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  • Introducing NetApp HCI: The Next Generation of Hyper Converged Infrastructure

    Introducing NetApp HCI: The Next Generation of Hyper Converged Infrastructure

    October 12th, 2017
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    Last week, thousands of IT professionals gathered in Las Vegas for the 2017 NetApp Insight conference. NetApp Insight is NetApp’s annual technical conference for storage and data management professionals. The conference was full of technical sessions, round-table discussions, self-paced hands-on labs, certification courses and much more.

    One of the highlights of the year’s conference was the official unveiling of NetApp HCI, the next generation of hyper converged infrastructure, and the very first HCI platform designed for enterprise-scale. Chief Product Architect Adam Carter presented a brief overview of NetApp HCI which touched on hardware specifications, an installation/administration demo, performance guarantees, ONTAP select integration, and Data fabric consumption options.

    Let’s dive a little deeper into what NetApp HCI has to offer:

    Hardware

    Each 2U chassis holds four half width (1RU) storage and/or compute nodes. The base model starts with a dual chassis (4RU) solution consisting of two blank slots for expansion, four storage nodes, and two compute nodes for high availability (HA) and N+1. The minimum configurable model includes 32 cores for VMs, 512GB memory, and 5.5TB-11TB (depending on storage efficiency) of all flash capacity. Node sizes can be mixed and matched to achieve the desired host and storage specifications. Each node can push a staggering 50-100k IOPs depending on the type of workload. The best part is there isn’t a controller VM (CVM) for operations so the CPU and Memory shown will be dedicated to VMs (no “HCI tax”).

    Cloud Scale and Datacenter Integration

    Because the network is decoupled vs a traditional HCI model, storage and compute nodes scale independently and can coexist within the same 2U chassis. The ability to incrementally and independently scale storage or compute nodes creates a cloud like “grow-as-you need model.” This eliminates the need for a large investment every time there is a requirement to scale out. Nodes can scale into the “100s” according to Chief Product Architect Adam Carter. For additional cost savings, the cloud scale model eliminates the need to purchase additional ESXi licenses to add storage nodes vs traditional HCI platforms.

    To scale, you add the node and run through a simple two step process. The node is then non-disruptively and seamlessly assimilated into the ESXi cluster or single storage pool. The same rule applies to a node failure. After replacing a failed node, the self-healing functionality of the cluster kicks in and brings the node back into the cluster with a short two step process.

    Traditional HCI models are difficult to phase in and often require a full datacenter refresh. NetApp HCI leverages existing SAN/NAS switches and can present iSCSI storage to external servers for permanent use or to utilize a phase out approach. 

    Installation and Administration

    With over 400 steps automated by the NetApp Deployment Engine (NDE), the NetApp HCI cluster is VM ready in under an hour. To deploy NetApp HCI, the user accepts the VMware and NetApp EULAs, sets the admin password, then enters the IP information for storage and VM networking. The HCI cluster then automatically installs the SolidFire Element OS on the storage nodes, installs VMware ESXi on the server nodes, deploys a new vCenter or alternatively integrates with an existing vCenter, then installs NetApp HCI management plugins and the lightweight management VM used for alerting, management, and phone home. The system is now fully VM ready.

    NetApp HCI is integrated with vSphere eliminating the requirement to learn a new UI. The automatically injected NetApp HCI plugins allow administrators to add new volumes by selecting the size, performance SLA, and target hosts (how big, how fast, and who needs it). The volumes are then automatically created and presented to the appropriate resources. Alerting is further integrated giving users the ability to view storage related events directly through vCenter. 

    Advanced Storage Services

    Simplicity is one of the key components to most HCI implementations. The tradeoff to simplicity usually means administrative capabilities are limited and unlocking advanced features is cumbersome. NetApp has considerably simplified their APIs and added what I think is a learning feature. Not only did NetApp consolidate and simplify their API commands, they added a checkbox to the GUI which will give administrators the API output. The administrator can then modify the API output to gain higher-level and repeatable management, orchestration, backup, and disaster-recovery options.  

    For even greater advanced functionality, NetApp HCI goes beyond SAN. ONTAP Select comes prepackaged and deployed at no additional CPU, memory, or storage cost. This gives organizations best in class NAS file services for advanced CIFS and NFS configuration and protection.

    Performance Guarantee

    NetApp HCI storage is built on the SolidFire platform which was originally designed for cloud providers with multiple customers sharing the same infrastructure. Besides building in multitenancy, SolidFire added comprehensive Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities to guarantee performance of all tenants and workloads. NetApp HCI leverages QoS at the aggregate level or granular control at the VM level though the automated VVOL integration. Administrators can define and enforce performance guarantees with minimum, maximum, and burst settings for each volume or application independent of capacity.

    Data Fabric Ready

    It was also announced that SnapMirror will be added to NetApp HCI in the very near term. Administrators will soon be able to migrate data between NetApp portfolio products. In the near term, workloads will have the ability to be moved between or protected at endpoints between NetApp HCI, FAS/AFF, ONTAP Select, and ONTAP Cloud deployments. Below are the fundamental components of the NetApp Data Fabric ecosystem HCI can leverage:

    • File services with ONTAP select
    • Data protection with Snapshots and cloning capabilities
    • Data Management and Monitoring with Active IQ and OnCommand Insight (OCI)
    • Backup and recovery with Altavault, CommVault, or Veeam Snapshot integration
    • Object services with Storage Grid
    • Replication via SnapMirror
  • New Features in Cisco UCS Version 3.1 and 3.2

    New Features in Cisco UCS Version 3.1 and 3.2

    October 1st, 2017
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    The Cisco UCS platform has proven to be a leading enterprise solution for converging network and compute into one manageable system. The UCS Manager Graphical User Interface (GUI) allows users to manage an entire UCS domain, including the chassis, servers, and interconnects, from one central place, all while using a state of the art java-based UI. Wait, did you say java?

    Like most vendors at the time, Cisco chose java as the basis for their management GUI. Now, I don't know about you, but I haven't come across anyone in the IT world that likes dealing with java. Incompatibilities between different architectures and versions have created an IT nightmare.

  • Embedded Security with Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE)

    Embedded Security with Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE)

    September 29th, 2017
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    Why Cisco ISE?

    Ever wonder if it is possible to provide network access (wired, wireless and VPN) to departments within your company, yet restrict access to certain parts of the network to only specific departments?  

    Do you have a new corporate policy to allow "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) to work, where those devices will need access to the network, and you need enforce compliance to your company's security policy prior to providing access to the network?

    Is there a need to lock down management access to your company's network infrastructure, offer appropriate authorization to the different teams managing the network, and provide detailed accounting regarding the commands entered?

  • High Availability, Inc. Hosts 15th Annual Golf Outing

    High Availability, Inc. Hosts 15th Annual Golf Outing

    September 18th, 2017
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    Last Thursday, the mid-Atlantic region’s top IT professionals gathered for High Availability, Inc.’s Annual Golf Outing at the Downingtown Country Club. The event, which is now in its 15th year, is a customer appreciation event through and through. It brings our top clients, the entire H.A. team, and leading IT vendors together to kick-back, play a round of golf, and enjoy a few Rubrik Cloud Mojitos! The day began with a shotgun start, which sent golfers on their way to the course. Each platinum-level sponsor had a branded tent on a designated hole, with activities and beverages to keep golfers entertained. In fact, golfers were often seen taking breaks from their round of golf to play a game of flip at the Cisco tent, hydrate with a Pure Smokin’ Sweet Bourbon at the Pure Storage tent, or battle it out at the NetApp tent with rounds of Baggo or lawn Jenga.

  • High Availability, Inc. Raises $10,000 for Hurricane Harvey Relief

    High Availability, Inc. Raises $10,000 for Hurricane Harvey Relief

    September 15th, 2017
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    The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey has been absolutely devastating for the state of Texas. Hurricane Harvey, which is now being classified as a Category 4 storm, has dumped over 27 trillion gallons of rain over Texas and has forced over 30,000 people to seek temporary shelter. Moreover, according to Enik Research, a disaster relief modeler, Hurricane Harvey could be the costliest hurricane to hit the United States in over a decade.

    After the storm passed, High Availability, Inc. acted immediately and set up a relief fund program for those affected by Hurricane Harvey and even matched each contribution dollar-for-dollar. Within just a few minutes – the H.A. team had raised over $3,000!

    “Everyone stepped up and was happy to help in any way they could,” said Greg Robertson, President and CFO at High Availability, Inc. “I feel very fortunate to be working with individuals who see the importance of helping those in need.”

    Within three days, High Availability, Inc. had raised exactly $10,000, which will be donated to the J.J. Watt Foundation. The J.J. Watt Foundation specializes in raising funds and support for after-school athletic programs in both Wisconsin and Texas, but has temporarily shifted their focus in the wake of the hurricane. They are now working with the Houston Flood Relief Fund to collect supplies and funds to help those affected by the storm. 

    Click Here to learn more about the J.J. Watt Foundation.

  • For the 2nd Time, High Availability, Inc. Appears on the Inc. 5000 list, Ranking No. 3297 with Three-Year Sales Growth of 96.91%

    For the 2nd Time, High Availability, Inc. Appears on the Inc. 5000 list, Ranking No. 3297 with Three-Year Sales Growth of 96.91%

    August 18th, 2017
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    Inc. magazine today ranked High Availability, Inc. NO. 3297 on its 36th annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation's fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment— its independent small and midsized businesses. Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s Pizza, Pandora, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, Zillow, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000.

  • High Availability, Inc. Named to 2017 CRN Fast Growth 150 List

    High Availability, Inc. Named to 2017 CRN Fast Growth 150 List

    August 7th, 2017
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    High Availability, Inc. announced that CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has named them to its 2017 Fast Growth 150 list. The list is CRN’s annual ranking of North America-based technology integrators, solution providers and IT consultants with gross sales of at least $1 million that have experienced significant economic growth over the past two years. The 2017 list is based on gains in gross revenue between 2014 and 2016, and the companies recognized represent a total, combined revenue of more than $16,717,688,643.

  • High Availability, Inc. Named to CRN's 2017 Solution Provider 500 List

    High Availability, Inc. Named to CRN's 2017 Solution Provider 500 List

    June 5th, 2017
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    Audubon, PA, June 5, 2017 -- High Availability, Inc. announced today that CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has named them to its 2017 Solution Provider 500 list. The Solution Provider 500 is CRN’s annual ranking of the largest technology integrators, solution providers and IT consultants in North America by revenue.