Responding to the Stress of Change

first_img“What does it mean for me?”That’s the unspoken question underlying today’s technology conversations. From CIO to line administrator, everybody wants to know where the disruption we’re seeing with the emergence of cloud, big data, and mobile will leave them.Everybody is feeling unprecedented levels of stress. We’re at the confluence of three massive technology waves, in which each wave’s architecture optimizes for different workloads:Traditional storage-centric services – IT builds the application infrastructure by stitching together best-of-breed storage, servers, network, virtualization, and backup.Converged infrastructure-centric services – IT builds the application infrastructure with increasingly integrated components, so they spend less time and effort connecting pieces.Cloud-centric data services – Either IT or an external vendor provides standard, simple application infrastructure without exposing any traditional components.We’re also facing new consumption models. For decades, IT infrastructure transactions have focused on buying physical equipment.  At the end, you owned something tangible.  Now, however, there are new options: hybrid cloud, public cloud, and virtualized (as in a software-defined data center).Companies have to choose both the right architectural and consumption model for their workloads. The result: more stress.Faced with these changes, IT’s role and responsibilities are changing. I’ve seen two reactions to this new reality. The first is to resist the change. These teams talk about the new models as not providing “true X” (where ‘X’ is whatever service they provide), that they’ll just absorb the new technology into their existing tools, and that they’re just too busy running the business and cannot be distracted. These teams face constant reorganization until they respond to the change or cease to exist. The second approach is to embrace the change and improve their service to the business. This may seem like a simple intelligence test, but human beings complicate the issue.IT transformations happen when organizations change in response to technology. IT teams change one person at a time – either when an individual redefines his/her role or when management replaces a team member.I’d like to see IT professionals grow their careers. There are three ways that I’ve seen IT administrators successfully expand their role:Introduce disruption – Disruption eliminates legacy technology and the administrators that manage it. If an administrator wants to remain hands-on in their technology area, they must drive the technology disruption (e.g. introduce all-flash storage to replace traditional storage).Learn new layers of technology – As the lower layers of technology simplify and converge, there are new opportunities at the higher layers of the stack. Technologists must gain proficiency in these new areas (e.g. OpenStack, Hadoop, Cloud Foundry).Connect to the business – IT administrators can expand their careers by connecting technology with the business. There is always a need to translate the needs of the business to the capabilities of technology and vice versa. The business-inclined IT member must help meet business needs (e.g. cloud) or deliver unexpected layers of business value (e.g. big data).The disruption in IT infrastructure can overwhelm organizations and people. IT organizations must dive into the new world or they risk marginalization. Organizations, however, transform only as their people do.Successful IT administrators answer “what does change mean for me” with one word: Opportunity.last_img read more

Change Your Oil & Tune-Up Your Data Center

first_imgPeace of MindThat’s what VCE users say about this process.   This keeps their converged infrastructure stabilized (by continuously fixing bugs) and optimized (by regularly adding performance and functionality improvements) – without the risk and time-sink of traditional, siloed infrastructure upgrades.So remember my uncle Bill’s advice, and change your oil.Take ActionSee this short video   of VCE Vision Management software.Download the analyst white paper,  that includes VCE Customer interviews about the process.Down the VCE white paper that outlines the process. My uncle Bill called engine oil “the poor man’s mechanic.”  And he was right: refresh the oil every several thousand miles and your engine will perform better and last a lot longer.  Admit it:  you’ve put it off.  (I have.)  Now how about that 30K, 45K and 60K mile maintenance?  Hmmm, maybe you can delay that too.  The dealership will surely charge you big bucks for that tune up.How punctual you are depends on the cost-benefit analysis you do in your head:  Do you have the time?  Do you want to part with the cash?  The car is running fine right now.  So why bother?  Put it off.We play the same mental game when it comes to upgrading and patching infrastructure.  It gets more complicated too, when IT environments are siloed (say, versus all-in-one converged infrastructure systems).Meeting with an enterprise IT team recently, I asked the CIO, “How do you handle upgrades and patches for all layers of infrastructure?  Is it a big issue?  The CIO said, “not really a problem.”But one of his top managers replied, “I don’t mean to contradict my boss, but keeping infrastructure upgraded with new releases is our biggest nightmare, our biggest time-sink, when we get around to it.”The Complications“When we get around to it.”  Sound familiar?Based on my conversations with IT Operations teams (on average, for three different businesses per week), upgrading is one of the most hated IT tasks.  They avoid it all costs.  And the costs can be big.Here are some examples:“If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Performance is okay, so why drop other projects to plan and do an upgrade?  We have too many other priorities”“If it ain’t broke, why risk it? Why upgrade and risk an outage?  We don’t have the time or the money for enough lab equipment to test new release interoperability across all the connected infrastructure.”The ImplicationsMany organizations either get so far behind in upgrades that it gets them in trouble.Here are some examples:“We had an outage, and I called my equipment vendor as we were trying to find the root cause. They said that couldn’t help us because we were several releases behind.  And there wasn’t any one-hop upgrade to get us up to the current firmware level before they could really help us.”“We just don’t do upgrades — even for years. We just wait until the system gets so out of date that we retire the hardware. It’s easier that way.”I really heard someone say that.  He must have an unlimited CAPEX budget.Monitoring software like VCE Vision, allows you to track your components and let you know when it is time to upgrade.The SolutionThe VCE philosophy is to have the compute, storage and network firmware and hypervisor release upgrade process engineered right into its converged systems. This includes:Ongoing system documentation of the required release level upgrade (the VCE Release Certification Matrix)Scheduled delivery of pre-tested releases, whose interoperability are validated by hundreds of hours of regression testingDeliver of patches to address new security vulnerablities or discovered technical glitchesManagement software (VCE Vision Intelligent Operations) that:Assesses infrastructure to tell you what needs to be upgraded with the new releasesDownloads the new pre-tested releases and patchesValidates that you correctly and thoroughly upgraded all the componentslast_img read more

Corporate Social Responsibility – Empowering Sound Business Strategies From Within

first_imgPart One – Embracing Ethics – A New Customer-Driven Standard Executives everywhere are recognizing the benefits of developing a strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy. At the same time, we see our customers changing as well – they grow continually more hyper-connected, priorities shift, and attention spans get ever-shorter in an increasingly crowded digital marketplace. Today’s customers are a generationally diverse bunch, and their focus is more and more being led by a higher mix of generation Z buyers who are now asking businesses to combine more sustainable, ethical practices with long-range strategic goals.As we all know, the true benefits of any solid CSR strategy must be built into the very fabric of a company’s corporate vision – ensuring better working conditions, adopting more efficient production and delivery modes, supporting underserved communities and using more environmentally friendly materials – but doing so can also be an effective way to encourage customer participation in a company’s brand story.We have seen many high profile examples – most notably in the oil industry – shine a light on how lack of environmental awareness can have a devastating impact on customer perception. Others, such as FedEx’s donation of its fleet services to assist in disaster relief and international organ transport, highlight the potential to be found in using a corporation’s reach to benefit the common good. When companies show the public they are listening, both sides benefit.The beauty of a well-designed CSR strategy is that it offers a positive result in three distinctly important areas. CSR has the power to:Enhance the customer experience Benefit the environment on a global scale Significantly impact a company’s bottom lineIn an earlier blog, I discussed the ways in which social media have given customers an added power over the retail experience, forcing companies to incorporate their interests and demands into the creation of brand stories if they wish to establish trust and promote loyalty. But today’s consumers want to add another chapter to these stories. It is no longer just the availability of information – and how it is packaged – that matters. As we discovered in a recent Dell global CSR research project, customers have begun to take note of a business’ overall accountability as well:Across EMEA countries >75% of customers view CSR as importantAcross EMEA countries 60% of customers are more likely to purchase from a brand associated with CSR initiativesExposure to CSR initiatives increases purchase intent + 13% – + 22%From the customer’s point-of-view, the global benefits of a solid CSR plan are obvious. But to effectively understand how CSR initiatives influence the overall buyer journey, we must first ask ourselves what the customer stands to gain from a psychological stand point. Clearly, today’s consumers feel a new sense of empowerment, and they are eager to flex their economic muscles. Their online reach has extended from simple product reviews to include not just the goods a company offers, but the practices and materials that go into their production, and they are now serving as a virtual ethical police force who feel not just a desire, but a duty to keep companies in check along every step of the product journey. These same social media platforms that have tipped the scales in favor of customers now stand as a platform for watchdogs intent on upholding a standard of global honesty and accountability. When a company’s actions are not in line with its words, the online response is immediate, and often calls the integrity of both brand and message into question. Today’s consumers are watching, and will stand for nothing less than model behavior.Looking Within – Strong CSR Policies Begin at HomeWith today’s hyper-connected eyes on the lookout for any potential corporate misdeeds, companies need to put honest thought into their long-range CSR plans. The days of paying lip-service, or “greenwashing” a company’s image, are thankfully a thing of the past.One smart way to do this involves looking to internal stakeholders and employees for guidance. When management takes an active role in CSR initiatives, the focus is sharper and the reach longer. Not only does this personalize a company’s strategy from within, it also allows employee experience to highlight what is most important to the company itself and ensure that the strategic CSR goals are in fact possible. This enables workers to feel personally vested in the outcome, while ensuring that the effort is genuine at the core, making for a more resonant public message. After all, according to Forbes Magazine, 83% of employees would seriously consider quitting if their employer engaged in unethical practices. We must not forget that employees are customers, too, and their firsthand enthusiasm is often contagious.In just a few short years we have seen the power exchange come full circle, and when a company attempts to align their corporate practices with the opinions of its loyal buying public, it allows customers the chance to have a positive ethical impact on the entire process. Such an impact resonates not only across the globe in terms of sustainability, but also in the minds of customers, in terms of trust.last_img read more

Organizations Count on Dell EMC Unity to Address Data Center Security Requirements

first_imgOne of the top concerns for IT operations today is ensuring the proper security measures are in place for storage systems.  At Dell EMC, we take these requirements seriously, and have invested in industry certifications, dedicated security engineering resources and labs to address security compliance across a variety of government and private sector entities.  We know your business depends on protecting your data, and it’s important for our customers to know that their investments in Dell EMC storage systems can help them address their own security requirements. Research firm Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) validates the importance of cybersecurity, as shown in the following technology spending report:Source: ESG Research Report, 2018 IT Spending Intentions Survey, Dec 2018We are proud to announce our security achievements to date for the Dell EMC Unity midrange storage platform, including the completion of the Authorized Products List (APL) listing from DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency).  Dell EMC Unity is one of just a handful of midrange storage systems that has been engineered to meet 10 major security compliance requirements, thereby helping to secure sensitive data.Now Available on the DISA Authorized Product ListMany of these security compliance objectives are driven by the United States Federal Government and these strict security requirements apply to a variety of public sector environments.Other industries, including but not limited to, banking and retail directly benefit from these security capabilities designed to meet the highly secure Payment Card Industry (PCI) requirements for securing financial transactions. These security features can offer added peace of mind when deploying the full Dell EMC Unity portfolio. In addition, all of our security features are provided at no charge and with no additional costs or licenses. The following is a list of Dell EMC Unity security capabilities available in the product family today, some of which have achieved specific industry or government security compliance certification for data storage systems.Dell EMC Unity Security Compliance Features United States of America DoD Approved Products List (APL) Certification – This is a major certification milestone for the Dell EMC Unity storage platform that demonstrates the portfolio’s compliance with the DoD interoperability and Cybersecurity requirements.STIG Compliance CAT 1, CAT2 – The Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) standardizes security protocols within networks, servers, computers and logical designs to enhance overall security.Controller-based Data at-Rest Encryption or [email protected][email protected] Protects against unauthorized access to user data on lost or stolen drives or systems. This is a required capability for meeting multiple industry and government security compliance objectives.FIPS 140-2 Level 1 Certification – Specifies security requirements for the [email protected] cryptographic module.KMIP – OASIS Key Management Interoperability Protocol (KMIP) – Dell EMC Unity supports KMIP Specification v1.3 and v1.4 compliant external key managers designed to facilitate data encryption by simplifying encryption key management.HIPAA – The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers that conduct certain health care transactions electronically. Dell EMC Unity includes the necessary security features that can help organizations meet HIPAA privacy requirements for data storage systems.Common Criteria Certification Developed for evaluating information security products, specifically to ensure they meet an agreed-upon security standard for government deployments.Native SHA-2 certificate support – This 256 bit cryptographic hashing standard is used to ensure that data has not been modified.TLS 1.2 support and TLS 1.0 disablement – Cipher suites that provide enhanced security and ability to disable prior generation.USGv6 Device IPv6/IPv4 dual stack certification – Dual stack technology allows ISPs to process IPv4 and IPv6 data traffic simultaneously.Customer Spotlight – Defense Health Agency Meeting the needs of government and federal customers that require compliance to regulations is very important to Dell EMC.  One of our federal customers includes the Defense Health Agency (DHA) which provides the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs health care providers global visibility and access to artifacts and images generated during the health care delivery process.When a vendor changes or upgrades their hardware or software, DHA undergoes intense security vulnerability hardening, systems testing, scanning, and remediation to determine its IA (Information Assurance) compliance with the Department of Defense (DoD) Risk Management Framework (RMF) security controls and security requirements. Currently, DHA is pursuing STIG (Security Technical Implementation Guide) compliance for the new Dell EMC hardware it purchased as part of an overall refresh of its enterprise-wide storage footprint.“With some vendors, the deployment, installation, and hardening of a SAN can be a complex project,” said Brian Reese, DHA Project Lead, SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic. “We value our partnership with Dell EMC as we deploy the Dell EMC hardware together. Dell EMC has been critical in supporting the IA compliancy efforts required to get the systems and hardware ready. With the Common Criteria Certification, user-enabled STIG mode now available on the Dell EMC Unity series and many other product improvements that are ideal for federal customers, the deployment process is much shorter and easier.”Quite simply, Dell EMC has done the hard work for our customers to help them better protect their most critical data assets that reside on Dell EMC Unity storage systems. This work helps facilitate compliance with strict IA requirements while ensuring data and the applications that depend on that data can operate seamlessly with world-class security in place.For additional security details in Dell EMC Unity, please visit the following links:Dell EMC Unity Release notesDell EMC Unity Security Configuration Guidelast_img read more

An Enterprise SSD Fairytale: Finding the Solution That’s Just Right

first_imgOne of my favorite childhood fairytales was Goldilocks and the Three Bears. We can all relate to Goldilocks in the pursuit of finding just the right fit, especially when it comes to choosing between enterprise SSDs.It can be difficult to make the right choice when confronted with too many options, or too few options. When choosing your Dell EMC PowerEdge server enterprise SSD, it is important to find just the right amount of performance, latency, and reliability, at the right price. You want enough performance for your specific applications but may not need the top tier performance option either. You may have tried a few different storage options in pursuit of finding the one that is just right. Dell EMC supports you in the pursuit of finding the right data storage solution fit and has recently added options for those of you that are in between enterprise SSDs.If you have a legacy system with SAS and SATA, there’s an option that is just right for you. As technology advances, you may find certain SATA SSDs won’t be able to properly handle your storage performance needs. At the same time, you may feel SAS SSDs provide outstanding performance, but you can’t justify the added price for your needs. Sound familiar?Dell EMC PowerEdge servers now offer value SAS SSD options. Value SAS is a new class of SAS SSD that leverages the PowerEdge SAS server infrastructure to deliver better performance, latency, and reliability than SATA SSDs, at a comparable price. Value SAS allows you to maximize your Dell EMC PowerEdge server utilization. These drives are lower cost and have lower performance than standard SAS SSDs, positioning their performance characteristics between SATA and standard SAS. Value SAS is an easy replacement for SATA SSDs and provide greater value for most enterprise applications. Learn more about the Dell EMC SSDs here.Additionally, there is an option that may be just right for those who have PowerEdge servers equipped for NVMe. Have you ever found yourself settling for SATA SSDs that don’t quite fulfill your storage performance requirements, because you couldn’t justify the price of purchasing Enterprise NVMe? Do you seek a higher performance storage device for a decent price?If you need a solution that requires high read input/output operations per second (IOPs), low latency and enterprise-class storage reliability and serviceability, the Dell EMC PowerEdge Express Flash NVMe Datacenter Read Intensive PCIe SSD is the right choice for you. The Express Flash NVMe PCIe SSD delivers very good performance and endurance in demanding read intensive environments, such as Media Streaming, VOD, Web Apps and Front-End Web Servers. Built with server-grade, 3D Triple-level cell (3D TLC) NAND, the low-latency PowerEdge Express Flash NVMe Datacenter Read Intensive PCIe SSD provides an exceptional price point with good IOPs, throughput performance, and exceptional reliability and serviceability. Engineered for read intensive workloads, this SSD provides just the right balance of read performance with endurance at the right price. Visit our Express Flash NVME PCIe SSDs page to learn more.Goldilocks didn’t settle, she chose the option that was just right for her. Visit Dell EMC PowerEdge Servers to choose the PowerEdge server and enterprise SSD that is just right for you.Read our blog, IT Transformation: Not Simple, but Can Be Simplified, and learn how Dell EMC is just the right partner to help with your IT Transformation.Follow us on Twitter @DellEMCservers to join the conversation.last_img read more

Baker’s Half Dozen — Episode 10

first_imgIn Episode 10 we peer into the future of the data center and make predictions on what to expect in 2020 and beyond.Episode 10 Show Notes: Item 1: Technology & Engineering AwardItem 2:  Portability between clouds?Item 3: 8 Trends that will shape the 2020 datacenterItem 4: Women in TechnologyItem 5: DJing with dataItem 6: Are you ready for Q-Day? Quantum ComputingItem 6.5: The potato’s NeuraSpud If you’ve got questions or comments about this episode, or a question you’d like Matt to answer in the next episode, comment below or tweet Matt using #BakersHalfDozen.last_img read more

US contract signings to buy homes hits record for December

first_imgSILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes declined slightly for the fourth straight month, but it was still a record high for December. The National Association of Realtors said Friday that its index of pending sales dipped 0.3% to 125.5 in December, an all-time high. An index of 100 represents the level of contract activity in 2001. It was the fourth straight monthly decline, but contracts signings last month were up 21.4% over December 2019. Contract signings are considered a barometer of finalized purchases over the next one to two months.last_img read more