• High Availability, Inc. Named NetApp Overall Partner of the Year

    High Availability, Inc. Named NetApp Overall Partner of the Year

    June 19th, 2018
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    High Availability, Inc. Named NetApp Overall Partner of the Year
    High Availability, Inc. receives NetApp accolade for outstanding commitment and partnership.

    Audubon, PA, June 19th, 2018 - High Availability. Inc, announced today that NetApp, one of our most strategic technology partners, has named High Availability, Inc. as the NetApp Overall Partner of the Year – PA/DE District for FY18. The award was given for outstanding services, partnering, and commitment. This is High Availability, Inc.’s sixth consecutive year receiving this accolade from NetApp

    “Another year, another top recognition for an awesome partner and team at High Availability Inc., a NetApp partner since their inception in 2000,” said Dan Repka, Channel Development Manager for NetApp.  “Over the past years, the team at High Availability has built a strong, growing and well-regarded data management practice and expanded into all areas of the data center helping customers implement varied integrated solutions.  This partner is all in with NetApp as a Platinum partner, a Professional Services Certified partner, a FlexPod Premium partner, a NetApp Cloud Service Provider and a member of our Partner CTO Advisory Board.  While the company overall continues to grow at double digits for the past 8 years, their NetApp business has followed that trend by driving transformative solutions within their installed base and new accounts in the commercial, enterprise, SLED and healthcare market segments.  The team are experts at implementing NetApp data driven solutions leveraging our entire portfolio of flash, converged, hyperconverged, and cloud integrated solutions to empower our mutual customers to change the world with data. Congratulations!” added Repka.

  • High Availability, Inc. Awarded COSTARS Hardware and Software Contract

    High Availability, Inc. Awarded COSTARS Hardware and Software Contract

    June 18th, 2018
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    Audubon, PA, June 11th, 2018 - High Availability. Inc, announced today that COSTARS, Pennsylvania’s cooperative purchasing program for eligible public procurement units and state affiliated entities, has officially named High Availability, Inc. as an official vendor. The COSTARS program offers members the chance to obtain more competitive pricing for professional services.


    COSTARS was created in 2004 by the Department of General Services (DGS) to increase the cooperative purchasing options for local public procurement units (LPPUs’) and state-affiliated entities. Initially, the DGS limited the LPPUs’ to only certain statewide contracts, but this quickly changed so members could obtain the best and most beneficial contracts for their organizations. In fact, DGS estimates that more than 10,000 entities within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are eligible to become COSTARS

    members. Several thousand of these have already registered as COSTARS members,

    and the list of registered members continues to grow.


    “We are thrilled to be given the opportunity to serve even more state affiliated entities through our newly acquired COSTARS contracts,” said Randy Kirsch, Executive Vice President of High Availability, Inc. “This allows us to vastly expand our network in the state of Pennsylvania!” Kirsch added.


    To learn more about the COSTARS program please visit

  • High Availability, Inc. Named to CRN’s 2018 Solution Provider 500 List

    High Availability, Inc. Named to CRN’s 2018 Solution Provider 500 List

    June 8th, 2018
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    High Availability, Inc. Named to CRN’s 2018 Solution Provider 500 List
    CRN's 2018 Solution Provider 500 list ranks the top integrators, service providers and IT consultants in North America by services revenue.

    Audubon, PA, June 4th, 2018 - High Availability, Inc. announced today that CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has named High Availability, Inc. to its 2018 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.

    The Solution Provider 500 is CRN’s predominant channel partner award list, serving as the industry standard for recognition of the most successful solution provider companies in the channel since 1995. The complete list will be published on, making it readily available to vendors seeking out top solution providers to partner with. 

    CRN has also released its 2018 Solution Provider 500: Newcomers list, recognizing 26 companies making their debut in the Solution Provider 500 ranking this year.  

    “We could not be more excited to be recognized on CRN’s Solution Provider 500 for the 6th year in a row,” said Steve Eisenhart, Chief Executive Officer of High Availability, Inc. "We exceeded our own expectations by jumping 49 spots to #239.  This achievement is a tribute to our dedicated and talented employees, loyal customers and supportive business partners. We will continue to make investments in the right people, the right partners and the right technologies to advance as an organization and improve our position on this list in the future." Eisenhart added.

    “CRN’s Solution Provider 500 list spotlights the North American IT channel partner organizations that have earned the highest revenue over the past year, providing a valuable resource to vendors looking for top solution providers to partner with,” said Bob Skelley, CEO of The Channel Company. “The companies on this year’s list represent an incredible, combined revenue of $320 billion, a sum that attests to their success in staying ahead of rapidly changing market demands. We extend our sincerest congratulations to each of these top-performing solution providers and look forward to their future pursuits and successes.”

    The complete 2018 Solution Provider 500 list will be available online at and a sample from the list will be featured in the June issue of CRN Magazine.

  • Look! Up in the sky, in the clouds! It's my DR, saving the day!

    Look! Up in the sky, in the clouds! It's my DR, saving the day!

    May 31st, 2018
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    Being the superhero of IT is not an easy job.  Fighting crime, helping citizens, keeping peace, all in a day's work.  Avoiding disaster is one of the IT superhero's duties that can be quiet, and behind the scenes.  It can also be costly and risky, hard to budget and hard to plan.

    Two of DR's arch enemies - Cost and Risk!

    Fortunately, moving your DR into the cloud can fight cost and fight risk.  Let's look at some of the top reasons a cloud-based DR solution can help save money and leap tall pitfalls.


    Managing a DR Location
    Cost: Buying or leasing a secondary IT location can be a huge infrastructure undertaking.  Moving to the cloud often requires little infrastructure purchasing, as space, power, cooling and connectivity can all be rolled up into a single lower expense.

    Risk: Cloud based data centers are designed with risk avoidance in mind.  Redundant power and internet into the datacenter can achieve nearly 100% uptime.

    Cost:  Purchasing DR equipment can be a costly and shocking endeavor.  Replicating production equipment that has its own maintenance costs and software licensing cost is many times difficult to justify the huge Capital Expenditure from a budget perspective.  Cloud space, with its potential for co-location and virtualization of hardware make total economic sense.  Entire DR solutions can be leased from month to month, making an easier to justify Operational Expense.

    Risk: Many times, due to budget, space, internet speed, or other factors, legacy DR solutions can have shortcuts created to avoid some of these challenges.  Every time a shortcut is introduces, a risk is created.  Having a cloud based Operational Expensed design allows for design and implementation for a complete solution, without cutting corners.


    Cost: Hiring additional resources to manage DR equipment, and connections can be pricey.  Having a cloud provider manage the DR solution can offload the need to hire staff or have staff make frequent trips to and from a legacy DR location.

    Risk:  Having the expertise of dedicated DR professionals at the ready eliminates the risks of using internal staff that may not be comfortable with the design and implementation of maintaining a true DR solution.

    Cost:  Designing a legacy DR solution means creating, deploying and maintaining a replica of a full production environment.   Staff must coordinate with multiple hardware vendors, software vendors, and internet providers to maintain the DR environment.  Having a DR test plan and conducting test can be a coordination nightmare.  Having a single cloud service provider design, implement and maintain the full DR environment means a single vendor can be tasked with disaster testing and plan validation.

    Risk:  Relying on many partners in the event of a disaster presents challenges and risks in recovery, timing, tasks and ownership if an event should occur.  Having a single provider that can "flip the DR switch" and fail over a production environment to the DR location.

    Being a superhero can be as simple as making a call and finding a partner up in the clouds.

  • Cisco Unified Communication (UC) Server-  Hardware Options

    Cisco Unified Communication (UC) Server- Hardware Options

    May 23rd, 2018
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    These are various options when it comes to installing Cisco Unified Communication (UC) applications.  I have summarized these options with pros and cons of each:

    Business Edition (BE) 7000- BE7K or Business Edition (BE) 6000- BE6K

    • What is it?
      • The Cisco BE6K/BE7K is built on a virtualized UCS that ships ready-for-use with a pre-installed virtualization hypervisor and application installation files. The BE6K/BE7K is a UCS TRC in that UC applications have been explicitly tested on its specific UCS configuration
    • Pros
      • Easy to order- one SKU.  That SKU includes everything including VMware license
      • All OVA templates and ISO Images are preloaded with server
    • Cons
      • There is no flexibility to choose hardware and software from



    UC on Cisco Tested Reference Configuration (TRC) servers

    • What is it?
      • UCS TRCs are specific hardware configurations of UCS server components. These components include CPU, memory, hard disks (in the case of local storage), RAID controllers, and power supplies
    • Pros
      • Ordering process involve more than BE7K but it is simple compare to Spec based solution- that is check TRC specification against the actual hardware including CPU, memory, hard drive, VMware etc.
      • Provide more flexibility compare to BE6K and BE7k in terms of choosing hardware/software
    • Cons
      • There are still less options to choose hardware/ software from 
      • Client or partner still has to manually obtain and upload OVA template ISO image for each UC applications
      • Require ordering VMware foundation or VMware standard license


    UC on Spec Based servers

    • What is it?
      • Specifications-based UCS hardware configurations are not explicitly validated with UC applications. Therefore, no prediction or assurance of UC application virtual machine performance is made when the applications are installed on UCS specs-based hardware. In those cases, Cisco provides guidance only, and ownership of assuring that the pre-sales hardware design provides the performance required by UC applications is the responsibility of the customer
    • Pros
      • Can leverage existing compute infrastructure, including 3rd party hardware
      • Provide the most flexibility in terms of hardware/software options to choose from
    • Cons
      • Ordering equipment’s based on Spec-based requires more upfront planning, validation and potential pre-testing
      • Client or partner still has to manually obtain and upload OVA template ISO image for each UC applications
      • Requires VMware Vcenter


    UC on Cisco HyperFlex

    • What is it?

      • UC on Cisco HyperFlex is available as TRC
    • Pros
      • Same as TRC servers
      • Provide more robust and scalable solution
    • Cons
      • This could be expensive solution, unless it is part of larger Hyperflex deployment
      • Client or partner still has to manually obtain and upload OVA template ISO image for each UC applications
      • Requires VMware Vcenter


    Who should be looking for UC on HCI (HyperFlex)?

    1. Server team with incumbent 3rd-party compute looking for alternative storage
    2. Voice/video team seeking HCI alternative to BE6K or BE7K appliance for UC
    3. UCS that is not BExK, one team in charge of everything, wants HCI instead of other approaches
    4. UCS that is not BExK, separation of duties where server team owns VMware/compute/storage, server team looking for HCI


    High Level Solution


    The Hyperflex bundle comes with four (4) HX240C nodes and pair of Cisco 6248 Fiber Interconnect.  The system is managed by HyperFlex (HX) software running on Cisco 6248.

    Following applications are supported by TRC (Tested Reference Configuration) on HyperFlex

    • (CUCM) Unified Communications Manager
    • (IMP) Unified Communications Manager – IM & Presence
    • Expressway C & Expressway E
    • (CER) Emergency Responder
    • (PCP) Prime Collaboration Provisioning
    • (PCA) Prime Collaboration Assurance
    • (PCD) Prime Collaboration Deployment
    • (PLM) Prime License Manager (standalone)
    • (CUC) Unity Connection
    • (UCCX) Unified Contact Center Express
    • (TMS) Telepresence Management Suite


    Sample Design


    • Minimum system using HX240c M4SX TRC#1, HX 1.8.1.
    • 4x HX nodes, each with VMware vSphere ESXi 6.0
    • 2x 6200 FI switches
    • VMware vCenter 6.0 for management


    SAN/NAS Best Practices

    General Guidelines

    • Adapters for storage access must follow supported hardware rules

    • Cisco UC apps use a 4-kilobyte block size to determine bandwidth needs.
    • Design your deployment in accordance with the UCS High Availability guidelines  
    • 10GbE networks for NFS, FCoE or iSCSI storage access should be configured using Cisco Platinum Class QOS for the storage traffic.
    • Ethernet ports for LAN access and ethernet ports for storage access may be separate or shared. Separate ports may be desired for redundancy purposes. It is the customer's responsibility to ensure external LAN and storage access networks meet UC app latency, performance and capacity requirements
    • In absence of UCS 6100/6200, normal QoS (L3 and L2 marking) can be used starting from the first upstream switch to the storage array.
    • With UCS 6100/6200
    • FC or FCoE: no additional requirements. Automatically handled by Fabric Interconnect switch.
    • iSCSI or NFS: Follow these best practices:
      • Use a L2 CoS between the chassis and the upstream switch.
      • For the storage traffic, recommend a Platinum class QoS, CoS=5, no drop (Fiber Channel Equivalent)
      • L3 DSCP is optional between the chassis and the first upstream switch.
      • From the first upstream switch to the storage array, use the normal QoS (L3 and L2 marking). Note that iSCSI or NFS traffic is typically assigned a separate VLAN.
      • iSCSI or NFS: Ensure that the traffic is prioritized to provide the right IOPS. For a configuration example, see the FlexPod Secure Multi-Tenant (SMT) documentation (
    • The storage array vendor may have additional best practices as well.
    • if disk oversubscription or storage thin provisioning are used, note that UC apps are designed to use 100% of their allocated vDisk, either for UC features (such as Unity Connection message store or Contact Center reporting databases) or critical operations (such as spikes during upgrades, backups or statistics writes). While thin provisioning does not introduce a performance penalty, not having physical disk space available when the app needs it can have the following harmful effects
      • degrade UC app performance, crash the UC app and/or corrupt the vDisk contents.
      • lock up all UC VMs on the same LUN in a SAN


    Link Provisioning and High Availability

    Consider the following example to determine the number of physical Fiber Channel (FC) or 10Gig Ethernet links required between your storage array (such as the EMC Clariion CX4 series or NetApp FAS 3000 Series) and SAN switch for example, Nexus or MDS Series SAN Switches), and between your SAN switch and the UCS Fabric Interconnect Switch. This example is presented to give a general idea of the design considerations involved. You should contact your storage vendor to determine the exact requirement.

    Assume that the storage array has a total capacity of 28,000 Input/output Operations Per Second (IOPS). Enterprise grade SAN Storage Arrays have at least two service processors (SPs) or controllers for redundancy and load balancing. That means 14,000 IOPS per controller or service processor. With the capacity of 28,000 IOPS, and assuming a 4 KByte block size, we can calculate the throughput per storage array controller as follows:

    • 14,000 I/O per second * (4000 Byte block size * 8) bits = 448,000,000 bits per second
    • 448,000,000/1024 = 437,500 Kbits per second
    • 437,500/1024 = ~428 Mbits per second

    Adding more overhead, one controller can support a throughput rate of roughly 600 Mbps. Based on this calculation, it is clear that a 4 Gbps FC interface is enough to handle the entire capacity of one Storage Array. Therefore, Cisco recommends putting four FC interfaces between the storage array and storage switch, as shown in the following image, to provide high availability.

    Note: Cisco provides storage networking and switching products that are based on industry standards and that work with storage array providers such as EMC, NetApp, and so forth. Virtualized Unified Communications is supported on any storage access and storage array products that are supported by Cisco UCS and VMware. For more details on storage networking, see

  • New Features and Changes in vSphere 6.7

    New Features and Changes in vSphere 6.7

    May 23rd, 2018
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    VMware just released vSphere 6.7, an incremental upgrade to the 6.x line of code. Although this is a minor release, it has lots of changes and improvements under the hood.

    HTML5 Client

    Most people I talk to hate the VMware Flash web client, preferring the old C# thick client for its ease of use and quick response. The HTML5 client offers a cleaner, more intuitive interface with better performance than the Flash version, but it is not yet feature-complete.

    With the release of 6.7, a number of features have been added that were previously missing.  All storage workflows are now available, and Update Manager in now integrated as shown below. The client is now 90-95% complete, with VMware promising full functionality by fall of 2018:

    4K Native Drive Support

    Drives with 4k sector size are supported in 6.7 with built-in 512-byte sector emulation for legacy OS support.

    Increased Limits

    Device limits continue to increase in 6.7.

    Max Virtual Disks increased from 60 to 256

    Max ESXi number of Devices increased from 512 to 1024

    Max ESXi paths to Devices increased from 2048 to 4096

    VCSA VAMI Improvements

    The Virtual Appliance Management Interface, known as VAMI, is available at https://vcenter:5480.  There have been several major improvements. 

    Services can now be managed directly from here.

    Scheduled backups of VCSA are now available through the backup tab in VAMI

    Quickboot and Single-Reboot Upgrades

    Quickboot allows the hypervisor to restart without restarting the underlying hardware.  This is useful in the event of applying hypervisor patches and is available only from VUM.  6.7 also enables single-reboot upgrades, which eliminates the second reboot requirement and greatly speeds up the upgrade process.

    DRS initial placement improvements

    vCenter 6.7 has the improved initial placement from 6.5 but this now works with HA enabled. Performance is said to be 3x faster.

    Support for RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access)

    RDMA allows transfer of memory contents from one system to another, bypassing the kernel.  This delivers high i/o bandwidth with low latency.  The feature requires an HCA (Host Channel Adapter) on source and destination systems.

    vSphere Persistent Memory

    Persistent memory, utilizing NVDIMM modules, is supported for hosts and VMs.  This technology enables incredible levels of performance, with speeds 100x faster than SSD storage.

    Deprecated CPUs

    Since new vSphere 6.7 features depend on specific CPU capabilities, a lot of fairly recent legacy CPUs are no longer supported.  Check your hardware for compatibility before planning a 6.7 upgrade. 

    Release notes:


    vSphere 6.7 is a solid update that addresses a lot of pain points in prior releases.  It will be a welcome improvement for businesses of all sizes.



  • Top Tips by CIOs for CIOs

    Top Tips by CIOs for CIOs

    April 24th, 2018
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    Supervising a technology team, no matter the size, is a huge responsibility. From recruiting engineers and technology technicians to transforming your data center – a Chief Information Officer must be able to handle any situation that comes across their desk while simultaneously maintaining the goals and objectives of their organization.

    We asked some of the region’s top CIOs and CTO’s for advice and tips for other technology leaders – here are our findings;


    • “Surround yourself with a core group of smart, technically savvy, team oriented, and motivated professionals.  The team will grow from there….similar people find each other.”
      • John Ciccarone, Chief Technology Officer, Janney Montgomery Scott
    • “Listen to everyone’s ideas, turn your ideas into someone else’s, ask probing questions…”
      • John S. Supplee, Chief Operating Officer, Haverford Trust
    • “Make sure that your team understands mission / objectives and that they have the training / aptitude to be successful.”
      • Barry Steinberg, Chief Information Officer, Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor
    • “Manage up and across as much as or more than down, be curious on motives and what make people tick.”
      • John S. Supplee, Chief Operating Officer, Haverford Trust
    • “Drive a culture of partnership.  The team is greater than any individual member.”
      • Geoff Pieninck, Global IT Director, Colorcon
    • “Promote the team and their efforts, not the leaders.”
      • Marty Keane, Chief Technology Officer, Penn Capital


    • “Don’t major in the minors. Identify the big impact projects, issues, and opportunities and address them long term.  Filter out the noise.”
      • John Ciccarone, Chief Technology Officer, Janney Montgomery Scott
    • “Change is inevitable.  Change is uncomfortable. Drip change, don’t pour change and allow the change to disburse evenly.”
      • Marty Keane, Chief Technology Officer, Penn Capital
    • “Turn ‘No’ into challenges - be flexible.”
      • John S. Supplee, Chief Operating Officer, Haverford Trust


    • “Challenge your staff with additional responsibility and exposure to new opportunities…success and recognition follows.”
      • John Ciccarone, Chief Technology Officer, Janney Montgomery Scott
    • “Practice empathy – understand employee and co-workers experiences; this encourages people to speak up if they are struggling.”
      • Ronn Temple, Director – Enterprise Technology, Dorman Products
    • ”Learn to stay intrigued, motivated and curious.  Find were you are get your inspiration from.  Innovation is forged from such foundations.”
      • Marty Keane, Chief Technology Officer, Penn Capital
    • “Stay humble.  Celebrate your successes, but don’t be complacent.”
      • John Ciccarone, Chief Technology Officer, Janney Montgomery Scott
    • “Know that a leader will hold all to ethical, moral, and performance standards.”
      • Ronn Temple, Director – Enterprise Technology, Dorman Products


    • “Right size technical and business solutions based on the needs of the business.  Biggest, best, newest is not always the answer.”
      • John Ciccarone, Chief Technology Officer, Janney Montgomery Scott
    • “People, planning and process are critical components for ongoing team success.”
      • Barry Steinberg, Chief Information Officer, Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor
    •  “Balance technical solutions with sound financial analysis regarding costs, savings, and impact to financial statements.  Speak the language of those paying the bills.”
      • John Ciccarone, Chief Technology Officer, Janney Montgomery Scott
    • “Make bold decisions, pull the plug on failed projects no matter what the costs are…”
      • John S. Supplee, Chief Operating Officer, Haverford Trust
    • “Aligns IT services to business needs.  Always be able to point IT actions back to a key business driver.”
      • Geoff Pieninck, Global IT Director, Colorcon
    • “Provide focus on strategic, tactical and operational needs as required to reach goals.”
      • Barry Steinberg, Chief Information Officer, Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor
  • Why HCI is the Datacenter Architecture of the Future

    Why HCI is the Datacenter Architecture of the Future

    April 9th, 2018
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    So why talk about data center architecture? As part of the IT community, it can be fun to talk and geek out about the latest technologies or trends. We can appreciate how things used to be done and are excited about where things are headed. But, at some point it must become practical to the business side of the house. Most people in your company and your customers don’t care what you are doing in your datacenter. They could not care less if you are 100% virtualized or still bare metal. They don’t know if you are running public, private, or hybrid cloud.  They might even laugh at how seriously we can use the term cloud.

    There is something to be gained by thinking of the business results of our datacenters and the IT infrastructure contained therein. We look at the result that Google, Facebook, and Amazon are getting, and we study why they made the choices they did. Each one uses an HCI approach in the datacenter.

    If a company is virtualized it is not really a question we consider anymore, but rather what small percentage is not virtual yet. With very mature virtual operations, there is now a drive to containerize applications and services. We don’t debate if virtualization is better than bare metal since we see the flexibility, consolidation, and ease of management inherent in the ability to run multiple workloads on the same physical server. Treating a server as a file that can be manipulated independent of the underlying hardware is a key feature of virtualization.

    Hyperconverged infrastructure picks up where virtualization left off. It takes the software approach to more of the IT stack. Software is consuming everything. What used to be separate products are just part of the stack or cloud. HCI treats storage as a service to be delivered to the VM or Application layer. Networking is delivered in a similar fashion. Just like the public cloud, everything is abstracted behind a management console and administered as one unit.

    HCI delivers the best of the public cloud experience – initial right sizing, incremental growth, self-service, and programmability/automation. But with the benefits of on premises infrastructure – security, performance, and control. An extra bonus is when you look at the duration of years, it is less expensive to own commodity hardware resources in your datacenter than rent it in a public cloud for deterministic workloads.

    Your IT operations is a major component of the engine that drives your business. The more these processes can be automated in software, the less friction with productivity and profits will increase. The large cloud organizations automate as much as possible, so they can iterate improvements faster. Some call this process DevOps. Tying IT processes directly to business outcomes which then feed back into the IT process. This creates a virtuous cycle that is a business enabler instead of a cost center. And the more your datacenter is software defined, the more flexibility you have in the DevOps process.

    The best HCI vendors will allow you to meld architectures. Whether you call it hybrid cloud or cloud bursting, this approach helps balance cloud costs and avoids a whole new type of vendor lock-in. You should be able to mix mode 1 legacy apps with mode 2 cloud native apps, so you can migrate as the business is able. Sound like the data center of the future, except it is possible today.

    In closing, I ask again, why talk about data center architecture? The simple answer is: if you are reading this, it is probably part of your job. Every major infrastructure vendor has some type of HCI offering. It could be software, hardware, or appliance based. With the industry rapidly evolving, it is important to have a trusted technology advisor like HA, Inc. who can help you look at all the options out there and assist in your due diligence. We can help you make an informed decision, so your data center and IT practices are evolving with the industry into a bright future.

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