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Oracle Solaris as the best managed service in Birmingham and The West Midlands from WTL

Don’t be a dedicated follower of fashion. Choose the best OS for the job.

Solaris has been the number one UNIX operating system for over 25 years, and while it might not spring to mind as the enterprise OS of choice today, there are many reasons why it still rates very highly by users. Most enterprises are using Oracle Solaris in their business somewhere, but if you are considering a data centre modernisation project, looking to simplify your virtualisation environment, moving to the cloud or are running critical Oracle databases and applications, then Solaris should be your number one choice.

Why Oracle Solaris?

Well, with every new release of Solaris, Sun and now Oracle, have always ensured backwards compatibility to protect your investment in existing applications. In fact, Oracle even offers an application binary guarantee to ensure you can run legacy applications on the latest infrastructure.

In many publicly available reviews Oracle Solaris is hailed as a stable, scalable and super speedy platform. It has been designed with the enterprise and their needs in mind and offers advanced security features on premises and in the cloud, with anti-malware protection from the hypervisor to the application. Oracle Solaris is cloud ready and natively uses ZFS, having been developed by Sun in the early 2000’s, is still in operation and still one of the most popular features. The zones or containers are also commended for being lightweight and simple, so, what are the downsides?

The Future of Oracle Solaris

The biggest issue surrounding Solaris is its image and the speculation around its future and longevity. If customers aren’t sure that their investment is future-proofed, they will be wary about investing. To counter this Oracle have guaranteed that they will deliver binary compatibility until 2034 at least, so any current and future investment will be secure for a minimum of 14 years, and doubtless much longer.

Specialist Skills and Resources

Another issue faced by users is that because Oracle Solaris is a proprietary OS, with different and unique commands to those used to administer other Linux systems, it requires additional skills which may make it more difficult to recruit and retain experienced technical expertise. A quick trawl online Indeed found 209 current jobs requiring Solaris skills, which suggests an immediate skills shortage in this technology. It can even be tricky for organisations to find outsourced support services that have the necessary skills. Not every MSP or IT Support firm has the expertise to best manage an Oracle Solaris environment.

WTL is a Solaris and Linux specialist, with the skills and knowledge required to support all customers’ heterogeneous environments, both on and off premises. We don’t just keep the lights on with your Oracle databases, Solaris and SPARC infrastructure, we optimise your environment, proactively managing your whole estate, improving service levels, efficiencies and availability, driving down costs and suggesting ways of making even more savings.

We also offer a Solaris Heath Check that is designed identify and address configuration, updates, security, and performance problems you might be experiencing.

Shows opened padlock to represent security threat

Why automation will become the most reliable way of preventing, detecting, and mitigating security threats

Modern organisations are taking advantage of new and innovative technology, transforming their business operations, continuously improving efficiencies, delivering high levels of customer service, and unearthing new opportunities for products and services that wouldn’t have been conceivable 5-10 years ago. This transformation comes at a price however, and the same technologies used to drive businesses forward are also being deployed maliciously, primarily for financial gain (71% of data breaches were financially motivated, according to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report) or to gain a strategic advantage. Businesses face greater numbers of security related events more frequently and in different guises than they did five years ago, with attacks on individuals using social channels becoming more prevalent. Alongside this, workforces are hypermobile, well used to downloading applications and accessing, storing and transmitting corporate data anywhere and on any device. In order to keep this edge data secure, businesses must now do more than simply protect against attacks, they must try and prevent them from happening in the first place, wherever the user happens to be and whatever device they happen to be using.

So how do you do that?

The first step is to identify genuine threats from the vast swathes of security incident data that is collected for analysis from a myriad of different sources. They are deliberately not easy to spot, and attackers will use next generation technologies such as AI to hide amongst legitimate traffic. However, some AI and machine learning driven security solutions can analyse massive amounts of data from across any number of data sources, using the power of the cloud to process the analysis right across the organisation, from the edge to the core.

Oracle is one such security solution, enabling businesses to secure modern hybrid clouds with a set of security and management cloud solutions, which draw on data gathered from logs, security events, external threat feeds, database transactions and applications. It uses AI and machine learning technology to detect malicious intentions, then automates the process of finding available security patches and applying them, and all without downtime.

In addition, Oracle’s automated services encrypt production data and enforce user controls, so you don’t have to do it manually.

As we’ve mentioned, to protect data from edge to core, organisations must implement a multi-layered strategy, and when using the cloud, don’t assume that all data protection responsibility lies with the cloud provider. Most cloud providers assume a shared responsibility model, where they offer assurances around the security of the data held on their infrastructure, but access to that data and SaaS data is usually the responsibility of the customer. Consider layering your security solutions to protect every layer of data and each access point, including a Cloud Access Security Broker and Identity Access Manager which will monitor, detect threats, automate the identity management process, sending alerts if anomalous behaviour occurs and remediate wherever possible, without the need for human intervention. Making this work across heterogenous technology on different platforms, on-premises, in the public cloud and in private clouds, is the trickiest part, but Oracle has got it absolutely spot on. Consider the manual alternative, thousands or even millions of security alerts coming into different management consoles, to be sifted through, users to be authorised and behaviour to be monitored and analysed, patches sought and applied and data to be encrypted. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

WTL offer a range cybersecurity solutions which employ next-generation features to ensure you remain one step ahead of the cybercriminals.

Useful Links

Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report

Oracle Cloud Essentials – Secure and Manage Hybrid Clouds

Oracle’s Top 10 Cloud Predictions 2019

Oracles cloud based solutions in Birmingham & the West MIdlands

Next Generation Cloud – Why you should be looking at Oracle

There is no doubt that the use of cloud technology is no longer just about cost and capacity, or cheap servers and storage. Analysts Forrester said it’s about using the best platform to turn innovative ideas into software quickly. Taking innovation to market fast is what sets businesses apart from their competitors, and the cloud is the best way to do that. It’s no longer a destination, it is an operating model. Public cloud usage is growing in 2019, while private cloud use declined, according to Flexera’s annual State of the Cloud* report, the largest survey on the use of cloud infrastructure which focuses on cloud buyers and users. In addition to the public cloud adoption rates rising, enterprise organisations are planning on spending more on public cloud, 24% more than in 2018 and 50% of enterprises surveyed are already spending around £1m annually. Whilst there may still be concerns around the flexibility and performance capabilities of the public cloud for enterprise grade applications, there are emerging public cloud providers that are building clouds which has been specifically designed for enterprise applications and databases. These next-generation public clouds have the tools and utilities needed by developers to build new cloud native and mobile apps, on a single, unified platform and networking fabric.

Oracle’s next-generation public cloud infrastructure offers the flexibility and performance levels that can rival those found in high performance computing environments on premises, alongside support for Oracle applications and developer tools that allow new applications to be created.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is ideal for any workload, whether that is DevTesting in the cloud, of new applications or customisations, validating patches, or testing technologies like containers or methodologies like continuous integration and continuous delivery.

Oracle Cloud is not just for testing however, enterprises can run production environments here with confidence. Bare metal options enable exceptional levels of performance and Real Application Clusters and load balancing can ensure high availability.

For customers that just want to use the cloud for backup and DR purposes, Oracle’s next-generation public cloud is ideal, with its resilient, secure and highly available storage and integration with virtual machines and automation features.

Businesses that aren’t planning on replacing their on-premises infrastructure with cloud infrastructure can seamlessly extend into the Oracle Cloud using a VPN or FastConnect. A great way of maximising investment into on-premises infrastructure.

But why would businesses choose Oracle Cloud over platforms like AWS or Azure? In a research paper by DAO Research, findings showed that businesses prioritised the support and breadth of solutions offered by a cloud vendor, often over the technology features found in each tier. Oracle ranks highly with its comprehensive offering across all tiers, coupled with strong expertise and support offerings.

At the same time customers are looking for simply priced and transparent solutions with no hidden costs, which minimise complexity. Oracle meets the brief, with a transparent, straightforward pricing and service structure which allows for charge-backs. This is often a necessity for global organisations.

Oracle provides enterprise grade performance and resilience, ideal for the large volume, production environment database-driven workloads and applications that are prevalent in larger organisations. The familiar tools and interfaces of Oracle databases and applications are a big draw for customers.

The DevOps capabilities and cloud native design of Oracle Cloud is designed to support advanced  capabilities such as microservices, containers, mobile, analytics and low code development, alongside traditional enterprise applications. This versatility sets Oracle apart from the main competitors and its integrated developer tools remove the DIY element of developing in the public cloud.

For customers looking at hybrid cloud strategies, and it is worth noting that Flexra reports an increase from 51% in 2018 to 58% in 2019 of enterprises with a hybrid cloud strategy, Oracle is well placed to support businesses with the same technology, standards, skillsets and tooling for Oracle Cloud that is used with on-premises Oracle deployments.

Oracle itself predicts that businesses are moving towards a 100% cloud deployment model, and that only cloud providers that can enable highly complex workloads and mission critical applications, with the utmost levels of security, control and continuity will be suitable platforms for 100% data centre replacement projects.

Useful Links

Oracle Cloud Predictions 2019

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure – Cloud Essentials

ODAO Research White Paper – Next Generation Cloud Delivers Enterprise Scale

Flexera 2019 State of the Cloud Survey

Oracle's Cloud Based Solution for applications in Birmingham and the West Midlands

An Enterprise Cloud for any Application

As you probably know, cloud adoption rates are high, with public cloud adoption rates higher than private cloud and many organisations planning a multi cloud strategy. Rightscale’s 2019 State of the Cloud Report found 94% of respondents were using cloud services, 91% have adopted public cloud and 72% private cloud. 69% use at least one public and one private cloud.

But what are the main use cases for cloud and how can businesses find the right cloud for their requirements?

Many businesses use the cloud for a specific application or workload first, then gradually move more. Application development and testing is well suited, as is big data analytics, because of the cloud’s burstable nature. Backup, archiving, DR and high availability can be run simply and reliably. For businesses that need to refresh infrastructure or consolidate multiple applications, the cloud offers a flexible and viable option. Data warehousing requires capacity and scalability, making the cloud an obvious choice.

For most businesses, flexibility, security, performance, availability, cost and simplicity are high on the list of requirements of any cloud deployment, so how do they find all of these?

Oracle Cloud has all the answers.

Flexibility: Oracle Cloud provides customers with an end to end cloud offering, spanning infrastructure, platform and application layers, with integrated consumption models and centralised management. It is flexible and can be deployed as a private cloud, hybrid cloud or public cloud model, which are interchangeable. In fact, Oracle actively encourages a hybrid cloud approach, with pre-packaged applications and tools for rapid provisioning, migration, centralised management and integration.

With Oracle Cloud, applications run identically, whether deployed in the cloud or on premises. As a truly flexible cloud option, Oracle Cloud can run different operating systems and any application, not just Oracle applications. In addition, open standards mean IT teams can develop the integrations they need.

Security: Oracle Cloud is secure, with physical data centre access controls, data encryption, and a multi-layered security strategy which covers all layers of the technology stack. If public cloud really is a no-go for security or regulatory reasons, then Oracle Cloud at Customer is a truly unique option which allows customers to deploy an instance of Oracle Cloud Machine or Oracle Database Exadata Cloud on site. As a subscription model, the deployment is behind the customer’s firewall and Oracle handle installation, configuration, patching, lifecycle management, upgrades and monitoring. This fully managed cloud is secure, flexible, fast and cost effective, with options for offsetting on-premises licenses against the costs.

Performance: Oracle Cloud is an enterprise grade cloud, which offers bare metal options which allow applications to be configured to run on dedicated resources. For mission critical applications, Exadata cloud option ensures extreme performance.

Availability: Oracle offers a Maximum Availability Architecture which includes backup, Oracle Real Application Clusters and DR.

Cost: Cost reductions come from moving entire workloads to the cloud and retiring data centres, and from the elastic capacity offered by Oracle Cloud which facilitates cloud bursts without the need to over-provision. Oracle Cloud also provides the tools needed to migrate applications without the need to rewrite.

Simplicity: As you would expect, moving Oracle applications, such as E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, Siebel, Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server from premises to cloud is straightforward. They can simply be repackaged for a seamless move to the cloud. Oracle also provides the tools to allow VMware and KVM workloads to be lifted and shifted to the cloud with no changes.

However, non-Oracle applications such as Microsoft Windows, IBM WebSphere, Tomcat, JBoss, SQL Server, DB2, Mongo DB, Cassandra, Postgres and Sybase can also be migrated to the cloud with ease.

Before any migration takes place, Oracle offers all the tools needed to estimate the resources organisations will need to maintain current SLAs. Performance management tools will identify and fix issues which could affect performance.

When it comes to the actual migration, Oracle offers cloning tools to seamlessly copy applications to the cloud. For businesses with zero tolerance for downtime, migration is possible with Oracle GoldenGate Cloud service, which uses real time data replication feature to move data in large quantities.

For new deployments, Oracle Enterprise Cloud allows organisations to reduce the steps involved in multitier application deployments, from an average 14 steps on premises, to just 6 steps. Oracle Cloud Marketplace also offers a set of pre-packaged applications for turnkey deployments.

Whilst it might not be as well known as AWS or Azure, Oracle Cloud has been built for the enterprise, with enterprise applications and workloads front and centre. It meets the needs of businesses and should not be overlooked.

Useful Links

Rightscale, 2019 State of the Cloud

Is digital transformation the answer to modernising your business?

It is a fact that today’s customers expect a lot from their suppliers and providers, whether that is a supermarket, bank, energy provider, insurance company or any other business they buy products or services from. The digital revolution has been a major contributor to customers’ rising expectations, with a recent customer survey from Salesforce “State of the Connected Customer”, finding that 75% of customers expect businesses to use new technologies to create better experiences, and 73% say that one extraordinary experience (tailored, contextualised engagements across different touch points) raises their expectations of other companies.

This offers businesses an opportunity but also a challenge, to update systems and infrastructure sufficiently in order to offer new services and extraordinary experiences, at scale.

The challenges of digital transformation are many. Legacy systems are costly to replace, businesses might not have the necessary skills and expertise in house and budgets are always reducing.

So, what does digital transformation mean?

Firstly, businesses need to understand how critical their data is. Businesses that are data-driven and data-centric outperform the competition.

Secondly, businesses must modernise their infrastructure in order to increase efficiencies and provide better customer service. A modernised infrastructure can allow businesses to streamline operations, automate tasks where possible, control their data and leverage the public cloud in order to succeed.

Finally, businesses should prepare for scale. Building a scalable platform from the outset means they can keep pace with the growth of the business quickly and without high levels of extra investment.

But how does a business get there?

Cloud infrastructure is an essential part of any data centric business, but it’s not always as easy as adding some public cloud services to your existing on-premise infrastructure. Traditional infrastructure is usually organised in application focused silos and data won’t be able to flow as required between this legacy infrastructure and the cloud, unless you add automation, public and private cloud elements. In fact, the most successful hybrid cloud environments are built on a private cloud platform which can provide the flexibility, automation and simplified data management that businesses need to serve their applications and manage data in any location.

Many businesses are turning to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) which is a popular building block for a modernised hybrid cloud infrastructure.  HCI contains every element of the infrastructure stack in a single, virtualised block. It is built in a modular way, allowing blocks to be added easily as and when additional compute or storage is needed.

HCI meets the needs of the data centric business, allowing them to serve the most demanding cloud-native applications from day one, and allow data to flow between locations and applications, in public or private clouds. When the business grows, the HCI environment can grow with it. HCI is managed centrally and simply and the day to day monitoring and management can be done by generalist IT administrators, without the need for specialist storage, virtualisation or networking administrators.

Because it is so simple, HCI enables the automation of custom provisioning and encourages and fosters self service, which means businesses become more self-sufficient and free up time which can then be spent innovating.

Businesses looking for HCI solutions should evaluate NetApp, which is designed for highly performing environments, with high availability, scalability and simplicity. All the key requirements of a modernised infrastructure.

NetApp HCI also integrates with NetApp Data Fabric which connects everything in the hybrid cloud together. It also unlocks other advanced services such as file services, object services, replication, data visibility, and backup and recovery.

Find out more about NetApp HCI solutions in this white paper.

Useful Links

ZDNet Digital Transformation Playbook

The Connected Customer – 3rd Edition