Friday, December 30, 2011

360is Brings VDI To UK's Innovation-Lead Companies

Cambridge Display Technology is a UK-founded company that is leading the development of display technology based on polymer organic light emitting diodes. Their technology is used in mobile devices, screens and lighting. The company employs hundreds of scientists, engineers, and supporting staff around the world.

The company needed a high performance desktop virtualisation solution that would make supporting a distributed workforce easier. Constraints were space, power, CAPEX and a lack of availability of shared storage. End users were running a mixture of office automation and scientific applications.

A 64-bit Operating System was required in order to support the 6GB RAM desktops demanded by end users. Each hypervisor node was to support between 40 and 80 of those users. The only way to achieve the user-density required while meeting the constraints, was to use dedicated Virtualisation Appliances. The platform chosen provided an integrated IOPS sink, continuous performance and heath monitoring, and a redundant N+1 configuration. The solution was designed to support expansion, including applications that require virtualised GPU capability.

Where once only basic "office" desktops could be supported in any number, and the hardware (in particular shared storage) required to do so was prohibitively expensive, it is now possible to support far more specialised classes of user and application. Furthermore, such users can be supported at high-densities without the necessity of expensive shared storage, thanks to the in-bult IOPS sink and performance management features of Virtualisation Appliances.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

360is End Of Year Message, 2011

2011 was another year of growth for 360is and for many of those with whom we work. Our base of Financial Services clients has seen a rebound since the darker days of 2009, and we have continued to expand into Scientific and Research Intensive sectors with several new projects and clients in Cambridge. As a result of this, we were pleased to welcome another Cambridge-based senior consultant to the practice. We continued to execute Virtualisation, Security, and Performance-related engagements for our clients, and maintained our focus on short term, (less than 3 month) fixed-price, projects, with a vendor-independent, client focused approach.

Inside 360is in 2011

  • Security work consisted mainly of Security Assessments, Penetration Tests, and Post Incident work, but grew to include Application Security Assessments, with significant new clients in the online gaming sector. We have also seen an increase in Distributed Denial Of Service (DDoS) mitigation projects. More companies with an online business model established themselves as brands, and therefore attracted the attention of extortionists, activists, and attention-seekers.

  • Virtualisation made-up almost 50% of projects, however the emphasis shifted from 1st-time production roll-out to 2nd or 3rd stage "3-5 years on" projects. We recently doubled the density of an already-virtualised estate of 500+ VMs as part of a hardware refresh cycle. Service Provider Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) projects also grew in 2011. 360is worked in partnership with client's Architecture and DevOps staff to deliver industry-leading high-density, high-margin, VDI to tens of thousands of users.

  • Performance-related projects were driven by a combination of CAPEX freezes and business growth, and were concentrated around storage systems. Due to continued difficult economic conditions in the UK, and recent shortages in hard drives, we expect this trend to continue into Q1/Q2 2012. In the last 18 months, data volumes have increased dramatically in Media (HD and 3D), Geo Sciences (ultra-wideband sensors), and Life Science (faster, cheaper, sequencing). These trends drive up data volumes and the demand for performance, as the bottlenecks move downstream.
360is Outlook For 2012

The outlook for 360is in 2012 is good.  Industry trends favour our long experience, technical capability, and vendor-neutral approach to problem solving. 
  • There will be fewer new infrastructure projects in 2012 (semiconductor sales were essentially flat in 2011). Supply chain disruption caused by floods in Thailand will provide even greater incentives to extend the life of existing platforms through careful optimisation and tuning. Although hard drive prices are stabilising, availability remains poor unless you take spindles as part of a large purchase from a major vendor. 360is can help you grow in spite of these difficulties, engage us to execute the following projects:
    • Storage Consolidation/Re-Tasking
    • Storage Performance Tuning
    • Storage Tiering

  • Rising energy costs and the practicalities of power distribution will continue to constrain some projects and have a significant impact on hosting and colocation costs. A recent study by 360is revealed that those renewing 3-year contracts for data-centre space typically saw a 40%-50% increase in annual charges, with colocation customers under pressure to migrate to higher-margin higher-price fully managed hosting contracts. If you have already virtualised some years ago 360is consultants can help you find an encore, we can further streamline your operations, deliver greater VM densities and lower OPEX costs through the use of new methods and technologies.
    • High Density, Low Power Virtualisation Appliances
    • Data Centre selection and evaluation
    • Cloud or hosting provider selection and evaluation

  • Recent wide-scale civil unrest across UK cities brought Disaster Recovery and Contingency Planning into focus in 2011. Further disturbances are set to occur as a variety of protest and pressure groups plan disruptions in 2012. Whether it be city-wide riots or attacks against individual organisations, it is now more important than ever to make sure you have a solid, rehearsed, Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity plan. 360is consultants have executed many of successful projects in the areas of DR/BC.
    • Secure hosting/colocation outside London
    • In-house Disaster Recovery Infrastructure
    • Replication and High Availability or Fault Tolerant Systems
    • Denial Of Service Mitigation
If your team is challenged to deliver any of these projects, 360is can help you do so, on time and on budget, in a way that is tailored to your organisation's individual circumstances. We look forward to working with you in 2012.