cloud based solutions birmingham

Break-Fix vs Managed Services – Which is right for you?

When it comes to IT support services, there are two main choices – Break-Fix or Managed Services. So how do you choose which is right for your business?

What are Break-Fix IT services?

Break-Fix – when something breaks, you contact an IT support provider to fix it. Under this type of agreement, your supplier only gets involved when something goes wrong – the rest of the time you retain responsibility for keeping your IT systems running.

What are Managed Services?

Managed Services are much more hands-on; your provider assumes day-to-day responsibility for keeping your systems, applications and databases running. This means that they are always working to optimise your systems, not just when something breaks.

Which is the smartest choice for my business?

It is important to acknowledge that break-fix services tend to be cheaper, but there’s a good reason for this. Because you only contact your support provider when you have a major problem, they do not have to dedicate as much time and resources to your account, allowing them to reduce their overheads. However, a break-fix provider will also charge extra for anything that falls outside the scope of the contract, such as applying software updates or optimising databases.

An IT-managed services provider (MSP) is proactive, working to optimise your systems for maximum uptime and performance. Their efforts help to reduce the chances of something breaking in the first place. Although the headline charge for an MSP contract may seem higher, once the cost of downtime (or lack of it) is considered, they offer greater value than a break-fix alternative.

Stop accepting downtime

Given the importance of IT to their operations, businesses simply cannot afford to have unscheduled downtime. An MSP monitors your IT environment, constantly on the lookout for warning signs of an imminent failure or poor system performance. Once a potential issue is identified, they can schedule the necessary remedial work before there is a catastrophic outage or impact on operations.

The proactive efforts of an MSP significantly reduce the risk of system downtime, making them a smarter strategic choice for all but the smallest of organizations.

It’s also important to note that MSPs do more than simply prevent system outages. By proactively optimising software and databases, they help to improve operational efficiency and maximise ROI from IT investments for instance. Similarly, by taking ownership of software patching, they can help to improve the overall security posture of your systems and data – vital for compliance and data protection requirements. A break-fix provider does not offer either of these benefits – unless you are willing to pay a premium on top of your standard agreement terms.

To learn more about our Solaris and Linux Managed Services  (and why break-fix services simply aren’t good enough for your business), please give us a call


Data Management Birmingham

Why Oracle Linux KVM Is The Perfect Choice For Virtualising Oracle

When it comes to choosing a hypervisor for your environment, VMware vSphere seems a smart choice. It’s popular, pervasive and very well supported – but it may also be a poor option in the long run.

Here’s why any business running Oracle applications should consider Oracle Linux KVM instead.


As a type 1 hypervisor running on bare metal, KVM outperforms other types of 2 technologies (like Microsoft Hyper-V). Admittedly vSphere is also a type 1 hypervisor, but the lightweight, low-code architecture of KVM makes it much faster to boot – and therefore much higher performing too.


KVM is a hugely scalable platform for virtualisation. Where vSphere is capable of supporting 64 hosts per cluster, KVM can sustain 128. Similarly, vSphere can manage 128 virtual CPUs per virtual machine – KVM does 256. If you want to build a hugely scalable, powerful virtualised environment, KVM offers the greatest potential.

Open-Source Licensing

KVM is bundled as part of many Linux distributions – and is therefore distributed under Open-Source licensing. This means that your business can tweak and adjust the source code according to the specific needs of your business.

vSphere is entirely proprietary, closed-source technology. This creates vendor lock-in which means that if you ever want to move to alternative virtualisation technology, you’ll need to completely re-engineer your environment at a significant additional cost.

The total cost of ownership

The Open-Source licensing model means that there are no additional licensing costs for using KVM. You can deploy as many hypervisors as you want for no additional cost, helping to keep your running costs as low as possible.

vSphere requires additional add-on licenses for many of its most important features. As well as paying enterprise maintenance fees for the core product, you will also need to spend big for VSAN (virtualised storage) and NSX (virtualised switching). And you’ll need to keep paying for as long as you use these products.

Oracle licensing benefits

Perhaps the killer feature of Oracle Linux KVM is hard partitioning, allowing you to ‘pin’ virtual CPUs to physical CPU cores. Why does this matter? Under Oracle licensing rules, you must pay license fees for every CPU in your virtual environment, whether they are used or not.

However, the hard partitioning feature of KVM is recognised by Oracle, allowing you to only pay licenses for the virtual CPUs that are being used. This helps to reduce the total cost of ownership for key applications like Oracle Database and Oracle Fusion Middleware because you no longer have to license all of your CPUs. This recognition is not available for any other hypervisor – including vSphere.

Oracle Linux KVM is a no-brainer

vSphere helped to drive the virtual server revolution, but it is no longer the hypervisor of choice – particularly not if your business uses Oracle applications. The long-term benefits of KVM far outstrip the familiarity of VMware – particularly once you consider the potential long-term cost savings available

To learn more about Oracle Linux KVM and how it will help your business achieve more for less, please give the team a call.

Data Management Solutions Birmingham

What’s The Best Replacement Operating System For CentOS Linux?

When IBM Red Hat announced that CentOS Linux would be retired, it left many users with a headache. What should they replace their current operating system with?

Not CentOS Stream

CentOS Linux will be retired imminently – but the name lives on with CentOS Stream. However, this is not a production-ready OS; it is primarily used as a preview for new features and functions that are coming to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It is constantly updated by Red Hat, just like a beta test environment.

As such, CentOS Stream has not been hardened or battle-tested, rendering it unsuitable for any production use case. This means that CentOS has reached the end of the road for most businesses.

Oracle Linux to the rescue

One exceptional (some say the best) CentOS alternative is Oracle Linux. And for enterprise-class organisations, it’s not hard to see why.

Optimised for Oracle

As you would expect, Oracle has optimised their Linux distribution for their own software. As a result, Oracle Linux outperforms every other distro when it comes to running Oracle databases for instance. As an added bonus, Oracle Linux is faster than CentOS in both bare metal and VM environments, providing another good reason to migrate OS.

Better than CentOS

CentOS had its uses, but Oracle Linux outperforms in every way. In addition to faster OS speeds, Oracle also offers greater stability and security, making it a better all-round choice for enterprise use. Indeed, Oracle outperforms most other Linux distros in these categories too.

Native support for Oracle Cloud

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure runs on Oracle Linux, offering seamless compatibility for your applications, wherever they are hosted and run. This also makes Oracle Linux the only distribution that is available for use on-premises and by a major public cloud provider on their own platform. Oracle Linux also includes tools (Oracle Linux Manager, Oracle Linux Virtualization Manager, Oracle Linux Automation Manager etc) that simplify the process of migrating and managing servers on-premise and in the Oracle Cloud.

Enterprise-class support available

Enterprise-class deployments and mission-critical applications demand enterprise-class support. Despite being a completely free Linux distribution, Oracle also offers (optional) paid support to users. And if your business already uses Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) or Oracle Engineered Systems, you are also already entitled to the ‘Premier’ support tier, offering round-the-clock assistance for your OS.

Streamlined OS migration

Migrating from one OS to another is usually easier said than done. In the case of Oracle Linux, an intuitive migration application is provided, streamlining and simplifying the move away from CentOS – and reducing the risk of a failed migration.

Are there any drawbacks?

Does Oracle Linux have any weaknesses? The biggest is a lack of support for the cPanel hosting platform. But given that most enterprises do not use cPanel, this is unlikely to be a huge concern. The reality is that Oracle Linux really is the smartest choice for most businesses – particularly those who are already invested in the Oracle ecosystem in some way.

Ready to learn more about Oracle Linux? Need help migrating your workloads away from CentOS? Give the WTL team a call and we’ll help you better understand the best move for your business.

Solaris Managed Service Birmingham

The 5 Key Benefits Of Solaris & Linux Managed Services

Outsourcing is a popular tactic used by large businesses to control costs and reduce their operational IT overheads. But what do they get from it? And can any organisation use Linux and Solaris managed services?

Here are five key benefits of outsourcing your Linux and Solaris management:

1. Optimised systems

As your processes become more reliant on data, speed of access is increasingly important. To ensure you have the right information whenever you need it, Linux and Solaris systems must be optimised for maximum performance.

Your IT team is probably tied up doing day-to-day activities; with managed services, your outsourcing partner can take proactive action to improve operations without adding to their workload.

2. Improved uptime and availability

The other benefit of Linux / Solaris optimisation will be improved uptime and availability. By identifying issues early, your managed services provider will be able to resolve them before they become critical or significantly affect operations.

3. Reduced costs

IT skills are in high demand – which makes them expensive. Sourcing, training and paying a skilled Solaris / Linux administrator will take a significant chunk out of your budget.

Using a managed service gives you access to all the skills you need to maintain and optimise your servers – but without the headaches of actually employing an expert yourself. This will help to significantly reduce your salary, training and tax bills.

4. Access to experts

These savings become exponential when you consider the range of specialisms required to manage a diverse Solaris / Linux environment. You have to consider servers, storage, networking, support, administration etc.

A managed service provider has their specialists, allowing them to deploy the right person for each task at a fraction of the cost of building your team in-house. This also ensures that you can rely on their comprehensive industry and technology knowledge to help you define a workable, future-ready IT strategy

5. Simplified administration

The IT environment is increasingly complex which has a knock-on effect on administration. Keeping all the various elements running optimally is a major drain on resources.

With a managed Solaris / Linux service you can outsource at least some of your admin operations to a more experienced partner. They can then streamline support and management processes for your benefit, freeing up internal resources for other tasks.

Historically managed services have only been an option for the largest businesses. But as technology improves, virtually any business running Linux or Solaris can afford to take advantage of managed services – and to realise all five of the benefits listed here.

To learn more about Linux and Solaris outsourcing – and exactly what it will do for your business – please give the WTL team a call.

Oracle Autonomous Linux

Oracle Autonomous Linux – Human Error, Solved?

When it comes to catastrophic systems failure, attention immediately shifts to cybersecurity. A hacking is the sexiest of all possible causes – but probably not the most likely.

Instead, the most common problems are caused by human error. A poorly tested code upgrade, a missed software patch or even a basic mis-key, all have the potential to take operations off-line. And that risk increases as your network evolves.

Reducing human input is a sure-fire way to prevent many avoidable future IT outages. How often are system breaches as a result of inconsistent patching?

To help address the problem of human error, Oracle have introduced Autonomous Linux – here’s why you should consider it as part of your future OS strategy.

What’s so special about Oracle Autonomous Linux?

Along with a proven, reliable OS kernel, Oracle Autonomous Linux also includes a new OS Management Service. As the name implies, this new OS offers a high degree of autonomy to improve patch management.

In fact, Oracle Autonomous Linux is the world’s first (cloud-based) operating system that carries installs updates and patches automatically. Updates are installed daily, without requiring downtime – and there’s no human intervention required.

Allowing the OS to manage its own updates helps to solve two key administrative problems. First, your servers will audit patch status on their own, saving you the massive resource overheads of assessing an extensive on- and off-premises estate.

Second, manual patch management typically involves an extended change control process that delays application by weeks, expanding the window of opportunity for system compromise. Allowing the OS autonomous control of installation accelerates the process and lowers the cost of managing your systems.

By allowing the operating system to control patch management, servers experience less downtime, planned or unplanned. Oracle Autonomous Linux will also help to reduce chargeable spikes in your cloud billing because patches are applied to in-service servers. This is because you no longer need to rotate workloads while maintenance takes place. And of course, every time servers and processes are moved, you create potential for another human-error related system failure.

Operating system as a service

Moving to an autonomous operating system effectively replicates the “as a service” model. Oracle Autonomous Linux takes care of itself in much the same way as IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services do. Which means that your server management resources can be redeployed to focus on other projects that maximise the value of a reliable and secure platform that offers greater availability than a non-autonomous alternative.

In our previous blog we looked at why Oracle Database runs best on Oracle Linux. You can read this here.

Useful Links

White Paper: Why Oracle Database Runs Best on Oracle Linux