Citrix Synergy 2012 San Francisco Trip Report
Just back from Citrix Summit and Synergy in San Francisco (May 7 – 12) and ready to serve! What is Summit? What is Synergy? Is Synergy some mass meeting of borg-like individuals with a common thread of understanding or direction that guides them through the technology selection process? In short; it kind of is...
Summit is the Citrix two-day partner conference. Top Citrix executives gather to discuss how their solutions stack up in a competitive software market as well as review product developments over the past year. The Summit is also the venue where they announce new products, like ShareFile which allows for file sharing for enterprises outside the confines of their data center, or computer rooms for smaller enterprises as well as new acquisitions like Podio which is a new productivity suite for companies under the guise of “social media”. The conference culminates with the introduction of the Citrix strategic vision expanding on the wants and needs of workers and focusing mainly on the capability to work from anywhere, anytime and from any device.
In contrast to Summit, Synergy is Citrix’s three-day customer-focused conference. This is where Citrix customers meet, network and exchange ideas, triumphs and futures. It is truly a “Borg”. Everyone there has one thing on their mind; how can Citrix make my IT life easier – and frankly more exciting – providing the best platform for my customers while giving them the freedom to work from anywhere, using any device?
Just as with Summit, Synergy carries a great message for the Citrix tech future, expanding on the ability to work from anywhere, anytime, from any device. For individuals who use the physical office as a way of seperating their personal and professional life the idea of work being so accessible is not an attractive solution. But think of this – for a Connecticut resident like myself, the Federal Highway Commission states that employees travel an average of 23.5 minutes one-way to work. Citrix’s standpoint is that when you need (or decide you need to) work you simply use a device to access your data, documents, desktops, systems, etc. I can easily leverage devices I use everyday to accomplish my professional to-do list while saving, if not gaining, personal time. My laptop, tablet and Smartphone all have the capability to utilize a piece of software that Citrix has written called the Citrix Receiver. And guess what it does? It allows me to connect from anywhere, at anytime, using any of my devices. So instead of traveling an hour to work, I simply use the Citrix Receiver, get my app, do my work and log off. The transition from not working to working is mere seconds vs. the CT average of 47 minutes to and from work.
If you have two hours to spare (that’s two days of travel time to work) may I suggest you view the keynote from Citrix Synergy 2012 on Citrix TV. Citrix CEO, Mark Templeton, has great energy and a genuine passion for the solutions Citrix is bringing to the marketplace not to mention extraordinary vision about the future of business computing.
Michael Archick, Fandotech's Director of Virtual Infrastructure,?discusses the benefits of virtualization from the data center to the desktop. Topics include the differences between traditional vs. virtual infrastructure, cost savings benefits, server consolidation solutions, and time management improvement strategies.
Mike Archick, Chuck Lindblom, and Craig Samson discuss SOPA/PIPA, cloud apps and migration to virtual environments, as well as recent changes to Gmail and Google search results.
Small business owners who are not already on board the "cloud" may be missing out on a great opportunity to improve their business operations as well as profitability. Cloud computing has changed the landscape of business dramatically in the past few years. In order to reap the most rewards from technological advances, it is important first for business owners to understand what they are dealing with and how new technologies can improve the functionality of their business.What is cloud computing?
To better understand this concept you must only turn to the Internet. How the Internet is used has changed greatly over the years and in terms of business, any programs or services that you use via an Internet connection could loosely be described as a cloud service. Cloud computing allows you to utilize software and services without having to run the servers or software in house. These outside vendors run the software and servers, making it possible for you to pay attention to what is most important, running your business. Examples of cloud computing services that are commonly used by businesses today include; Salesforce.com which offers programs to aid sales staff in tracking customer information and data storage backup services such as those offered from Amazon.com.Benefits of the cloud.
As more and more businesses are relying on cloud services you might wonder how they can benefit your business. There are many benefits including long term reduction of software and computer costs, improved data security (secure off site backup and storage) and increased functionality and customer service. As cloud computing continues to evolve and offer additional products and services, many businesses that are currently on the fence will make the decision to venture to "the cloud".
Managed services can make the transition to the cloud easier.
Despite the growing popularity of cloud computing and the increased number of companies utilizing these services, not all business owners nor customers are completely convinced this is the way to go. There is little doubt that this area of technology will continue to develop and likely become main stream within a few years. With that in mind, business owners who question this technology can benefit greatly by consulting with managed service providers to help guide them through any transitions. Managed services providers are up-to-date with all new technology and can offer services that include cloud computing to improve the way your business runs as well as provide much needed assistance in the event of a man-made or natural disaster. By working with a managed services provider your business can immediately reap the rewards of cloud services while still having trained professionals in your corner to ensure your business is adequately protected and invested in this technology. Finding the right managed services provider can make the difference between your small business increasing efficiency and improving functionality versus getting left behind in the virtual dust. Working with a qualified managed services provider will eliminate much of the confusion associated with "new" technology and position your business in a place where you can compete with others in your field while reducing in-house IT costs.
Content by Managed Services Provider University
April is Earth Month!
Green your IT by consolidating servers, mobilizing your workforce and leveraging an enterprise level data center. Driven by corporate responsibility, taking advantage of technology advancements just makes good business sense. Here are 5 ways rethinking your IT can help green the planet and your bottom-line.
- Working Remotely: Allowing employees to work from home for even a portion of their work week decreases commuter emissions.
- Desktop Virtualization: Reduce power within the office. Thin clients consume less power than a traditional tower PC.
- Virtual Private Servers: The consolidation of physical servers consumes less power and requires less cooling.
- Electronic Archiving: Storing data in the cloud cuts down on paper while staying compliant with industry specific regulations.
- Enterprise Level Data Center: Many large scale data centers commit to helping out the community by switching to generator power to relieve electric grid stress during the dog days of summer.
The weather is a dominating conversation this year. The cost of heating homes, school closings, water main breaks and power outages are a concern for everyone both personally and professionally.
At Fandotech were always
concerned with monitoring the weather and its effect on our vital data center systems, namely power
. Power affects the quality of your business delivery each day. If your IT is not in the Cloud, power outages cost your business money.
Iced power lines and electric poles downed in car accidents can spell disaster.
The CEIDS, Consortium for Electric Infrastructure to Support a Digital Society, is a group sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) that reports on the dependencies, security and economics of our electric systems. They are the experts. In a recent report from CEIDS
they discussed the realities of our new Digital Economy.
Most businesses must have digital information readily available to conduct day-to-day business. Therefore, even a brief electric outage costs every company something. How much?
The study identifies that a 1 second power outage will bring down servers and desktops costing the average company $1477.00! A three minute outage costs $2107.00 and a one hour outage will cost $7795.00.So how big a concern should this be for the average company?
The CEIDS report states that the average number of outages each year is 3.9 lets call it 4.
The typical outage is 3 minutes or less (20% are more than 1 hour.) If we assume that the average company experiences 4 outages a year each lasting approximately 3 minutes, they stand to lose $8,428.00 per year!
We begin to see why moving your IT infrastructure to the Cloud is making so much sense.
Most businesses cannot justify the costly upgrades to build their own power protected data center. But with the low cost of fast fiber based communications, a power secure data center in the Cloud is very affordable, and fiscally justifiable (as seen above!)
?Data centers delivering Cloud servers are not immune to power disruptions each year, but our
power systems are designed and fortified to isolate the servers from the effects.
This year avoid the reality of weather and accident provoked power outages! Improve your outlook on the weather with our Cloud-delivered solutions
The current H1N1 virus scare (Swine Flu) is driving the need for companies to be flexible in allowing employees the ability to work from home if the pandemic continues to worsen. Available technologies such as remote access secured by VPN (Virtual Private Networking) provide the capability to offer this to remote workers.
Many major corporations already have remote access services in place to help their field service personnel access company resources. So the first thing to do is to contact your IT department to find out if this capability already exists in your company.
Company requirements. The methods available to companies to begin to allow access to their systems via high-speed Internet vary. Opening up a port and adding a VPN tunnel into the business is the first step. Then, you need to determine what interface will be used. A popular way is to allow desktop access via a software solution such as GoToMyPC. Microsoft Windows operating systems have Remote Desktop Connection built in to them and provide similar functionality.
This would allow employees to connect to their desktop PC from their PC at home, and be able to work just like they were sitting at their desk. They would not have to install any of the applications on their home equipment, plus email settings and drive mappings would all be intact.
Another scenario involving remote access includes users who have a laptop that they take home or on the road with them. Chances are there already exist Internet connections for these users at these locations, and since their applications are probably already installed on their laptop, they would not have a need for a remote desktop software connection, but instead rely on their remote access capabilities to work with data and files at the home office.
Employee requirements. What does a remote employee need to have access to? Three things generally fall into this category: email, files and applications. These could all be accessed via the remote connections mentioned above. The only potential challenge would be local printing. But, since current trends and attitudes shy away from unnecessary printing, the best thing to do would be to keep documents in the digital realm and manage them appropriately.
Since these applications would all be running on the user's PC that is located at the office, there would be no bottle-neck in speed. The PC at the work site would operate like normal, and the appropriate live screen image would be sent back to the PC at home.
Laptop users have somewhat more of a challenge, even with a very fast high-speed Internet connection and good VPN software. This results from the need for the local applications on the laptop to access data and files at the office over the Internet connection, which slows things down. The amount of slowdown depends upon what is being accessed, but if it is large data files such as databases, spreadsheets, publishing documents, etc., the speed difference will be noticeable and might prevent the use of them altogether. In these situations, what works on a PC at home also works on a laptop on the road, and Windows Remote Desktop Connection or 3rd-party desktop sharing software would be a good option for the user.
It matters little what the driving force is in allowing employees to work from home. If the capability to work remotely is available and it benefits the company, then it will be promoted and used. It may also help in reducing the spread of biological viruses, and promote environmental responsibility by reducing the frequency that users drive in to the office to perform their work functions.
Content by Managed Services Provider University
If you'll permit the grandiosity, I believe that virtualization is the best thing since the invention of sliced bread (probably even better than that, actually). I say this because Fandotech has been in the throes of virtualizing much of itself recently and is seeing the benefits of this effort. When I say we've been "virtualizing," I should probably tell you what I'm talking about and how this can benefit you. Here's the breakdown:The Old Way
Let's discuss a hypothetical typical client that hosts an ecommerce website on their own servers (not shared with other clients). To do this the old way, they'd need one or more physical servers.
Typically, the website itself will be hosted on one physical server that is connected to the Internet. That server also has a "backdoor" network connection to a second server hosting the database. This second server is not connected directly to the Internet, thus offering greater security for the database. Two servers in this example so far, but there might be more for various reasons. Each server is chewing up resources, has an ugly carbon footprint, and costs the client real dollars. Each server also takes up physical space and is turned on and operating 24/7/365. And, sadly, each server is probably not engaged to its capacity, so resources are wasted as these servers idle away the days, months, and years.The New Way
There's now a better and far more efficient way to use resources and still securely host an ecommerce website, likely with improved performance and other advantages. Our client will need one or more virtual servers.
A virtual server is all the data from the physical server's hard drive. For instance, it's everything the old server was except for the hardware. In our example, the ecommerce client will need two of these virtual servers, one for the website and another for the database.
These virtual servers will be housed on a host server. But, from this point forward, the rest of the infrastructure is our responsibility. We do all of this already, so the client can just "move in."
Host servers are highly capacious, beefy, herculean servers that can host numerous virtual servers. They have the hard drive space, memory capacity, and processing power to operate the functions of multiple virtual servers, with each virtual server being walled off from the others (each operates in a virtual shell, as if the other "servers" weren't there).
Two or more host servers that are linked together are called a cluster. Clusters provide enhanced security, performance, and data redundancy. In a cluster, one host server can back up another, or it can provide additional hosting space. Basically, the cluster increases capacity and provides redundancy in case of hardware failure.The Benefits
At the time of this writing, we've migrated 42 of our servers onto a cluster of 5 virtual servers. Those old servers? Unplugged and recycled (or repurposed for worthy causes). The resources needed to run 5 host servers are far less than those needed to run 42 typical physical servers. The carbon footprint, impressively less. Those five powerful host servers are able to deliver improved performance over the 42 old servers of various makes, models, and horsepower. And if performance begins to lag, another host server can be added to the cluster to expand its overall capacity and relieve any bottlenecks.
What about our hypothetical ecommerce client? They benefit from a smaller monthly hosting fee for two virtual servers versus two physical servers. They sleep better at night (we imagine), knowing they're helping to save the environment. They can take advantage of swift, easy, and relatively cheap expansion possibilities. And they likely enjoy faster performance and no hardware maintenance woes.
Does all that sound good? If so, contact your account representative to discuss how virtualization can benefit your business. If you'd like to learn more, we're also offering a Virtualization event (see its ad in this newsletter). The time is right for this change, both economically and ecologically.
There's a lot of buzz about the cloud in the IT industry today. One of the biggest questions I'm often asked is what exactly is the "cloud"? The definition is much simpler than one would think; the cloud is merely the Internet. ?The reality is any application or service that is delivered to you via the web is, in essence, a cloud-based service. Pretty simple and not exactly unique! The truth is we have been using the cloud since the inception of the Internet.
I would argue that websites could be considered the first cloud application since without the Internet the sites could not exist. This was soon followed by e-mail and instant messaging services that even the most technophobic people have been using for nearly a decade.So what's different today?
The biggest thing is that bandwidth has become more readily available, reliable, and cheaper than it was as recently as three years ago. Additionally, many people become more reliant on their cell phone as their primary medium for communication and carry web-enabled devices. These factors have changed the mindset of the application developers who now focus on developing programs that can be accessed via the web from any device that's connected to the Internet. The expectation of people today is that they can access their data and communicate with others anywhere, anytime.?So how does this translate to business use?
Companies have been leveraging the cloud for quite some time, utilizing applications like Microsoft's Terminal Server or Citrix XenApp (formerly Presentation) server. These allow companies to leverage the web for remote access to company information, no VPN required.
Another great example of a cloud delivered application is Salesforce.com. This application provides clients with customer relationship management (CRM) services via a public web address and secure login. This application stores and makes accessible a company's most valuable asset, their customer data, yet no part of the solution resides at the client site. Salesforce.com's success and track record has helped gain customers confidence in embracing cloud delivered applications.
At Fandotech one service we deliver via the cloud is our Boomerang Offsite backup service. Boomerang automates the backup at our clients' sites, secures all data for transmission to our data center, and eliminates the need for clients to take tapes offsite.So is Fandotech a "cloud" company?
The definition above allows me to safely say Fandotech has been a "cloud" company for years. We've been providing hosted websites, e-mail services, and data center infrastructure for nearly a decade. Newer services have been introduced over the last year (Boomerang Recovery Solutions
) responding to customers' needs for business continuity, disaster recovery, and outsourced infrastructure. Also, customers calling into our technical assistance center (TAC) have received support delivered via the cloud as our technician's reach into your network environment from afar to assist.
This is an exciting time for businesses as the cloud offers potential to reduce costs for hardware, applications, and support. And you can confidently move forward knowing that Fandotech has been a long-term player in cloud delivered services and is continuing to broaden our scope of services provided via the Internet.?Brian Doyle
On May 14th we held our first seminar on virtualization and how it can be implemented as a vehicle for savings. This event was well attended, and for those that did make it out, let me first say Thank You! For those of you who did not get the opportunity to attend let me give you a brief recap of the event.The Scouting Report; Virtualization Stats and Overview:
Frank Gesino, our VP of Professional Services, led off the event with an introduction to server virtualization. This discussion outlined what server virtualization is and how it is delivered to a client. Frank outlined designing a virtual environment and showed the scale of server consolidation a company can benefit from (often a 10:1 ratio) in this architecture.
Frank also highlighted that savings come, not only in the reduction of servers needed to support your company, but also through increased productivity and reduced downtime achieved by utilizing high availability capabilities found in properly configured virtual environments.Spring Training; Real-time Virtualization Demo:
Joe Bucceri, our CTO, and Mike Conigliaro, our Virtualization Specialist, gave a live demo of virtualization in action. This was the highlight of the event as the duo demonstrated how a virtual Windows server can be built for use on your network in less than 20 minutes!
They also showed the power of the higher availability that can be achieved in this architecture. Mike was working with standard applications on a Citrix server that was part of the VM environment. At the same time, Joe moved his Citrix server from one physical box to another, without any interruption to Mikes user session.Regular Season; Integrating Servers and Storage:
Bryan Canfield, a Systems Engineer for NetApp, our primary storage partner, presented on the relationship between storage and virtualization. Bryan went over how server virtualization only provides you one component of the high availability architecture and how virtualization of the data store completes the solution. He explained that the image of the virtual server is stored on the server and available for any server in the pool to run, thus allowing that image to be moved in the event of a hardware failure.
Leveraging de-duplication strategies to reduce the overall cost of storage was another highlighted benefit. NetApps storage servers have the ability to read data at the block level, and if the server sees that multiple copies of the same file are being stored, it retains only a single copy of that file and makes it available for all necessary services or users. Think of that PowerPoint document that has been emailed to 5-10 employees at 10 MB a person, which is now saved as a single document that can be accessed by all those users; saving the storage for use by other users. This allows data to grow at a more manageable pace, reducing both support and hardware costs.
For those that attended, you will also remember that NetApp can support all virtualization (Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware, and Citrix Xenserver) platforms.MVP Performance Review; Saving with Virtualization:
John Boyd, President of Fandotech, closed out the event, demonstrating how virtualization can save companies cash. In his presentation, John was able to demonstrate that a company with 6 servers today and 50% growth expectancy over the next 36 months would save in excess of $12,000 in power and cooling costs alone and $28,000 in server avoidance costs (cost of hardware, installation, and support).
These numbers illustrate that virtualization is not just for the big companies with hundreds of servers, but that all companies with multiple servers could reduce costs with this technology.
Virtualization can also be a component of a companys green strategy. By moving to a virtualized environment the sample company illustrated above can annually provide CO2 emissions savings equal to three autos, two homes, or the preservation of forty trees.Contact an Account Manager today for an assessment of how virtualization can help your organization!Brian Doyle