Network challenges? Optimize your environment!

Business networks are often like children: they grow unnoticed, sometimes in a disorganized and often unexpected way. The company can quickly end up with a lot of unoptimized equipment to manage, which may look like this…

But it keeps on growing: management wants to install a videoconferencing system, make backup copies of a subsidiary and keep them at the head office…

Can your network support these new features? The answer is probably not.

From there, problems multiply. Over time, users experience slowdowns, phone calls are sometimes jerky, intermittent breakdowns may even occur. How to solve these problems? Where to look?

With a multitude of disparate equipment, and often without a centralized logging system, it is difficult to investigate and find a problem.

Network analysis: why and how

For ESI, each client is different. The most important part of our work is, first of all, to determine our client’s situation, and what led him to need a network analysis. An added feature? Intermittent breakdowns? A willingness to plan future investments to be made in the network?

Once this objective is established, we analyze the most recent network diagrams, if any. We examine the equipment, the configurations, the redundancy, the segmentation… We evaluate all this in order to assess the global health of the equipment.

We can thus identify:

  • End-of-life equipment
  • Equipment close to failure
  • Configuration problems / optimizations
  • Limiting network points

But most importantly, depending on your needs, we help you identify priorities for investment in the network in the short, medium and long term. At the end of the analysis, our clients obtain :

  • An accurate view of their network
  • An action plan on existing equipment
  • An investment plan.

Why ESI?

ESI Technologies has been assisting companies to plan and modify their infrastructure for more than 22 years now!
Contact us now to find out more about what ESI can do for you!

The greatest IT confusion ever?

Does it even beat Y2K? It’s been a year now since I rejoined the IT integration industry. When I left it in 2003 to focus on PKI technologies, it was still the good old days of client server IT infrastructure right after Y2K and the dot-com bubble burst. For a year now I have been trying to understand clients’ challenges to see how I can help. For a year now I have observed my clients trying themselves to understand the mutations that appear to be changing the IT industry and how it affects them not only on a business level but also on professional AND personal levels as well. I find them fearful and closed. Witnessing this, I told a colleague of mine “it seems our clients are capable of telling us what they don’t want but rarely have a clear vision of what they’re aiming for”!Trending concepts
Big data, the internet of things, stuff called cloud, anything anywhere anytime on any device, the software defined companies etc. – all these new terminologies are being bombarded to our clients and are supposed to showcase the many new trends in the industry. I have recently been to a seminar where the audience was separated in three categories: traditional IT folks who resist these changes and new trends because they reshape traditional IT infrastructure and thus may even jeopardize their job definition or security, new line of business managers who embrace change and are shopping for apps that get the job done and high management who talk the numbers’ language (growth percentage, market share and other measurable KPIs) with whom you need to be able to prove ROI (not TCO this is the IT folks’ concerns).
And there we have it: widespread confusion and fear. Y2K all over again? People forget, BI has been around for a while, so has the Internet, thin client environments, databases etc. It’s just happening on a different scale and the challenge remains to bridge the gap between corporate and business objectives as defined by high management, finding the right tools and processes to get the job done by line of business owners and IT that still has an important role in solution selection, integration and support be it on site or off site.
My challenge over the last year has been to overcome those fears so as to allow my clients to have open discussions on their business objectives and avoid the use of buzz words to refocus on “where do you want to be in three to five years as a company, what IT tools will be required to help you get there and what are the ones I can help you with”.

Charles Tremblay, ESI account manager

IT or business needs?

I found myself recently in conversation with the General Manager of a small size but rapidly growing business. He mentioned three key objectives. First, growth in revenue. Second, being a consulting services-based business, key information being scattered on employee laptops – the company wants to make sure it “owns” the information and third, they have plans of bringing to market a new web-based software application for their clients.

Business needsWho is responsible for the revenue growth? Are they pursuing new business growth or growth in their current client base? How can, or does the company track the efforts and the steps taken by their team to make sure everyone’s pulling in the right direction to reach their growth target? The conversation then directed itself to sales processes and CRMs. What key information was held by their consultants, should be archived, if so, for how long and where? We proceeded onto data storage, archiving, secure access to the network for their consultants, data loss protection, electronic document management solutions etc. Finally, we asked ourselves where should their new web application reside? Cloud or not? Private, public or hybrid? On-premise or off-site? In the case where they should consider a cloud service provider, what should their SLAs be and if not satisfied, what should be their exit strategy?
IT solutions are not to be confused with business needs and corporate objectives! We left off with me having a better understanding of their corporate objectives and what I could do to help them attain them. On their side, they walked away with a much better understanding of which IT solutions were the most susceptible the help them reach their goals.

Charles Tremblay, ESI Account Manager

Advisory from Nutanix – Metro Availability Data Protection

Nutanix Engineering has discovered a rare condition that can potentially cause data integrity issues for containers using the Nutanix Metro Availability Data Protection feature for all versions of NOS 4.1 prior to 4.1.2. This condition can occur in environments that have experienced aborted operations during failover instances between Metro Availability sites.

Note: This issue does not affect customers that are using the Nutanix Async DR Data-Protection feature.

If you are using Nutanix, it is important to perform the following check to determine if your cluster is using this feature. In the Prism web console, navigate to Home > Data Protection > Overview, where the “Data Protection Summary” box will display a protection domain count.

  • A value of 1 or greater for “Metro Availability” indicates that the feature is enabled and this field advisory is applicable to your cluster.
  • A value of 0 indicates that you are not using the Metro Availability feature and can safely ignore this Field Advisory.

There is no workaround to this condition. This issue is fixed in NOS 4.1.2. All customers that are using the Metro Availability Data Protection feature MUST upgrade to NOS 4.1.2 to prevent this issue. Nutanix intends to release NOS 4.1.2 on or before April 17th, 5PM PST. Nutanix will send an update to this field advisory if NOS 4.1.2 is delayed beyond this date.

Please contact your ESI representative if you wish to validate with one of our experts.

Advisory from Nutanix – Potential data integrity issue

The manufacturer Nutanix sent a notice to its integration partners to inform Nutanix customers of a possible problem with their data integrity. This advisory affects NOS version 4.0.3 and later and is applicable only to customers that have met all the criteria below:

  1. On disk deduplication is enabled
  2. Using: Nutanix Protection Domains (all Hypervisors) orVAAI plugin (applies only to VMware ESXi Hypervisor)
  3. Using NOS 4.0.3 or higher

If you are a Nutanix user, it is important that you verify if your environment is affected by this advisory.

Workaround

Customers should avoid the configurations that are susceptible to this issue. Please contact your ESI representative if you wish to validate with one of our experts.

An update to this field advisory update will be sent on March 11th with details of the NOS release that will resolve this issue.

If technology is not an issue, what is the value of an integrator?

It was during an exploratory meeting with a new customer where we discussed his issues, that was confirmed what most of us in the business know: bad technology is rare. And by “bad technology”, he was talking about a technology that simply doesn’t work and doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. In his experience, 95% of issues with technology are rather related to configuration problems. He was referring to a real case of “bad” technology” that he had to deal with in his environment, related to hardware or firmware. More specifically, problems with a firmware component that would fail after upgrades and updates, forcing him to roll back to a prior version of firmware, thus going back to the problematic state that the update or upgrade was supposed to fix in the first place since it wasn’t doing what the technology had promised to do. That’s bad technology!

I have come to agree with his view. Some technologies may be more robust, some more performant, some offer unique features that are desirable for your IT environment at many different prices, considering levels of performance, reliability and features available but overall, you usually get the expected value versus the purchase price but rarely a technology that’s “bad”. These simply don’t last very long in the market place.

So with 95% of the issues with technology resting on misconfigurations or sub-optimized configurations, where does this leave us? This is the role of integrators. My observations are that a typical network administrator will go through major tech refreshes once every three to five years whereas it is the bread and butter and yearlong reality of network integrators that do this day in and day out. It’s hard enough to keep up with so many manufacturers selling so many features and advantages at different price points and most of it good or honest technology, never mind making sure it’s well deployed and perfectly tweaked to your environment especially if you go through this process once every three to five years with new technology. Optimized configuration work also becomes more complex as you try to integrate new technologies from new manufacturers into your environment in coexistence with technology from other vendors you already have in place. Don’t get me wrong, choosing the right technology for your environment is important but more importantly is finding people with strong deployment experience that understand your business objectives. With 95% of issues being related to configuration, this is where integrators such as ESI Technologies bring value to the table.

Charles Tremblay, Account manager, ESI