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's Culture and Core Values
By Holly Gomez, Sentinel Support Services Manager
A key characteristic that many individuals look for when seeking employment or to contract services is a company that has core values and a culture that matches their own personal values and goals. Having worked here for six years, I can certainly say that Sentinel Technologies has more than lived up to my expectations. I also believe that our core values are the number one contributor to our success.
Sentinel’s primary core value is uncompromised integrity. We strive to implement quality solutions that meet the unique business needs of our customers. By establishing a foundation of honesty and having a commitment to doing the right thing, Sentinel has created a positive culture where employees feel their contributions work toward a goal worth achieving. The integrity with which Sentinel approaches every customer interaction also sets us apart from our competitors. We are committed to ensuring that our solutions are carried out according to best practices, and the end result ensures customer satisfaction. If any issues arise, we stand behind our products and solutions.
Another key focus at Sentinel is quality of service. Our strategy in providing the highest quality implementations is to employ the most talented, creative, and technically experienced people in the IT industry. This has resulted in excellence in our core offerings, as well as a variety of cutting edge and value-driven products and services. Our Strategic Advisory and Security as a Service offerings are great examples of how Sentinel has utilized its top performers and talent to develop solutions that meet emerging market needs for our customers. One of our clients recently commented:
“I wanted to take a moment again to acknowledge all the people at Sentinel who have done so much to make my job a little easier. We just finished several projects with Sentinel, a survey implementation on our Call Center implementation, the completion of our UC upgrade with the Jabber implementation, and we are drawing to the close of a Premium upgrade on our UCCX with a chat implementation. [Sentinel employee] has been an outstanding engineer to work with. He stays on task, takes the time to ask if we have questions, and makes sure features are functioning as designed. Sentinel engineers always prompt me to see if there is anything I need, rather than having to chase them down to get something done. I am still amazed by the overall quality of the engineers Sentinel has.”
Our third hallmark value is that we are relationship-oriented. At Sentinel, our business is not just about the bottom line. Sentinel has a myriad of programs to help their employees know that they are valued and appreciated, including chair massages, health and wellness programs, holiday gatherings, employee appreciation outings and lunches, take your child to work day, and celebrations when staff members have special life events. Sentinel also invests in its staff by providing training opportunities and equipping each of our team members to reach their full potential. We strive to not only be co-workers, but to truly care about one another.
I certainly consider the Sentinel Michigan Team to be my second family. I have developed some life-long relationships as a part of my career with this company. This same focus translates out to our customers. We strive to build relationships built on mutual respect with our clients. We host regular customer events to introduce customers to our new products and develop long-lasting partnerships. One recent example is our movie event that we hosted last May in Novi, MI with our friends at Meraki. Over 150 customers attended and had a great time. But customers aren’t just a number at Sentinel. We take the time to get to know our clients, understand their environments and business needs, and strive to be an involved technology partner. Our goal is to always provide service with a personal touch and make sure our clients know that they can rely on us when it counts.
These three core values, uncompromised integrity, quality of service, and relationship orientation, make Sentinel a premier place to develop a life-long career and set us apart as one of the best companies in the technology industry. I am proud to be a team member at Sentinel and look forward to all that is to come as we continue to grow, open new offices, and expand into new and emerging markets. All of that is thanks to a culture that attracts and keeps top talent, motivates our staff to be the best version of themselves, and ensures our customers receive the excellent service they deserve.
Five Reasons to Give Cisco Umbrella a Shot
By Odell Waters, Sentinel Senior Solutions Architect
While they remain an important part of any security architecture, next-generation firewalls alone no longer provide enough protection to businesses, because the perimeter continues to evolve and change on a regular basis. Perimeter security used to be about protecting the corporate network where it meets with the outside world (internet, private lines, etc.). The perimeter now extends beyond the network to any host or device that roams off and on the network, which includes end users with corporate laptops and mobile devices.
So the challenge is now about how to protect your corporate assets and network in an increasingly mobile world, where security tends to only cover users while they are on premise. If corporate assets aren’t protected when off premise, that’s when you are most vulnerable. If that host winds up infected with malware unbeknownst to the end user, it will most likely spread once that asset connects back to the corporate network.
This is why a solution like Cisco Umbrella can deliver the advanced protection required to handle the security challenges and intricacies organizations are facing today. Here are five really good reasons to give Umbrella a try, if you haven’t already:
1. Umbrella uses DNS to stop threats over all ports and protocols — even direct-to-IP connections.
2. Stops malware before it reaches your endpoints or network.
3. Proactively enforce policies to prevent users from visiting malicious places on the web, with no hardware to install and no software to maintain.
4. Gain a complete picture of real-time internet activity for on-network and roaming devices, with reports on security, usage, compliance, and cloud services.
5. Deploys in minutes. Umbrella is easy to manage, with centralized policy templates.
Sentinel offers a 21-Day SECaaS Proof of Value (POV) demonstration that can easily be deployed in your business. Contact us to learn more and see for yourself how Umbrella can help ensure your users and data are safer and more protected than ever.
A Sentinel Recap of Cisco Live! (Part Two)
Alex Tracy, Sentinel Sales Executive
Viva Las Vegas! Or should I say Viva Las Cisco? The week of Cisco Live 2017 was a complete whirlwind for me, and not just because of the conference. Two days before the trip I got married on the other side of the country. That, in combination with four long days of Cisco Live, left me completely exhausted. But it was a good kind of exhaustion, where in spite of everything you feel like you wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything else in the world.
As a Sales Executive and Account Manager at Sentinel for almost five years now, this was my second annual Cisco Live convention. I spent most of my time this year at the Sentinel booth, talking and networking with a wide variety of professionals from throughout the technology industry. It was also great to catch up with some current customers and local Cisco reps in attendance.
If you’ve never been to Cisco Live, it’s something everyone who works in IT should go to at least once in their career. Cisco spares no expense, and it is an epic four days of education and entertainment! The experience is also incredibly humbling, because there are so many different types of people and companies represented from the technology industry that it helps you realize most of us are just small fish in a big pond.
The convention floor teemed with energy from end to end. A majority of the people I had conversations with at the booth were at Cisco Live for two reasons: To establish new contacts and/or learn new things. Many used Cisco Learning Credits to attend, so if you went this year but didn’t know or didn’t have any to spend, be sure to ask your local Cisco rep to include some in a future deal. No matter what the reasons were or how everybody got there, in the end it was all about thousands of people gathering in one place to celebrate technology and find inspiration for the future. Thank you Sentinel and Cisco for an incredible week and memories that will last a lifetime!
Stephanie Hackbarth, Sentinel Sales Executive
Cisco Live 2017 was another great event. It was wonderful to see familiar faces in a different setting and feel their support despite being far away from home. Each year Sentinel strives to outdo the last, and we always leave with fresh ideas about what we can bring to the table the next year. Cisco Live also presented a great opportunity to meet people face-to-face that wouldn’t run into anywhere else. Many of them were eager to talk about security, which we found was a huge topic of interest for most attendees this year. Sentinel held a customer appreciation event one night, and it was such a great opportunity for everyone to relax and be themselves – no classes or training to worry about, just time to really get to know everyone and share good conversation with people that share the same passion for the IT industry.
A Sentinel Recap of Cisco Live! (Part One)
By Dan Ristovski, Sentinel Solution Design Team Lead
Cisco Live 2017 was awesome! The highlight for me this year was being able to meet with my Cisco Champions group and share some great information. The group is made up of dedicated Cisco community experts that help spread the word about Cisco and assist others that need guidance with product choices and capabilities. We also provide key feedback directly to Cisco BU resources to help improve their products.
Beyond a fun and rewarding get-together with all of the great Cisco Champions, I was able to attend a number of roadmap sessions that showcased Cisco’s future business plans and new technology in development for release over the next 6-12 months. I wish I could share some of those exciting details here, but can’t due to a non-disclosure agreement. I can assure you, there’s some pretty sweet stuff in the works!
The technical sessions were also very informative and impressive. Every session this year was integrated with Cisco Spark, which allowed attendees to submit questions in real time and get updated information that might not have made the slide decks. Even though the conference is over, most of the sessions remain active since new questions are still being submitted and answered.
One thing to understand about Cisco Live is that it’s not always about the technical side of things. The World of Solutions showcase was amazing! There were many vendors and manufacturers represented this year, but the biggest standout in my opinion was data analytics. Companies are becoming increasingly invested in solutions that enable them to see everything that is happening on their networks, including how applications are performing and ways they can improve user experiences.
There were also a ton of different social events that took place after the sessions. This was a great way to decompress and talk with peers. I am looking forward to digesting everything I have learned during this Cisco Live conference and sharing the information with my customers!
I’m already excited for Cisco Live 2018 in Orlando. If you’ve never attended a Cisco Live conference, I strongly encourage you to do so. There is so much incredible information to absorb, as well as important new contacts to be made that can help your organization navigate any tough technology decisions you might encounter. Just make sure to pack light, because your suitcase somehow doubles in size when you leave!
Rethinking the IT Strategic Roadmap
By Ted Joffs, Sentinel IT Solutions Team Lead
An IT Strategic Roadmap is a plan to achieve long- and short-term goals using a technology product. While that is an accurate way to describe it, I believe it’s a rather shallow way of looking at things. When taken from a more holistic perspective, a proper IT Strategic Roadmap – or any roadmap for that matter – can be a key driver in the success of the overall business unit. To utilize these roadmaps in such a way, it becomes necessary to shift your focus from the product itself and onto the process. When done right, it can create unparalleled insight into your business and improve technology decisions.
In order to properly do this, you must first identify the product that will be the focus of the roadmap in question. In some cases you can be specific, but at the start it’s more beneficial to avoid doing so whenever possible. Using vendor and/or technology-specific language can limit your options, and the product you select may need to provide more than one feature or function. Here’s an example of some qualities you might be looking for in a particular product, ordered from highest priority to lowest:
1. Provides user authentication for systems access across a broad spectrum of environments.
2. Provides a framework for storing user access control information.
3. Provides a foundational infrastructure for development of a security boundary to ensure information security.
4. Allows for easy integration into other systems and environments using industry standard protocols.
There are a number of products that would fit these sample criteria, including NetIQ eDirectory, Active Directory, IBM Tivoli Directory Server, OpenLDAP, or Samba4. Keeping it broad like that allows for greater flexibility.
Using that list, you can create a matrix to match each of the products with the key requirements from the business and IT departments. This will help you to start eliminating options and select the best solution for your organization. From there, you should build out your roadmap to include:
+Key Business & Technology Sponsors
+A Review Schedule
+Scope and Boundaries – You have essentially already done this, but roadmaps are living and breathing documents that should be cyclic in nature, so this data needs to be included for future cycle reviews.
The entire development process can be quite complex and includes more fine details than what are covered here, but the time and effort you put into creating the right plan will ensure you get the absolute most out of each technology purchase your organization makes. The most important keys to remember during this or really any IT planning engagement can be summed up as follows:
+Don’t plan, roadmap, purchase, budget, or develop in a box. IT needs to engage the business, and the business needs to engage IT. Use a consultant to help bridge the gap if needed.
+Keep an open mind. Be technology agnostic. Your way may not always be the right way. Be flexible.
+Don’t neglect your plan. Keep it up to date and review it with all stakeholders on a periodic basis.
Remember: if you fail to plan then you are planning to fail. Please contact Sentinel if you would like to learn more about IT Strategic Roadmaps. Our advisory services and certified experts can help your business navigate this challenging process and establish unique plans to stimulate improvement and growth!
Sentinel at Cisco Live 2017
Cisco Live is an annual five day conference put together by Cisco focused on providing education and inspiration for businesses as they navigate the complex digital landscape of our world today. This year’s event takes place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas from June 25-29, and includes talks/presentations from many high profile IT thought leaders, educational sessions, and a chance to connect and network with many of Cisco’s top partners and vendors.
As a Cisco Gold Partner, Sentinel is excited to attend this year’s Cisco Live. We will have a booth (#1413) in the World of Solutions area where members of our highly trained and certified staff will be available to discuss the many technology solutions, products, and services we offer, as well as answer any questions you might have. We would love it if you stop by, even if it’s just to say hello!
Those interested in learning more about Sentinel’s SecuritySelect and Security as a Service (SECaaS) are encouraged to join us at the Data Center & Cloud Education Zone on Tuesday, June 27th between 10am and Noon for a series of short presentations from Sentinel Sales Executives Brett Merriman, Alex Tracy and others. Our Vice President of Enterprise Technology Ryan Santry will also provide a longer, more in-depth look at security in a special presentation on Wednesday, June 28th from 3:40-3:50pm. The Data Center & Cloud Education Zone will be located in the Cisco Powered area of the convention center.
Lastly, if you’re looking for a fun break from the conference, Sentinel is hosting a Customer Appreciation Event at Tom’s Urban in the New York New York casino on Wednesday, June 28th from 4-7pm. There will be drinks and a great opportunity to spend quality time with your friends at Sentinel! RSVP here.
The Benefits of Sentinel's Security Operations Center (SOC)
Sentinel’s Security Operations Center (SOC) is based around two key things: our people and our process. If you’ve signed up for security intelligence meetings with us, you’re getting the expertise and advice of our people, but with very little insight into our process. We will work with your organization and recommend additional protection for certain areas of your business, which can be very beneficial at a high level.
When you sign up for our SOC service, we’re taking an active role in the process of keeping your company safe from outside threats. That includes 24x7x365 monitoring across your entire network, including every user and every device, whether it’s a phone, laptop or Internet of Things (IoT) object. This is especially important because those devices are becoming increasingly attractive targets for malware and other types of attacks.
Our SOC comes with Sentinel’s CloudSelect Threat Exchange (CTX), which is an additional layer of security integration and automation centered on intelligence trends gathered from all of our security customers. CTX works in tandem with our federation server to issue alerts at the first sign of trouble. If you are a Sentinel Security as a Service (SECaaS) customer, all of those alerts show up on your portal.
Attackers will look for a weakness in your network, and do their best to exploit it to obtain an objective. More often than not they will rely on user error to gain access, such as sending out emails with false credentials that install malware on your device. From there, it can work its way around the network. Once that install point is reached and beyond, Sentinel automatically generates a service ticket.
Our SOC analysts immediately get to work investigating the problem to determine how credible of a threat it might be. If it’s a false positive that might show up again, they can inform the development team to push that out to the rest of our customers so it helps everyone to learn and doesn’t continue to get flagged. If the threat appears to be real and a potential danger to your organization, we will notify you with a phone call and an email explaining that we are investigating the threat and will provide remediation guidance as needed.
Let’s say one of your employees winds up with an infected iPhone. A bad piece of software is trying to send data to an attacker and then spread into the rest of your network by breaking through your intrusion protection system (IPS). After some initial alerts from your cybersecurity, suddenly it goes quiet. But just because an attack seems to have stopped doesn’t mean that it actually is. It’s likely still running on your system, waiting until your log in somewhere so it can gain access and continue to steal or lock up your data. Our SOC is there to detect those things, and make sure your team knows they need to remediate and clean it up as quickly as possible.
One of the things that Sentinel has that most SOCs do not have is a very established and mature Managed Services team. Most problems can be remediated remotely. If you have a Managed Services contract with us, our technicians will remediate any security issues with your devices or environment ourselves. If you do not have Sentinel Managed Services with our SECaaS and SOC, we will provide your team with up to two hours of remediation guidance per service ticket.
So think of SECaaS as the technology, there to prevent an attack from infecting and causing damage to your environment, while SOC services are the people and the process, as our team analyzes, investigates, notifies and provides guidance on what to do should a breach occur. They represent a powerful combination and tremendous value against today’s increasingly complex threats. If you would like to learn more about Sentinel’s SECaaS and SOC services, please contact us.
Ten Tips For Selecting A Managed Security Services Provider
By Robert Keblusek, Sentinel CTO
Our friends at AlienVault have put together an impressive list of ten tips that are helpful when attempting to choose the right Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) for your organization. MSSPs are becoming increasingly popular, cost-effective and reliable options for many businesses as they struggle to fight against ever-evolving cyber threats on their own. While any MSSP your organization considers should be carefully researched before making a final decision, Sentinel would like to run through AlienVault’s list and share how our unique combination of industry-best solutions, expertise and customer service is ideal to keep your business and its critical assets safe from attack.
- Getting to Know You
Sentinel performs significant due diligence when recommending the proper products and cyber security programs to meet customers’ security essentials. This includes interviews, offering reviews, service mapping and a deep review of a customers’ needs, current security posture, regulatory requirements and more.
Sentinel aligns our security offerings to the NIST cyber security framework. Our highly trained advisors can deliver a complete security program gap analysis, detailed breach assessment report, full cyber security assessments and NIST alignment workshops. Working closely with our customers Sentinel is Always Engaged keeping you aware of the constantly changing cyber security risks and how you can protect your organization.
- Reputation Matters
Hundreds of customers trust Sentinel’s Managed Services to meet their most demanding IT requirements. Covering everything from desktop help desk services through network and infrastructure support, cloud services and cyber security full operations, Sentinel can create a program to meet nearly any customer requirement.
Sentinel has customers and references from nearly every industry across organization sizes ranging from under ten users to hundreds of thousands of users. Our SecuritySelect practice delivers advanced security protection, detection, response and recovery. We are constantly stopping and responding to well-known attacks as well as zero day attacks, keeping our customers safe with the most innovative technologies and highly trained individuals in the industry.
- Menu, Please
Sentinel remains Always Leading by continually evolving our protection and detection technologies to ensure you are prepared for and protected from the most advanced cyber attacks. Our Security as a Service (SECaaS) offers a full portfolio of detection and response solutions, as well as a full Security Operations Center (SOC) that brings our industry-best people and processes together to help your organization get secure now. Sentinel’s security portfolio and SECaaS technology provides all of the MSPmentor recommended capabilities and much more.
Sentinel’s SECaaS includes a team of developers and custom developed middleware technology we call our CloudSelect Threat Exchange (CTX). CTX is constantly evolving to improve the accuracy and integrity of our detection and protection solutions. Our development team and security analysts are in a constant feedback loop investigating indicators of compromise and sharing security intelligence. Through CTX, Sentinel adds detection rules, visibility, third party integrations and more to create the most accurate detection solution available on the market. This ensures your program is constantly improving your time to detection and time to response with minimal false positive events in your SECaaS SIEM.
- All Covered
Sentinel’s SECaaS SIEM is delivered from our secure CloudSelect platform, adhering to strict multi-tenancy secure best practices and audited by third party auditors. CloudSelect provides ultra-high performance storage and compute. We have partnered with industry-leading vendors for SIEM and IDS services recognized as leaders by Gartner and other industry experts.
Via Sentinel’s CloudSelect Threat Exchange (CTX), Sentinel offers advanced federation, orchestration and integration to third party technologies. This provides complete visibility into a customer environment via detailed log collection, IDS inspection and advanced correlation. Using our SIEM along with CTX, Sentinel analysts are able to hunt, alert, notify, investigate and remediate cyber security threats very rapidly, ensuring our subscribers can respond as quickly as possible to protect their most critical digital assets.
Sentinel’s standard threat feed services are constantly growing and at the time of this writing includes 53,000 participants in 140 countries, who contribute over 10 million threat indicators daily. In addition, our threat feeds can be extended via industry standards including STIX/TAXII and open APIs for additional visibility. When combined with vendor threat intelligence such as those from Palo Alto, Checkpoint, Cisco Talos and more, there is nearly an infinite amount of security intelligence that can be integrated into the Sentinel SECaaS technology platform.
- Technical Expertise
Sentinel is an Always Learning organization. Specific to security, we have over 48 individual certifications across 28 unique individuals. In addition as an organization, Sentinel maintains the highest of standards including all Cisco Master level certifications, SSAE 18 SOC II, PCI and more.
We believe in providing the highest quality service to our customers, and participate in regular audits to ensure continued compliance with industry standards.
- There for You
Sentinel is Always Connected, constantly helping our customers get the most out of every technology investment. By providing the expertise needed to proactively manage your cyber security environment along with constant monitoring for known and emerging threats, Sentinel is ready to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
For complete protection of your digital assets, your security partner needs to have more than cyber security skills. Sentinel has more than 35 years of experience delivering high quality and cost-effective services across integrated multi-vendor technology environments, including networks, data centers, security, unified communications, databases, wireless, and contact centers.
Sentinel’s Managed Services team is comprised of highly certified and experienced subject matter experts skilled in all relevant technologies. This team closely monitors the health, security and performance of your systems from our state-of-the-art network and security operations center, working to quickly detect, diagnose and resolve any issues to minimize the impact on your business. There are a wide variety of plans available, which makes it easy to select coverage that fits your particular needs.
- Keeping It Together
Delivering high quality service for over 35 years requires attention to detail and robust repeatable process and procedure. Sentinel maintains advanced systems and is constantly improving and automating process and procedures. Sentinel maintains complete documents, trains our individuals and ensures that when you engage Sentinel you are protected by industry-best practices for technology and process.
But don’t take our word for it…Sentinel maintains the highest industry standards and is audited by certified third party organizations. Vendors such as Cisco recognize and audit Sentinel to their highest standards including their Elite Master level certification in every technology including security. In addition, Sentinel maintains SSAE 18 SOC II and PCI attestations.
- Human Factor
Cyber attacks are continually evolving to deceive users and penetrate the most protected networks and cloud services. Sentinel’s approach is to align an organization’s entire security program to industry standards such as the NIST cyber security framework, SAN best practices and vendor best practices. However, protection and detection is not enough and end user awareness is critical.
Sentinel’s Advisory Services offer your IT team(s) constant engagement options, including recurring assessment services, NIST alignment engagements and long-term cyber security program consulting. Included with this are cyber security education programs that can be custom developed and delivered via leading platforms such as the Canvas Learning Management platform.
Sentinel’s Advisory Services also offer social engineering assessment services. Via these services, users can be safely deceived into responding to targeted attacks such as phishing attempts to obtain a real world metric of how aware an organizations users are to cyber security threats. Based on the organization’s current level of awareness measured via social attack assessments, Sentinel can work with our customers to define the best user training programs and even recommend ongoing cyber awareness training programs and platforms available in the industry.
In addition, Sentinel’s Advisory Services offer subscription-based executive Chief Security Officer services for organizations that need additional leadership involvement and consultation on a regular basis.
- It’s the Law
Building upon the CloudSelect security solutions outlined in item 3, Sentinel combines our own Advisory Services expertise to guide our customers on regulatory requirements. We help our customers understand their requirements specific to the regulatory needs as well as what that means to their IT organization. If your organization is required or elects to meet industry compliance standards such as SSAE 18 SOC II, PCI, HIPAA and more, Sentinel can provide the necessary guidance!
Our SECaaS technology specific regulatory compliance reporting is available via the Sentinel-managed SIEM. These reports can be customized, but come standard mapped to most regulatory compliance needs such as PCI-DSS, ISO, SOX, HIPAA, GLBA, NERC CIP, GPG13 and more.
- Value vs. Cost
Since 1982, Sentinel has focused on offering superior IT services at affordable prices. We continue this heritage of high value services with our Security as a Service (SECaaS) and Security Operations Center (SOC).
According to a 2016 study by Ponemon, the average consolidated total cost of a data breach is $4 million. The study also reports that the cost incurred for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information increased from a consolidated average of $154 to $158.
Today more than ever, government, education, and private businesses depend on the availability and integrity of their digital assets. Citizens, parents, students, and customers depend on organizations to make sure their private information is protected and secure. Successful cyber security attacks can cost your organization greatly potentially even putting you out of business. Cyber security protection can no longer be ignored.
Find out today how Sentinel can help. Reach out to your account team or contact us via our website.
Dispatches From Dell EMC World 2017
By Bill LaFlamme, Solution Design Team Lead
Having just returned from Dell EMC World 2017 in Las Vegas, I thought it might be a good idea to highlight some of the many announcements made at the conference. This was really the first major event held since Dell and EMC completed their merger, and as a result there were a lot of new things introduced and hints at other exciting developments on the horizon.
Dell EMC announced several new offerings over the four-day event, including:
+New PowerEdge 14G Servers
+Updated VxRail HyperConverged Hardware, Software, and A New Pricing Model
+Software-Defined Storage Updates
+New Storage Array Offerings Across Several Platforms
+New Integrated Data Protection Appliance
+A Few Open Networking Products
+Exciting Flexible Consumption Models
**New PowerEdge 14G Servers**
Dell EMC unveiled the 14th generation PowerEdge server. Suitably titled the 14G, it is designed to be a scalable and secure compute platform with easily integrated automation capabilities.
This server architecture is based on the next-generation Intel Xeon scalable family of processors and uses NVMe-based internal storage to offer increased storage performance and capacity over earlier models. The 14G servers also come with native 25GbE ports, expanded APIs and a new iDRAC management system to provide simpler management and greater security by incorporating hardware-based features such as:
+System Lockdown: A feature to prevent configuration changes.
+SecureBoot: A feature to ensure that the server is using only the expected boot image.
+Signed Firmware: A capability to help customers ensure they’re not loading versions of firmware that have been tampered with.
+System Erase: A feature that quickly and securely erases all data from a server’s non-volatile storage when that server is retired.
**Updated VxRail Hyperconverged Hardware, Software, and A New Pricing Model**
Dell EMC revealed an upgrade to their VxRail hyperconverged platform, which is now known as VxRail 4.5. The VxRail will be based around the new PowerEdge 14G server platform so it will use higher-performing and higher-capacity nodes, allowing for increased virtual machine and workload density within a cluster.
This VxRail software provides support for VMware vSphere 6.5 and vSAN 6.6 while also streamlining the deployment process to greatly reduce the amount of time needed to implement or expand clusters.
A new pricing structure called Cloud Flex for HyperConverged Infrastructure is also being offered by Dell Financial Services (DFS), making the consumption model very similar to that of public cloud. This new program gives customers the ability to purchase an on premise Dell EMC HCI solution with features such as:
+No up-front cost
+Declining monthly payments over time
+No obligation to continue the contract to full term
**Software-Defined Storage Updates**
The majority of the software-defined announcements at Dell EMC World were related to the new PowerEdge 14G, in that the existing software-defined storage (SDS) offerings will be supported on the new hardware as soon as it is available.
The IsilonSD Edge is the software-only version of the Isilon scale-out NAS platform, and the updates allow it to be installed on a single 14G server (versus the 3 physical hosts required by previous versions). The updated IsilonSD Edge also supports VMware vSphere 6.5 and deployments using virtual storage platforms like ScaleIO and VMware vSAN.
The Dell EMC scale-out object storage platform (ECSA) updates include enhanced data protection and management capabilities as well as advanced analytics support. This includes the ECS Dedicated Cloud Service, which uses a dedicated single-tenant offering hosted in a VirtuStream data center to allow customers to use ECS in a hybrid cloud model.
Dell EMC provided hints about the next ScaleIO release and a new software-defined solution code named Project Nautilus. Project Nautilus is designed for analyzing high volumes of streaming Internet of Things (IoT) data prior to storing it on disk. Nautilus will use either Isilon or ECS as its resilient storage tier and is designed to bring customers real-time processing capabilities.
**New Storage Array Offerings Across Several Platforms**
The VMAX 950F is a new, all-Flash VMAX array which improves performance over previous generations and has a 25% smaller footprint.
The next iteration of their XtremIO all-Flash platform, the XtremIO X2, was also announced. The X2 offers up to 80% lower response times, 25% more data reduction, and three times the capacity per X-brick of its predecessor. The X2 X-brick scales from 7TB to 138TB of raw capacity, but is still limited to scaling out to a total of 8 X-bricks.
Four new all-Flash models of the Unity unified storage platform, the 350F, 450F, 550F, and 650F were unveiled. The 650F offers up to 500TB of effective storage capacity across 80 drives in a 3RU form factor. These new models also allow for a larger filesystem.
Dell EMC also revealed the SC5020 hybrid storage array. The SC line is the former Dell Compellent platform. The SC5020 offers 45% more IOPS, twice the maximum capacity (2PB), and three times the bandwidth of the SC4020 it is replacing.
Lastly, they announced the awesome all-Flash version of their Isilon scale-out NAS platform, which was formerly known as Project Nitro.
**New Integrated Data Protection Appliance**
The Integrated Data Protection Appliance (IDPA) was introduced. The IDPA is a pre-integrated, purpose-built solution that combines storage protection, software, search, and analytics into one appliance that can be used to back up data from a wide variety of platforms and applications. IDPA also offers options for cloud tiering and is available in four different models (DP5300, DP5800, DP8300, and DP8800), scaling from 34TB to 1PB of usable capacity.
**A Few Open Networking Products**
One of the surprises at Dell EMC World was the unveiling of new open networking top-of-rack switch models. The S4100-ON is optimized for a high number of 10GbE or 8/16/32Gb Fibre Channel connections, similar to a Cisco switch providing Unified Ports. The switch includes 100GbE uplink ports for inter-rack communication.
The S5100-ON is designed as a top-of-rack switch for deployments using a large number of Dell EMC PowerEdge 14G servers (such as VxRail or ScaleIO deployments). The switch has 25GbE ports, plus 100GbE uplink ports like the S4100-ON.
**Exciting Flexible Consumption Models**
Dell Technologies announced a company-wide adoption of a cloud-like consumption models offered through Dell Financial Services (DFS). The new “pay for what you use” model reduces customers’ up-front capital expenditure.
These new flexible consumption offerings include:
+DFS Flex On Demand is available for all Dell EMC storage solutions, which allows customers to pay for only the capacity they’re actually using.
+DFS Cloud Flex for HCI, which was detailed above.
+PC as a Service (PCaaS) combines hardware, software, and services to provide customers with a predictable cost per seat per month.
+Dell EMC Complete VDI Solutions combine infrastructure, software, services, and optional thin clients to allow customers to either build their own virtual desktop solution or purchase a complete pre-configured end-to-end solution. The VDI Solutions are based on VMware Horizon which are run on VxRail clusters.
Dell Technologies continues to push their message of transforming IT and helping customers realize how the capabilities of a modern infrastructure can help them achieve desired business outcomes. Sentinel is excited about these new developments as we remain Always Leading in our efforts to provide customers with the highest quality and most innovative solutions, products, and services to grow your business. Please contact us to learn more about our offerings or request a quote.
How A Severe Weather Notification System Can Help Protect Your Business
As the summer nears, severe weather plans become a critical component of any organization’s safety strategy. Tornadoes, fires and flooding are just a few of the severe weather elements that businesses can encounter, which is why you need to be ready to provide clear instructions to keep your people safe.
One of the key components of any safety strategy is figuring out what location(s) employees should go to when severe weather approaches. Some situations may require people to gather in a certain area of the building to stay safe, while others may result in a complete evacuation.
The National Weather Service (NWS) recently hosted a Twitter Q&A outlining different safe place strategies. They outlined the challenges and solutions to develop the best plan for making people aware of where they should go during severe weather events. Here are a few of the most relevant questions and responses, with some added tips on how to leverage InformaCast notification system to get critical information into the hands of people who need it.
Q: Why is it important to identify your safe place and practice going there?
Your location is the number one factor in determining your level of danger when extreme weather threatens. Taking action and getting to a safe location can mean the difference between escaping harm, injury or death. InformaCast gives users the ability to craft an emergency notification in anticipation of any severe weather event their organization may encounter. Determine your safe place and include this in your prebuilt notifications. This saves time in the moment since critical information will already have been decided.
Q: Does my safe place change depending on the hazard?
Absolutely. For example, you should seek shelter during a tornado, but evacuate in the event of a hurricane. Find low ground when dealing with a tornado, but high ground during a flash flood or tsunami. Since InformaCast allows users to prebuild messages for any type of scenario, specific information can vary depending on the event. Determine the different places people should go and procedures they should follow, then build a different message for each case.
Q: How much time do I have to get to a safe place?
That depends on the hazard. Tornado warnings require immediate action to reach your safe place. InformaCast makes it easy to quickly send out critical information in the form of an emergency notification. Its Command Center feature simplifies the emergency notification process to minimize the time between learning about an event and spreading that information throughout the organization.
Q: What are the best safe places when a tornado warning is issued?
Underground storm shelters, safe rooms, designated tornado shelters, basements, or at a minimum the lowest level interior room of your building are all good ideas for safe places when creating your emergency notifications. Make sure you are broadcasting to as many devices as possible to ensure everyone hears the message and knows where to go when severe weather approaches.
When users have identified safe places for their people, that information can be combined with InformaCast’s CAP plug-in. This feature gives you the ability to set up automatic alerts to know when severe weather is approaching. By defining a geographical area, users can have mass notifications sent out for severe weather events most likely to occur nearby. Those automatic alerts can then be configured to include details about the proper safe place people should go to.
Sentinel offers InformaCast as a way for businesses to get information into the hands of employees and others who need it quickly. That means making it easier to reach people no matter their location or preferred device, so they are able to receive messages about critical safety details during dangerous weather situations. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about InformaCast.