3 Virtualization issues to watch out for

February 22nd, 2017

2017February21_Virtualization_AAlthough data storage is only one of the many ways to benefit from virtualized hardware, it’s still the most common use of the technology. Despite this popularity, virtualized storage is susceptible to a number of mismanagement catastrophes. We’ve outlined the three most common mistakes when utilizing this technology, right here.

Poorly structured storage from the get go

Within a virtualized data storage framework, information is grouped into tiers based on how quickly that information needs to be accessible when requested. The fastest drives on the market are still very expensive, and most networks will have to organize data into three different tiers to avoid breaking the bank.

For example, archived or redundant data probably doesn’t need to be on the fastest drive you have, but images on your eCommerce website should get the highest priority if you want customers to have a good experience.

Without a virtualization expert on hand, organizing this data could quickly go off the rails. Ask your IT service provider to see a diagram of where your various data types are stored and how those connect to the software-defined drive at the hub of your solution. If there are too many relays for your server to pass through, it’ll be a slower solution than the non-virtualized alternatives.

Inadequately maintained virtualized storage

How long will your intended design last? Companies evolve and expand in short periods of time, and your infrastructure may look completely different months later. Virtualized data storage requires frequent revisions and updates to perform optimally.

Whoever is in charge of your virtualization solution needs to have intimate knowledge of how data is being accessed. If you’re using virtual machines to access your database and move things around, they need to be precisely arranged to make sure you don’t have 10 workstations trying to access information from the same gateway while five other lanes sit unoccupied.

Incorrect application placement

In addition to watching how your data is accessed as the system shifts and grows, administrators also need to keep a close eye on the non-human components with access to the system. Virtualized applications that access your database may suffer from connectivity problems, but how would you know?

The application won’t alert you, and employees can’t be expected to report every time the network seems slow. Your virtualization expert needs to understand what those applications need to function and how to monitor them closely as time goes on.

Deploying any type of virtualized IT within your business network is a commendable feat. However, the work doesn’t stop there. Without the fine-tuning of an experienced professional, you risk paying for little more than a fancy name. For the best virtualization advice in town, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 4th, 2017

2017February3_Virtualization_AIf you thought virtualization was confusing, wait until you hear about hyperconvergence. By consolidating a number of virtualization services into a single piece of hardware, that runs a single piece of software, small- and medium-sized businesses can enjoy the simplicity, cost effectiveness, and security of a cloud infrastructure, in one on-site “box.” If you love everything about cloud computing and virtualization, a hyperconverged infrastructure should be the newest tool in your toolbox.

Using a hyperconvergence model to structure your network is very representative of the current trends in small- and medium-sized business technology. It’s about making enterprise-level solutions more accessible to those looking for a smaller scale. So although a lot of these benefits sound like the same points we argue for other technologies, let’s take a look at how they are unique to hyperconvergence.

Software-centric computing

It may not sound huge at first, but by packing everything you need into a single box, and wrapping that box with a flexible and adaptable management software, you empower your hardware infrastructure to receive more regular patches and updates. This makes it much easier to add more hardware later, or restructure what you’re currently using.

Unified administration

Hyperconvergence consolidates a number of separate functions and services into one piece of technology. Whoever is managing your virtualization services can tweak storage, cloud, backup, and database settings and workloads from one place.

Streamlined upgrading

Different hyperconvergence “boxes” come in different sizes and capabilities. So all it takes to scale up is buying another unit based on your forecasted needs. If you’re in a place where all you need is a little extra, purchase a smaller upgrade. But when you’re expecting rapid growth, a bigger box will ensure your IT can expand with your business.

Stronger data protections

Complexity is the achilles heel of most networked IT. When a small group of people are trying to stay on top of a mounting pile of account management settings, malware definitions, and data storage settings, it’s hard to keep constantly probing cyber-attackers from finding a security hole. But with a hyperconvergence infrastructure, your virtual machines aren’t built by bridging a series of third-party services together -- it’s all one service.

Keep in mind that while hyperconvergence is simpler than most virtualization solutions, it’s not so simple as to be managed by in-house IT departments at more small- and medium-sized businesses. The benefit of a more unified virtualization solution when you already have a managed services provider is the speed at which your growth and evolution can be managed.

The better your technology, the faster we can make changes. And the faster we can accommodate your needs, the less downtime you experience. Call us today to find out more about a hyperconverged system.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 21st, 2017

2017January20_Virtualization_AVirtualizing your desktops comes with a number of benefits, one of which is improved security. Unfortunately, nothing perfect lasts forever, and the virtualization industry is facing a frightening new form of malware. Although this threat is nothing more than a facelift on an old virus, it is just as dangerous as it was the first time it made headlines. If you’re utilizing any sort of virtualized desktop, you need to be fully aware of this new development.

What is it?

Back in 2012, a brand new virus called “Shamoon” was unleashed onto computers attached to the networks of oil and gas companies. Like something out of a Hollywood film, Shamoon locked down computers and displayed a burning American flag on the display while totally erasing anything stored on the local hard disk. The cybersecurity industry quickly got the virus under control, but not before it destroyed data on nearly 30,000 machines.

For years, Shamoon remained completely inactive — until a few months ago. During a period of rising popularity, virtualization vendors coded doorways into their software specifically designed to thwart Shamoon and similar viruses. But a recent announcement from Palo Alto Networks revealed that someone refurbished Shamoon to include a set of keys that allow it to bypass these doorways. With those safeguards overcome, the virus is free to cause the same damage it was designed to do four years ago.

Who is at risk?

As of the Palo Alto Networks announcement, only networks using Huawei’s virtual desktop infrastructure management software are exposed. If your business uses one of those services, get in touch with your IT provider as soon as possible to address how you will protect yourself from Shamoon.

On a broader scale, this attack shows how virtualization’s popularity makes it vulnerable. Cyber attackers rarely write malware programs that go after unpopular or underutilized technology. The amount of effort just isn’t worth the pay off.

Headlines decrying the danger of Shamoon will be a siren call to hackers all over the globe to get in on the ground floor of this profitable trend. It happened for ransomware last year, and virtual machine viruses could very well turn out to be the top security threat of 2017.

How can I protect my data?

There are several things you need to do to ensure the safety of your virtual desktops. Firstly, update your passwords frequently and make sure they’re sufficiently complex. Shamoon’s most recent attempt to infect workstations was made possible by default login credentials that had not been updated.

Secondly, install monitoring software to scan and analyze network activity for unusual behavior. Even if legitimate credentials are used across the board, accessing uncommon parts of the network at odd hours will sound an alarm and give administrators precious time to take a closer look at exactly what is happening.

Ultimately, businesses need virtualization experts on hand to protect and preserve desktop infrastructures. Thankfully, you have already found all the help you need. With our vast experience in all forms of virtualized computing, a quick phone call is the only thing between you and getting started. Call today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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.