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- Thursday, December 19th – Holiday Open House
- Enjoying the Holiday with The Salvation Army – Todd Brown, Cima Solutions Group
- Cima Solutions Group and Unitrends Announce Joint Partnership Agreement
- November 14th: Flash and Storage, economical solutions for business critical applications
- November 6th: Disaster Recovery in the Cloud
- United Regional Healthcare System – Driven by a Passion for Healing & Unwavering Commitment to Excellence
- The Real Messages Within DCIG’s 2014 Hybrid Storage Array Buyers Guide – Ken Scott, Cima Solutions Group
- IBM Well-Positioned for Cloud Migration with SoftLayer Acquisition – Mike Beecham, Cima Solutions Group
- Does hardware matter? IBM PureFlex is making it matter! – Chad Leeper, Cima Solutions Group
- The Right Time to Look at Disaster Recovery Investments – John Alday, Cima Solutions Group
United Regional Healthcare System – Driven by a Passion for Healing & Unwavering Commitment to Excellence
United Regional Healthcare System is driven by a passion for healing and an unwavering commitment to excellence, United Regional has touched the lives of the people of Wichita Falls and surrounding areas for nearly 100 years. For them, providing world-class medical care is more than a day’s work. It’s their life’s work.
At the beginning of 2013 Jerry Marshall (Director of IS) was faced with a challenge. He needed to build out a Disaster Recovery site that had very little floor space and no room for expansion. Jerry reached out to his trusted partner, Cima Solutions Group, for help. Jerry and his team took part in a RightSafe workshop that included an overview of his production environment and prioritizing his applications from Tier 1 (short recovery times) down to Tier 3 (can be down for more than 24 hours). As a result of the workshop, Cima Solutions Group (Cima) was able to design a disaster recovery solution that leverages the power of a unified computing platform found in IBM’s PureFlex.
By combining all elements of his needs – Intel servers, AIX servers, storage and server virtualization, storage compression, network and management of all components with a single interface – United Regional was able to condense their DR environment into a single rack. By using the compression found in the v7000 he was also able to reduce the amount of storage required in DR. Coupling his DR solution with the deployment of VMware’s Site Recovery Manager to manage the VM’s being replicated from production made the DR solution even easier to manage.
“We deployed this technology with the help of Cima and IBM and had our facility in place and functional in two weeks.” said Jerry Marshall, Director of Information Services. “We looked at other unified computing solutions as alternatives but I felt very comfortable moving forward with Cima’s recommendation in the IBM PureFlex system.”
More than a day’s work. It’s our life’s work.
Driven by a passion for healing and an unwavering commitment to excellence, United Regional has touched the lives of the people of Wichita Falls and surrounding areas for nearly 100 years. For us, providing world-class medical care is more than a day’s work. It’s our life’s work.
United Regional provides the area’s only comprehensive cardiac care facility, and its only one of three Level II trauma centers in Texas west of I-35. Virtually every day, an air ambulance can be seen bringing help and hope to those in need.
But we don’t stop there. At United Regional, we continually seek to further improve community health by investing in life-saving medical equipment, world-class physicians and state-of-the art facilities.
To make sure our goals are consistently met, we’ve set forth five pillars of service: People, Service, Quality, Finance and Growth. By applying our energies to these pillars and making them integral to our culture, we’re able to deliver excellence in health care for the communities we serve. Excellence which the people of Wichita Falls and the region deserve and can be proud. Because to us, you’re not just a patient – you’re our neighbor.
The Real Messages Within DCIG’s 2014 Hybrid Storage Array Buyers Guide – Ken Scott, Cima Solutions Group
DCIG recently released their 2014 Hybrid Storage Array Buyers Guide. If you haven’t seen it, you can find it here.
Before you start interpreting the results and begin high-fiving your friends over whose system is “better” and whose is “worse”, I would encourage you to step back and consider what you’ve just seen: The future of primary data storage, delivered in part to you from a multitude of companies – including many that did not exist a mere three or four years ago. Just let that sink in for a moment.
Hybrid storage arrays combine spinning disks, flash or solid state technology, and advanced function software to deliver data storage solutions capable of new levels of performance and power efficiency, often in a compressed footprint.
The key messages that aren’t exactly highlighted in the report are:
- Hybrid Storage is a reality. It has become a fertile garden of opportunity for new businesses, as well as for the traditional names in data storage. The presence of “The Bigs” is proof enough that Hybrid Storage is here to stay.
- You can – and should – feel comfortable implementing Hybrid Storage in your environment. There are real benefits to be gained, and for the most part, the companies offering these types of solutions deliver them packed with features that are typically chargeable add-ons to your traditional, legacy arrays.
- Don’t worry about buying from a company with a name you can’t even pronounce. Many of these companies provide world class support because they know the opportunity is huge to capitalize on a booming demand for data storage – or by making themselves the “next” company the industry pundits consider to be a acquisition target.
“…any of these Basic arrays may nevertheless be a very good fit for a particular business.”
I could not agree more.
~ Ken Scott, Cima Solutions Group
If you are interested in further information with regards to Hybrid Storage or storage solutions in general, please visit Cima Solutions Group RightStor Data Storage and Online Backup page.
IBM Well-Positioned for Cloud Migration with SoftLayer Acquisition – Mike Beecham, Cima Solutions Group
I recently met with a client of mine that sees that cloud computing is inevitably in his future. Like some of my other clients, it is likely he will dip his toe into the putting some of his workload and storage needs into the cloud but will keep his critical needs in his data center.
The approach reminded me of the days when VMware was first hitting the market. In the early days for VMware, people were willing to virtualize their test and development servers but the production applications were strictly off limits. In 2013, there is hardly as business out there that does not have virtualized production servers all over their data center and then sending those Virtual Machines to either the cloud or a second data center. How far we have come.
As it pertains to cloud computing and storage the options you have are plentiful. The question remains which is positioned to be a leader?
IBM’s SoftLayer is a cloud based solution that can be automatically provisioned to meet a client’s need – allocating physical or virtual servers, storage, and networking. Softlayer provides a unified platform for the flexibility to give you cloud computing any way you want it, billed by the hour, month or deployed on demand. They also provide the ability to manage it all with a single management solution.
SoftLayer offers cloud without compromise. They have nearly 200,000 servers deployed across seven data centers around the world and the bandwidth between them to allow for applications to be automatically redirected from site to site as needed – all without impact to the end user.
I can see history repeating itself as business’ slowly move non-production or back up workload and data to the cloud with the eventual migration of more and more as they attempt to get out of the data center business focus on what drives their business. The SoftLayer acquisition by IBM has them well positioned for this eventual migration to the cloud.
If you are interested in further information with regards to Cloud Computing, Cloud Storage, Hybrid Storage, or our RightCloud Innovation Center, please visit Cima Solutions Group RightCloud solutions page.
~ Mike Beecham, Cima Solutions Group
More than a decade ago after some time spent as a jr. sys-admin for a fortune 500 company out of college, I found myself relocated to central Texas working for a major computer manufacturer within their enterprise technical support operation. It was an immersion into server hardware, storage, and management software that I could have never imagined. Years later this deep technical appreciation of infrastructure hardware paid off at a very large and well respected consumer electronics company that was opening a B2B contact center in Austin. They needed pre-sales engineers so I took this as an opportunity to learn even more about a whole suite of wonderfully engineered products which served only to fortify my appreciation for good hardware and software engineering. By this time I was pretty set on my path to technogeekdom, always enjoying the opportunity to proselytize others about smaller, better, faster, more reliable, and less expensive tech whenever I had the chance. But a revolution was happening in the data-center, and even though I left the big computer company, I still felt like I had one foot there.
I remember it like it was yesterday, the day that is that I saw something that completely changed the way I thought about servers and storage. It was the summer of 2006 and I saw a vMotion demo in a customer’s environment on VMware ESX 2.5. It was a paradigm shift in the way I thought about systems and I was hooked. Not figuratively, but literally, I knocked on the door at VMware until I got an offer as a pre-sales systems engineer and let me tell you, what a wild ride it was. First the IPO, and then a sea of improvements and acquisitions. However I noticed something peculiar happening to me. As each day passed, it became clearer that, for the most part, server hardware seemed less relevant now that the operating systems were abstracted away from it. I didn’t see the need for things like remote lights-out maintenance cards, nor did I need additional server management software as ESX just polled the CIM/SMASH architecture right from the system and showed this in vCenter natively… and once ESX 3.5i came out, we didn’t need the local discs as we had previously used to for the modified linux kernel that boot-strap ESX. I was not alone in this revelation and it seemed many of my brethren in the world of virtualization started seeing less value and differentiation between the hardware brands, and just looked at it as a necessary evil.
Now fast forward several years..
Many of the companies that only originally used V12N (virtualization) for their lower priority applications such as web and test/dev now have a “VM first” deployment policy for everything, even their most mission critical tier 1 applications. They also now fight their ISV’s to stand out of their way in doing this. And why wouldn’t they as the VM’s have much higher up-times than a physically coupled OS, not too mention easier to backup and recover as they are encapsulated as a set of files. This revolution has led to considerably higher compute resource utilization and workload densities and a new challenge presented itself. Now instead of server sprawl we had VM sprawl, and new opportunities to lower costs aside from just a reduction in power and cooling began to appear. Now, because of so much communication being east-to-west on motherboard and backplane, top of rack switches and cabling could be consolidated into the systems and now we are defining networking in software.
Today, we still have traditional HBA’s and redundant fabric for the Fibre SAN’s and although 10GbE for iSCSI has been available for a while, from my perspective it has not really proliferated as fast as many would have hoped. In addition we also need better ways to manage not just virtual workloads, but also automate and orchestrate them. What was needed was a platform that allows for greater flexibility, faster time to service when deploying business critical applications, but without increasing complexness or costs. And this is where we started trending a bit away from the traditional 1U/2U rack and stack servers, into converged systems. In fact with many workload deployments, the converged systems have become the norm now, such as VDI appliances.
But the advantages are not just for virtualization as many traditional 1:1 physically coupled workloads have moved into blades; there are still common back-planes and storage connectivity issues to contend with. And with many converged systems and blades limiting choices and still requiring that communication travel out of band unnecessarily, the complications of top of rack networking and storage connectivity were not solved – save the local discs in appliances mentioned above. So what was needed, in my opinion, was a converged system that was beyond the blades, and for a while I really dug the Cisco UCS system. However it did not have integrated storage and the true east-to-west IO performance that I felt would advance software defined networking. A big drawback also was the fact that it only accounted for X86 workloads.
Then in 2012 I caught wind of something rather revolutionary from IBM, and that is the PureFlex system. And like any good nerd I checked out the speeds and feeds and pushed the marketing message aside – and boy did I like what I saw!
The IBM Flex system’s unique advantages instantly apparent to me:
A truly integrated, modular design, that had everything internal including management, storage, and networking in the same chassis with excellent cooling capabilities
Industry leading fastest communication speeds; not just being the first converged system of its kind to offer 40GbE networking east to west and to the top of rack switch, but also 56Gb InfiniBand and 16 Gb Fibre connectivity!
The choice of 14 single or 7 double sized nodes each offering the highest memory density in the industry allow for unprecedented compute density per rack space
Integrated V7000 SAN that will front-end nearly any other storage vendor with IBM’s SVC (SAN volume controller) functionality.
Comprehensive GUI based visual mapping and error reporting through the Flex System Manager, integrating with the hardware and hypervisors in ways never before seen, the benefits go beyond what can be easily typed here, so please check out this highlight video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0Oa5tgah5s
The ability to mix IBM Power Servers (AIX, Linux, and System i) and X 86 servers (Windows and Linux) in the same chassis as X86
Complete flexibility and freedom of choice in operating systems and hypervisors with broad support of each.
Deep integration with IBM’s smartcloud entry to allow a rather simplified and fast way of deploying not just X86 workloads and automating deployment, but power/AIX as well
Oh, and another cool tidbit, IBM has recently announced 100 GbE back-plane speeds!
The possibilities are nearly endless as it can be configured to suit your needs entirely:
Do you need the FCoE support on VMware hosts booting from USB with no local disc, with external SAN connectivity and a bunch of RAM on a few nodes, but also some power nodes mixed in? No problem.
Do you need the highest possible compute density for VDI with integrated storage that is fully validated on Citrix, VMware, and Virtual bridges virtual desktop solutions? No problem.
Do you also need internal local drives as well as shared storage for the above solutions. No problem.
Do you need a mixture of it all with X86 running physical operating systems, some X86 VMware, and maybe also some Hyper-V, Xen, and even KVM options, but with visibility into all of it from the flex system manager? No problem.
Do you need software defined storage options with local spinning SATA discs in the nodes as well as Flash CACHE IO cards? No problem.
Do you need a compact but powerful all-in-one solution for a branch office, or DR site, that will run every workload you have, including managing your network and storage. No problem.
So when I am asked to day if I still think hardware doesn’t matter. I correct myself and say that it certainly does.
Feel free to take a look at this virtual tour of the system here:
Disclaimer: If your nerd-on lasts more than 4 hours you may need to consult your local IBM partner.
To learn more about how Cima Solutions Group can help your IBM PureFlex needs, please visit
~ Chad Leeper, Cima Soutions Group
Maybe because its 2013 but for some reason we have had more Disaster Recovery discussions with our clients than in previous years. Our approach has always been to focus on optimizing infrastructure through server and storage virtualization, then leverage the optimized infrastructure to produce a cost effective DR solution. By approaching the need this way, an organization is able to get the initial cost benefit of virtualization and use the savings to deploy their DR environment. In other words, they are buying the technology and getting a free insurance policy should a “disaster” occur.
Where we’ve seen a real change this year is in how organizations handle getting data over to the DR site. Gone are the days of router based replication or shipping tapes. Clients have lots of options:
- IP Replication offered by your storage vendor (by the way, IBM just announced IP replication on all its storage platforms)
- VMware vSphere Replication
- More robust DR / replication offerings using VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager, VEEAM Backup and Replication, or IBM’s ProtecTIER offerings.
The trick is in finding the RIGHT approach for the organization. Many factors come in to play:
- What are your Recovery Time and Recovery Point objectives?
- Will you have a hot site (costs more because of software licensing) or cold site (costs lets because no software licensing but you lose time)?
- Do you operate a heterogenous storage environment?
- How virtualized is your infrastructure?
Our RightSafe offering helps you understand the approaches and assists you in defining a path to get maximum uptime. So when the next black cat crosses your path, you can rest assured your infrastructure will be ready!
- John Alday
John Alday is the CEO of Cima Solutions Group. He started Cima Solutions Group in 2005 with the focus on delivering reliable and efficient IT solutions that create financial value for the clients they serve. In 2012, John co-founded Cowork Suites, a company that brings multi-tenancy and resource sharing concepts to the workplace environment through coworking.