TechSpot Recap : Cisco Intercloud & Peak 10 Disaster Recovery

Carissa Montgomery, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Steve Kevin Cisco
The kickoff to our 2015 TechSpot series of lunch-and-learn events took place on Thursday, February 26th. The event was also the first held at our new TechSpot location, ITT Technical Institute in Newburgh, IN. The informative session featured presentations from our vendor partners Cisco and Peak 10.

Cisco Systems Engineer Kevin Flook discussed the company’s Intercloud Fabric, a highly secure, open, and flexible solution that gives users complete freedom in workload placement based on business needs.
Kevin’s presentation included details such as Cisco’s Intercloud Kevin PresentingFabric vision, an overview of its architecture, and case studies highlighting the technology’s true business value.

John and Mike Peak 10
Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from Mike Meyer, Systems Engineer from Peak 10. Mike discussed the latest in Peak 10’s Disaster Recovery. Topics featured in Mike’s presentation included Business Continuity versus Disaster Recovery, a Disaster Recovery plan using the Cisco PPDIOO Chart, challenges associated with traditional disaster recovery implementations, and cloud-based disaster recovery using Peak 10’s Mike PresentingDRaaS.

Clients were also treated to a free lunch, a free gift, and the opportunity to win great prizes. Becky Hills from Ivy Tech, Allen Tate from the Ohio Township Public Library System, and Cathy Finch from Raben Tire all took home Amazon Fire Sticks. Abram Devonshire from Flanders Electric won our Grand Prize, a $100 VISA Gift Card.

 


Spotlight On…

Employee Owner: Toby Ellis

Toby Ellis
Toby Ellis is a Senior Network Consultant with 16 years of experience with Microsoft Windows Server and related technologies. He has been directly involved in the design and implementation of Active Directory, Group Policy, Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Small Business Server, Terminal Services and Microsoft Clustering. In addition to Microsoft technologies he has also designed and implemented VMware solutions and specializes in physical to virtual conversions of Microsoft server solutions. His additional skills include Cisco firewall and switch configuration, and Apple hardware and operating system support.
Toby’s certifications include: Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator, Microsoft Exchange and SQL servers, Active Directory Infrastructure, and VMware Virtualization.
Toby is an avid cyclist and plays guitar with his band The Waywards. He has been married to his wife Jesika for 7 years and they have two lovely daughters; Margo (age 6) and June (age 2).
Contact a Keller Schroeder Account Manager to learn more about Toby and how you can leverage his experience and skills to benefit your organization.


1 Potato, 2 Potato, 3 Potato, 4…

Jeff Gorman, Business Unit Director


For most organizations today, Internet connectivity is no longer a luxury or a secondary consideration to operational efficiency. Many businesses’ critical applications and functions require uninterrupted, scalable Internet connectivity. They also have specific performance requirements to allow them to carry out their functions in a manner that facilitates improved business processes. When organizations experience Internet outages, or even Internet performance or reliability issues, this dependency becomes readily apparent. The approach of increasing the amount of bandwidth (capacity) of the current Internet connection does not always mitigate the issue sufficiently. The approach of adding a secondary Internet connection to bring redundancy to the environment tends to either be viewed as excessively expensive, too complex, or lacking with respect to the ability to selectively determine how the multiple links should be used to best serve business needs. Luckily, there are solutions designed specifically to address these concerns.

The Barracuda Link Balancer combines active Internet link health checking and load balancing technology that provides an economical solution for organizations of all sizes to meet high bandwidth requirements while maintaining a high level of Internet reliability. It also provides transparent switching and fail-over across multiple Internet links based on active monitoring of link health, availability of resources, and customer defined policies. Link balancing allows organizations to maintain the highest bandwidth possible while eliminating concerns about link availability, link contention, and over-subscription. The increased reliability allows for a reduction in both IT overhead and productivity losses due to Internet downtime.


In order to provide maximum reliability, the Barracuda Link Balancer uses several techniques to check the health of Internet links. These techniques allow it to detect link issues due to physical failures or configuration errors so traffic can be immediately rerouted to minimize disruption in connectivity. The product also offers real-time monitoring and system alerts over the availability and throughput of each WAN link. Using the simple graphical interface, network administrators can gain insights into their network traffic and budget resources as necessary.


The Barracuda Link Balancer employs a variety of techniques to balance outbound traffic across available links. By analyzing traffic load and throughput, the it prevents congestion or link over-utilization. Moreover, the Barracuda Link Balancer enables organizations that maintain unused backup or passive Internet connections to actively employ their primary and backup Internet connections simultaneously to maximize throughput while intelligently managing resources.




The Barracuda Link Balancer also enables organizations to provide multiple inbound paths to reach their host machines from the Internet. This happens through fail-over and load balancing on inbound traffic. With certain design considerations, inbound traffic to host machines can be balanced across multiple links without the overhead of using specialized routers, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), or additional ISP support.


Beyond balancing traffic and monitoring the health of Internet links, the Barracuda Link Balancer can regulate bandwidth usage based on application type, client, or link. Moreover, administrators can customize bandwidth policies to ensure that a higher priority is given to mission-critical applications while lower priority is given to other traffic such as Web browsing. The Barracuda Link Balancer includes bandwidth shaping and Quality of Service control to assign specific links and bandwidth priorities to built-in or user defined applications.


As Internet connectivity becomes more critical with the ongoing proliferation of cloud based services and hosted application offerings, solutions like the Barracuda Link Balancer are worthy of consideration. If your organization is considering ways to improve Internet availability or performance and would like more information on the Barracuda Link Balancer, or other alternatives to increase Internet performance, contact your Keller Schroeder Sr. Account Manager and schedule a time to talk through your business needs with our team.


Barracuda Message Archiver

– Jeff Gorman, Business Unit Director

 

Without question, email is the de facto standard for business communication. As the use of email grows, companies are facing the challenge of ensuring that their email traffic is adequately stored and compliant with various industry regulations as well as other corporate policies.

Not long ago, before the onset of many of the corporate, government and industry regulations that companies must adhere to today, the predominant way to store email and other sensitive data was through backup tape. One reason for the reliance on this form of data retention is that, until now, the cost and complexity of email archiving solutions made them difficult for businesses to consider. However, accessing data through backup storage can often be costly and inconvenient for most companies. Email archiving solutions present a much more centralized and secure option for storing email so that it can be retrieved easily and in a timely fashion.

There are four primary reasons to consider an email archiving solution to help manage the massive amounts of data that are sent and received by an organization.

First, the solutions provide litigation support. The cost of finding and producing information relevant to legal proceedings in an unmanaged retention environment can be excessive. Archive solutions structure the storage of mail and are designed to greatly simplify that data collection process.

Second, the solutions excel at storage management. Not only does the volume of email messages continue to increase annually, the size of the average email also grows each year. With increased use of file attachments and embedded images in mail messages, the storage requirements are rapidly growing. Archiving solutions provide a more resourceful way of handling this issue than simply provisioning additional storage. The ability to migrate messages beyond a certain age to storage outside of the live mail database, while still leaving it readily available to end-users, reduces the workload on mail servers. The ability of archiving solutions to deduplicate and optimize the storage used for the archived data further reduces resource requirements.

Third, implementing an email archiving solution improves knowledge management within the messaging environment. Email archiving systems provide additional tools essential to storing and controlling access to an organization’s knowledge base, kept within the messaging environment.

Finally, an email archiving solution achieves industry compliance. There are numerous regulations impacting most business verticals that require some form of email retention as well as specific parameters of how email should be stored and for how long it must be retained.

Email archiving solutions help with the concepts of:

  • Email permanence (maintenance of messages in their original form)
  • Security of email (protection against unauthorized access & safeguarding from destruction)
  • Auditability (accssibility of messages in a timely fashion, by authorized personnel only)

These characteristics make email archiving solutions beneficial for organizations requiring compliance with FRCP, SOX, HIPAA, SEC/NASD, and many other regulatory guidelines.

One archiving solution that has a proven track record with organizations of all sizes is the Barracuda Message Archiver, which has the capacity to store and index years’ worth of data through a combination of internal and external storage. In addition, the Barracuda Message Archiver’s comprehensive email indexing features allow administrators and auditors to quickly sort emails based on typical message fields: sender, recipient, received date, created date, subject line, size, attachments, importance, words in the message body and so on. Further, email attachments are fully indexed and messages can also be tagged for in-depth searches for the purposes of legal discovery, regulatory compliance requirements or for efficient sorting of large repositories of emails.

The Barracuda Message Archiver helps achieve compliance by maintaining integrity over the storage, access, and content-based policies governing emails. With its role-based administration, the Barracuda Message Archiver enables you to assign special privileges to Auditors enabling them to search and enforce content-based policy to comply with regulations. With a set of tamper-resistant protections built into the system, the Barracuda Message Archiver safeguards against potential alterations or deletion of archived emails.

The exponential growth of email has created a variety of data management challenges across all industries. Contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager today to coordinate a review of your current messaging infrastructure and to discuss whether an email archiving solution may help you achieve multiple modern-day business requirements.
 


Barracuda Backup Solution

– Jeff Gorman, Business Unit Director
Regardless of the industry in which you operate or the size of your business, having a solid backup and recovery plan is vital. No business can afford to gamble with its data by using outmoded or high-failure backup methods. In today’s world of cost-effective high speed Internet connectivity, data can frequently be protected by shipping it over the wire and storing it at secure offsite locations where it can be accessed in a time of need. Barracuda Backup is one option that has proven to be highly successful in meeting the needs of businesses with respect to online based data backup and offsite replication.
How safely the data is stored is a logical consideration when looking at online backup solutions. Since offsite storage is the best way to ensure data integrity in case of a disaster, the manner in which data is transported and stored is critically important.
When the Barracuda Backup Server is installed and configured, it performs an initial backup of all selected data and stores it locally. An advanced digital cataloging system shreds data into small pieces and tracks the changes of these parts over time to make sure duplicate data is not being retained. This deduplication helps minimize storage and bandwidth costs as it prepares to send data offsite.
To create an offsite copy of critical data, the Barracuda Backup Service sends data to one of two secure data centers via the Internet using an encrypted connection. Before data is transmitted, those shredded and cataloged parts are symmetrically encrypted then compressed for transfer and remote storage efficiency. The symmetric key to unlock those parts is in turn asymmetrically encrypted. The Barracuda Backup Service encryption method exceeds the United States Government’s approved encryption standards for protecting Top Secret information, ensuring that data is protected.

The last copy is created when replication occurs between the two data centers, providing another layer of redundancy. All data is mirrored from one data center to the other and can be accessed from either. Barracuda Networks distributes data for each customer across two geographically dispersed data centers to minimize the potential impact of an event at either location. Each data center is highly secure including alarms, controlled access, fire suppressors, redundant bandwidth, and emergency power generators – everything necessary to ensure valuable data is not in danger.
The Barracuda Backup service [PDF] was also designed with recovery in mind. Administrators manage the device through a Web interface. Because all critical data is mirrored offsite and administrative instructions are sent from the Web interface down to the Backup server, nothing critical is lost if the server is damaged. Barracuda Networks provides a number of tools and protocols to access and restore data either from the local box or from the cloud. This includes the Web interface, the Barracuda Restore Tool, WebDAV, and even FTP. A business can begin restoring data from the cloud as soon as it has connectivity. In the event that the local backup server is a total loss, and there is a significant amount of data that needs to be restored quickly, Barracuda Networks Technical Support can load data on a hard drive or a replacement Barracuda Backup Server and ship it overnight.
Neglecting to protect data until disaster strikes is an extremely high-stakes risk. In the event of a disaster, the likelihood for a company’s survival drops dramatically without access to critical data like company financials, accounts payable records, or customer records.
For some business owners and IT administrators, whether or not they have a solid data backup solution at all becomes their single standard in determining disaster preparedness. In reality, every business has different backup requirements, recovery needs, and priorities, and should create a regular process to analyze and identify critical systems recovery procedures in the event of a total loss. Each business and possibly each system a business utilizes may have different requirements for acceptable recovery time. These should be related to the available recovery options and their associated costs.
The overwhelming dependence of modern businesses and organizations on information technology to operate and remain profitable dictates the necessity of an affordable plan that allows for full and immediate recovery. A business should never be in a position where all of their data exists on a single device or at a single location. As a result of advances in technology with systems such as Barracuda Backup, organizations can now manage these together at an affordable cost.
Contact your Keller Schroeder Account Manager for more information or a demonstration of this product and how you, together Keller Schroeder, can benefit your environment.


Storage Virtualization – Blah, Blah, Blah….

Consider these:

  • Would the ability to back up data in seconds instead of hours or days appeal to you?
  • Would being able to eliminate tape from your backup process thrill you?
  • Have you simply exceeded your currently available disk space and find yourself in need of an easy, economical way to expand?
  • Does your business need a Disaster Recovery (DR) / Business Continuity plan, but aren’t sure where to start? 

  • Each of the above can be addressed by implementing solutions utilizing the efficiencies of Storage Virtualization techniques and technologies. The first step is a Storage Assessment, performed by Keller Schroeder engineers, to discover the potential within your environment and where Virtualization can provide the biggest benefit.

    About that Response Time:

    Do your applications seem slower than before? Are end users complaining of slow systems? If so, have you considered the storage component of the equation when looking for solutions?

    In today’s complex IT environments, there are numerous integral components required to deliver the speed demanded by your end users to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively. In the event of slowing applications, giving attention to only the most obvious components such as network bandwidth and server processing power isn’t always enough to give relief to the underlying issue. It’s vital to realize that the access to your data storage is also a critical component of the overall IT infrastructure performance.

    Just as Server Virtualization technologies such as VMware can facilitate a growing Data Center’s needs and provide cost saving initiatives, Storage Virtualization is also a vital part of that recipe and provides its own benefits to your environment.

    If any or all of the items mentioned above appeal to you or your business, contact your Keller Schroeder Senior Account Manager to learn more, schedule a Storage Assessment, or just discuss how our experienced engineers can help you get started with a solution for your environment.