When Two is Greater than Three or Disaster Recovery for Free!

This title reminds me of a childhood cartoon of Rocky & Bullwinkle when announcing the next episode, there were always two names for it. Here are a few examples:

Boris Lends a Hand or Count your Fingers!
Rocky and the Rock or Taken for Granite
Landslide on the Rails or Bullwinkle Covers His Tracks
All in Fever Say Aye or The Emotion Is Carried
Claus and Effect or Yule…Be Sorry

If you’re feeling nostalgic and need a bit more of this Rocky & Bullwinkle, here’s the YouTube link on Rocky & Bullwinkle starring Robert DeNiro.

To move on, we’ve been working to share the great news of the recent advancements in VMWare, specifically VSphere 5. But the very nature of this technology is so awesome it warrants another look, especially for your Disaster Recovery Plan and Property Use Tax bill, especially if you’re in Orange County!

Disaster recovery with VMWare. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you get more functionality for less money. Remember that CPU utilization on an average server is only 15% unless it’s a heavily used database or application server. In summary, there are fewer and fewer scenarios where a Virtual Machine is not the solution. We firmly believe at least 75% of all servers should be virtualized.
So getting back to the 3 > 2, here’s the scenario.

In the above scenario on the left, if one of the three physical machines fail, you’re basically down in that area with all that it does. Not a good place to be if you’re planning on running a business. You get to react and perform damage control because you have just become a firefighter!

In the above scenario on the right using a VM Cluster, when one machine crashes on VMHost 1, it can automatically failover to the VMHost2 and life goes one. In being consistent with best practices, distribute your risk between VM Host machines. As is the case in life, flexibility and adaptability is what this is all about.

Orange County Use Tax. One of the areas I take issue with the most. When calculating use tax, it is based onPurchase Price, not what it is worth. So I have a 5-year old server that cost me $8,000 when I bought it, and today it is worth $500. The use tax is based on the $8,000. Not fair, but that is government. How you get even is with less physical machines as it’s just plain less tax. Go from ten physical machines to four, and your property use tax is reduced by 60% on these items for years to come, not to mention the savings in electricity! At the end of the day, monies paid in taxes could be better used for other business purposes or maybe give someone a raise – like me!

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The “Every Other Upgrade” Methodology

Keeping up with technology has to be one of the hardest things to do. There is a point of diminishing return, that is to say, when the cost of a project far outweighs both the benefit and the need. Here are a few cases in point, and how we work to keep your dollars working for you.

In reviewing this methodology, these are the components to consider:

Evaluate the useful life of the hardware platform. We see server hardware lasting from five to seven years on average. A little extra RAM. CPU and disk may make the difference between an ‘early retirement’ and a full life.

Look at the number of major software releases in the useful life of the hardware platform. What we mean by major is fairly intuitive to us, but not to all. Here are a few examples:

In employing the ‘Every Other Upgrade’ methodology, just follow either the Orange or Blue tracks, but not both.

Common Sense Factor. We now apply some serious common sense.
Reasons to upgrade are as follows:

  • I need the new version because it will help my business andit is worth the cost
  • I am replacing the hardware and it only makes sense to bite off the upgrade as the old hardware gives me a great fallback position for transition
  • IMPORTANT NOTE 1: If we are talking PC operating systems, you MUST make certain that ALL necessary applicationsare supported
  • IMPORTANT NOTE 2: If we are talking Server Operating systems or SQL versions, you need to ensure that the applications and databases will support the newer versions.

The ‘other’ costs to always consider are the business interruption time, new software relicensing costs, and the labor – both in house and outsourced. In other words, there may be a ‘better’ time to do this from the cash flow and business cycle (slower time) that may make more business sense.

If you need any help in your decision-making, give us a call!

 

Basic, Managed and Complete Hosting Options – Choose Wisely!

You won’t get an argument from me when it comes to the cost-effectiveness of hosting. It’s a really good thing and a no-brainer in many cases. With the new “Cloud” word, which is defined differently by so many outfits, we’re going to take a closer look at the options here and the risk versus benefit equation. You need to ask yourself a few questions:

Do you want your server in house or hosted with true oversight?

Do you need dedicated hardware and bandwidth?

Do you want to manage your servers or do you want them managed?

Although there are many flavors of hosting out there, the two types of I think most often are Basic Hosting and Managed Hosting. But at the end of the day, we feel another option is necessary that significantly completes the entire picture, and that is Complete Hosting, which Roundbrix offers to its clients. You’ve heard the term you’re in good hands with Allstate. The same applies with Roundbrix Complete Hosting offering. Let’s review the options in more detail.

Basic Hosting is defined as providing air conditioning, electrical, Internet access and a secure space where you can place your equipment. You are responsible for all hardware, software, backups and network security issues. You’re also responsible for all failures and remediation. Think of it as an empty apartment with utilities. The biggest downside to Basic Hosting is that those very same resources that are shared to give you the most bang for buck can also swing the other way. An example might be that some hosting providers put too many customers on a single server in an effort to maximize their profit, but you may experience intermittent performance problems as a result. Another example is they may pool too many customers on a smaller internet connection, providing a lackluster experience for those trying to access your systems, whether it is an end client trying to access your website, or your employees trying to access a hosted application.

Managed Hosting is defined as looking after the hardware (if it is provided) and ensuring it’s up 24 x 7 x 365. It provides you with the same climate-controlled, clean power, internet circuit and physical security as Basic Hosting. The difference really comes into play by providing additional services of value, like providing dedicated hardware (at a cost), system backups and providing the option for dedicated bandwidth. If hardware is being leased or provided, it’s up to you to clearly understand when things break, who fixes it. Some outfits may monitor performance, but again, the name of the game here is no assumptions. When there’s an issue here, it may be that it’s not ‘their’ issue, leaving you with a bitter taste or scrambling to find a resource to help resolve the issue. Unfortunately, we see this a lot more than you might think. Your issues are important to us and we will always address them in a timely manner.

Complete Hosting includes the remaining pieces, many of which can hurt or cause unexpected stoppages or risks. This becomes a matter of total ownership. Additionally in my mind, Managed Hosting should also include managing the backups, disk space, looking at network and server performance including RAM and CPU, staying on top of maintenance contracts and other expirations and renewals, anti-virus, strategically planning for replacement of firewalls, switches, and servers at the core of your infrastructure. With complete hosting, you also have more flexibility at every level.

Due Diligence for Managed Hosting. At the end of the day, it’s important to weigh your options wisely and make the right choices. For the ultimate peace of mind, Complete Hosting is the best way to go, but know who you’re dealing with and where your data is, including backups. Remember, your customer lists and financials are likely very sacred and need to be held close to the chest. Ensure you know the answers to these five questions before moving forward with anyone:

1. Where are my servers and systems and are they shared, if not customer provided?

2. Where exactly is the actual call center and what are the hours of operation?

3. If they perform backups, where are the backup stored? And for how far back?

4. Is the bandwidth dedicated or shared? How much dedicated or bursting up/down speed?

5. Am I notified promptly when there is an issue?

With computing infrastructures, much like life itself, nothing is perfect, but stacking the cards in your favor clearly lessens your risk. At Roundbrix, we are unique in that we will manage the entire enchilada and work with you to stay on the correct strategic path, allowing you to focus on your business. From our shop to yours, you’re in good hands!

Ed

Allstate and “Good Hands” are a registered trademark of Allstate Insurance Company.