Friday, 27 May 2016

When the water stops...

An interesting analogy was presented to me recently and I liked it so much that I thought I'd share it with others...  
We go about our daily lives, almost with an element of ignorance, in that we generally take no appreciation of the day-to-day services we consume, use or even provide.  
We're woken up in the morning by our alarm clock - We don't sit back and think about the labourers working in the power stations nor do we think about the components that form the intricate circuits within the box that we so abruptly hit and shout at.  We then proceed to take a shower, where we pass no regard for the Gas stations, the circuit designs, the electricity, the water, the purification, the plumbing, the drainage, the glass blowing... and on and on and on.  
My point here isn't that we don't care about these things...but more so that we've developed into a nation that take these luxuries for granted - and so when we go to sleep we expect to be woken up, when we get in the shower we expect hot water.  
...When is the only time you notice these luxuries...when they don't work as we expect them too...
A friend of mine introduced me to this mindset and quite rightly so, it starts your mind thinking about things - but the most interesting element I found was that this mindset links directly to the IT industry and the new Cloud era that we sit in.  
Customers that I speak to don't care where the system is, they don't care how it works and they don't care what happens in the transit between us, and them - all they care about is when I turn on the tap...I get my water.   When I want to consume my IT, it just works. 
I love this thought process but it does highlight one fairly obvious concern to me, when the plumbing fails - you have to be sure your supply can be resumed.  Be sure to guarantee your service can be constant, even when it's not. 
So, I ask you firstly to spare a thought for the providers that we often forget about and expect to deliver.  
Then, make sure that you vet your supply.  If infrastructure is critical to your business - when the tap stops dripping - how fast can you be back up and running... 

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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Seen Software (SaaS), Infrastructure (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)? Try Desktop (DaaS), Metal (MaaS) and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS)

It's no secret that the public cloud market has been growing like wildfire. In fact, a recent Gartner study found spending on public cloud services is growing at more than 28% per year and private cloud spending is three times that of public cloud!  That suggests total cloud spending in 2016 to hit £155 billion.
The focus in the industry over the past few years has been on the core cloud management services of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.  But to truly understand how cloud computing is evolving you have to dive deeper below the surface.  Two major developments are driving the evolution of cloud: Management and Specialisation.
In the management space, innovations like self-service portals have given end-users a much-preferred way to request and consume their services.  Whereas specialist and dedicated professionals, have developed enterprise solutions with technologies like Citrix XenDesktop, VMware View and Nvidia GRID.  
Three specialist areas that have developed as part of natural market progression, are DRaaS, MaaS & DaaS - but what are they?

MaaS

MaaS - the dynamic provisioning and deployment of whole physical servers, as opposed to the provisioning of virtual machines - is a drastically underrated cloud service.  MaaS services will finally open the floodgates to allow any application to be run in the cloud – any application with any service level.  That means multi-tiered apps with a backend Oracle database, home grown, performance-intensive applications, low latency trading applications, etc. 
It’s been hard for people to pay attention to MaaS, mostly because server virtualisation has been “the shiny new toy” over the past few years and frankly MaaS is not an easy thing to provide. But that may change once IT administrators see the speed, scalability, agility and simplicity with which they can deploy and protect their underlying server infrastructure.
The statistics are clear – a large percentage of servers have been virtualized in the enterprise (40% - 50% now and heading to 60% - 70%). However, there are still a large number of applications that remain running on bare metal. That important (and underappreciated) fact means that MaaS could be a key ingredient to driving more widespread adoption of cloud technology.

DRaaS

Over the past few years, IT departments have had to live in a culture of cost reduction – it’s just been the way of life.  That culture has resulted in aging equipment, overworked staff and lots of cut corners - a perfect recipe for higher failure rates.  The fact is that hardware failure and human error are still the leading causes of unplanned outages - but devastating storms and other catastrophes are also forcing businesses to get serious about geographic disaster recovery planning.  Some estimates put 2014 weather related disaster costs at almost £70 billion worldwide, up 25% from 2013. 

DaaS

Desktop management is a fundamental service for IT organisations.  It’s critical for keeping the employees of a company productive. But there have been long standing challenges with managing the traditional desktop.  The investment in desktop hardware can be a significant capital expense, especially for large organisations and day-to-day management of these devices can be a huge drain on resources.
DaaS solutions are secure, cost-effective, easy-to-use and portable – you can get the same desktop on any device.
According to the 451 Research Group, “Interest in third-party DaaS is at fever pitch.” IT consumerisation, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiatives, increase in mobile workers, Windows 8 migrations and Security/IP concerns are driving organisations to reevaluate their desktop strategy.
So, if you're not looking at IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS...make sure you've seen DRaaS, DaaS & MaaS. 

Interested in looking at Cloud solutions?  Get in touch, to discuss migration strategies and pricing. 

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Thursday, 17 March 2016

Citrix VDI-in-a-Box and whats next?!

VDI-in-a-Box is on its way out, but killing the product wasn't always Citrix's intention. Technical problems, development time and a poor sales strategy appear to be the cause of the product's death.
VDI-in-a-Box has been rumoured to be on the chopping block since Citrix acquired Kaviza (the original company behind the product) back in May 2011.  While many people lauded Citrix for gaining a VDI product that was easy to install and operate, others thought that the acquisition might have been nothing more than an attempt to alleviate the competition.  
Many of us held out hope that there would ultimately be some blending of XenDesktop and VDI-in-a-Box, with the best elements of each creating a new VDI platform, but that never proved true.
Citrix earlier this year were quoted as saying “We’re going to ‘end-of-sale’ that product and it will be replaced by a simpler and more price competitive version for VDI that we have coming”.   The news comes as no real surprise, given that in 5 years since the products acquisition, there’s been virtually nothing done with the software at all.  But the future (for the moment) seems unclear. 
There were/are two very distinct groups of customers when it comes to Citrix, those who want VDI in a Box - for its simplicity, its price point and its low maintenance requirements.  And then those who want XenDesktop, which can offer the same features (along with a whole host of others) but very clearly requires a different skill set.  On the news of the products soon to be death, customers are worrying – what should they be doing next? And what could possibly help in this situation where moving to a more complex product is not the answer.
For me, I think this is genuinely a fantastic reason to start thinking about outsourcing your Citrix infrastructure to a specialist provider.  Ask yourself these questions, would it be more cost effective if you could pay only for what you use? Would it be less stressful if you let somebody else maintain the complexities of a more advanced system? And would it better enable your business if you could reap the features and benefits of a more powerful system at a third of the cost, with little complexity?  If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you’re in the right place to talk to a managed services provider - and you should be! 
Alas, as we soon say Goodbye in 2016 to Citrix VDI-in-a-Box, a promising product that had its own niche market appeal.  We open the doors to a new era of outsourced cloud delivered solutions.  One that delivers all the business benefits of a low maintenance, feature rich, cost effective solution – but delivered in a different way.  
Talk to me today, to see how I can help! 

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Friday, 18 December 2015

Graphics have gone off the GRID!




Hopefully by now, when you see or hear the words ‘NVIDIA GRID’…you know, this is all about delivering centrally managed, accelerated graphics to virtualised desktop infrastructures, right?
I’m guessing possibly not – anyone who uses VDI, knows that the biggest Achilles heel of the solution is delivering feature rich content and high end graphics to their power users.  So what do IT Managers do, they resort to buying custom built workstations or MacPro’s and just accept that there is no alternative.  
Interestingly, I think the lack of rapid deployments for NVIDIA GRID comes from the lack of market knowledge.  Whomever I speak to about delivering Siemens NX, AutoDesk or CATIA (to name a few) through their VDI estate, tells me it’s not possible.  It’s at that point I take great pride in having the ability to say ‘actually, it is possible and here’s why!’
Axess were one of Three partners in the UK chosen to take the solution to market in late 2013 and to be honest, for me, it’s been a rapid learning curve about Computational Fluid Dynamics and Thermal Transition Simulation – I never thought I’d be learning about the way liquid densities are affected by outside temperatures on a Boeing 747 and thus fuel economies are reduced!  But the reason this is all important, generally engineers and designers are the people who feel the pain of not using VDI.  These are the guys who have to work on desktop PCs, who can’t work from home, who are still susceptible to viruses and software corruption and those who have to beg for new desktops after 18 months.  
For me, understanding these challenges is important – it means that when you’re talking to an IT manager about how you can make his life easier and reduce his costs, you can also talk to the designers and the engineers about how to make their lives easier and how much of an impact a system like this can have! 
Alas however – I’m off on a tangent because recently announced by NVIDIA, is their new GRID 2.0 (sounds like Skynet, right?).   Almost a dozen fortune 500 companies in the states are completing trials of GRID 2.0 right now - and with 125 approved server models supporting the technology– it looks like this solution could start opening some big doors. 
Employees can work from almost anywhere without delays in downloading files, increasing their productivity.  IT departments can equip workers with instant access to powerful applications, improving resource allocation.  And data can be stored more securely by residing in a central server rather than individual systems.
"NVIDIA GRID technology enables employees to do their best work regardless of the device they use or where they are located. This is the future of enterprise computing." said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and CEO of NVIDIA.
The ability to virtualise high end desktops from the datacentre has not been possible until now due to low performance, poor user experience and limited server and application support.  NVIDIA GRID 2.0 integrates the GPU into the datacentre and clears away these barriers by offering:
  • Doubled user density: The original GRID solution introduced last year has been doubled, allowing up 128 users per server.  This enables enterprises to scale more cost-effectively, expanding service to more employees at a lower cost per user.
  • Doubled application performance: Using the latest version of NVIDIA’s award-winning Maxwell™ GPU architecture, NVIDIA GRID 2.0 delivers twice the application performance as before — exceeding the performance of many native clients.
  • Blade server support: Enterprises can now run GRID-enabled virtual desktops on blade servers — not simply rack servers — from leading blade server providers (especially important for clients with Green initiatives).
  • Linux support: No longer limited to the Windows operating system, NVIDIA GRID 2.0 now enables enterprises in industries that depend on Linux applications and workflows to take advantage of graphics-accelerated virtualisation.
If you’re interested in seeing more about NVIDIA GRID 2.0, you can book a test drive with us here: http://www.axesssystems.co.uk/demo-centre/ 
Or
If you’re interested in testing my knowledge on computational fluid dynamics, capillary convection and Superficial Velocities – give me a ring! 


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Sunday, 16 February 2014

My top stock picks for the week! - 17th February 2014

My top picks for this week include a number of stocks I've been watching for some time now, these all have support and break out barriers that are easily identifiable.  There are also key signs of trend reversals or additional growth.

IMG - Imagination Technologies:
Enter at 179p, seeking an exit around 184p by Friday

MNDI - Mondi Plc
Enter at 1028.00 with an exit around 1055.00 before Friday close.

ACHL - Asian Citrus Holdings
Enter at 12.00p exit around 14.50p (Slow mover but just may surprise us here).

DTG - Dart Group
Enter at 263.00, exit around 276.00 (maybe more).

IQE - Enter at 22p exit around 26.00p



Please note these are my own opinions and I have no crystal ball telling me which ones will work out and which ones won't and so I'm not responsible for any losses.  I target high impact reversal signs, these carry higher risks when they don't work out because your entering markets that most others pull out of; when they work however they're very rewarding.  On the other hand, if you do get rich off of my tips; a complimentary commission wouldn't go a miss! :)