All posts by Chris Reily

My 2013 Holiday Gift List for the Solutions Architects

By Chris Reily, Director of Solutions Architecture

Well, with the holidays upon us, I find myself in the position of having to figure out what to buy for the solutions architects this year to thank them for another great year in 2013. If you think buying gifts for Aunt Emily, Cousin Jimmy or dear old Dad is hard – try picking out gifts for one of the most exacting, technical, opinionated and outstanding group of guys you’ll ever get to know. I missed black Friday and Cyber Monday so here goes nothing…

Nick P – Practice Manager, Networking
A 48oz. bottle of Bluebeard’s Beard Wash AND some SDN (software defined networking) with Cisco Open Network Environment Platform Kit (onePK) so he can finally have comprehensive Cisco network intelligence.

Randy B – Enterprise Architect
A relaxing massage chair AND a smart phone that is truly smart, does email, contacts and a calendaring that works as well as a vintage BlackBerry. It need to hold a decent charge to last a full work day AND reminds Randy of important appointments not to be missed. Or maybe he just needs a copy of VMware View!

Harris H – Solutions Architect, Data Center
An industrial size vacuum sealer for packing homemade jerky AND a quality Cloud as a Service offering to distribute to all those in need of new technology. And it would be just wrong not to provide a great way to manage it all with CMaaS!

Randy W – Practice Manager, Data Management
A case (okay, maybe just a bottle) of 1989 Chateau Petrus Bordeaux AND some super-fast hybrid flash storage like Nimble’s C250G (oh how Randy loves 10 gig networking).

Mark H – Solutions Architect, Data Management
A St. Croix Legend Bass fishing rod AND an EMC VNX5400 array. Plenty of fast disc to store and access plenty of hi-resolution photos of all the fish he can catch.

Francis C – End User Computing, Practice Manager
A Max Brooks signed copy of The Zombie Survival Guide AND a high quality technical manual for Citrix Xen Desktop 7!

John D – XaaS Consulting Architect
Cross country saddle bags for a BMW R-1200GS motor bike AND a ticket to London to meet Sharon Taylor,ITIL Chief Examiner, for lunch.

Chris C – Solutions Architect, Data Center
A Gillette Mach-3 Razor AND a converged data center (virtual computing platform) courtesy of Nutanix. Chris is keeping it simple in 2014 by combining storage, compute and networking in a single platform.

Joel G – Solutions Architect, Microsoft Solutions
An Air Force Academy sweatshirt AND an Azure environment managed by System Center 2012 R2. Who doesn’t want infrastructure provisioning, infrastructure monitoring, application performance monitoring, automation and self-service in the New Year?

Ralph K – Practice Manager, Unified Communications
A Harley Davidson leather jacket AND a Cisco Jabber Client. So when Ralph is ready to hit the open road, he can unchain himself from the office but stay in touch by video and voice.

Chris W – Our CTO
Front row tickets to see Metallica in Germany next summer AND a guest appearance on TLC’s NY Ink, on which a talented artist Megan Massacre will create and complete an original tattoo design incorporating the logos of VMware, Cisco and EMC on Chris chest. He’s one dedicated dude.

As an IT professional, what’s on your holiday wish list this year? My gift to you? Here’s a free ebook on how organizations can take advantage of behavior emerging in the market for IT services.

Top Ten Considerations When Investing in BYOD

By Chris Reily, Director of Solutions Architecture

Every year has its own special IT acronym and 2013 has been no different. During client meetings, in the pages of IT trade publications and on the minds of vendor partners – the term BYOD pops up more frequently than Psy’s “Gangham Style” does on pop radio. For the record, Psy is the smartly dressed Korean pop music sensation sporting Risky Business-style Ray Bans as opposed to the (also trending) bearded Uncle Si of Duck Dynasty (reality-TV) fame. If this is all meaningless to you, you’ve been working too hard. Ask your family, they miss you.

Consumerization of IT is finding its way into the enterprise rapidly. Choice, personalization and mobility are no longer simply appreciated but are ultimately demanded. BYOD in theory sounds like a terrific plan and if executed properly can be an outstanding component of an end user computing (EUC) solution in many environments. Success however goes far beyond an employee stipend and flexibility in choice. BYOD is not for every organization and even in those organizations where it makes sense, it’s not for every employee. Here is a list of the top ten considerations when investigating a BYOD solution for your organization:

  1. What are the core applications you need to deliver to end users? Are these applications supported by recommended or allowed devices? What are the corporate use cases?
  2. Will your infrastructure support connectivity and desktop/application delivery to new devices on your network? Storage, compute and network – it all matters.
  3. Do you have the budget to support this initiative? Hint: it will be more than you expect. Hint #2: don’t expect to “save money” (at least in the first year). The ROI (return on investment) may come but expectations inside 36 months are unrealistic.
  4. Who needs what? Organizations are diverse and dynamic. Not every employee will need to be part of a BYOD initiative. Different categories of associates will have varying device needs. The road warrior sales guy, administrative assistant and mechanical engineer will all have different needs.
  5. A well-executed plan will drive employee job satisfaction. Figure out how your team will deal with happy IT-using employees; it may be a new experience for all involved.
  6. Are you ready to set policy and stick to it? There will be challenges that make you question what you were thinking in the first place. Get managerial support and be confident.
  7. Be flexible. Sure, this may seem somewhat contrary to comment #6. Of course you’ll encounter situations where the intelligent response is to modify and improve.
  8. Get “buy in” from the board room and the corner office(s). The support of senior management and investors is critical; don’t even go there without serious majority support.
  9. Seek advice and approval from legal, accounting and human resources. Ask the art department and maintenance team too if you think it can help.
  10. Talk to others. I know this is hard for many of us who have spent careers in IT, but give it a shot and see what happens. Speak to partners who have delivered BYOD solutions. Reach out to similar organizations who have implemented their strategy. Heck, speak with companies who tried it and failed. Arm yourself with information, do your research.

This is a lot to digest. A poorly executed implementation has the surety of employees abandoning the program. Small steps and a detailed approach work best – don’t be afraid of running test groups and proof of concept (POC) trials. The risk of not exploring your options may leave your IT environment seeming as outdated as last decade’s pop dance craze. Is your organization considering BYOD? Have you already implemented a policy? If so, how has your experience been?


Colocation: 55+ living for your IT equipment

I recently sat on a planning call with an extremely smart and agreeable client. We had discussed a modest “data center” worth of equipment to host the environment he’s considering putting into production. I asked the simple enough question of “where are you going to deploy this gear?” I have to admit not being very surprised when he responded: “Well, I’ve cleaned out a corner of my office.” Having spent some early days of my IT career working in a server closet, I knew that if the hum of the equipment fans didn’t get to him quickly, the heat output would for sure. This is not an uncommon conversation. Clearly the capital expense of building out a “data center” onsite was not an appealing topic. So, if building isn’t an option, why not rent?

In a similar vein, not too far back I watched several “senior” members of my family move into 55+ communities after years of resisting. Basically, they did a “capacity planner” and realized the big house was no longer needed. They figured somebody else could worry about the landscaping, snow plowing and leaky roofs. The same driving forces should have many IT pros considering a move into a colocation facility.

The opportunities to move into a hosted data center (colo facility) are plentiful today. You simply don’t have as much gear any longer (assuming you’re mostly virtualized). Your desire to “do it all” yourself has waned (let someone else worry about keeping the lights on and network connected). The added bonus of providing redundant network paths, onsite security and almost infinite expansion are driving many “rental” conversations today. Colos are purpose-built facilities which are ideal for core data center gear such as servers, storage (SANs), routers and core switches, to name a few.  Almost all of them have dual power feeds, backup battery systems and generators. HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) units keep appropriate environmental conditions for the operation of this critical equipment.

Many businesses don’t fully realize just how much power consumption is required to operate a data center. The energy bills achieved for just the cooling component alone can leave many IT managers, well, frosted. Even still, the need to see the healthy status green blinking lights is like a digital comfort blanket. Speaking with many IT execs, we hear over and over “This was the best move we could have made.” From our own experience, we’ve seen our internal IT team shift focus to strategic initiatives and end user support.

While it is certainly not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, there is something for most organizations when it comes to colo. Smaller organizations with one rack of equipment have seen tremendous advantages as have clients approaching the “enterprise” size with dozens of cabinets of gear. Redundancy, security, cost control, predictable budgets and 7x24x365 support are all equally attractive reasons to move into a “colo.” Call it a “colominium” if you will. Colo could be the right step toward a more efficient and effective IT existence.