The IT Catch-22

OK, so everyone’s taking about it. Our industry is undergoing major changes. It’s out there. It started with a first architecture of reference with mainframes and minicomputers designed to serve thousands of applications used by millions of users worldwide. It then evolved with the advent of the Internet into the “client-server” architecture, this one designed to run hundreds of thousands of applications used by hundreds of millions of users. And where are we now? It appears we are witnessing the birth of a third generation of architecture, one of which is described by the IDC as “the next generation compute platform that is accessed from mobile devices, utilizes Big Data, and is cloud based”. It is referred to as “the third platform”. It is destined to deliver millions of applications to billions of users.

3rd platformVirtualization seems to have been the spark that ignited this revolution. The underlying logic of this major shift is that virtualization allows to make abstraction of hardware, puts it all in a big usable pool of performance and assets that can be shared by different applications for different uses according to the needs of different business units within an organization. The promise of this is that companies can and have more with less. Therefore, IT budgets can be reduced!
These changes are huge. In this third platform IT is built, is run, is consumed and finally is governed differently. Everything is changed from the ground up. It would seem obvious that one would need to invest in careful planning of the transition from the second to the third platform. What pace can we go at? What can be moved out into public clouds? What investments are required on our own infrastructure? How will it impact our IT staff? What training and knowledge will they require? What about security and risks?
The catch is the following: the third platforms allows IT to do much more with less. Accordingly, IT budgets are reduced or at best, flattened. Moving into the third platform requires investments. Get it? Every week we help CIOs and IT managers raise this within their organization so that they can obtain the required investments they need to move into the third platform to reap the benefits of it.

VMware VForum: beyond the virtual

It took an event sponsored by the leaders and forerunners of virtualization to get the chance to have a human, warm and real contact. It is with a renewed pleasure that I participated in the VForum Event in Montreal on May 20, mingling with the crowd at our ESI Technologies booth to finally meet in person and not through text messages, tweets, blog posts or emails, peers of the industry, colleagues, manufacturers and clients.

VForum - ESI presentationAs we all know, clients are extremely sollicited in this everchanging IT context with the advent of cloud computing made possible by virtualization. So I got the privilege of shaking hands with many of you, to talk, listen, understand and establish a real contact instead of a virtual one! We hope to have the pleasure to guide, help and advise you in this IT fast pace era where you are being courted from all sides to adopt the newest and latest technologies. For over 20 years, ESI is and remains a trusted partner to help you align technological choices with your real business needs and leverage them for your benefit! A team of people that put their efforts in the success of the most important people to them: you, our clients! Thank you for stopping by in such high number to meet with ESI’s team.

Charles Tremblay, ESI Account Manager

SDN- The mystery uncovered – part 1

As I continue to attend conferences and sessions with many of our core partners, I continue on my quest for data centre innovation. Most recently I visited the sunny coast of the Bay Area to visit Brocade Communications, Hitachi Data Systems and VMware specifically the NSX division. This is part one of a three part overview of the technology offering.

Within my role “Office of the CTO” I am always exploring new trends and innovation in designs and solutions for our clients, in particular how “software defined everything” becomes a part of our clients’ data centre evolution. For many years we have been speaking about the cloud and its adoption in main stream IT. We have new technologies appear and some just take a new face. Today, I would like to explore the concept of Software Defined Data Centers (SDDC) or in this case specially Software Defined Networks (SDN), with an overview of some of the most interesting solutions on the market.

Like many of you I have experienced the virtualization becoming more and more common of the compute platform. It just seems like yesterday that my manager at the time asked me to assist in SAN connectivity with Microsoft version 1 of Virtual machine management! Today we are experiencing the continued evolution of virtualization. Server and storage virtualization are common place within the data centre. We are seeing Canadian companies 100% virtualized within the compute space. These same companies are looking for the next step in consolidation, agility and cost containment. That next step is network virtualization. But what is SDN? Software defined networking (SDN) is a model for network control, based on the idea that network traffic flow can be made programmable at scale, thus enabling new dynamic models for traffic management.

SDN imageSource of above photo:  https://www.opennetworking.org/sdn-resources/sdn-definition

VMware NSX – a product purchased by VMware to add to their virtual network strategy. The product is sound and provides a close coupling with VMware and the networking and security of East/West traffic within a VM. The NSX Data and management plane provides an excellent framework to allow the SME hypervisor to lock down the VM traffic, and virtual properties such as a vRouter, vVPN, vLoad Balancer, all of which work within the VM construct.
Brocade Vyatta – A technology acquired by Brocade 2 years ago. Today we see the vRouter and Vyatta OpenDaylight controller lead the pack. Brocade has v5400 and v5600 additions of the predefined Vyatta OpenFlow controller. The Vyatta implementation provides vRouter, vFirewall, vVPN and has also developed a vADX load balancer as well.
Cisco ACI or Nexus 9000L – Cisco announced in 2014 the spin-in of the ‎Insieme product to provide an ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) platform. The first release was a 40 Gb Ethernet switch with no real ACI functionality. Today we see the product with enhanced port/policy control strategy using the Cloupia Spin-in Technology (UCS Director) policy based engines to control the various functions within an ACI architecture.

‎The real mystery of software defined networking starts with the basic understanding of a business need for a “programmable network” based on X86 architecture within the virtualization layer. In the next installment I will breakdown the VMware NSX and what ESI is exploring with this leading edge SDN contributor.

Nicholas Laine, Director Solutions Architect – Office of the CTO

Citrix Summit 2015 – news to come

Back from the 2015 edition of Citrix Summit in Las Vegas, where the latest innovations and a lot of NDA content were presented to participants. Citrix is still a dominant player in the world of virtualization of applications and workstations, while adding a lot of new features in the various areas surrounding the practice.

From innovation to a better experience, Citrix did not officially announce its new Receiver X1 (X1 for Experience First), but mentioned it often during the different sessions. X1 made quite an impression when it was presented. Web-based on HTML 5, the X1 client is centrally managed and really easy to update. The web version of X1 enables customization of user experience through the browser. The experience will be the same regardless of the platform.

Citrix announced a broad selection of tech previews and updates for this year. Amongst which HDX Framehawk, Optimization Pack for Lync, DesktopPlayer for Windows and an XenDesktop Virtual Desktop agent for Linux.

The XenMobile 10 version respects the “Experience First” concept, as demonstrated in the following blog: http://blogs.citrix.com/2015/01/13/xenmobile-10-what-experience-means-for-it/

We now have today an average of 2.9 devices by user, which explains the importance of keeping them under control. For more information on the latest Xen Mobile version: http://www.citrix.com/news/announcements/jan-2015/citrix-delivers-superior-user-experience-and-security-in-new-xen.html

Citrix gave each participant of the Summit a prototype X1 mouse; this mouse offers Receiver X1 users the possibility to use X1 with their iPhone or iPad in their Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop environment.

Citrix mouse

In parallel with user experience, Citrix offers increased flexibility and security with their innovative products.

To conclude, the conference gave participants a technological preview of products and innovations proposed by Citrix and their partners. The increase of mobile devices is becoming an element of change that organizations must address and Citrix has found a tailored approach to this new reality.

Mobility transforms enterprises and people.

Guillaume Paré, Senior Consultant –  architecture & technologies