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.
Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI): The Future of High Performance Computing
By Geoff Woodhouse, Sentinel Solutions Architect
High performance computing has always used the best and fastest hardware on the market. The costs are always expensive, but a necessity to make every piece of the system achieve top speeds. From the processor to the memory to the special low latency networking cards, every fraction of a second counts. This includes the switching and the Fibre Channel SAN running 15K drives. While that remains a standard way to build high performing systems, the birth of Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) technologies like vSAN, 3D XPoint, and NVMe allows the storage to be much faster and closer to the server compared to having it on a centralized SAN on the network.
VMWare’s vSAN and other technologies like it bring centralized storage to the server. This type of software requires multiple nodes for resiliency so the data remains safe even if a node loses power or a hard drive dies. For example, if a server does lose power, the software will realize it lost a copy of the data and will start building a new copy across the remaining nodes in an effort to keep the data secure. Once the server is brought back online, the system evaluates everything and updates the cluster.
In addition to this software, there have also been recent hardware improvements on the servers themselves. There is now 3D Xpoint technology developed by Intel and Micron. With 25,000 IOPS and 300 microsecond latency, this new technology is the fastest storage there is. Another example is Intel’s Optane, also known as M.2 drives, which are available in retail stores. This new technology approaches the speed and density of RAM, but stores data like a hard drive. It runs on Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe). Since Solid State Drives are so much faster than Hard Disk Drives, a bottleneck develops at the RAID controller in the server. M.2 drives remove the standard RAID controller and use the new NVMe technology to talk directly to the server on the PCI bus.
One of the biggest challenges with this new type of M.2 storage running on NVMe concerns space. On the standard retail market, a 3TB SATA drive is priced around $50 and a 1TB SSD costs $300, while the significantly smaller 512GB M.2 is also $300. As with all technology, the price is less about the amount of space you get, but how fast it operates. Eventually the storage on these devices will improve and become an even more viable solution for high performance and data center workloads.
With all of these
advances in this new type of software and hardware, there are huge performance
benefits to the data sitting on the server. When compared to the delays of
going through the local network and accessing a high speed SAN, it is clear
this new technology will be the future of high performance computing. Sentinel
remains Always Leading by helping our customers find the technology to improve
the speed and performance of their business. If you would like to learn more
about HCI and how recent innovations can help you achieve new heights, please contact us.
Mitigating Cyber Risks: Part 1
By Ted Joffs, Sentinel IT Solutions Team Lead
My entire career so far has been focused on risk; mostly in the technology arena. Regardless of the job role, including a technology engineer, risk manager, solutions architect, IT leader, and my current position as a consulting engineer, one thing has always been clear: risk must be mitigated. Today, risk is commonplace with every organization and thrives in the form of cyber threats. Technology has brought us vast advances in manufacturing, banking, medicine, and retail, but with it comes a significant increase in our risk footprints, which can lead to a significant loss of finances, data, or reputation.
Before beginning the process of mitigating cyber risks (some call this risk management; which is an incorrect term in my opinion), it’s essential to better understand what they are and their potential impacts. The risks themselves are varied but tend to fall into the following categories:
Accidental & Intentional Security Breaches
Security breaches are the exposure of systems or data beyond their intended and authorized access footprints. When looking at accidental security breaches, this can include things like a database backup left unsecured, private data sent to the wrong party, or something as simple as a data center cage left open while the engineer was on a smoke break. These may seem trivial, but when your data is breached or your corporate secrets are exposed, you will be left shouldering the responsibility. Then there are intentional security breaches, like those that wreaked havoc on the NSA, Adobe, and the Veterans Administration. These come in the form of virtual or physical attacks intended to either steal data or disrupt services to an organization or individual. These are the attacks that most organizations try to prevent first and foremost – often at the expense of other attack vectors.
Operational System Failures
Operational system failures are a form of cyber risk that I see frequently as a direct result of poor systems maintenance, lifecycle management, and a general overuse of the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Just because something is working doesn’t mean you can skip replacements, patches, or upgrades on a routine basis. Remember, a five-year lifecycle is about the maximum you should try to squeeze out of IT systems. You should really start to mitigate risks around the three year mark. How long do you think your business can run without access to any of its data because you didn’t replace your SAN before it failed due to drive age?
Downline and Upline Risks
Downline and upline risks are the result of doing business with vendors/suppliers. You might think most of these types of risks fall to the business side of the world, but that’s an inaccurate interpretation. If your phone systems, internet, international circuits, hosted email, CRM, payroll systems or other elements go down, employees are likely to hold you responsible. These are the types of risks that you can’t control completely, but are still responsible for.
Next time, I’ll explain how
you can mitigate against security breaches from a high level. Sentinel offers a
variety of security solutions and services that can help mitigate the risk to
your organization. Please contact
you would like to learn more!
Sentinel Gives Thanks 2017
By Nora Gibbons, Sentinel Social Media Specialist
Every year we ask our team to share what they are thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving. Here are some of their responses.
“My big adorable dog”
“My dog Tyson”
“My fur baby”
“15 wonderful years at Sentinel”
“My trip to Iceland”
“Harley, my rescue puppy”
“Family and friends”
“Faith and family”
“God and my family”
“Welcoming me as your new co-worker. Glad to be here!”
“Real family. Work family. Bourbon.”
“My work family”
“My Sentinel family. My home. My health. God’s blessings.”
“Our amazing team across the country”
“Giving back to the community”