Welcome to the Sentinel Blog!
We are proud to feature a carefully curated collection of articles and other content related to the most important technology topics of today and beyond. Our posts are composed and edited by Sentinel’s ALWAYS ENGAGED team of solutions architects, engineers, project managers and other subject matter experts.
Sentinel Perspectives: Cisco Live 2016
This past July, several members of the Sentinel team headed to Las Vegas for the annual Cisco Live conference. It presented an opportunity to learn more about Cisco and their products, as well as do some networking while having fun along the way. We asked some of our employees who attended to tell us a little bit about their experience.
*Matt LaSota, Director of Support Services Network and CloudSelect*
Cisco Live 2016 hosted in Las Vegas was yet another great learning event full of exciting speakers and breakout sessions to spark anyone’s interest, no pun intended. Cisco had a number of breakout sessions around ACI, security, UCS, and Spark to name a few. Cisco’s ACI solutions were discussed in deep technical detail to include extending ACI fabrics between sites which was a particular favorite. Cisco Live 2016 also came along with lots of great conversations with our customers, thank you to everyone who stopped by booth 2510 to chat! The event also brings some special meaning to myself, having passed the CCIE Data Center lab exam at the Las Vegas mobile lab on July 10th, making myself a 4xCCIE! Looking forward to Cisco Live 2017, back in Las Vegas, and all of the advancements and announcements another year will bring to our industry.
*Stephanie Fornarelli, Sales Executive*
So I had the privilege of going to Cisco Live once again this year and was so excited to see how much we have learned from the first one. Our booth was neat, simple, and informative. We had banners that kept our services simple, as well as a colorful PowerPoint going through various Sentinel slides to catch the eye. Our drone giveaway was a hit as well and helped with the initial approach to the booth in some cases. Emily, Alex, and myself worked hard to be out there in front of people and bring them in, answer questions, and find out what IT initiatives they have coming up that we can assist with. Our engineers as well as Bob Keblusek, Ryan Santry and Matt LaSota made it easy to elaborate on our services and were able to dive deeper into our technology which was a huge benefit. Our customer appreciation event at Tom’s Urban was fantastic. We had more people show up than last year and had a wonderful time networking and really getting to know our customers as well as meet new potential customers. We definitely strived to leave our customers feeling a closer bond to Sentinel as well as leave a great impression on future customers. Overall, it was a great event and I can’t wait to see how Sentinel does next year!
*Mark Combs, Enterprise Account Supervisor*
I had the opportunity to attend Cisco Live 2016 in beautiful Las Vegas. This was my first time attending Cisco Live even though I have been in the networking industry for 20+ years. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, but my anticipation was really high given the great things I heard about this event in the past. I’m happy to report that Cisco did not disappoint. Right from the start, I was immediately impressed in how organized the event was. From initial registration, getting to and from your IT sessions, or just eating lunch. The mobile Cisco Live app made it extremely easy to register for new sessions or to find out what’s next on the agenda so you were always be where you wanted to be and not walking around aimlessly. The seminars were great and you could literally sit in just about any technology or session you prefer to learn about. From ACI to deep technical breakout sessions regarding industry IWAN designs, the choice was basically yours. The amount of tech sessions available felt a bit overwhelming at times, however the good news is that they are all available to watch on the Cisco Live website at no cost. That being said, I believe the most valuable piece of attending Cisco Live was the “World of Solutions” booths. This was where vendors from all over the globe could showcase their newest technologies. The collaboration alone was worth the price of admission. Nowhere else can you get so many people together with the same interests to discuss real world issues or scenarios and the exchange of ideas pertaining to those issues. I guess that’s why they call it “Live” - you have to be there to experience it firsthand. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to experience Cisco Live in 2017 and all that it brings.
Solutions Architect Keith Ippolito on Why Your Business Needs A Microsoft Upgrade
Your IT back office can often be a “set it and forget it” implementation. Servers and their hosted applications are installed and set up to fulfill a business need. As long as operations continue without a hitch, those components remain unseen and get placed on the back burner of attention. As a result, it can be quite the grueling experience when an inevitable upgrade occurs. It doesn’t have to be. Here are the top two reasons your organization should regularly maintain various Microsoft infrastructure-related software.
**Compatibility and Support**
Have you ever tried to pair a Bluetooth headset with a rotary phone or attempted watch the latest YouTube sensation on your Commodore 64? Sounds silly right? It’s a bit of an extreme example, but quite similar to how software works. Most software companies, Microsoft included, try to maintain backwards compatibility to allow for interoperability between multiple versions of a product. There becomes a point though when these companies have to make a decision, usually financial, to depreciate certain compatibilities. This translates directly to Microsoft’s Support Lifecycle when legacy versions of products stop becoming compatible with the latest versions.
Each of Microsoft’s products has a support term that falls into one of two categories: mainstream support or extended support. During the time a product is under mainstream support, Microsoft provides product bug fixes or patches, feature enhancements and security updates. This is the period of the product lifecycle where customers can rely on a working product that Microsoft stands by. It is within this window where the software is most ideal and companies assume the least amount of risk. The extended support period only provides security updates, making it less ideal but still within a tolerable risk level. Once a product reaches the end of the lifecycle, all support ends. Most IT professionals might remember when Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 reached end of life (EOL). Many organizations still operate using these software versions. In the event of a failure, the costs are almost guaranteed to exceed what would have been spent on an upgrade.
Do you always lock your car door when you aren’t in it? If you answered no, consider this alternative question: Would you always lock your car door if you had a stack of $100 dollar bills sitting on your seat? If that was your life savings, it would make sense to take as many precautions as possible to ensure it was protected. Security should be treated the same way. Servers today store a great deal of sensitive public and private information. Digital security gets compromised all the time, especially when the underlying technologies are out-of-date.
Microsoft continues to improve the security of its products with every release and regularly provides security updates to protect against the latest developed threats. New products such as Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA), a cloud-based platform that analyzes and monitors an infrastructure to detect threats, are also available to help your business establish additional layers of protection.
There are other important reasons and benefits to consider maintaining the latest version, including end user experience, increased feature set, and performance to name a few. The reasons detailed above should be a starting point for any business to take a closer look at their IT back office roadmap and begin planning to update their infrastructure.
Don’t be that business spinning cycles when an emergency happens. Sentinel can help you upgrade today! Contact us for more information.
Why a Disaster Recovery Runbook is Critical to Your Business
Think a disaster won’t happen to you? Are you willing to bet your company on that? The Aberdeen Group estimates that a SINGLE HOUR of downtime costs a mid-sized business an average of $74,000. The term “disaster” often conjures up notions of tornadoes or fires or acts of war, but it’s much more than that. A careless employee could accidentally crash your network for 6 hours. That’s also a disaster. An NFIB National Small Business poll indicates man-made disasters hit 10 percent of all small businesses. At least 30 percent experience a natural disaster at some point. Moreover, a study by the University of Texas shows only 6 percent of companies impacted by a catastrophic data loss survive, 43 percent never reopen and 51 percent close within two years.
Disasters and unplanned outages do happen, and they can be extremely costly. The good news is that a Disaster Recovery Plan, including a well thought through DR Runbook, can help your business avoid significant impact by optimizing the response to these scenarios.
Many companies feel that establishing backup and/or moving services to the cloud will automatically infuse disaster preparedness into their environment, but that’s simply not the case. While these strategies can minimize risks or provide some recourse, they do not cover all risks and fail to prepare staff to respond to the various outages that sometimes occur.
What is a DR Runbook?
+It is a set of processes and procedures derived from a Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery Plan that businesses use to respond to disaster/outage scenarios. It generally uses step-by-step decision trees to determine the most effective response to a particular scenario.
+Typically, it contains procedures to begin, stop, supervise and debug the system. It may describe procedures for handling special requests and contingencies.
+It includes a set of actions to key risks – and their associated impact – to the business identified in a Business Continuity Plan/Business Impact Analysis.
+It incorporates and identifies a process for maintaining current DR response procedures (Change Management).
+An effective runbook allows other operators with prerequisite expertise to effectively manage and troubleshoot a system.
Through our experience in IT infrastructure, services and process consulting, Sentinel’s Business Process Consultancy Division offers a unique service to create the optimal DR Runbook for your business that minimizes risk and impact.
An engagement is scaled to the needs of a customer’s business. Considering the documented responses through in-depth interviews with stakeholders, a risk/impact assessment and IT best practices, the engagement will assess the ability to meet business objectives in disaster/outage scenarios and identify gaps.
With further development analysis and runbook automation, these processes can be carried out using software tools in a predetermined manner, improving recovery time and minimizing losses. Training can be provided for use of procedures and/or outsourced responses. Our goal is to help businesses ensure their ability to handle any DR scenario and maintain it as a practice. To learn more about DR Runbook and other Sentinel consulting services, please contact us.
VP of Solution Engineering Ron Boscaccy on The Benefits of Telehealth
Today’s healthcare organizations seek to consistently reduce costs, improve services, provide access to specialists, educate patients and expand their geographic footprint, all while maintaining quality care. Telehealth represents a way to achieve these lofty goals.
Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information using communication technologies. When implemented properly, this solution enables healthcare teams to improve collaboration, streamline workflows, enhance patient examinations and consultations, as well as make critical decisions more quickly. Remote access allows for extended monitoring of patients, employee training, consultations with doctors and/or patients in addition to other tools and resources essential for high quality patient care.
Here’s a great example of how telehealth can benefit healthcare organizations. One of Sentinel’s clients was recently looking for a solution that would support remote doctor and specialist interactions with patients, as well as provide remote monitoring should patients need to be isolated. This required both video conferencing and mobility solutions for members of the organization, other healthcare providers and patients. Mobile carts needed to move between patient rooms, examination rooms and the ER. The carts required wireless connectivity and a source of power for moments when no power outlet was available.
Sentinel built a solution using the caregiver’s existing Cisco Unified Collaboration System. For doctors and specialists, Cisco Jabber was installed on laptops and smartphones to provide mobile video. A large display was also installed in a dedicated room, featuring Cisco Telepresence video conferencing for use when a group of outside specialists is required. A medical grade mobile cart with a Cisco Telepresence display allows for easier movement around the healthcare facility. Features include:
+Intuitive controls simplify use and allow providers to focus on patient care
+Seamlessly integrates with telemedicine peripherals
+Battery options allow untethered use for nearly an entire nurses shift
+Pan / Tilt / Zoom of the camera from the remote side
+FDA Class I registered medical device
For visitors or patients that don’t have video capabilities, Cisco Jabber Guest can be used to provide seamless connectivity to a Telehealth solution. Cisco Jabber Guest helps visiting personnel easily interact with enterprise workers by using real-time communications that are high quality, standards-based and comprehensive. Guests simply click a browser link or mobile application to start the interaction.
Initial feedback from the healthcare organization indicated telehealth has enhanced collaboration between experts and clinical staff, enabling them to provide additional support without the need to send patients to ER. Patients can now receive the benefit of multiple expert opinions, information exchange and an overall improvement in healthcare. Partners and trade associates are able to more effectively collaborate and support each other over video conferencing and other remote access endpoints.
There are many different ways that telehealth is revolutionizing patient care and the healthcare industry in general. Sentinel is equipped with the most powerful telehealth solutions and will work closely with your organization to determine the best technology products and services to achieve your unique goals.
For more information on Sentinel’s Teleheatlh Solutions, please contact us.
Sr. Solutions Analyst Bill Carter on the Basics of Software Defined Networking
What is Software Defined Networking (SDN)? In the simplest terms, SDN changes key portions of your network operations from automatic to manual. In a typical network, a control panel automatically assigns tasks and policies to different components without the need for user interference. However as new computing and mobility trends emerge and IT environments grow and change, a certain degree of flexibility is required to maintain optimal network performance. SDN eliminates constraints and enables you to customize network policies in ways that fit the specific and ever-evolving needs of your business.
When SDN equipment is deployed, an engineer interprets a set of policies into Command-Line Interface (CLI) commands. These commands have to be input manually to multiple devices, and if the configuration is correct they will work together to meet the policy requirements. To illustrate these policies and how they’re implemented using SDN, here’s an example showing how a remote office is added to a network:
+At the remote office, computers and IP Phones must be connected to separate networks
+Voice communications will be prioritized over all other traffic
+A secure connection will be used across the Internet to headquarters
+Remote office switch
+Create data and voice VLANs
+Configure quality of service to prioritize voice
+Remote office router
+Create data and voice interfaces
+Configure quality of service to prioritize voice
+Configure routing protocols
+Configure DMVPN to encrypt all traffic between the remote office and headquarters
+Configure quality of service to prioritize voice
+Configure DMVPN to encrypt all traffic between the remote office and headquarters
The SDN helps users to better manage and navigate the complex configuration and operation of the network. An SDN controller creates a single point to interact with and enables any portion of the network to be changed quickly and easily.
Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module (APIC-EM) is an SDN platform for enterprise WAN, campus and access networks. APIC-EM delivers an elastic platform for policy-based automation that both simplifies and abstracts the network. It allows business intent policies to transform network configuration.
APIC-EM and its basic applications are available for free. No typo there, it costs zero dollars. Some additional apps are available for a fee.
Basic applications included at no cost:
+EasyQoS - The EasyQoS feature enables you to configure quality of service on the devices in your network that have been discovered by the Cisco APIC-EM. Using EasyQoS, you can group devices and then define the business relevance of applications that are used in your network.
+Path Trace - The Path Trace application helps to solve network problems by automating the inspection and interrogation of the flow taken by a business application in the network.
+Network Topology Visualization - The Cisco APIC-EM automatically discovers and maps network devices to a physical topology with detailed device-level data. You can use this interactive feature to troubleshoot your network.
Separately licensed (for a fee) applications:
+Intelligent WAN (IWAN) - The separately licensed IWAN application for APIC-EM simplifies the provisioning of IWAN network profiles with simple business policies. The IWAN application defines business-level preferences by application or groups of applications in terms of the preferred path for hybrid WAN links. Doing so improves the application experience over any connection and saves telecom costs by leveraging cheaper WAN links.
+Enterprise Service Automation (ESA) - Cisco Enterprise Service Automation aids with orchestration, automation of processes, and service chaining of virtual and physical branches.
Cisco APIC-EM provides an enterprise SDN solution which abstracts the complexity of network infrastructure and features a set of applications to simplify the deployment of network capabilities. APIC-EM takes the policies, translates them, and automates the deployment of the commands.
More information on APIC-EM can be found here http://www.cisco.com/go/apicem
Please contact Sentinel for more information about SDN and how it can help your business.
IT Solutions Team Lead Ted Joffs Details a Cisco HyperFlex Installation
In the IT industry, the phrase “we are pretty much a 100% physical shop” is one that you dread to hear – especially from a fast-growing company. Such was the case with a leader in the financial services industry recently when they asked Sentinel to install a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) solution for a new call center rollout of around 250 desktops as well as fully re-deploy their physical desktop and server infrastructures. They were pretty set on a hyper-converged solution and were looking for something scalable and easy to manage. To be successful, in the eyes of the business, the solution had to:
1. Be solid. With internal hesitation to virtualization from the business, there had to be reliability.
2. Be fast to deploy. To meet the aggressive deadlines, there could be zero delay on delivery or deployment.
3. Be lightning fast. To aid in business buy-in and adoption, the solution had to deliver a better end-user experience than the current desktops. Performance was critical to that.
After reviewing the vendor options, the customer ultimately chose Cisco HyperFlex and VMware Horizon for their hyper-converged VDI solution. Aggressive deployment timelines were set and equipment was on the way. From there we moved onto the fun stuff.
The HyperFlex cluster was delivered quickly. Really quickly. Once the gear was on-site it was time to deploy. Before we go there, I want to touch on one particular aspect of the solution. Sentinel knows that maintaining data integrity and availability is essential to our customers as they adopt and adapt to new technology. How the Cisco HyperFlex solution delivers that can be summed up pretty easily:
· +The Cisco HyperFlex product line is a variant of the Unified Computing System (UCS) product line, and with that you have the full redundant design of dual fabric interconnects, full multi-pathing, and server hardware that is designed with zero single point of failure. In this particular deployment, we had four nodes (N+1) with dual fabric interconnects, and two 10GB paths from each of the HX240c nodes. Everything also ran on fully redundant power. It was a strong platform to begin from.
· +The SpringPath HALO Architecture is a file system – I am simplifying things here a bit – that allows for distribution of writes onto multiple solid-state drives (SSDs) across multiple nodes BEFORE acknowledging the writes. This maintains the data integrity by ensuring that there are multiple copies of the data on separate nodes in the cluster to prevent potential data loss.
· +The HALO Architecture enhances the data integrity by using a Log Structured Distributed Object Store to allocate the data as small objects across multiple servers in a sequential pattern, which are in turn replicated to other pool members to achieve data redundancy. By doing so, they increase not only performance, but the life of the flash layer disk in the servers as well as redundancy overall.
Back to the deployment. In a post on my personal blog, I mentioned that the HyperFlex deployment was pretty fast. Once you rack and cable the cluster, the HX installer is a breeze. What I love about the HX installer is the fact that it really does build the entire UCS deployment and makes adding a node to an existing cluster just as easy. Click. Click. Done. Overall, the deployment of the HX system after rack and cable took less time than installing the vCenter server that was required for the deployment (Note: The vCenter must be on separate hardware but can be moved into the HyperFlex cluster for ongoing operations).
After meeting the first two objectives, we needed to look at the speed. Since this was a VDI cluster, we made one small change (one line in a configuration file) to optimize the cluster’s L3 Cache for a read-heavy environment. Once that small change was made, it was time to run some tests. Since Sentinel doesn’t own the environment I will only include the following observations:
· +During testing of the 4-Node cluster with 4xVMs pushing I/O, the cluster achieved well over 125,000 I/Ops. Even in the worst-case boot storm of 250 users logging in within a one-minute period you would only really require 117,500 I/Ops, leaving plenty of room to spare. Keep in mind, this was not done in a controlled lab under ideal circumstances.
· +I was able to clone a 100GB (65 Used Thin) VM from template in less than three seconds. Seriously.
· +I deployed 250 linked clone desktops including two boots, customization, and domain join in under seven minutes. The bottleneck was the VDI limit on the maximum concurrent operations sent to vCenter (which I tweaked to 25) and probably the Active Directory domain join tasks as part of the customization. It was fun watching the vCenter task pane roll by so fast I couldn’t keep up with it.
The customer was extremely happy with the performance, scalability and easy management of their new infrastructure. The Cisco HyperFlex and VMware Horizon solution met the requirements so well that I better understand the hype around Cisco HyperFlex and the SpringPath HALO Architecture.
Of further interest in terms of scalability comes confirmation from Cisco that node capacity expansion beyond the current self-imposed limitation is in the works and will not be limited to hardware. External storage is also fully supported. This means you will have the capability to hyper-converge your core systems and still make use of external storage area networks (SAN) where business needs dictate.
All in all, HyperFlex is a rock solid platform with a fantastic and robust architecture that you would be wise to evaluate. Couple it with VMware Horizon for desktop deployment, and you have an infrastructure built to help your business achieve unprecedented levels of success. If you would like to learn more about HyperFlex or other converged/hyper-converged infrastructure solutions, please contact Sentinel for more information.
Strategic Solutions Advisor Rick Spatafore On HIPAA Compliance Vs. Ransomware
What was once thought of as a compliance checkbox, HIPAA (more specifically the Security Rule) is causing consternation among healthcare IT practices.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act, or HIPAA as it is known, requires that healthcare organizations protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of your Protected Health Information (PHI). Confidentiality ensures that PHI remains private and inaccessible to unauthorized persons. Integrity keeps the PHI intact and prevents alterations or destruction in an unauthorized manner. Availability provides on demand access and usability of the PHI by an authorized person.
Healthcare IT departments are already struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing pace of technology. Now they must be ready to face a new threat to cybersecurity: ransomware. Healthcare has become a primary target for hackers to launch ransomware attacks.
A HIPAA breach is typically seen as a loss of PHI. With ransomware this changes as there is no theft of data, at least from what recent cases have shown. What ransomware does is limit access to PHI and brings the integrity of the PHI into question. Both of these acts could be construed as HIPAA violations, especially limiting the availability of PHI. Once your encrypted PHI is infected with ransomware, you have no idea what effect the breach will have on PHI or the rest of the environment.
Ransomware can be launched through different methods, but the most common are phishing attacks and software exploits. Both leave key data exposed. Healthcare organizations train users on HIPAA and how to prevent violations, but often provide insufficient instruction related to good cybersecurity practices. Healthcare organizations can improve user education on best practices by adopting comprehensive security training programs such as SANS Securing the Human.
Ransomware also targets older and unsupported middleware products. A recent campaign leveraging the SamSam variant exploits the middleware engine then proceeds to spread through the network, encrypting servers and databases that are available. This will continue to have a profound impact on the healthcare industry, as organizations and providers are typically slow to adopt new technologies and update systems. For example, many Windows XP workstations are still in use at healthcare facilities because vendors have not updated software for compliance with Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. This same slow adoption bleeds over in applying updates to servers and middleware. Healthcare organizations are at the mercy of their vendors to adopt secure software versions and provide updates.
Two recent ransomware incidents had two completely different outcomes. The Hollywood Presbyterian breach resulted in the hospital paying the ransom to regain access to their data. While the ransom was only 17 thousand dollars, the organization had to divert patients to other hospitals and was limited in their access to PHI for patients. The resulting damage to the credibility of their brand and loss of patient revenue is ultimately much higher than 17 thousand dollars.
A second ransomware incident occurred at Methodist Hospital in Kentucky. This incident had very different results. Methodist Hospital was able to activate their disaster recovery plan and continue to see patients while running off of their DR site. There was no need to divert patients, no need to pay the ransom, and minimal damage to their credibility.
This is where following a good security framework comes in. By following a standard like NIST Cybersecurity Framework, organizations are able to see how all systems are affected by security incidents. Many IT departments do not include backup and disaster recovery planning as a part of their security strategy when in fact they are one of the most critical parts. Having a solid backup system that is off-network and encrypted is crucial to dealing with ransomware attacks. There are ransomware variants that look for on-network backups and encrypt them, further crippling the organization. Having solid, practiced procedures to either restore your backups or run off the disaster recovery site can save critical time in ensuring access to PHI.
Adopting a layered security approach will lower your risk profile. No single technology can stop all malware, but layering technologies together can strengthen your security posture. In order to actively protect your organization, you must thoroughly understand your environment. This should be done during a Risk Assessment, which is required under HIPAA but oftentimes not performed thoroughly. Understanding your environment allows you to prioritize your cybersecurity tasks and develop a strategy to minimize your organizational risk.
Concerned and wondering about next steps? Sentinel can get you started on the right path with a Risk Assessment Audit that will determine among other things, how hardened your network is and evaluate the efficacy of your backup and DR strategy. Contact us for more information.
An Introduction to World Wi-Fi Day From Solutions Architect Tim Gustafson
Recently the Wireless Broadband Alliance announced the inaugural World Wi-Fi Day, set to take place annually on June 20th. The purpose behind it is to celebrate the role of Wi-Fi in connecting communities across the globe, and explore innovative new solutions to help bridge the digital divide.
Those of us who use Wi-Fi regularly often take it for granted. There are currently more than four billion people around the world with very limited or no access to the internet due to a lack of money and/or resources. While new initiatives such as Connected City are improving and introducing wireless to underserved urban areas, many other Wi-Fi projects still require funding and developmental support in order to become a reality.
One popular idea involves combining outdoor access points in a root and mesh topology with existing internet connectivity and wireless point-to-point solutions, which significantly expands the area of useable Wi-Fi coverage. This would enable more people to have access to reasonably priced high speed internet in places where it’s needed most.
Sentinel Technologies has been consulting, designing, and deploying indoor and outdoor wireless solutions for the past two decades, helping cities, municipalities, government, education, enterprise and small businesses improve productivity and collaboration through affordable connections. Please contact us for more information about our wireless offerings.
Data Center Solutions Team Lead Bill LaFlamme on the Dell / EMC Merger
Back in October 2015, Dell and its partners acquired EMC for $67 billion. Since then, the tech industry has begun to evolve rapidly as many of the big players realign their focus on cloud, converged infrastructure, mobile, big data and other concepts essential to the future of IT. The EMC purchase happened because the company was well established in all the right areas and Dell was smart enough to buy instead of attempting to build. This is the same strategy used by a majority of Hyper-Converged/Converged infrastructure players.
From both a sales and technical perspective, this merger makes a lot of sense. Dell does well in the SMB, SLED and mid-market space, while EMC has been very successful in the commercial and enterprise markets. No one knows exactly how the products, sales teams, channel and partner programs will be organized just yet, but there are some very smart people at both organizations in charge of figuring that out.
Dell will change their name to Dell Technologies with several brands under this umbrella, including EMC, VMware, Pivotal, SecureWorks, RSA and Virtustream. With VCE (already part of EMC’s Emerging Technologies Division) and the expanded portfolio of VCE offerings (Blocks, Racks, Rails and Appliances) extending the lead in a crowded marketplace, this is just the beginning stage of changes in our industry. The advent of IoT (Internet of Things) has created a massive surge of connected devices, people and processes to rival the industrial revolution. To quote a common phrase, “May you live in interesting times.” That certainly holds true in today’s IT.
Sentinel Technologies will continue to support our customers with offerings in best-of-breed products, multi-vendor solutions, managed services and cloud offerings. Our customers and partners are key to our success, enabling us to lead, connect, engage, deliver and motivate across the technology industry. I’m certain the Dell and EMC teams will too as they collectively and collaboratively attempt to help customers achieve their individual business goals.
Solutions Architect Geoff Woodhouse On The Advantages of Document Digitization
Many companies and cultural institutions with long histories continue to maintain archives of important data and other information in analog formats such as paper, canvas and microfilm. This might seem like an antiquated idea in our increasingly technological world, but for industries such as healthcare, finance and education, hard copies remain a necessary part of daily business. The management of a physical archive, particularly a large and complex one, can create all sorts of extra headaches for organizations. Digitization is a simple solution with significant advantages for those eager to do more with their archived data.
The primary advantage of digitization is the significant increase in data accessibility. If a museum were to digitize an ancient scroll, it could more easily and safely be shared and studied around the world by multiple people at the same time. On an enterprise level, digitization of documents and other information improves access and collaboration between employees, customers, partners and everybody in between.
Another advantage of digitization is improved search functionality. Back when I was a kid, libraries had card catalogs. All the books in the library were organized by title on these little white cards, with the Dewey Decimal numbers on the card to tell you where it was located in the building. The amount of effort to keep those thousands of cards up to date was a monumental task, and if someone stole or destroyed one it made the book much harder to find.
With digitization, we can easily search an online database for any book in the library or a neighboring library system. We can also search for books and place them on hold from our home. Digitizing the library catalog revolutionized how to use the library system around the world. This has the same application in a corporate setting, where digitization makes it more convenient than ever to locate key data quickly and from any networked location.
There’s also a great financial benefit to digitization. Keeping virtual copies of records takes up less physical space. This can lead to thousands of dollars per year in savings for legal organizations, universities, financial institutions and other compliance-related businesses. It is relatively straightforward to set up the hardware and software to store the digital files. The difficult part is scanning the old documents and learning how to use the digital storage going forward. There will be new systems and people will need to be trained on them, but typically the savings are worth it.
The last key reason is security. You can’t really backup a piece of paper, but it is easy to encrypt and secure a digital file. This way if anyone does steal it, they can’t open it. For security reasons, it could be dangerous to keep papers in a file cabinet. Things could be taken and somebody might not realize they’re missing until months or even years later! Digitization of files is a great way to secure any archived data.
Sentinel offers a wide range of digitization solutions for your business or organization. Please contact us for more information.