How to Safely Manage the Massive Influx of Data Growth

We are living in an ever-present, data-driven economy. Connected devices and IoT are driving up the collection and distribution of data and creating capacity and management challenges like never before. Not only does the data need to be securely stored, it needs to be available within seconds and 24/7. CIOs and IT directors must identify and face these data management challenges with an efficient, scalable and customizable solution.

Let’s identify these challenges and key questions IT leaders must face to uncover a powerful answer to the enormous influx of data growth.

Platform Scalability and Customization

In 2017, The Economist declared data as the world’s most valuable resource, over oil. With the rise of smartphones and the use of the internet in our daily lives, data has become a valued resource for governments and businesses alike. Every prediction of new future-forward technology involves the collection, dissemination and long-term storage of data, no matter the size of the organization.

The Questions: How can a business effectively store the growth of such a valuable resource? What about legacy systems already in use for storage?
A robust platform is required that can be scaled and customized for both small-to-medium business and enterprise growth. The storage scalability, including upgrades and technology refreshes, must also be seamless and non-disruptive to be a competent solution to this challenge.

The Answer: NEC’s HYDRAstor easily handles the data needs and growth of SMB and enterprise businesses, scaling from 1 to 165 nodes, and managing petabytes of data through compression and deduplication. Upgrades are non-disruptive with the ability to add up to 3 generations of hardware, simultaneously in the same system. The grid architecture features two different node types: hybrids (HN) for expanding both performance and capacity or storage (SN) for expanding capacity only. Data deduplication is distributed globally, across all nodes, and resources required for more power and more capacity are aggregated through the grid. Depending on the needs of the organization, the platform can be configured as required for near unlimited data growth.

Backup Performance, No Failures and No Disruption of Service – NEC/Segue Case Study:

Data Reliability, Availability and Protection

Healthcare organizations rely on accurate data to make life or death decisions for patients. Autonomous vehicles rely on data access to operate safely. Digital financial transactions are monitored for criminal activity and must be available almost instantly. With these and other organizational shifts to the cloud, data must be easily accessible, dependable and secure.

The Questions: Can data be both accessible and secure? Is there a high availability solution that can handle inevitable disk failures or other data disruptions?

The Answer: With no single point of failure, NEC’s HYDRAstor grid architecture offers advanced data protection with erasure-coded resilience. Erasure coding involves distributing the data across the entire storage grid, tolerating up to six concurrent disk or node failures with no disruption. Data resiliency is ensured by the automatic rebuilding of only the lost data, enabling a faster data rebuild than traditional RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks).

HYDRAstor offers data encryption prior to being written to disk, securing it from unauthorized access to lost or stolen disks. Classified and unclassified data can also exist within the same node, boosted by HYDRAstor’s Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) capability and data-shredding for regulatory compliance.

Legal Services Company Turns to NEC:


Simplification of Management

Data migrations are a common pain point among IT departments. Managing a complex data storage solution can be convoluted, especially with the challenge of fork lift upgrade of legacy systems and disparate data backups.

The Questions: How can a storage solution be introduced into an existing environment and still be simple to manage? Is there a need to replace the current systems and software already in place?

The Answer: NEC’s HYDRAstor offers simplified intelligence management software and works with existing backup applications such as Net Backup, Veritas, Veeam, Commvault and more. The system dynamically allocates storage capacity as needed, without user intervention or configuration, through auto provisioning. It also provides a simple, non-disruptive ability to replace legacy hardware and add additional capacity without interruption of data access.

NEC’s Data Storage Partners:

NEC’s HYDRAstor: A Cost-efficient Solution for Data Growth

In 2013, Science Daily predicted that 90% of the data in the world had been generated in the previous two years. Many predict that data will continue to grow exponentially as far into the future as we can imagine. CIOs of small, medium and large organizations must be prepared for the long-term storage and backup of this data, but are understandably concerned about the costs.

The BIG Question: Can a storage platform be all this and cost efficient too?

The Answer: NEC’s HYDRAstor storage platform is well-equipped to handle these data challenges and help create cost-efficiencies in the process.

– Replication to and from disaster recovery sites with encrypted and deduplicated streams ensures data is safe everywhere, is stored cost-effectively, and is moved as fast as possible between sites.
– Storage capacity consumption is reduced through inline global deduplication offering near unlimited storage for data growth.
– For small-to-medium businesses, HYDRAstor is available on virtual appliances using VMWare ESXi or Microsoft’s Hyper-V.
– For enterprise organizations, HYDRAstor can be built out from one to 165 nodes, reaching up to six petabytes of throughput per hour.
– HYDRAstor supports all main backup software vendors and multiple generations of hardware, reducing the need for rip and replace or forklift upgrades.
– Grid architecture and erasure coding distributes data across all nodes for no disruptions in the case of disk or node failures.

Schedule a hassle-free strategic consultation below to learn more about how NEC’s HYDRAstor can help your organization.

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Keeping Your Cool When Severe Weather Hits

Extreme weather events have caused massive destruction across North America in recent months. In early 2018, the eastern part of the U.S. experienced a “bomb cyclone” consisting of severe cold temperatures, massive amounts of snow and lots of misery. Last summer and early fall, the Gulf Coast and Caribbean were hard hit by hurricanes during one of the most severe tropical storm seasons in years. Parts of Puerto Rico still are struggling to even get the power back on and other services.

Weather wreaks havoc not only on daily life, but disrupts businesses as well. Lack of power, paralyzed transportation and infrastructure damage have a definite impact on “business as usual.” Over the past several years, the Ponemon Institute (https://www.ponemon.org/), which conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy, has launched three studies since 2010 on the cost of data center downtime. In its latest study (2016), the research shows that the average cost of a data center outage was $740,000, an increase of 38% since the first study in 2010.

5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore - Read the Free EbookThe cost of one outage can be measured in many ways—loss of revenue and productivity, damage to an organization’s reputation in the market, customer churn and loss of future opportunities. Depending on the timing and duration of an outage, some industries may be more adversely affected than others. Think about a resort hotel that is unable to book rooms online during the height of the tourist season. Potential customers quickly lose patience and head to the competition or give up entirely. Or consider a transportation organization—outages cause inconvenience for passengers and loss of revenue for carriers, but might be a safety concern as well.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

Two elements of business planning, business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR), are especially critical during a disaster or outage. Continued business operations depend on an organization’s ability to replicate its systems and data quickly. The ability to plan ahead and adapt during a crisis to restore business operations — without long-term or permanent negative effects — are crucial to an organization’s success. Business continuity goes beyond staying up and running during a disaster. It also means keeping all parts of the business running effectively and efficiently, not just the technology systems.

It’s important to keep a BCDR plan updated as IT changes occur, such as when new applications are added, new technologies become available, or when moving applications to the cloud, for example. By keeping the BCDR plan aligned with the business plans, the IT team won’t be caught off guard when an outage occurs.

Fortunately, technology provides solutions that help mitigate the effects of a disaster, natural or otherwise, and keep businesses online.

Keeping Data Center Operations Humming

For years it’s been a common practice for companies to maintain backup copies of data at an off-site location, usually within a short driving distance of the primary data center. While this practice works for many outage situations, a natural disaster such as a snowstorm, earthquake or mud slide could have a widespread geographic impact that affects not only the location of the main data center, but the backup location as well.

Deploying a cloud solution mitigates that disaster scenario. Cloud-based services support an organization’s ability to plan for disaster recovery and benefit ongoing business continuity. Cloud solutions come in three major deployments—public, private and hybrid. All have pros and cons, depending on the organization’s needs. For instance, private cloud solutions such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide the elasticity, flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, but can be dedicated to one account, thus providing a more personalized and secure solution.

IaaS solutions offer advantages over a public cloud, including seamless technology upgrades and more control. Advanced compute, storage and network technology can combine in a private cloud offering such as IaaS, but no solution is “one-size-fits-all.” It’s important to work with a service provider who can create a solution that fits the organization. IaaS lends itself to customization that caters to the unique needs of an organization.

The advantages of a private cloud are numerous:

  • Lower costs than maintaining a private data center
  • Maintain standards of regulatory compliance
  • Access to the latest technologies making it easier to stay current
  • More control than a public cloud, including a more secure solution
  • Standard billing so there are no “surprises”
  • Less burden on internal IT teams and staff

During a natural disaster, IaaS can be the ideal solution for BCDR. By providing an off-premises, hosted environment, the data center continues to operate from a location far removed from the disaster.  Data is secured and transactions with customers and partners continue without interruption. Fault-tolerant servers  offer five 9s of uptime and scalability.  A grid storage system  helps ensure redundancies to protect a company’s mission-critical data. Using grid storage, a company can replicate its data at an off-site location. During an outage or natural disaster, the master site can be recovered by using the data at the remote site, by means of an Optimized Copy, without having to import backup images.

NEC partner Iron Mountain maintains its National Data Center, located 220 feet below ground in Western Pennsylvania and considered one of the most secure, compliant and energy-efficient data center complexes in the world. As a technology infrastructure provider and part of Iron Mountain’s Data Center Marketplace, NEC is able to provide additional value-added services such as Disaster Recovery as a Service from this secure location.

Learn how NEC teams up with its partner Iron Mountain to provide an IaaS solution housed in one of the most secure locations in the world, the Iron Mountain National Data Center.

Location of the ‘Office’ No Longer Matters

When a weather event or other natural disaster strikes, the ability to enable employees to work from anywhere becomes critical. Working remotely means staff can perform their jobs as seamlessly as if they were in the office, supporting business operations, serving customers, suppliers and partners, and getting their work done.

Cloud-based applications enable employees to keep things running from remote locations. With unified communications and collaboration tools such as softphones, instant messaging, and audio and video conferencing, dispersed teams collaborate and work on projects even when the weather outside slows transportation to a crawl. Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get to the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions as well.

Virtual desktops can be linked through a private network connection to a secure, remote data center far from the bad weather or natural disaster. Best of all, desktops in the cloud look and behave as if they are part of a corporate IT environment. Customers and employees won’t notice a difference in the quality of service.

Software-defined networking (SDN) simplifies network management, proactively addresses network performance and quickly re-routes network traffic as needed—all critical functions during a severe weather occurrence or natural disaster.  An SDN solution centralizes control of the network and automatically monitors and prioritizes network traffic, distributing it according to pre-defined policies and constantly updates network resources and traffic conditions.

When the blizzard, mud slide, earthquake, wildfire or hurricane strikes your location, the right solutions and technology enable business as usual. Consider private cloud solutions when developing your business continuity and disaster recovery plans to help create a safe and secure environment that protects data and applications, and keeps your business running.

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Marketplace Buzz at SpiceWorld 2017

Image Source: Spiceworks

“So How Can We Really Secure Our Network?”

Network security seemed to be at the top of everyone’s minds this year at the SpiceWorld 2017 Expo–how to protect your critical operations and secure your data. While we were demonstrating fault tolerant (FT) high availability servers in the NEC booth at the Expo, we met with IT pros from around the globe and had the opportunity to show more than 100 demos, and hear first-hand what’s at the top of many IT worry lists.

Repeatedly, concerns were voiced that if large Multi-National Enterprises (MNE’s) with seemingly endless resources and (we’re told) "top tier network security" can be hacked, then where does that leave smaller and mid-tier organizations?

The big question was “How do we protect our data, and make sure our business is disaster-proof?” What practices can we put into place for an actual worry-free, easy to manage IT environment?

Some specific topics that emerged were:

  1. Doing More With Less Many were interested in exploring how we can better secure our networks, and simplify our server storage administration, and still meet infrastructure needs with minimal cost. Organizations want to see a single solution to address backups, archive data, meet requirements for encryption and deliver a mechanism to move data offsite. These worries inevitably led to talks about HYDRAstor®, an award winning high-speed tier 2 data repository that will simplify administration, and save both time and money while addressing these needs.
  2. Disaster Recovery (DR) There was willingness to take a hard look at what we can do to deploy a reliable and cost effective recovery strategy—which is when the FT servers and the NEC IT ecosystem were of major interest. These kind of conversations about DR usually led to a predominant theme that week, about ways to protect our data from external attacks, like from cryptolocker, etc., and how we can efficiently replicate data off-site for DR and for business continuity purposes.
  3. Securing End Points and Mobility  Part of securing your network means not allowing your system to become vulnerable to letting viruses in. This defensive mode also touches on the deploying of technologies that secure all your end points, like smart phones, desktops/laptops, and protecting your remote and mobile work force.
  4. High Costs of Critical Ops Downtime Several manufacturing businesses recognized the value add of the fault tolerant (FT) server as it relates to the high costs of downtime, especially for avoidance of any assembly line disruption, application inconsistency or data log collection for legal purposes. We discussed the very real damages that can occur as result from a manufacture’s lack of ability to demonstrate product quality consistency through the production process. In manufacturing, it’s important to prove that data logs are collected, without interruption, so there is 100% data consistency and no chance of missing information. Yes, time is money, but so are production errors, especially when mistakes are really not acceptable–and evidence is needed to demonstrate as much.

It became very apparent that data security and ways to safeguard business continuity is a hot button right now. If some of these worries are keeping you up at night like so many at SpiceWorld this year, please check out the smart NEC data storage and operational resiliency solutions. This is real, proven data security, folks–solutions that can deliver some serious peace of mind.

To keep up with us on the latest at NEC, please join us on our NEC Spiceworks page.

For more information and to discuss your IT needs, feel free to reach out to NEC. Just let us know and we would be happy to provide you with an overview from one of our subject matter experts.

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To IaaS or Not to IaaS…That’s the Question for Today’s Organizations

The advantages of moving to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions are well documented, spurring continued growth in this area of cloud technology. For 2017, Gartner research predicts that IaaS spending will grow by 36.8% to $34.6 billion.

Any technology solution has benefits and potential drawbacks, of course. With IaaS solutions, organizations can enjoy flexibility, lower costs, faster service and better business agility. Balanced against these advantages are potential data security and privacy concerns, business disruption and changes in architecture and processes.

Organizations considering a move to IaaS solutions need long-term thinking. What criteria should a company use to determine if an IaaS solution is the right decision for its current and future business needs?

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Joint input from both IT and the business decision makers

As with most technology buying decisions, astute enterprises solicit input from both the IT and business points of view. When deciding to move to IaaS, examine an organization’s overall big picture goals and make sure the ultimate decision lines up with both IT and business strategies. From the IT side, the decision-making process takes into account not only costs, but should also include enterprise-wide considerations, such as the value of business agility and rapid go-to-market capabilities. On the other side, business units should look at whether a solution fits into the existing IT infrastructure, thus minimizing implementation costs and overall disruption, as well as thinking about new capabilities or competitive advantages.

Spiceworks research shows that IT and business owners often work in sync “to create a tech-decision duo.” Each side brings its unique perspective to the decision-making process. For example, IT researches compatibility with existing technology, implementation considerations and recommends optional solutions. The business side, which usually holds the purse strings, takes into account practical solutions, but also seeks innovation and technology advantages that will push the business forward.

Bottom line: IT brings deep insight to the buying decision and provides valuable input throughout the purchasing process. Meanwhile, the business unit looks at overall company strategy and adding a distinct point of differentiation, as well as improving customer service.

To learn how IaaS impacts areas throughout the enterprise, check out this post.

Build a trust with your IaaS Provider

An important part of any IaaS adoption is to have confidence in the chosen IaaS solution provider. Implementing an IaaS solution is not as simple as procuring additional processing or storage capability. Smart organizations also want a reputable IaaS partner that maintains the same levels of compliance, privacy and security when handling and storing customer data. Any agreements for IaaS solutions should include provisions for data privacy, security and governance that line up with the purchaser’s requirements.

Vendor lock-in is always a concern, too. Before signing the dotted line, determine how easy (or how difficult) it would be to migrate data and applications back to on premise or to another provider if the service level agreements are not maintained or costs no longer make sense. Take care to engage with an experienced IaaS provider who will work with you in the long term, particularly as business needs change.

Impact on in-house IT staff and resources

Saving on IT costs is one of the biggest advantages of an IaaS solution. However, most organizations will still maintain an IT staff that is responsible for managing the apps and determining how data are handled—either in-house or through the IaaS vendor or a combination of the two.

Organizations should consider which apps will move to the cloud, how application development and testing may have to be modified, and how new disaster recovery processes may affect liability and compliance. Keeping only core functions on premise enables the purchaser to focus on what’s most important to the business, while allowing the IaaS provider to manage capacity and handle more routine applications.

Cloud services must enable an organization to consume the right amount of the right IT services, on demand and at the right time. The ability to scale up or scale down is extremely important. An advantage of IaaS solutions is not having to worry about having too much or too little hardware on site as the business needs fluctuate seasonally, or even day-to-day.

Another important check point is to make sure the organization’s internal data communications resources allow adequate access to data and apps to and from the vendor site. It’s a real problem if internal and external clients can’t access IaaS because of internal internet service outages or clogged data pipelines.

Still on the fence? Check out Data Center Basics, Comparing Costs and Security.

Pricing

Two questions to consider are “how much is it going to cost” and “what’s the pricing structure?” When purchasing IaaS solutions, determine if pricing will be pay-by-use or on a monthly subscription. Think about surcharges that occur during peak times, which can be costly depending on the type and timing of business transactions. A “try before you buy” pilot program is a good option to help a purchaser determine what it’s like to work with an IaaS solutions provider.

Have budget constraints? See how NEC Financial Services can fund your IT needs.

IaaS is not just outsourcing

Making the move to an IaaS solution involves more than a simple shifting of IT assets. The process affects an organization’s data and applications architecture, and will change the way IT work across all business and support functions. IaaS solutions impact security, compliance, customer service and even insurance policies, so these business components must be taken into account when making the move to IaaS.

Developing a strong relationship between the solutions partner and the purchasing organization can help ensure success of an IaaS implementation. Consider which applications to outsource and which to maintain in house. Take into account the organization’s big picture business strategy. Finally, to secure the best solution and provider for their organizations, wise IT and business decision makers need to work together to balance the benefits with any potential challenges.

Want to learn more about IaaS and high security data solutions? Check out this recent post.

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Diving Deep: How Advantages of Infrastructure as a Service Solutions Spread through the Enterprise

As cloud computing has rapidly become mainstream, more and more companies understand the value that it brings to their organizations overall. Even the most cautious and conservative of companies are turning toward cloud computing, particularly private clouds, which address potential security risks, lack of control issues, and offer an alternative to the public cloud.

Private cloud solutions such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide the elasticity, flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, but can be dedicated to one account, thus providing greater peace of mind. IaaS solutions offer the enterprise advantages such as cost savings, compliance, seamless technology upgrades and more control. So, can these benefits trickle down to the individual job level? Can IaaS solutions make life easier for the various departments throughout your organization?

Check out Data Center Basics, Comparing Costs and Security.

A Trusted Resource for Your IT Department

The office of the CIO and the IT department are probably the most visible areas of the company to be impacted immediately with an IaaS solution. No longer will the IT staff handle repairs, upgrades and replacements of hardware devices. These functions are now delivered by the cloud provider, freeing time from routine IT activities so company engineers can focus instead on more value-added efforts, such as creating new applications for greater mobility or developing data analytics for better insight into business operations. As a bonus, the IT department immediately sees the benefits of the latest and greatest hardware and software through regular technology refresh, rather than waiting for budget that may not come until “next year” or even later.

Check out this free resource guide to Private Cloud.

For the CFO, it’s all about the bottom line

Maintaining your own data center comes with a hefty price tag. Ongoing costs include staffing, real estate and facilities, utilities, hardware and networking equipment, and software. Additional costs include providing for redundancy and business continuity. If there is a need to expand due to new business, continue adding a few more zeros to the costs.

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With an IaaS solution, these ongoing functions are handled by the cloud provider. The flexibility of IaaS lets your company scale up or scale down immediately as business conditions change. In addition, financing options can help the CFO support an organization’s important investment in IaaS solutions to enable business continuity and growth.

Put compliance concerns to rest

Compliance and regulatory requirements keep legal and risk teams up at night. Managing and securing data requires meeting regulations such as PCI and HIPAA. A public cloud requires sharing servers, storage and network access, making compliance nearly impossible. On the other hand, a private cloud IaaS solution means dedicated hardware for your company, making compliance much easier and less expensive to manage.

Make doing business with you easier for customers and employees

Instead of your IT staff configuring and managing servers, team members could be building mobile apps or other options for customers to easily engage with your company. Self-service options in turn reduce the workload of your customer service reps, decreasing staffing costs. Cloud-enabled mobility allows your service teams to be on the ground to help customers in person, improving customer service as well.

Creating sales Super Stars

IaaS also puts customer data immediately into the hands of your sales teams. A salesperson will have simplified access to the data he or she requires to tailor conversations with customers, enabling a more effective sales process.

Turning over the administrative tasks and staffing needed in maintaining a data center to a cloud provider can produce a positive effect throughout an organization. Your best IT engineers are free to focus on the unique aspects of your business. Fewer capital expenditures and a more predictable monthly operating cost helps the CFO manage the bottom line. Private cloud services give the enterprise better security and control and instant access to the latest technology. IT staff is free to focus on value-added services—such as greater mobility and improved business insights through data analytics—which benefit departments throughout the organization.

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5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore

To learn more about the benefits of a private cloud, check out 5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore. Fill out the form to download the ebook.