IT server management Birmingham & West MIdlands

Oracle SPARC – not just another server

As we have discussed previously, Oracle SPARC servers are definitely not the lowest cost – but they do offer an exceptional return on investment . Here are three more factors to consider when planning the future of your Oracle operating environment.

1. Security on chip

Given that security is now a strategic priority, the CTO is under increasing pressure to ensure data is secured at every touchpoint. Oracle SPARC CPUs use the unique Software in Silicon technology to accelerate cryptography, reducing latency and overheads when dealing with encrypted data.

SPARC processors also offer Silicon Secured Memory, a capability for detecting and preventing invalid operations. The CPU monitors software access to memory, automatically identifying and blocking buffer overflows and similar malware attacks designed to exploit application vulnerabilities.

Operating at the very core of your server, SPARC CPUs will strengthen your overall security posture.

2.  More scalability, less complexity

Oracle SPARC servers offer exceptional potential for expansion as your computing loads increase. With support for up to 384 CPU cores and 48TB of memory, you can scale capacity without carrying out a full upgrade or replacement program.

By consolidating servers and workloads, you can also reduce the overall complexity of your data centre. Fewer physical units mean lower maintenance overheads and staffing requirements, offering long-term savings without compromising on the performance of your databases and applications.

At a time when the speed of operations is a competitive advantage, reducing complexity offers distinct benefits.

3. Guaranteed legacy application support

Even in the age of the cloud, legacy applications remain fundamental to operations. As such, they are an important factor in strategic infrastructure planning.

Oracle SPARC servers can help to reduce some of that uncertainty with the Oracle Solaris Binary Guarantee Program . This long-running commitment from Oracle ensures that current applications will run unchanged on new SPARC systems. You can be sure that upgrading your server hardware will not break your legacy applications – and you should realise a performance boost too.

Importantly, this guarantee means that software does not need to be redeveloped or recompiled; if it ran on a previous version of Solaris, it will run on the latest version too. If you do encounter problems with a legacy application on a new SPARC server, help is available.

Planning for a performant, secure, backwards-compatible future

Upgrading to the newest Oracle SPARC server family is an intelligent investment for the future. Fully optimised for Oracle workloads, SPARC systems offer unbeatable performance, particularly for Oracle database applications.

And with security integrated at the chip level, your operations are more resistant to hacking and malware. In this way, SPARC systems improve the overall resilience of your operations.

The value of the Application Binary Guarantee should not be underestimated either. Although the CTO would prefer to retire legacy applications entirely, this is not feasible in most cases. So being able to guarantee full compatibility with new hardware is an extremely valuable strategic benefit.

To learn more about the latest family of Oracle SPARC servers and how they will help your business achieve more, please get in touch.

Office 365 Backup

6 Critical Reasons You Need a Proper Office 365 Backup Solution

Office 365 has been fundamental to the success of many business’ work-from-home strategies during the pandemic. The ability to access important corporate resources from any place on any device has helped maintain productivity as industry threatened to grind to a halt.

But now that remote working strategies are bedding in, it’s time to address the elephant in the room – Office 365’s less-than-adequate backup provisions.

Here are six reasons you must upgrade your Microsoft 365 backup provisions today.

1 – Accidental deletion

There are two types of deletion: soft deletion, and hard deletion.

Soft deletion is where an item is deleted but can still be recovered from a recoverable item mailbox (a bit like the recycling bin on your PC). A hard delete is where the item is purged from the mailbox database completely at which point the item is unrecoverable.

A proper Office 365 backup service will retain a copy of all data – even if it has been hard deleted by a user.

2 – Retention policy gaps and confusion

A retention policy gap is a period of time in which files/ accounts can be recovered. For example, if an employee leaves your company and their account is deleted, after 30 days any information will be deleted permanently. And if an employee was to go rogue and delete information, you could not recover that data if the 30-day window has elapsed.

A third-party Office 365 backup service offers indefinite retention, much like your existing on-site archiving solutions. So you don’t have to worry about thirty-day limits.

3 – Internal security threats

Employees operating from inside your company are actually a greater threat than hackers. Employees have access to a lot of company information, and security can be breached both intentionally and unintentionally. Office 365 has a major issue; it doesn’t automatically recognise the difference between a current employee and an ex-employee meaning that if you forget to disable their account, the leaver still has access to their email and data – and can maliciously delete anything they want.

External Office 365 backups will maintain a copy of everything the rogue employee thinks they have deleted.

4 – External security threats

External threats can enter the company through emails and attachments. Sometimes these are hard to detect, depending on the hacker’s level of skill and determination. Your company reputation and operations are at risk if your systems are infected with malware or ransomware.

Regular Office 365 backups will ensure that a separate, uninfected copy of your data is always available and can be recovered quickly.

5 – Legal and compliance requirements

Your organisation has a legal duty to retain certain communications and files. This information must be available in the event of a compliance audit or criminal investigation. Microsoft has built a couple of safety nets (such as litigation hold), but this solution is not comprehensive enough to meet your legal obligations. Remember, if a user is deleted, their mail, SharePoint and OneDrive contents are also deleted and may not be recoverable.

Maintaining a separate Office 365 backup removes ambiguity and risk, ensuring your data is always available when required.

6 – Managing hybrid email deployments and migrations to Office 365

Typically only new start-ups have the luxury of adopting Exchange 365 from the outset. Most businesses migrate from an on-premise email solution to the cloud at a later date – and many still retain some services on-premise.

Adopting a third-party Office 365 backup service like Secure Cloud Backup for Office 365 from WTL offers additional flexibility, allowing you to backup and restore emails from a hybrid environment quickly and transparently. This ensures that no matter where your data is located, it is always recoverable.

Get help today

Leaving your Office 365 data backup to Microsoft is a significant business risk. The built-in recovery service is adequate for a file or two, but it is not suitably comprehensive to properly protect your business and its data assets – what happens if a deletion is only discovered 31 days after the incident?

Fortunately, WTL has you covered, contact us today to discuss our fast, reliable, cost-effective Secure Cloud Backup for Office 365 solution and discover how to properly protect your emails and data.

 

Storage Area Network (SAN)

5 Reasons your SAN deployments should use NetApp

The storage area network (SAN) plays an integral role in operations, making the choice of underlying technology of strategic importance. The right SAN solutions will accelerate operations and create opportunities to develop new efficiencies.

So why should you choose NetApp technologies for your SAN?

1. The speed you need

The speed at which you can access data is increasingly important. Real-time operations are reliant on near zero latency to make split-second decisions. Built on NVMe over fiber channel, NetApp all flash storage reduces response times to just 100 microseconds; the AFF A800 SAN cluster is capable of delivering 8.4 million IOPS.

Performance gains will benefit any business, even those who do not use real time applications. At the most fundamental level, improving speed of access to data will allow you to better serve your customers.

2. Always-on data availability

Built to include fail-over and redundancy as standard, NetApp AFF SAN solutions maintain access to data during planned and unplanned events. Increased availability allows you to better plan and execute projects, such as upgrades and migrations, without affecting operations.

With always-on availability, your business is also better prepared to manage unexpected events, such as localised system failures or natural disasters.

3. Reliable infrastructure

NetApp AFF SAN is not only speedy and available – it is reliable too. You can trust your SAN to deliver consistently whenever you need it. Built in support for data protection, encryption and ultra-fast response times, makes NetApp a solid and reliable data platform on which to build for the future.

The NetApp SAN product range is also certified by major application vendors including Oracle, SAP and Microsoft. Certification guarantees an acceptable level of performance for your applications and databases when properly configured and optimised.

4. Super-fast provisioning

Cloud technologies have shown what is possible, spinning up resources when required to deliver a consistently high quality of service. With NetApp AFF arrays you can provision storage and apply quality of service objects in less than ten minutes, allowing you to meet your SLA obligations more easily.

In the age of DevOps and containerised microservices, ultrafast provisioning is an essential aspect of operations, allowing your business to spin up (or spin down) resources as demand changes.

5. Intelligent data positioning

NetApp’s FabricPool technology simplifies the process of positioning data for the optimal price – performance balance. For the highest performance requirements, data is stored locally on the NetApp AFF SAN. Lower priority information can be offloaded to cheaper storage in the cloud, or copied for data protection, analytics and archiving purposes. FabricPool makes it possible to move data between storage types seamlessly, automatically as priorities change.

NetApp SAN solutions are an excellent choice for any business. Performance, reliability and availability, coupled with cloud-ready connectivity, offer a platform that is suitable for virtually any workload or application.

To learn more about NetApp AFF SAN solutions and how they will help your business achieve more, please get in touch.

Oracle Servers Return on Investment

Five Compelling Reasons to Consider Oracle Servers

In the age of virtual computing, hardware has become increasingly commoditised. Abstracting operations from the underlying hardware has helped businesses to reduce their hardware spend significantly.

Given that Oracle hardware is often perceived as as more expensive, why should your business consider increasing spend? Here are five reasons to look beyond the headline purchase price:

1. Optimised for Oracle software

Oracle software is built on Oracle hardware for Oracle hardware. Every application, particularly Java and Oracle Database, perform better on Oracle servers for this very reason.

It’s not just raw speed either. Oracle x86 servers offer improved uptime for Oracle applications too. You can consolidate, secure and scale mission-critical on Oracle servers.

2. Integrated, end-to-end security

IT security is now a strategic priority, placing the IT manager under increased pressure to ensure systems are properly defended against breaches. Running Oracle on Oracle allows you to control the entire tech stack, reducing the overlaps between technologies that offer hackers the best chances of breaking in

Oracle servers feature built-in encryption, application memory protection, Silicon Secured Memory (SPARC servers) and trusted boot capability to prevent undetected intrusions.

3. Complete solutions

Oracle software on Oracle hardware functions as a cohesive whole – everything you need to run mission-critical workloads is included in a single integrated stack. This simplifies management and helps to reduce your management overheads.

Built-in layered virtualisation capabilities are available at no extra cost, allowing you to achieve greater operational flexibility. There are no hidden costs or additional investment required for third party add-ons to perform activities that are included with Oracle as standard.

4. Maximum availability

Availability is critical for the data-driven business; Oracle servers are designed with this in mind. Redundant components and physical partitioning ensure that systems keep running in the event of a local failure for instance.

Oracle servers are also supplied with comprehensive real-time monitoring and fault management allowing your DevOps team to identify issues before they take your systems offline. And as you would expect from enterprise-class hardware, critical components can be hot-swapped with zero downtime when required.

5. Lower total cost of ownership

All of these factors combine to help reduce the total cost of ownership, easily justifying the initial outlay to purchase Oracle servers. Because the operating system and virtualisation technologies are included as standard, your business is already ahead.

Because Oracle virtualisation technologies have an unusually low-performance overhead, you can consolidate more workloads on each server. Similarly, Oracle operating systems (Solaris or Linux) are not only included ‘free’, but they have been optimised for maximum performance on the underlying hardware.

For any business running Oracle applications, Oracle servers are a no-brainer. The five advantages outlined here will quickly outweigh any headline cost-saving from purchasing commodity hardware. Over the longer term, low-cost hardware may actually cost more because of the missed opportunity of running Oracle on Oracle.

To learn more about running Oracle Database on Oracle hardware and the many advantages it offers your business, please get in touch.

Cloud backup and disaster recovery - Cloud like filing cabinet, hosting or database with folders isolated on white background.

Creating a Successful Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan

Cloud backup and disaster recovery is easy to set up. But how can you be sure these provisions will actually work when the worst happens, and you encounter a genuine disaster?

As always, success is dependent on planning, the better your plan, the less risk of failure.

Audit your systems and data

Effective backup (and recovery) relies on having at least one copy of all of your data duplicated off-site to protect against loss of the original. As you begin designing a backup and DR plan, there are three questions to answer:

1.  What data assets do we have?

2.  Where is the data stored?

3.  What tools do we need to backup that information to the cloud?

As your business adopts more cloud services, defining what you have and where it is located is the first step to defining a workable plan. As well as the on-premise file shares, you probably have information stored in several SaaS services, including Office 365 and OneDrive. You may also have hosted email (Outlook 365) – anything stored there will also need to be included in your provisions.

You will then need to assess the available technologies to find one that can backup all of your data from every location. Do you need to install local agents? Can backup and restore operations be completed from a single console? Are there any permissions issues you need to address when connecting to third-party services?

Once you have these answers, you are in a position to select a cloud backup provider and to begin backing up to their hosted service.

Prioritise your systems and data

During a disaster, your business must be able to resume skeleton operations as quickly as possible. This means prioritising applications and data so that they are recovered in order of importance to the running of your business.

You should also look to automate as much of the recovery process as possible, freeing your IT staff to focus on other tasks (there will be plenty during a show-stopping outage).

Test your recovery plan

The worst time to discover your disaster recovery plan doesn’t work is during a disaster. Any kind of oversight could have significant consequences – which is why testing is so important.

By testing the DR plan in advance, you can confirm that:

    • All of your data is being backed up correctly
    • Your cloud backup archives are usable
    • Your order of restore does match your operational priorities.
    • Recovery completes within the acceptable timeframes.

You can then refine your DR plan, tweaking, optimising and re-aligning the various elements as required. Your cloud backup and disaster recovery plan must then be reviewed and tested regularly to ensure it continues to meet your needs.

Define – Prioritise – Test

Much like any other DR plan, an effective cloud backup strategy has three elements; define, prioritise and test. So long as your plan addresses them all, your business systems should be ready to face any outage.

To learn more about cloud backup and how to build a disaster recovery plan that meets the needs of your business, please get in touch.