Tag Archives: change

Put infrastructure automation at the heart of modern IT ops

LAS VEGAS — Successful IT leaders know how to navigate change. In 2020 and beyond, that skill will almost certainly be put to the test.

To remain relevant and competitive in the years to come, enterprises need to embrace top IT trends around infrastructure automation, hybrid management tools and DevOps — despite the growing pains they’ll inevitably face along the way. How to do just that was the subject of discussions at Gartner’s IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference here this month.

Automate, automate, automate

In search of greater agility, and faced with demands to do more with less, enterprises should increasingly lean on automation, from a business process standpoint and in IT infrastructure. 

“Automation is to modern infrastructure what blood is to the body,” said Dennis Smith, research vice president at Gartner, at the event. You simply can’t run one without the other, particularly as IT teams manage complex and heterogenous infrastructure setups.

At this point, the benefits of IT automation are well-established: a reduced risk of human error and an IT staff that has the time to work on more strategic, higher-level, involved tasks. But making the shift from manual to automated IT management practices in configuration management, capacity planning and other critical tasks can be tricky. And it won’t be easy to staff up with the requisite skill sets.

That’s a challenge for Keith Hoffman, manager of the data network at Sharp HealthCare, based in San Diego, Calif. “My team is made up of legacy network engineers, not programmers,” Hoffman said. “But we’ve talked about [the need for automation], and we see the writing on the wall.”

Hoffman’s team currently has some ad hoc instances of IT infrastructure automation via scripts, but the goal is to scale those efforts, particularly for automated configuration management. They’ve taken training courses on select automation and orchestration tools and turned to Sharp HealthCare’s internal DevOps team to learn and apply automation best practices.

To help close skill gaps, and to encourage broader IT automation efforts, enterprises should appoint a dedicated automation architect, said Ross Winser, senior director analyst at Gartner. The automation architect should help IT navigate the ways it can achieve infrastructure automation — infrastructure as code, site reliability engineering, a move away from traditional scripts in favor of AIOps practices — as well as the vast ecosystem of tools and vendors that support those efforts.

Hybrid IT management

Hybrid environments are a perennial IT trend. As these setups become even more complex, IT ops leaders need to further refine their infrastructure management practices.

Increasingly, one enterprise IT workload can span multiple infrastructure environments: dedicated data centers, managed hosting and colocation facilities, the public cloud and edge computing locations. While these hybrid environments offer deployment flexibility, they also complicate troubleshooting, incident response and other core IT operations tasks. When a failure occurs, the complex string of system connections and dependencies makes it difficult to pinpoint a cause.

“The ability to actually get to an answer is getting harder and harder,” Winser said.

Many operations teams still rely on disparate tool sets to monitor and manage resources in hybrid IT, adding to this complexity.  

“I think the challenge is having a common tool set,” said Kaushal Shah, director of infrastructure and information security at Socan, a performance rights organization for the music industry, based in Toronto. “What we do internally at the infrastructure layer is a lot of scripting and CLI-driven configurations, whereas in the cloud, every cloud provider has their own CLI.”

Shah — whose team runs IT infrastructure on premises and in AWS and Microsoft Azure — said he’s evaluating infrastructure-as-code tools like HashiCorp Terraform and Red Hat Ansible to “level the playing field” and provide a centralized way to manage resource configurations. Adoption poses a learning curve.

“[My team members] have a certain background and I think, for these tools, it’s a different mindset: You have to describe the state of the asset as opposed to how to configure it,” Shah said.

Gartner notes that many of these integrated management tool sets are still in the early days of truly centralized, end-to-end hybrid management capabilities. Infrastructure and operations teams should also use workflow visualization and dependency mapping, and create internal centers of excellence, to combat hybrid IT challenges.

Scalable DevOps

For many IT shops, DevOps implementation is a significant priority. For those that have a DevOps foundation in place, the next big challenge is to ensure it can scale.

It’s common practice for enterprises to get started with DevOps via pilot or incubation programs. And while there’s nothing wrong with this approach, it could impede IT leaders’ ability to enforce DevOps as a broad, cross-functional practice throughout the organization. A DevOps team, or even multiple DevOps teams, can sprout up and work as silos within the organization — perpetuating the very barriers DevOps sought to break down in the first place.

Shared self-service platforms are one way to ensure a DevOps practice can scale, remain responsive and span different functional groups, Winser said. Think of them as a digital toolbox from which DevOps teams, including infrastructure and operations practitioners, can access and explore tools relevant to their role. A shared tool set promotes consistency and common best practices throughout the organization.

In addition, site reliability engineers — who work with application developers to ensure highly reliable systems — can promote scalability within DevOps shops. Automation also plays a role.  

Socan’s Shah sees DevOps as an option to transition his team out of “fire-fighting mode” and into a position where they work hand in hand with developers and business stakeholders. DevOps, in combination with streamlined hybrid IT management and infrastructure automation, could bring the team out of a technology-focused mindset and onto a platform-ops approach, where developers interact with the infrastructure via API-driven interfaces as opposed to sending IT tickets to build things.

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For Sale – 2015 iMac 5K – 24gb Ram, i5, 1tb, Boxed.

Hi all,

Due to a job change, resulting in a work pc, my iMac 5k is surplus to requirements. It’s in great condition, no issues with the screen and will come wiped ready for the new user to setup (as new from Apple). I have the magic mouse and keyboard to go with it (the ones with a lightning charger), along with the original box.
Specs are as follows;
3.2ghz Core i5,
24gb DDR3,
1tb Hard drive,
Radeon R9 M380.

Pictures below show the rest – please note I was using an external Samsung T5 SSD to boot from, which I have subsequently removed. I could include this in the sale if requested.

Any questions please ask.

Collection only from Clapham Junction, London.

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For Sale – Zotac Geforce RTX2060, 2.5 months old, boxed as new

Change of plans so have removed the PC listing (see archive) and now just selling the GPU at present.

–– ADVERTISEMENT ––​

Bought 6th September 2019. Utterly perfect condition, literally removed from wrapper and fitted into PC case.

Balance of 5 year warranty, registered in my name so I’m happy to help if required. Absolutely no issues, works perfectly.

Pics show it still fitted to my PC along with the box.

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Customize Excel and track notes in Outlook—here’s what’s new to Microsoft 365 in November

In today’s workplace, change is the new normal. To keep up, we all need to evolve and improve. Last month at the Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida, we announced a ton of Microsoft 365 innovations designed to put artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies to work for you. And we’ll continue to innovate across the Microsoft 365 experience, so our customers always have the best tools to navigate an increasingly distributed and fast-paced world. But to succeed at work today, organizations need more than great tools. They need to foster a culture of learning where their people can continue to develop essential skills. We want to help, so this month we introduced The Art of Teamwork toolkit, an interactive curriculum that uses the five attributes of the world’s most successful teams to help your team create and foster healthy team dynamics. We hope you’ll use it—and future educational support coming your way in 2020—to help your organization continue to succeed.

Let’s take a look at what else is new in November.

New features for personal productivity and collaboration

App updates to give you more choice and help you stay in the flow of work across devices and apps.

Keep track of Sticky Notes in Outlook on the web—Sticky Notes allows you to capture ideas, notes, and important info across the apps you already use. Now you can conveniently view, edit, and create notes directly in Outlook for the web, making it easier than ever to keep track of your notes as you go through email. Sticky Notes in Outlook for the web will begin rolling out next month to all users.

Animated image of Sticky Notes being used in Outlook on the web.

Switch to a darker OneNote canvas with Dark Mode—From complex travel schedules to killer meal plans, OneNote is like a second brain to help you track it all. So it should look the way you want. We’re excited to announce that a Dark Mode option is now rolling out for OneNote 2016. Using Dark Mode helps make both the product and your notes more legible, and can improve readability in low light environments, provide better contrast, and reduce eye strain. Dark Mode is available for all Office 365 subscribers and non-volume licensing Office 2019 customers.

Also, in response to feedback over the past year, we’re pleased to announce that we’re continuing mainstream support for OneNote 2016 beyond October 2020—so you can continue using the version of OneNote that works best for you.

Animated image of Dark Mode being used in OneNote.

Collaborate without disrupting a shared workbook with Sheet View—Earlier this month, we announced Sheet View in Excel, a new way of letting users create customized views without disrupting others, so collaboration is seamless. Sheet View allows users to sort and filter the data they need, and then select an option to make those changes visible just to themselves or to everyone working in the document. Once selecting to make changes just for yourself, that filter and sort will not affect other collaborators’ view of the workbook. All your cell level edits propagate through the file regardless of your view, so you can make all your edits right in your personal Sheet View. Sheet View is rolling out to all users using Excel on the web over the next few weeks.

Animated image of Sheet View being selected by an Excel user.

Upload files to Forms questions for added context—Sometimes you’d like respondents to a form to upload or attach files to provide important information or context when answering questions. Now Microsoft Forms enables you to allow users to include file uploads. With this new feature, you can easily create a resume collection form, a claim form, or a photography competition form. To get started, click the drop-down menu to add advanced question types and select File upload. Once you successfully add a file upload question, a folder will be automatically created in your OneDrive or SharePoint.

Animated image of a file being uploaded in Microsoft Forms.

The new Productivity Score, simplified licensing, and the latest Windows 10 release

New capabilities to help you transform workplace productivity, tap into the power of the cloud, and simplify licensing.

Transform how work gets done with insights from Microsoft Productivity Score—At Ignite, we announced Productivity Score to help deliver visibility into how your organization works. Productivity Score identifies where you can enable improved employee and technology experiences—so people can reach their goals, and actions to update skills and systems, so everyone can do their best work.

For example, Productivity Score can recommend user training around how to better collaborate as well as provide IT with documentation to configure external sharing and fine-tune policies, remove problem agents, or upgrade hardware to reduce friction. Join the private preview by filling out the form and see your score in the first week of December 2019.

Screenshot of Productivity Score in the Microsoft 365 admin center.

Leverage advanced security offerings with the U.S. Government Community Clouds—Earlier this month, we announced the general availability of Microsoft Cloud App Security and Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) for U.S. Government GCC High customers. The release of these services delivers advanced security functionality for customers while enabling them to meet increased compliance and security standards. Eligible customers will need a GCC High account or an Azure Government account to purchase Microsoft Cloud App Security and/or Azure ATP licenses. To start a trial for either service within EMS E5, please work with your account team.

Simplified licensing for Windows 10 co-management—We’re bringing System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) and Microsoft Intune together in a new, unified product called Microsoft Endpoint Manager that delivers a seamless, end-to-end management solution without the complexity of a migration or disruption. We’re also excited to announce that the simplified licensing makes Microsoft Intune user licenses available to ConfigMgr customers to co-manage their existing Windows 10 PCs. The change in licensing terms are expected to go into effect in early December 2019.

Announcing Microsoft Endpoint Manager

Learn how we’re integrating Microsoft Intune, Configuration Manager, and more into a single solution called Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

Watch the video

Get the latest version of Windows 10—Windows 10 version 1909 is now available—offering new capabilities and enhancements, intelligent security, simplified updates, flexible management, and enhanced productivity. Highlights include the new Windows Search experience in Explorer, the new cloud clipboard with history viewing, support for third-party digital assistants, processor enhancements, additional customization for kiosk mode, and more. Version 1909 is rolling out now for consumers and IT admins.

As always, everything we create for Microsoft 365 is designed to help you and your organization achieve more by being more productive. Over the last 12 months, we worked hard to build an increasingly seamless experience that uses AI and automation to help you collaborate across platforms, streamline your workflow, harness organizational knowledge, and stay ahead of ever-evolving security threats.

We look forward to bringing you so much more innovation and educational tools in the year to come. Equipped with incredible tech and the right educational support, there’s no end to what you can achieve.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Insurance company uses Cohesity backup to wean off tape

Change is hard, especially when it comes to moving from legacy backup to modern methods.

Insurance company Illinois Mutual, based in Peoria, Ill., adopted cloud-based Cohesity backup and has been transitioning off its old, tape-based system. The switch seemed like it should’ve been an easy decision, but Shawn Gifford, senior infrastructure administrator and infrastructure team lead at Illinois Mutual, said the company was resistant to change when he joined four years ago.

“When I came to the company, the cloud was regarded as somewhat of a bad word,” Gifford said. He was hired to change that culture.

Gifford had experience in cloud consulting, and he had seen his share of failed cloud endeavors before his time at Illinois Mutual. He said the key to both avoiding failure and convincing people to buy in is a detailed cost-benefit analysis.

Gifford calculated a lower total cost of ownership and other cost savings with Cohesity backup, but also went beyond raw financials.

He helped build his case by emphasizing it would reduce the time staff would have to spend working with backups, as well as lower backup and restore times. Other selling points were that Cohesity put deduplication and encryption in the same layer, and consolidates hardware and software.

Headshot of Shawn GiffordShawn Gifford

Illinois Mutual has a staff of around 200 at its Peoria headquarters and about 60 sales representatives working remotely. Its main data center is in Peoria, but the company also replicates to a colocation site in Bloomington, Ill. In total, the company is protecting 130 TB of data. Much of that data is important insurance information with a retention period of 25 years.

Gifford said the toughest part of modernizing Illinois Mutual’s backup wasn’t finding a vendor with the right technology or working out a cost strategy. For him, the biggest challenge was cutting through a company culture that was set in its ways. Much of IT was used to maintaining status quo rather than examining what processes could be improved.

“Instead of a swear jar, we have a, ‘That’s the way it’s always been’ jar,” Gifford said, on the company’s resistance to change.

Instead of a swear jar, we have a, ‘That’s the way it’s always been’ jar.
Shawn GiffordSenior infrastructure administrator and infrastructure team lead, Illinois Mutual

Illinois Mutual adopted Cohesity backup in October 2018 following a 60-day proof of concept. Gifford said he spends about half as much time as he used to on backup administration since the switch, and called the period before Cohesity, “painful years.” Not only did backup processes take longer with tape, but he estimated a full restore in case of a major outage could take as long as a month.

To illustrate how much of an improvement the new backup system is, Gifford told the story of a mishap during a backup restoration test. During this test, a new database administrator made an error and sent backup jobs to a remote location. Even though the system was restoring from that remote site instead of local, the test took less than 30 minutes, far less than Gifford said it would’ve taken with the previous setup.

When shopping for a new backup vendor to replace its Commvault and NetApp combination, Illinois Mutual also looked at Rubrik and Veeam. Gifford needed a product that could support tape while he transitioned off it.

“We were so entrenched in tape. We couldn’t just switch data protection and roll off tape immediately,” Gifford said.

Illinois Mutual is also entrenched in Microsoft products, using its Hyper-V hypervisor over VMware. This created an additional challenge for Gifford. He ultimately chose Cohesity backup because he found few vendors supported both Hyper-V and tape.

The insurance company’s Microsoft investment continues to grow, as it is currently in the middle of migrating from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. Gifford said Cohesity’s Office 365 backup capabilities were also selling points for him, and he’s looking forward to the vendor providing Teams support in the future.

Gifford said Illinois Mutual has always had a deep partnership with Microsoft and its products, then immediately noted he owed money to the jar. But at this point, the company is so invested in Hyper-V and other Microsoft products that there wasn’t a good reason to switch out. Going through a single vendor for multiple IT needs just makes more sense.

“Not all their products are perfect, of course, but we’re not decreasing our [Microsoft] footprint,” Gifford said.

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For Sale – Apple MacBook Pro 2017 13″ touch bar model 256GB SSD, SOLD SOLD

Change of plan forces the sale of my Apple MacBook Pro 13″ model 2017 with TouchBar.
It was purchased on these very forums.

Previous for sale thread here;

For Sale – 13” MacBook Pro 2017 with AppleCare until Sept 2020 – £1100

it is in beautiful immaculate condition with a screen to die for and the added bonus (and safety) of AppleCare until the 12th Of September 2020, so over 2 years of warranty left.

Battery count is 9.

Comes boxed with adaptor and lead. Barely used and it shows.

The price is only £950 inclusive of special delivery postage via Royal Mail. My feedback speaks for itself. Collection also welcome. NOW SOLD

Payment via Bank Transfer only.

Price and currency: £950 PENDING SALE SOLD SOLD SOLD
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer only
Location: Banbridge County Down Northern Ireland
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Apple MacBook Pro 2017 13″ touch bar model 256GB SSD, SOLD SOLD

Change of plan forces the sale of my Apple MacBook Pro 13″ model 2017 with TouchBar.
It was purchased on these very forums.

Previous for sale thread here;

For Sale – 13” MacBook Pro 2017 with AppleCare until Sept 2020 – £1100

it is in beautiful immaculate condition with a screen to die for and the added bonus (and safety) of AppleCare until the 12th Of September 2020, so over 2 years of warranty left.

Battery count is 9.

Comes boxed with adaptor and lead. Barely used and it shows.

The price is only £950 inclusive of special delivery postage via Royal Mail. My feedback speaks for itself. Collection also welcome. NOW SOLD

Payment via Bank Transfer only.

Price and currency: £950 PENDING SALE SOLD SOLD SOLD
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer only
Location: Banbridge County Down Northern Ireland
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Apple MacBook Pro 2017 13″ touch bar model 256GB SSD, SOLD SOLD

Change of plan forces the sale of my Apple MacBook Pro 13″ model 2017 with TouchBar.
It was purchased on these very forums.

Previous for sale thread here;

For Sale – 13” MacBook Pro 2017 with AppleCare until Sept 2020 – £1100

it is in beautiful immaculate condition with a screen to die for and the added bonus (and safety) of AppleCare until the 12th Of September 2020, so over 2 years of warranty left.

Battery count is 9.

Comes boxed with adaptor and lead. Barely used and it shows.

The price is only £950 inclusive of special delivery postage via Royal Mail. My feedback speaks for itself. Collection also welcome. NOW SOLD

Payment via Bank Transfer only.

Price and currency: £950 PENDING SALE SOLD SOLD SOLD
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer only
Location: Banbridge County Down Northern Ireland
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Apple MacBook Pro 2017 13″ touch bar model 256GB SSD, AppleCare till Sept 2020!, .PENDING SALE

Change of plan forces the sale of my Apple MacBook Pro 13″ model 2017 with TouchBar.
It was purchased on these very forums.

Previous for sale thread here;

For Sale – 13” MacBook Pro 2017 with AppleCare until Sept 2020 – £1100

it is in beautiful immaculate condition with a screen to die for and the added bonus (and safety) of AppleCare until the 12th Of September 2020, so over 2 years of warranty left.

Battery count is 9.

Comes boxed with adaptor and lead. Barely used and it shows.

The price is only £950 inclusive of special delivery postage via Royal Mail. My feedback speaks for itself. Collection also welcome. NOW SOLD

Payment via Bank Transfer only.

Price and currency: £950 PENDING SALE SOLD SOLD SOLD
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer only
Location: Banbridge County Down Northern Ireland
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – Apple MacBook Pro 2017 13″ touch bar model 256GB SSD, AppleCare till Sept 2020!, £950 inc.

Change of plan forces the sale of my Apple MacBook Pro 13″ model 2017 with TouchBar.
It was purchased on these very forums.

Previous for sale thread here;

For Sale – 13” MacBook Pro 2017 with AppleCare until Sept 2020 – £1100

it is in beautiful immaculate condition with a screen to die for and the added bonus (and safety) of AppleCare until the 12th Of September 2020, so over 2 years of warranty left.

Battery count is 9.

Comes boxed with adaptor and lead. Barely used and it shows.

The price is only £950 inclusive of special delivery postage via Royal Mail. My feedback speaks for itself. Collection also welcome.

Payment via Bank Transfer only.

Price and currency: £950
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: Bank transfer only
Location: Banbridge County Down Northern Ireland
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.