server that used that account is made easy with Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Active Directory. There is no need to extract the entire VM, perform or restore into isolation, or install an agent on the domain control.

With these additions and upgrades to Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange, Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL, and Veeam Explorer for Active Directory, Veeam continues to deliver the tools necessary to manage virtualized Tier-1 applications. All Veeam Explorers will be included in Veeam Backup & Replication v8, aimed for release in the second half of 2014.