IT Support Provider's President Goes to Washington

By Tom McDonald | Sep 18, 2013 7:33:00 PM

Recently,  I spent a full day in Washington, D.C.  attending the sold out inaugural 2013 Datto Partner Conference.  The vibe was similar to the first VMware Partner conference I attend years ago. 

A keynote from CEO Austin McChord kicked off the event; he is completely unpolished, which is refreshing, as is the obvious fact that he is totally immersed in every detail of his business.  He rattles off facts, figures, and details.  Technical, business, and sales related data roll off his lips at a rapid-fire pace.  What did I learn? Here are some of the key things I took away from his talk:

  • Datto is exploding – 200+ employees; 112 of which were hired last year
  • Datto has 8000+ partners – wow!  Lots more Managed Service Providers (MSP) and IT Service Providers than I thought existed
  • The company is totally focused on the channel, particularly the MSP market
  • New MSP User Interface has been rolled out, making it easier for us to quickly setup and troubleshoot devices for our clients
  • Direct-2-Tech was introduced, this means when you escalate an issue, we go directly to the tech that can solve the problem – this is a great things for NSI, and NSI clients.
  • Tech support is 24/7/365, when clients need help, help is there.
  • Brand new software allows us to show our clients the incremental changes that are happening
  • HIPAA compliance  -  Datto is compliant and enables NSI to continue offering backup in regulated environments for clients needing this

The summary from Austin’s keynote for me was this – Datto gets it. They understand what we need to be the best possible ITsupport service provider to our clients.  Additionally, they enable us to offer enterprise class services to the smallest of businesses;  it is as simple as that.  Why that’s a big deal: 

According to the U.S. Census of 2010:

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VMware - End of Availability

By Tom McDonald | Apr 18, 2013 12:02:00 PM

VMware End of Availability

Managing software licenses and product support for your IT solutions is no fun.  There are so many things to keep track of, and it is a tedious administrative burden that must be managed in order for your business to maintain a healthy flow of information.  Additionally, this administrative task will be wrestled to the ground by a network administrator or IT support staff member, and is probably the last thing they want to deal with, and for good reasons.

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Don’t tell me I need a Network Upgrade !

By Tom McDonald | Dec 4, 2012 3:52:00 PM

Well, you probably do.  Regardless of how skilled your IT Support, Network Admin or Computer Services are, if you are a business owner you will be faced with upgrades. This is the reality of what it takes to run a business in today’s competitive market.  What if NSI stopped upgrading?  How would we stay in business and maintain our ability to provide services like TotalCare, Data Backup and Recovery, Remote Help Desk Services, On Site Computer Maintenance and Printer Repair?  We would stink, and no one would want our antiquated service offerings. 

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Discover the value: VMware Health Check from a VCP

By Tom McDonald | Apr 29, 2011 11:14:00 AM

With a VMware vSphere Health Check, one of our VMware Certified Professional consultants (VCPs) will work with your IT team and assist them with configuration and management of VMware vSphere by providing knowledge and guidance on best practices. If you're running the latest in VMware software, it is important that you are getting the most out of your environment. By working closely with your IT department our VCP will be able to provide concrete recommendations that will optimize your virtual IT infrastructure.

WHY THIS MATTERS:  Over time, adding new VM's and changes/upgrades to your virtual environment alters the efficiency. Having a VMware Health Check ensures you’re not over/under utilizing resources and your environment is staying within VMware’s best practices guidelines. Its a good idea to have a VCP check your environment every 6 to 12 months or a couple months after any major upgrade or change to the infrastructure. This ensures your infrastructure is well maintained and that any problems are realized before they require a major overhaul.

 

Benefits

• Optimize VMware vSphere performance
• Maximize resources through efficiencies and roadmap for future improvements
• Mitigate risk by leveraging experienced consultants and proven best practices

Deliverables 

• Collect data and conduct assessment of VMware vSphere (up to four ESX™ hosts)
• Identify potential opportunities to optimize configuration and improve performance
• Hold an interactive workshop to facilitate knowledge transfer on VMware vSphere best practice

Scope

• Up to two (2) days on-site, and one (1) day off-site to create assessment report
• Health Check includes up to four (4) ESX hosts
• Maximum of five (5) participants for interactive workshop
• Contact your local VMware representative for pricing information
• VMware vSphere Health Check will be delivered by a VMware Certified Professional (VCP) consultant 

Requirements

• Existing VMware vSphere including VMware ESX
• Administrator (root) access to VMware installations
• Conference room with projector and networked desktops/laptops running MS Windows® 2000 or higher

You've made an investment in your virtual infrastructure, so ensuring that you are getting the most out of this investment is key. By having a VCP consultant optimize your environment you not only ensure that vSphere is running to the best of its abilities, but also gives your IT the knowledge and training to maintain the virtual infrastructure.

Go Here to get the WhitePaper Outlining the Health Check processs and VMware best practices that are reviewed

IT Guide for Small Business Owners

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3 Ways to go Green with IT

By Tom McDonald | Apr 22, 2011 2:29:00 PM

Upgrading your computer

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Comparison between traditional IT BC plan and an VMware implementation

By Tom McDonald | Apr 15, 2011 12:17:00 PM

Many business’s IT infrastructures are based around this set up, with the operating system bound to a specific set of hardware and a specific Application bound to that OS. From there the server runs at about 5-10% of its capacity for most of the day with it peaking only during heavy usage. The data has to be backed up to a local SAN for recovery purposes, generally needing special software to be employed to ensure its being backed up fully and efficiently.

If this is a vital server and has a disaster recovery and business continuity plan implemented with it to ensure that downtime is kept as low as possible, then it will have an identical server installed for failover. This server is only used if the original server fails, but is still uses power and space. Not only that, but this server has to be the same identical model, containing the same hardware configuration, firmware, and local storage to ensure immediate complete compatibility with the original server. This adds cost as you need to have a second set of the hardware and it has to be that same model, limiting upgrade paths for the business.

This set up generally falls into the “Boot and Pray” model of disaster recovery, as the complexity of the set up causes the admin to hope that it works rather than being able to guarantee a smooth transition from server. This has to be done with every vital server that needs to have a redundant back up and each one has its own unique set up, creating a large amount of complexity that is involved with managing all these different machines. This complexity increases the company’s RTO and RPO and makes recovering a much larger ordeal.

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5 ways a VDI, Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure, can improve IT for both users and admins

By Tom McDonald | Mar 28, 2011 3:14:00 PM

The benefits of virtualizing your desktop environment are numerous, in today’s world business’s IT departments are growing by leaps and bounds and the work needed to add, integrate, and maintain can push IT resources to the limits. Virtualization was traditionally used to help reduce the number of servers needed to run the IT, but as the software became more advanced, the usefulness of having a Virtualized Desktop infrastructure (VDI) has become more apparent.

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Downtime not an option? Learn the basics of VMware's Fault Tolerance and what you will need to get up and running

By Tom McDonald | Mar 25, 2011 11:32:00 AM

Is a server crash not an option for your company? Is having your server up and running the life and soul of your business? Then you may want to consider VMware’s Fault Tolerance (FT) feature. VMware Fault Tolerance is a step up from VMware High Availability (HA), with High Availability being VMware’s backup for a VM crash, if a server running a VM happens to go down then the host reboots on a different host. This allows for only a minute or two of downtime as the Virtual Machine starts up on a new server and the primary host that has crashed is restarted, if possible. This is extremely useful and can keep a business functioning with only a moment of downtime. What Fault Tolerance does is eliminate that couple minutes of downtime so that even if a server crashes, nothing is felt by the user. This feature gives companies that can’t stop functioning, even for a minute, the security they need to run their businesses.

How does FT work? Well with HA there is a primary server who runs the VM and a dedicated secondary host that is there in case of failure, if/when that failure occurs the secondary host is started and the VM is restarted on the new host. The failure is detected by using VMware’s heartbeat function that pings the server every second to ensure it is still active on the network, if the host stops responding it is considered to have failed and the VMs are moved to a new machine.  FT continues this trend, but instead of waiting for a host to fail and then restart it uses vLockstep to keep both hosts in sync that way if one was to fail than the other would continue running without having the user notice the server failure. By sharing a virtualized storage, all the files are accessible to both hosts and the primary host updates the secondary host constantly in order to keep both hosts RAM in sync. FT has a few rules to ensure it works properly:

  • Hosts must be in an HA cluster
  • Primary and secondary VMs must run on different hosts
  • Anti- affinity must be enabled (A configuration that ensures that the VM cannot be started on the same host)
  • The VMs must be stored on a shared storage
  • Minimum of 2 Gbps Nics, this is to allow vMotion and FT logging
  • Additional NICs for VM and management network traffic
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Prevent IT Disasters. How VMware High Availability protects your data center

By Tom McDonald | Mar 9, 2011 10:46:00 AM

VMware HA (High Availability) is a major step in setting up a disaster recovery objective. With HA enabled, each ESXi host checks in on the other hosts and looks for a failure, if a failure should occur the VMs on the failed host are restarted on another server. To enable HA on your network a few prerequisites are required; All VMs and their configuration files must reside on a shared storage, this is required so that all the hosts have access to the VM if the host running it should fail; Each host in a VMware HA cluster must have a host name and a static IP, this will guarantee that each host can monitor each other without having false positives on failure if a host changes IP address; Hosts must be configured to have access to the VM network; Finally VMware recommends a redundant network connection, if a network card should fail this would allow communication to the host it is associated with, without this redundancy the host would seen as failing.

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