Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Server Consolidation

Reduce IT Costs While Maintaining Control and Offering Choice

Don't let server sprawl and platform dependencies prevent your organization from achieving its goals. Cut capital and operating costs while increasing IT service delivery without being locked into limited choices of operating systems, applications, and hardware.

Reduce hardware and operating costs by as much as 50% and energy costs by 80%, saving more than $3,000 per year for every server workload virtualized
Reduce the time it takes to provision new servers by up to 70%
Decrease downtime and improve reliability with business continuity and built-in data disaster recovery

Deliver IT services on-demand now and in the future, independent of hardware, OS, application or infrastructure providers

Reduce Costs by Consolidating Hardware & Increasing Server Utilization
By consolidating your server hardware, your organization can:

Increase utilization of existing hardware from 5-15% up to 80%
Reduce hardware requirements by a 10:1 ratio or better
Our Professional Services team can help you assess your IT environment to identify consolidation candidates and to calculate the potential savings from using virtualization.

Manage Your Virtual Infrastructure from a Single Point of Control
While most vendors offer only single-point solutions for server virtualization, VMware gives you the power to manage an entire virtual infrastructure from a single point of control. Using the production-proven VMware vSphere, your organization can:

Accelerate provisioning time by 50-70%
Manage virtual machines from a central location
Monitor the performance of virtual machines and their hosts
These and other benefits have enabled more than 85% of our customers to use VMware virtual machines in production environments for a wide range of applications.

Automate your Virtual Infrastructure for Peak Performance
Deliver levels of performance, scalability and availability that are not possible with a physical infrastructure. Using VMware vCenter Server in combination with our VMware VMotion and VMware DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler) products, your organization will be able to:

Avoid planned downtime with live migration of virtual machines
Enable dynamic policy-based allocation of IT resources with automated load balancing
Eliminate many repetitive configuration and maintenance tasks
VMware Professional Services and our partners can help your organization leverage these unique capabilities as part of an ongoing strategy.

Did you Know?

Beyond our Proactive Care & Virtualization Services, AOKNetowrking provides:

Strategic Planning
AOK is well aware of the scalability of the systems and we can work with you to make the most or enhance your current operations.

Server Setup & Maintenance
One, two, twenty? AOK has the capacity and expertise to construct and support even the most complicated network environments.

Continuous Data Storage
No one can afford to lose valuable data and it's our job to keep your assets completely secure with off-site backup.

Hardware & Software
We stand behind the products we recommend and provide valuable savings with our high-volume buying power.

Remote Access
We can create a virtual connection so you can work from anywhere on almost anything

We test your system both internally and externally to identify and repair vulnerabilities.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

VMware Disaster Recovery

Build a Rapid, Reliable & Cost-Effective Disaster Recovery Solution

Traditional disaster recovery solutions are often costly and complex-and can't meet your recovery objectives even after doubling hardware (and cost) for protected applications. Testing them can be a nightmare because the steps are tedious and the documentation is hard to keep up to date. Likewise, keeping two sets of hardware in sync is nearly impossible. VMware vSphere lets you recover to any machine, not just specific duplicate hardware, reducing hardware costs and maintenance budget and lowering the complexity of maintaining a backup site. Even if you haven't virtualized all production servers, virtualize target servers for your data recovery to allow greater simplicity, reliability, and cost savings.

Recover from disasters rapidly
Ensure reliable disaster recovery
Reduce the cost of disaster recovery
Automate disaster recovery

Recover Rapidly from Disasters
Traditional disaster recovery plans require many manual, complex steps to allocate recovery resources, perform bare metal recovery, recover data and validate that systems are ready for use. How optimized is your disaster recovery plan? Answer 40 simple questions about your backup and recovery, high availability and disaster recovery setup and plans and our DR Assessment will suggest ways to improve backup, recovery and availability of your business critical applications. You'll get a personalized assessment, peer-to-peer comparisons and an optimization roadmap. After getting your assessment, you can download our white paper on Building a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan.

Then see how VMware virtualization simplifies IT environments. -hHardware configuration, firmware, operating system install, application install- all become data stored in just a few files on disk. Protect these files using your backup or replication software and you've protected the entire system. These files can then be recovered to any hardware without requiring any changes because virtual machines are hardware-independent.

Ensure Reliable Recovery
Traditional recovery plans are often difficult to test, difficult to keep up to date, and depend on exact execution of complex, manual processes. In a virtualized environment, testing is simpler because you can execute non-disruptive tests using existing resources. Hardware independence eliminates the complexity of maintaining the recovery site by eliminating failures due to hardware differences.

Reduce the Cost of Disaster Recovery
Reliable disaster recovery solutions traditionally require duplicating your entire production infrastructure-and with it your costs. With VMware vSphere, you can provide rapid and reliable recovery without requiring identical hardware. With hardware independence, you can repurpose existing servers for disaster recovery rather than needing to buy duplicate servers for rapid recovery. Server consolidation also lets you slash the cost of server infrastructure needed both for production and disaster recovery.

Automate Disaster Recovery
Eliminate the need to perform numerous manual steps, difficult or impossible to automate and prone to human error. Virtualization opens the door to disaster recovery automation by turning physical servers into data and recovery procedures into software. Automate your disaster recovery process with VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager and ensure rapid and cost-effective execution of disaster recovery plans. Easily test your disaster recovery plan to ensure the highest levels of reliability and availability of your entire IT infrastructure.

VMware vSphere

VMware vSphere is the next evolutionary step in IT computing; enabling customers to bring the power of cloud computing to their IT infrastructures.

Building on the power of VMware Infrastructure, VMware vSphere dramatically reduces capital and operating costs, and increases control over IT infrastructures while preserving the flexibility to choose any OS, application and hardware.

Maximize application throughput and operational efficiency
Increase control through service level automation
Empower IT departments with choice

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two-monitor virtualisation better than one.

Pano Logic has followed last year's UK launch of its tiny 'zero' virtualisation cube device with a new dongle to enable it to display output from two monitors at once.

In the world of virtualised devices it's much harder to get two video steams to one monitor than it sounds, more so in Pano's case because it has no processor, memory or software at all. The Pano Device gets its 'zero' client status from this utter simplicity. It is no more than a connectivity box for a keyboard, a monitor and sound.

The new Pano Dual Monitor comes in the form of a USB dongle which plugs into the back of the Pano Device, and which allows the two screens to be displayed correctly without the need for any additional software.

The only other requirement to get such a setup working is for customers to upgrade to a new version of Pano's server software, System 2.8, which does the heavy graphics lifting to divide the data streams into two.

"There was a fair amount of work on the back end," admits Pano's president and CEO, John Kish. "The part nobody thought we could do is to keep the processing away from the endpoint." The demand for dual video came from healthcare, education and government, he said.

Kish criticised thin virtualisation clients from rivals such as Wyse (which Kish once headed) and HP, saying they still had too much hardware in the client. The point of virtualisation was to remove every piece of processing from the client to fully remove management completely to the data centre.

Existing customers would get the server upgrade automatically, he said.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Best of Tests

(Network World) We tested more than 100 products in 2009 in a wide variety of categories, but 15 of those products were head and shoulders above the rest and earn our Best of the Tests Award. Here are the categories and winners:

1. Operating Systems
Vendor: MicrosoftProduct: Windows Server 2008 R2
We tested a raft of operating systems in 2009, including SUSE Linux, Ubuntu, and Apple Snow Leopard. But the operating system that stood out was Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2. This product delivers advancements in speed, security and management. Windows Server 2008 R2 boasts new server administrative roles for better security, an improved Server Manager program, revamped Internet Information Server (IIS) Web management functionality, better Active Directory controls, and redesigned Windows Terminal Services. Also, Windows Server 2008 is also significantly faster than Windows Server 2003. And while Windows Server 2008 R2 certainly stands on its own, the fact that it's integrated so nicely with Windows 7 is an additional bonus for IT execs.

2. Management software
Vendor: Research in Motion
Product: BlackBerry Server 5.0
There's no keeping end users from their BlackBerries, but there is a way for IT to manage those devices -- Research in Motion's BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0. We found BES to be an easy-to-use, Web-based tool that provides centralized administration, high availability and the ability to set rules and policies on a granular level. With BlackBerry Enterprise Server, an administrator can publish and push updates and applications to one user or groups of users. The administrator can also identify unauthorized applications and prevent users from downloading, using or updating prohibited programs or applications. When a BlackBerry device is activated, the new security policy supersedes any previously installed programs or policies. Can your iPhone do that?

3. Server Hardware
Vendor: IBM
Product: BladeCenter Server HS22
Two eight-core Intel 5570 Nehalem processors, two 10Gigabit Ethernet network interface cards, 50GB SSD drives, 150GB 15k hard drives and 48GB of RAM. Not to mention energy efficiency and strong management features. And all for around $10,000. What's not to like? In our tests, the Nehalem-based blade delivered a 10x increase in performance when compared with Intel's Core-based Xeon processor. In terms of total overall power consumption, the Nehalem processors consumed 17% more power than the Xeon-based system, which is a pretty good bargain when you're gaining a 10x boost in performance. Bottom line: The combination of Nehalem processors, 10G Ethernet, and lots of RAM make the HS22 a great choice for data center virtualization.
IBM BladeCenter delivers speeds, power savings

4. Security
Vendor: McAfee
Product: Web Gateway
McAfee's Web Gateway bested the competition in every one of our performance tests. We attacked each vendor's product with 100 malware instances. Web Gateway turned aside 99. We fed each gateway 1,000 e-mails - 500 phish and 500 non-phish. Web Gateway came in first with a 90% success rate. And in our latency tests, Web Gateway exhibited the lowest latency - 28 ms. Web Gateway sports an easy-to-use, intuitive browser-based interface that's especially responsive. Reports are quick and informative, and the Web Gateway dashboard is completely customizable. And the McAfee Web Gateway installation was the slickest. A USB memory stick containing a configuration program accompanies the device. Insert the memory stick in a Windows machine, run the program, save your configuration, move the memory stick to the Web Gateway before boot time and - voila! - the Web Gateway uses the IP address and other configuration data you've specified. This is the second time around for McAfee's Web Gateway. The product was a Best of the Tests winner back in 2006 as well

Runnerup: Vendor: Trend Micro
Product: Interscan Web Security
Trend Micro's combination of Interscan Web Security Virtual Appliance 5.0 and Interscan Messaging Security Virtual Appliance 7.0 is our runnerup. The Trend Micro software delivered a 96% success rate in blocking malware and an 84% success rate in blocking phishes. Trend Micro's tool gave us consolidated threat reporting and corporate policy management across our network. We easily varied security policies by network segment, company division and company department, at our option. We particularly liked Trend Micro's unified view of network security across an entire enterprise.
Also, you install the software on your own computers, thus giving you fine control over the speed and capacity of your gateway. Installation is a snap.

5. Server Virtualization:
Vendor: VMware
Product: VMware vSphere 4.0
VMware created the market for x86 server virtualization in 2001 and has been the leader ever since, although Microsoft's Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer are strong competitors. In 2009, VMware raised the bar with the introduction of vSphere, a cloud-focused product that is faster than its predecessor, ESX 3.51, easier to manage, and designed for provisioning fleets of virtual machine farms. The basic components of what VMware calls the vSphere 'cloud operating system' are an improved hypervisor and VMware's VirtualCenter management application, along with options like vMotion (live VM inter-server migration), vSphere Zones (network security aggregation), distributed resource allocation, and even a distributed network switch. These improvements allow vSphere 4.0 to manage and automate provisioning of internally-controlled VM farms and infrastructure with hosting platforms located outside an organizations traditional computing 'perimeter'.

6. Desktop virtualization
Vendor: Parallels
Product: Parallels Desktop for the Mac
Want to run Windows on your Mac? Check out Parallels Desktop for the Mac. In our testing, Parallels was strong in features and usability, and its 64-bit guest virtual machine support provides flexibility for developers. We could run Mac OS X Leopard client or server as a guest. We were able to import VMware or Virtual Box files (guest VM snapshots, or rapidly mountable VM guest operating systems) easily. Parallels Transporter let us convert other formats of VMs into the Parallels format. Windows XP (this test took place before Windows 7 was released) installed easily for us, with no interaction except for entering the username and product key. Parallels has preformatted settings for XP. Another useful Parallels feature was the ability to mount a Windows VM guest's NTFS file system into the Apple MacOS 10.5 Finder application. We could access all the files directly like an external hard disk. We could easily drag and drop files and folders between Mac and XP VMs. It's even possible to have the Apple Spotlight application index the VM Windows guest drive, a feature that wasn't available in the other hypervisor products we tested.

Runnerup: Pano Logic
Product: Pano Cube
Pano Logic's Pano Cube is a very small 'designer'-looking cube containing three USB jacks, VGA and audio/mic jacks. It has no CPU or memory/storage inside, permitting it to be used strictly as a KVM+ access device. The Pano Manager provisions desktops through ESX/vCenter and also enables policy controls about what IO can go through the Pano Cube. It's possible to restrict printers, and so on for any particular session. The Pano Gateway in turn, sets up connection brokerage relationships for VPN and proxy access from branch to 'home'. Pano Device setup was very simple. Pano Manager allows for persistent and non-persistent VMs to be used. VMs can be organized into collections, which can host a number of VMs in which the Pano Cubes connect as a single logical unit The Cube Clients, we found, are extremely fast. They logon in just seconds, and were able to reproduce multimedia very well - even when we loaded the hosted VMware server down (a local host with 8GB of RAM) with all 10 Cubes sent to us. The Pano Manager and Cube require VMware, but it's a decent investment. And Pano Cube's simplicity is bliss.

7. Category: software
Vendor: Microsoft
Product: SharePoint Server 2010
Our policy is to not test beta versions of products. There are lots of reasons for this, but mostly it comes down to the notion that we're trying to give readers information to help them make buying decisions. And that means we test the actual product that customers would buy. But there's an exception to every policy - and it's SharePoint Server 2010, which we tested in beta, and which came out on top in this year's software category. Interest in this product was so high that we felt we had to write a review as soon as we could get our hands on the product. And we weren't disappointed. We tested beta versions of SharePoint Server, and two related apps, Visual Studio and Office 2010, in a virtualized environment and found that SharePoint Server 2010 is faster and more intuitive than the previous version. SharePoint 2010 allows IT departments to run applications such as enterprise search, content management, collaboration and business intelligence on a single platform. Together with improved Internet site capabilities, SharePoint 2010 means companies can avoid the licensing and training costs associated with separate apps. SharePoint 2010 also offers improved developer and administration capabilities, which will likely speed application creation while easing server management.

8. E-mail
Company: Microsoft
Product: Exchange
Yes, 2009 was quite a year for Microsoft, with major releases of Windows, Windows Server and Exchange, Microsoft's e-mail platform. So, is Exchange 2010 an overgrown, bloated hog of an undocumented application, requiring enormous resources and costing a fortune? Or has Microsoft finally gotten it right, building the speed and reliability we need into a mailbox server that goes beyond simple e-mail and raises the bar for collaboration tools? The answer to both question is "yes." It all depends on how you use it. The core of Exchange is finally where we want it: reliable, fast, and resource-stingy. Exchange 2010 is also heavily Web-focused, supporting the inevitable march towards a clientless e-mail, calendar and address book experience. Of course, Exchange 2010 also has the expected bloat. Obscure inter-server communications pathways, connections to VoIP PBXs, obscure digital rights management, and an edge server that is best described as "not entirely useless," all are part of the Exchange experience, too. Still, Exchange is here to stay and if 2010 is the direction we're going, then the good far outweighs the bad. Two steps forward and one step back still adds up to one step forward!

Runnerup Zimbra
Product: Collaboration Suite
Want the benefits of Exchange, without actually running Exchange? We tested six alternatives, most of which closed in pretty well on the essence of what a collaboration server should be. We preferred Zimbra for its broad cross-platform support and powerful mail server. Sure, inside, it's a complicated maze of interlocking scripts held together by strings of commands that only a few select people truly understand. But when it works, which it did very well in our testing, Zimbra does what you want on the platform of your choice, and the price is slightly less than Microsoft Exchange. Plus, VMware seems to believe in it, since they announced they're buying Zimbra from Yahoo.

9. Storage
Vendor: Compellent
Product: Storage Center 4.0
The best of our SAN systems test was the Compellent Storage Center 4.0. The product offers a compelling mix of high performance, great ease of use and wide feature set, at a price that isn't over the top. It has all the features you'd expect in a SAN system, such as synchronous and asynchronous replication, snapshots and thin provisioning, as well as some features that other systems don't have - particularly the data progression feature, which automatically migrates the most-used data on the system to the fastest storage. This feature makes the best use of the fastest storage on the system, whether 15k drives or SSDs, with little or no effort on the part of the administrator. Mature, easy to use and operating at the block level, it is more usable than the recently released and widely publicized LUN-level automated storage tiering from one of the big names in SAN technology. The biggest differentiator for Compellent may be its ease of use. While most SAN systems offer similar functionalities, a system that can set up remote replication over the Internet to another SAN in six mouse clicks is noteworthy. Add to that a good value and high performance, with support for SSDs, 8Gbps Fibre Channel and 10Gbps iSCSI and you have a winner.

10. Wireless
Vendor: CACE Technologies
Product: AirPcap Ex
Our extensive WLAN testing in 2009 results in several products which received a perfect score of 5.0. But the best of the best is the AirPcap Ex tool from CACE Technologies. This comprehensive yet simple packet-capture tool is perfect for those all-too-common situations faced by practitioners and operations professionals alike when it's necessary to dig into the dialog between client and access point to really understand why performance is so unexpected, why security is now so tight that no one can in fact connect, or why erratic client behavior is just that. It's based on the very popular WireShark tool, and integration is seamless. It's available at a bargain price, and developer tools are available.

11. Networking
Vendor: Cisco
Product: ASR router
With enterprises looking to consolidate data centers and devices, Cisco's new ASR 1000 series router offers a compelling message: Do more with less.
In our exclusive test, the ASR not only moved traffic at 20Gbps but also did so while running QoS, security and monitoring functions on 120 million flows from hundreds of concurrent routing sessions. The ASR also proved a capable performer when handling multicast and IPSec VPN traffic. And with a 40-core processor, the ASR has enough headroom to run firewalls, load balancers and other services without requiring additional hardware. That's not to say the ASR isn't still a work in progress. Its data-plane capacity still needs to grow, and Cisco hasn't yet rolled out all the services that ASRs eventually will support. But this is a strong effort, well worth considering for the many enterprises looking to replace tiers of aging Cisco 7200 routers with a single more powerful system.

Runnerup: 3Com
Product: H3C switch
3Com says it has an alternative for network managers considering high-end switches from Cisco and others. And our exclusive test of this core switch backs up 3Com's claim. The chassis-based, 288-port device delivered line-rate throughput in all performance tests, supported more Open Shortest Path First routing sessions than we've ever set up and consumed remarkably little power all the while. While the device doesn't have all the features of some competitors (for example, the switch doesn't yet support hitless upgrades), its strong performance and low power consumption make it a viable option for large and midsized organizations in the market for core and aggregation switches.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pano Remote

Provide simple secure remote access

· Save on laptop purchases
· Save on duplicate software packages

Make it easy for employees to be more productive!

Calling Pano Logic's Pano Remote product "simple" would be an understatement. Pano Remote lets you access your virtual desktop from any internet connected PC, by just plugging in the Remote USB key. Pano Remote was developed as an add-on product to the Pano System. This ingenious tool allows end- users to access their virtual machine from just about anywhere - anywhere an internet connection can be found. No more lugging your laptop home every night. Or if you are away from home, find the closest Internet connected PC, plug in your Pano Remote USB key and voila! - you are securely connected to your office virtual machine, with everything open and ready to use, just as you left it.

Because Pano Remote only uses the client as an access vehicle, should the client vehicle be infected there is no risk of cross contamination. Pano Remote uses RDP and a secure SSL tunnel, maintaining a secure environment while eliminating the need for VPN, another reason this product goes beyond simple. See the architectural diagram below.
External Network Internal Network Feedback for Pano Remote has been overwhelmingly positive. Institutions have been impressed with how quickly end-users have integrated Pano Remote into their daily routine, and the resulting productivity.