Oracle spare servers for enterprise infrastructure and data centres in Birmingham

Why Oracle SPARC?

Choosing server technology is an important part of any businesses’ technology strategy and there are many factors affecting the decision. IT leaders should factor in the business platforms it should be running, will they be frontline applications or backup files, will it be cloud based or on premises, does it need to consolidate an existing server estate, what is the best technology the budget will allow?

What platforms will it be running?

For customers who are looking for server technology to run Oracle database and applications, Oracle SPARC servers are fully optimised for Oracle databases and applications and will deliver the best performance and security available. Oracle SPARC’s reporting and analytics capabilities are incredibly fast and inbuilt virtualisation features secure data and improve application performance. Whilst SPARC is optimised for Oracle applications, it is non-proprietary, enabling transformational performance and efficiency gains for most enterprise applications, at an affordable price point.

Cloud or on-premises?

Most businesses today are using the cloud, the Flexera State of the Cloud Report for 2019 found that 94% of businesses surveyed used cloud services, with 91% using public cloud, 72% using private cloud and 69% using at least one public and one private.

For organisations that are considering migrating services to the cloud, or extending onsite data centres to the cloud, even if it is not an immediate plan, servers that have been designed with cloud services in mind will have greater longevity. By taking a cloud-first approach to technology infrastructure development, Oracle has built its cloud solutions using the same SPARC technology that it uses in its servers allowing customers a clear path to the cloud. Customers undecided on when they will move to the cloud can purchase SPARC servers to use on premises, easily moving to cloud services with few migration costs, and without the need to change applications, driving value from today’s investment in the future.

Server consolidation

By consolidating large numbers of smaller servers onto fewer large symmetric multiprocessing (MSP) servers the workload demands on compute power are evened out improving overall utilisation and performance. Large SMP servers simplify the deployment of applications, and less servers to manage means less management overhead, meaning further savings. Oracle approaches server consolidation with different levels of partitioning within SPARC servers, involving PDoms, Oracle VM Server partitioning and Oracle Solaris Zones technology, getting increasingly more granular and flexible. Different workloads have different service levels and will utilise resources differently, which will require different configurations. Oracle’s centralised, single management console simplifies the management of the consolidated servers.

Cost

Oracle SPARC has been priced competitively in the enterprise server market, with feature rich hardware at comparatively lower prices than many other vendors. Cost savings can also come from efficiency gains, enabled because SPARC servers perform more business transactions at a faster rate, so customers need less of them, keeping hardware costs and software license costs down.

Performance

Performance is critical for servers that will be running enterprise applications and serving mission critical data, and this is another area where Oracle SPARC performs well. Core and processor performance are strong, and specific features like Software in Silicon have been designed to ensure faster enterprise apps.

Security

Oracle has built in security from the group up, with advanced encryption for data at rest, in transit and in storage, with no degradation of performance. Oracle’s Silicon Secured Memory provides 24/7 intrusion protection. In addition, SPARC servers running Oracle Solaris offer protection for applications in memory, access controls, automated patching, and security compliance auditing.

Whatever the business requirement, application or environment, Oracle SPARC is a viable server technology that can meet the needs of a modern business, today and in the future.

Useful Links

Flexera State of the Cloud Report – 2019

Network security & cyber security in Birmingham & The West Midlands

The Rising Cost of Cyber Security Breaches

Technological advancements are undoubtedly changing the world for the better, with automation, AI, the IoT and cloud driving forward innovations across every sector. However, with this advancement comes greater risks as cyber threat actors use the same technology against individuals and industry for their own gain.

The 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report identified that 52% of breaches in the past year of those surveyed (17,300 incidents with 1700 actual breaches) featured hacking, 33% featured social attacks and 28% involved malware. Targets spanned all sectors and sizes of businesses. Small businesses were targets in 43% of breaches, 39% of all breaches were perpetrated by organised criminal groups and 56% of breaches took months or longer to discover.

These figures highlight the varied and indiscriminate nature of data breaches that businesses today face. But what are the implications of a data breach? According to Deloitte , firstly there are the well-known and more obvious effects, such as the costs and resource needed to undertake a technical investigation and improvements to cyber security defences required to protect customers and business systems as a result. Then there are the PR and customer notification costs and efforts required to ensure customers are not in the dark and reputational damage is limited. Then the compliance and legal fees that could be incurred. There may be regulators’ fines to consider, as with GDPR. The hidden costs lie slightly off radar and include increased insurance premiums, and reduced appeal to investors, plus the value of any contracts lost as a result of the breach. It’s hard to quantify the impact of operational disruption, but this can be devastating for some businesses. The company brand and name could be devalued as a result, valuable intellectual property could be lost, and customers could take their business elsewhere. The time taken to repair much of the damage done to the business can take years. Processes need to be redesigned and implemented and new cyber security programmes are an investment in time and money.

With all of the above to consider and calculate, it is not surprising that the global average cost of a data breach in 2019, as calculated by the Ponemon Institute, has risen by 1.5% in a year to reach $3.92m.

How can businesses mitigate the risk of a costly breach, with so many attacks happening and new vectors used, with the costs so high?

Businesses need to shift focus from a reactive security model to a proactive approach which seeks not to secure the whole perimeter but to reduce the size of the attack surface and increase security focus on apps and data which travel around the enterprise. This is in contrast to the traditional model of cyber security which focused on protecting the data centre. Organisations can better secure their apps and data by having a clear understanding of how they work and interact, then developing intelligent policies, access keys and secure rooms which compartmentalise the whole infrastructure, protecting each area individually and limiting the impact of a breach.

Real time and continuous breach detection and monitoring ensures that businesses understand exactly when something unexpected or anomalous is happening. This information can be triaged with other systems to trigger alerts or next actions. Emergency response plans can then be mobilised quickly and effectively to reduce the impact of a breach.

Finally, regular testing will identify any weak spots and provide the essential information that is needed to close any gaps and make changes to security defences.

Only by moving with the times and adapting to the latest threat actors will organisations be able to mitigate the risks associated with a cyber security breach.

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

If you’re ready to make some changes to the way you protect your business, please get in touch.

Useful Links

Deloitte Hidden Business Impact of Cyber Attacks

Ponemon Institute Cost of a Data Breach

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