Guide to large-scale AWS cloud migration

January 5th, 2017

2016january4_virtualization_aWe’ll just go ahead and say it: cloud migration is a smart business move and we highly recommended it. The potential for greater efficiency, more manageable storage capacity, and cost savings are all but guaranteed. Virtualization, however, is not a walk in the clouds. It often involves a complex process that requires time and money, so if you’re considering a large-scale migration to Amazon Web Services, read on to be prepared.

Preparation for migration

  • Is everyone within the organization on board with this major move? Are your employees adequately equipped with knowledge about the cloud? And, since large-scale transfers involve big data, would your security framework be able to deal with potential security threats during the transition? Can your company handle the inevitable expenditure that goes with investing in the cloud? These are just some of the points you have to consider when preparing for large-scale migration.

Reasons for migration

  • One of the most compelling reasons to virtualize tech capital is the need to meet your business’s increasing demand for efficiency, which could lead to greater profitability. Other reasons could include change of organizational leadership or a shift in business structure that necessitates storage recalibration. Regardless of your reasons for migrating to the cloud, you as a business owner should have a clear understanding of why you’re doing it, and make sure everyone understands why it is so important.

Size of resources to be moved

  • Using Amazon Web Services’ cloud storage gives you the benefit of eliminating the costs of buying your own storage infrastructure and it introduces an element of anywhere-anytime access to your business’s data and/or applications. That said, you must consider how much you’ll be transferring, and use it as your basis for moving. Knowing the amount of IT resources you’re freeing up lets you allocate more cost-effectively and allows your technology staff to focus on more innovative pursuits.

Migration requirements

  • Which specific data, servers, or applications need to be migrated? Does your company need large-scale migration, or can it survive on moving only a small part of your resources to the cloud? Perhaps, a subsidiary could survive without having to be moved to the cloud. When migrating to the cloud, you’d be remiss not to think of these tiny details.

Impact to the business

  • Temporary downtime is something you have to be ready for. You might need more time or you might need to consider alternatives for the brief interruptions that come with migration, and of course budget can be a major factor in your decision to move. You can save your business from unnecessary obstacles by first assessing its ability to handle these situations.
Recalibrating the management of your technological resources for scalable storage solutions in a cost-saving platform is not without its challenges. Your business and its stakeholders’ call for greater efficiency cannot be ignored. After considering these factors for a large-scale migration, you might realize that despite a few minor bumps, the benefits to your organization will far outweigh the projected costs, and that there’s nowhere to go but up (in the cloud).
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 21st, 2016

2016december20_virtualization_aVirtual containers have incrementally increased the ability of users to create portable, self-contained kernels of information and applications since the technology first appeared in the early 2000s. Now, containers are one of the biggest data trends of the decade -- some say at the expense of the virtual machine (VM) technology that preceded them. Read on to find out some of the performance differences between containers and virtual machines, and how the two can work together for your business.

When it comes to the virtual world, containers and VMs are not all that different. The VM is a good option for those who need to use more than one operating system in the course of a business project, while containers serve those who are comfortable staying within a Linux or Windows operating system without deviating. There are performance advantages to using containers, although these are counterbalanced by organizational advantages derived from a VM system.

Performance Nuances

VMs and containers both work from a virtual platform; therefore, the differences in performance relate to how they are configured and utilized by the people who maintain them.
  • Faster startup time: Containers don't have as much to start up, making them open more quickly than virtual machines. While it may not seem revolutionary, this can be up to a few minutes per instance -- a cost that adds up to quite a bit over the course of a year or more.
  • Resource distribution: Containers only need to pull hardware resources as needed, while a VM requires a baseline of resources to be allocated before it will start up. If you have two VM processes running at the same time, this might mean two of the same programs are pulled up even if they aren't being used.
  • Direct hardware access: A VM cannot pull information from outside of itself (the host computer), but a container can utilize the host system as it runs. This may or may not matter depending on what your users are doing, but certainly puts a point in the container column nonetheless.
Although it appears that containers out-perform virtual machines in most areas, there are uses for the VM environment, particularly for a business on the rise. With a virtual machine you have a security advantage because each VM environment is encapsulated with its own operating system and data configuration; additionally, you are not limited to the use of one operating system.

Virtualization is an incredibly tricky solution to grasp in its entirety. New avenues spring up all the time to get more use out of its benefits, and it might be tempting to take a “wait and see” mentality. In reality, one of the best things about virtualization is how adaptable it is as a business solution. We suggest you get into the game as soon as possible; give us a call so we can tell you how.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 2nd, 2016

2016december_virtualization_aVMware's vSphere has been adding virtual space to servers for more than a decade. The vSphere 6.5 is the newest update to the popular hypervisor program, which pulls together different operating systems onto one shared hardware location. This update promises to improve user security and experience. Read on to discover the three main features added to the new vSphere 6.5.

More simplified experience A program that is easier for the non-technical business owner to use is a definite plus. Developers changed the user interface to highlight options in a more logical way. Workspaces are wider and allow instant feedback options for teams working on important projects. It is also easier to install and run programs, since the majority of vSphere 6.5 versions use HTML5 instead of the cumbersome Flash-run interface.

Built-in security Security is a high-ticket concern for any virtual collaboration, and vSphere 6.5 offers a number of safety-conscious features to keep your business safe. First is the Secure Boot, which allows you to keep unauthorized programs from being loaded into your virtual space. It is particularly helpful because it keeps guest users from loading harmful programs that could affect your business. In addition to the secure booting capabilities, the vSphere 6.5 also ensures that virtual machines are encrypted at rest and as data travels between systems.

Universal app platform The new vSphere 6.5 features a universality that many older versions just couldn't handle. Not only can you use this program with the major operating systems (Linux, Mac, Windows), you can back up and update your system on the same server instead of moving it to a third-party server that may or may not be trustworthy. You can also create a workload and deploy it across one platform so it is easy to access and modify if necessary.

The new features contained within vSphere 6.5 will change the way you see the virtualization experience all around. As long as the program continues to be updated for easier use by "common" employees and business owners, vSphere's popularity and that of other hypervisor programs will continue to climb. Call us to learn more about how you can use vSphere 6.5 within your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 16th, 2016

2016november15_virtualization_aWhen it comes to doing business today, it is all about computers and virtual platforms. The idea of a virtual desktop or virtual machine has long been a major component of doing business and providing employees individualized access to the information and programs necessary to do their work. However, just as business changes, so must the virtual desktop. vSpace Pro 10 has been introduced as a change to the virtual desktop platform as it stands today. Get to know more about how vSpace Pro stands today and whether or not it could benefit you and your business.

The traditional way companies make it possible for multiple employees to use company and business systems is to provide all users with their own copy of Windows so they can install the program separately on their machines. However, this can be quite cumbersome. If a patch is required for Windows, each account will need to be individually accessed and updated. This can also be expensive for businesses, as they will need to purchase individual copies of Windows and other software.

The idea behind vSpace Pro 10 is to do away with this expensive and sometimes inefficient type of virtual desktop system. vSpace Pro 10 requires a company to purchase only one copy of Windows, which is housed on what is known as a host server. Only the virtual desktop will then be customized for an individual user.

There are many reasons this can benefit a business. First of all, the maintenance costs, time, and effort will be significantly reduced because you will deal only with one copy of Windows rather than several. The initial system costs will also be much lower than alternative options.

You could also potentially save on your energy bills, as you would need to operate fewer machines at once by hosting the core operating system and multiple virtual desktops in a single central location. The best thing about vSpace Pro 10 is how simple and easy it is to use and to operate once installed, and the initial costs and installation process are simple as well. The streamlined nature and efficiency of vSpace Pro 10 make it one of the best virtual desktop platforms available for businesses today. If you would like to know more or want to get started, contact us as soon as possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 27th, 2016

2016october26_virtualization_aThere is a trend toward the use of ‘containers’ as a virtualization strategy within the IT world. And it's one that seems to be gaining popularity. Virtual containers work in similar fashion to shipping containers, which have made transport of bulky goods uncomplicated and uniform. Every small- and medium-sized business owner needs to learn how containers work before choosing a virtualization solution, and we’ve collected all the necessary details right here.

Why are containers so popular?

Before the introduction of containers, virtual workstations and servers allowed users to access computing power and software delivered across a local network or the internet. This technology took cloud computing and web hosting a step further than did just software on a website, and it created entire desktop experiences over the internet. However, it is a tad inefficient since running one small application still requires an entire hosted desktop.

Containers guarantee developers that their software will run smoothly, regardless of what type of computer their end user is running.

How containers improve on virtual desktops

Containers operate quite differently because they only package applications and their minimal requirements into a deliverable package. This makes it possible to deliver several containers to several different users with a significantly smaller footprint on the machine hosting the service.

There are a handful of pieces of software that create and deliver containers, and the most popular is Docker. Before the release of Docker, containers had existed for some time, but they were complicated and difficult to manage. With the rise of popularity in virtualization services, software vendors gained significant resources to make friendlier and simpler container solutions.

Although containers have made big improvements in enterprise computing, virtual machines still have a role to play in select circumstances. In both solutions, older equipment can be reappropriated to utilize much bulkier software hosted in the cloud. All you need is an internet connection, and an experienced IT professional to help you set it up. If you’re interested in either virtualization or accessing your applications in a container environment, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 12th, 2016

2016october11_virtualization_aMicrosoft’s Edge browser has enhanced its security features with new virtualization protocols. By running the browser inside a virtual container, it keeps web content totally separate from the Edge browser and your hard drive. Although it's a much smaller scale than what we are used to seeing out of Microsoft’s virtualization strategies, this is a gigantic boost to Windows’s native internet browser.

Browsers are one of the most popular avenues for cyber-criminals to deliver their wares, and new security measures by Microsoft set out to reduce that risk significantly. In a first for internet browsers, Microsoft has burnt any potential bridges between malware and PC hard-drives. The new and virtualized Edge is only available for Windows 10, and administrators will be required to choose what runs inside, and outside of the container.

When enabled, malware cannot gain access to anything outside of the Edge browser. Think of it like reheating your leftover lasagna inside a covered container; when that gooey mozzarella tries to muck up the walls of your microwave, your tupperware ensures it stays clean. So in our case, the cheese is malware, and even if you download malware from an untrusted site, it cannot reach beyond the container that Edge uses to protect your files.

According to tests run by Microsoft, the Edge browser has the lowest chances of malware infection when compared to other browsers running on Windows. And that means a lot when you consider that when it comes to cyber-attacks, the default Windows browser is always the first target.

In addition to creating containers for limiting the exposure of workstations, any malicious data is deleted by resetting the virtual space after users are done with it -- not unlike tossing your dirty tupperware into the dishwasher after reheating last night’s saucy noodle goodness. Permanent cookies aren’t kept after the reset, and it’s impossible for malware to continue running without a space to do so. Every new session starts with a clear, clean browser.

For those new to the virtualization game, it may seem like running Edge in this environment could slow down the machine. But Microsoft has guaranteed a cutting-edge, extremely light burden when enabling the service. When your organization is looking for virtualization services, from creating all your desktops in a virtual, internet-based space, to simply making your browsing more secure with virtual Edge browsers -- there’s only one team to call. Pick up the phone and dial us today. You’re a short consultation away from a cheaper, safer IT infrastructure.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 27th, 2016

2016september29_virtualization_aAlmost every day, the virtualization industry takes a giant leap forward. Although this industry has been reserved for only the most technologically advanced of businesses over the years, it’s spreading like wildfire with advances in cloud computing. As engineers create virtual versions of hardware, storage, and even networks, digital architects are coming up with entirely new ways to design your IT framework. Today’s development comes in endpoint security, and we’ve got everything you need to know right here.

A virtual network is a way to connect two or more devices that aren’t physically linked by wires or cables. From the perspective of machines on a virtual network, they’re essentially sitting in the same room -- even if they’re on opposite sides of the globe. The advantages of this setup range from ease of management to reduced hardware costs. AT&T and Verizon have begun offering these services, and small- and medium-sized businesses have slowly begun to adopt them.

Meanwhile, another sector of the IT world has been making its own advances. Cutting-edge hardware firewalls are beginning to offer internal segmentation as a method of separating pieces of your internal network to keep them safe from threats that spread internally. The more segments you have, the safer your network is from poorly protected neighbors. But there are limits to how much capacity one of these hardware firewalls has for segmentation.

Virtualization giant VMware has taken notice and developed a prototype to combine these two services. In the hopes of unleashing ‘microsegmentation’ from the limits of physical hardware, Project Goldilocks will essentially create a virtual firewall for every virtualized application. When one of these applications is created or installed, it will come with a ‘birth certificate’ outlining every acceptable function it can perform. When making requests to the operating system, network, or hardware the application is installed on, Goldilocks will cross-reference the request with the birth certificate and deny anything that hasn’t been given permission.

Segmenting virtual networks and applying them to individual applications rather than entire networks or operating systems could revolutionize the market for endpoint security. Not only would it be easier to block malware infections, but those that made it through could be quarantined and terminated immediately because of the virtual nature of their location.

While virtualization may be a complicated state-of-the-art technology, all it really takes is a helping hand. With our full team of specialists, we’re ready to pull you into the next stage of your virtualized infrastructure. All you need to do is reach out us -- why not do it today?

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 9th, 2016

2016september8_virtualization_aSometimes technology solutions seem safer merely because they’re not widespread enough to be a lucrative target. Although increasingly popular, virtualization’s resilient protection protocols and low adoption rates tend to offset the cost vs. benefit considerations of creating an exploit. Or at least, that was the case. Late last month VMware announced an update to patch a gap that allowed attackers to compromise virtualized cloud infrastructures. We’ve compiled everything you need to know to protect yourself here.

Since its first software release in 2001, VMware has remained the leading provider of virtualization platforms, with most sources estimating double-digit leads in market share over the nearest competitor. By creating virtual environments stored on a network server or in a cloud environment, the company has given their clients the ability to create workstations, software, and even networks that can be utilized remotely. Fast forward to today, and VMware is working overtime to maintain its reputation by preempting software security vulnerabilities.

Obviously, when delivering any kind of specialized privileges over a network, adequate protection is of the utmost concern. In this case, two services for managing mobile clouds (vIDM and vRealize) were found to be vulnerable to exploits wherein users with minimal rights could cheat their way into full administrative privileges.

The security team at VMware elaborated that when executed in just one of the two services, this flaw would not be considered critical. However, when combined, it could pose an imminent threat to the security of your cloud infrastructure. To amend this oversight, ask your managed services provider or IT staff to update vIDM and vRealize to their most recent versions (2.7 and 7.1, respectively) as soon as possible. If this can’t be achieved in a realistic time frame, blocking port 40002 would act as a temporary workaround.

Sufficient security requires by-the-minute responses to the latest breaches and exploits. By partnering with us, you’ll never need to worry about checking in regarding patches or breaches you read about in the news. Instead, you’ll be hearing about them from us when we come around to install the updates. Choose the safe option -- contact us today with any of your virtualization needs or questions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 25th, 2016

2016August24_Virtualization_ACitrix is one of the biggest names in the virtualization sector. It currently services over 330,000 organizations, and by teaming up with Microsoft to expand its cloud-based software delivery, the company hopes to give that number a boost. While the news of this partnership does mean winding down one popular software as a service, a newer -- and hopefully better -- one is on its way. Keep reading to find out how this announcement affects your organization.

What Citrix’s XenApp already does is deliver applications to users via a variety of methods and pathways other than local installations. The process starts with the creation of server-stored software containers that allow the services an application provides to be delivered to your staff members from a centralized server. XenApp enables you to set rules and procedures for when and how these features can be accessed, and it creates a multitude of versions of the software that can be delivered to different operating systems, devices, and locations.

In a press release back in May, Citrix made a bombshell announcement that it would create cloud-based versions of all its virtualization packages using Microsoft’s Azure as the foundation. While the two companies have been closely aligned for decades, this is an enormous boost to both their reputations. Fast forward to today, and we’re seeing the first rays of sunshine from this new team-up.

And much more than simply lending Citrix the foundation, Microsoft will be directly involved in the development and release of the new cloud-based version of XenApp. The two companies have promised to work together to combine the simplicity and scalability of Azure with the administration and performance improvements of XenApp, thereby creating the most comprehensive software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider on the market.

Because Microsoft’s RemoteApp already acts as an Azure SaaS platform, the potential for conflict means it will be wound down to its eventual sunset in August 2017. But fear not; for faithful users of this service, Microsoft has promised a clear transition plan to reduce the possibility of growing pains.

Cloud-based XenApp is just the first of many improved services to be born out of the partnership between these two titans of tech. Rumors are swirling that XenDesktop will get the same treatment and a release won’t be far behind. Regardless, the tech industry is moving ahead with the virtualization of everything it can get its hands on, and it's time to jump on the bandwagon. When you’re ready to make the leap, our experts are ready to pull you aboard. Contact us today for answers to all of your virtualization questions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 11th, 2016

2016August10_Virtualization_AWith virtualization yet to make its way into the lexicon of common tech phrases, many business owners are still trying to decipher the full extent of its value. Various aspects of the service have evolved over time, and we can probably expect more to come. For now, however, one of its existing functions is getting a boost from the likes of AT&T and Verizon. Virtualized network services are complex and often difficult to understand, but their value is unquestionable. Let’s delve a little deeper.

The overarching theme of virtualization is combining hardware and software resources into one large, communal pool where individual servers and workstations can pull as much as they need, rather than allocating them inefficient individual puddles that either go dry, or unused. In a workstation model, this is realized in the form of minimally equipped endpoints that access much more powerful software and hardware resource pools via web browser.

When it comes to network virtualization, it’s quite similar to virtual private networks, or VPNs. Developments in cloud and software functionalities allow administrators to eliminate time-consuming and micromanaged VPNs while achieving the same swift and secure connections between servers, workstations, and other network-enabled devices residing in physically separate networks. VPNs are like pumps between each of your network ‘puddles,’ individual pieces that require individual maintenance. Network virtualization is like installing one pump with on/off switches on each outbound pipe.

This means that setting up a VPN for the addition of a satellite office is as simple as inputting a few simple pieces of information to gain a world of seemingly local network possibilities. In another example, rather than recabling your office when one department becomes too cumbersome to fit on one switch or hub, connections and protocols can be expanded and redefined by a software client.

With the increasing popularity of any service with the word ‘virtualized’ in it, telecom carriers Verizon and AT&T have begun offering this service to clients. Whether it's because your business has a growing list of locations, or because your local network needs the flexibility to grow swiftly without waiting for costly hardware and software expansions, these services have you covered.

Both Verizon and AT&T will offer three ways to manage your virtualized network: locally, from the cloud, or a hybrid combination of the two. Once you’ve decided on a framework and deployment strategy, make sure to take time with the transition. Established networks are complex and messy ordeals, and it’s better to start migrating those puddles over time rather than all at once. Instead, move them one-by-one so any problems that arise can also be dealt with one-by-one.

Although consumer-level companies like AT&T and Verizon are offering this service, not just anyone can hop on and start getting the most out of a virtualized network. It takes expert configuration, deployment, and most importantly maintenance. With 24/7 coverage of your network, we eat, sleep, and breathe cutting-edge technology. Call us today and we’ll bring your SMB into the age of virtualization.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.