Friday, May 22, 2015

Palo Alto Networks Named Leader in Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls

Gartner recently released its Magic Quadrant for enterprise network firewalls, which positions Palo Alto Networks as a leader for the fourth year in a row. Shipping enterprise firewalls since 2007, Palo Alto Networks’ line consists of 18 models, with a maximum throughput of 120 Gbps for the PA-7050. With an emphasis on Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW), Palo Alto Networks is frequently cited in Gartner shortlists for advanced firewalls use cases – identifying them as a leader that frequently beats the competition on feature quality.

In its Magic Quadrant report, Gartner addresses some of Palo Alto Networks’ strengths with significant praise for their NGFW line. Specific strengths that were mentioned include the ease of use and quality of Palo Alto Networks’ App-ID and IPS as well as the design advantage offered by “single pass” integration between the firewall and IPS, with App-ID implemented within the firewall and throughout the inspection stream. Another strength that was mentioned was WildFire, their cloud-based network sandbox service and optional hardware appliance, which have become popular add-ons with new and incumbent Palo Alto firewall customers. This platform provides customers with an option that competes with third-party advanced threat application solutions.

Palo Alto Networks was also recognized for its work with VMware NSX, which has provided customers with an alternative for placing Palo Alto Networks products in virtualized data centers. Their roadmap focus on VMware NSX shows Palo Alto Networks’ strong leadership towards solving client’s future issues. The joint efforts of Palo Alto Networks and VMware help enterprises realize the benefits of a software-defined data center while ensuring protection by next-generation security policies.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Is Your Storage System Too Big to Fail?

While discussing storage and data protection with some colleagues recently I asked the question “At what point does your storage system become too big to fail?”  Prior to this, we had discussed various ways to achieve aggressive RPO/RTO for varying data sets.  Between features and rich backup products like Veeam, Unitrends and intelligent storage snapshots being baked into appliances like Nimble Storage, you can architect a plan that will offer a plethora of recovery points and recover the data with near immediate access with little manual effort.  Add into the mix one of the more exciting features from VMware, Virtual Volumes (VVOLs), and you start to see how these options begin to complement each other.  When used in conjunction you can start to define objectives on a very granular level, which tends to shrink the amount of time it takes to gather the data.  This in turn has a positive effect on the impact backups have on your environment: less data = less traffic = less contention.

This is great news for smaller sets of data, but year over year, our data footprints are growing tremendously.  So data grows and grows, but the backup window that admins have to work with stays the same.  At some point we may need to adjust our backup jobs to be able to protect the data that’s critical to our business to abide by these constraints.  The easy to create, all-encompassing jobs that were setup a year ago might start to take too long to complete as data grows.  These will get adjusted so that we’re backing up just the files, rather than the entire VM or physical server without impacting production.  Often, this will have an adverse effect on the RTO, and if not that, then certainly the ease of recovery.  You may no longer be able to recover an entire SQL Virtual Machine with a single click, just the database it runs.  As a result of this, recovery testing (you’re doing this, right?!) takes longer as well.

So what’s an Admin to do?  Setting up file or mailbox size quotas won’t gain you any friends.  Selective jobs certainly gain you time during the backup, but increase the time for recovery.  Moving the data faster might work, but for how long and at what cost?  There are Public Cloud options but they have their own list of considerations to come to terms with.

If you’re too big to fail or still have room to grow we’re here to ease the decision making process.  At Great Lakes Computer, we’re ready to help you tackle these questions and assist with designing an adaptable solution.  Let us know how we can assist!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lenovo Releases New ThinkPad Series

E, T, X, Yoga, Helix
Lenovo’s new ThinkPad line of notebooks and ultrabooks provide an affordable solution for businesses, mobile business, and home offices.  The series includes ThinkPad T Series, ThinkPad E Series, ThinkPad X Series, ThinkPad Yoga, and finally, ThinkPad Helix. Each series embodies unique features pertinent to your specific needs. Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad line of notebooks and ultrabooks focus on productivity, reliability, and portability.

Lenovo ThinkPad T Series
ThinkPad T Series
Sleek Durability and Productivity
The Lenovo ThinkPad Series E, T, and X provide slightly different variations of a sleek and affordable laptop solutions.  The ThinkPad E Series offers advanced features to keep pace with ever changing business applications by offering the fifth generation Intel Core up to i7 processors, several I/O ports, 16GB of memory, plenty of storage, and the ability to keep up with heavy workloads. The E450 is the lightest in the series, weighing four pounds with an eight hour battery life and a 14-inch HD display. Powered by the fifth generation of Intel core processors, the ThinkPad T series offers spill-resistant keyboards, strong performance, and exceptional security features. ThinkPad T450s series are the thinnest and lightest laptop in the T series, starting at only 3.5 pounds. Finally, the T series offers up to twenty-four hours of battery life and can hold as much as 16GB of memory.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X Series is the thinnest and lightest ThinkPad laptop design offered by Lenovo. Its innovative design allows for convenience and portability without sacrificing performance; making it a perfect laptop for business-folk on the go. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook weighs just 2.87 pounds and has a battery life of up to 10.9 hours. However, the ThinkPad X250 offers up to twenty hours of battery life.  After listening to customer feedback, the X1 Carbon ThinkPad added back the function keys for convenience. Furthermore, X series laptops are powered by fifth generation Intel Core processors, offer up to 8GB of memory and feature a sleek design for convenience and portability.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12
ThinkPad Yoga 12 (2nd Gen) 
Extreme Portability
If you need more flexibility and convenience, the ThinkPad Yoga and Helix are the perfect choice for you, used mainly for business travel, schools, mobile offices and more. The ThinkPad Yoga series is able to be both a laptop and a tablet through a 360-degree flip-and-fold design. Being a 2-in-1 tablet PC, the Yoga has four modes: laptop, tablet, tent, and stand. The ThinkPad Yoga 12 is extremely portable weighting in at just 3.48 pounds. The ThinkPad Yoga is also offered in a Chromebook version designed specifically for education with the ThinkPad Yoga 11e. The ThinkPad Yoga 12 and Yoga 15 offer the fifth generation of Intel Core processors all the way up to the i7 variant. The ThinkPad Helix has a detachable keyboard allowing you to be productive on the go.  It has two keyboard models with the Ultrabook Pro keyboard offering up to 12 hours of battery life and additional I/O ports. Dual cameras, advanced security options, up to 8GB of memory with plenty of storage options, makes this 11.7” wide screen a perfect option for travel. 

Redesigned and Updated
The Lenovo ThinkPad series has earned its loyalty and reputation as a high performing, productive, and convenient laptop solution for businesses, schools, mobile offices, military use, and more. With Lenovo’s attentive attitude towards their customers, they have recently brought back specific features to the ThinkPad series laptops including the beloved buttons on the top of the ThinkPad’s touchpad. Another important feature to several customers is that they still remain military spec tested. To confirm the durability and reliability that many customers rely on, the redesigned ThinkPad series has indeed undergone military sec testing. From low pressure at 15,000 feet, humidity, vibration, high temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, low temperatures to negative four degrees Fahrenheit, temperature shock and dust blows; the ThinkPad Series has indeed stood its tests and gained its new design approval.