Redundancy and Resiliency

I remember reading this once – ‘Whatever your mission or passion is, you have to understand that your skills, message and knowledge are extremely valuable. Sharing your opinions and professional expertise with the world not only helps you to achieve an effective collaboration but also encourages your followers to learn from your experiences.’ Inspired by this, I, Domenico and my friend, Tarleton started with our own venture: Coffee Next Tuesday, a series of podcasts in which we talk about some really cool IT and Telco stuff over our favourite coffees, at a cafe in Richmond.

 

Our first conversation:

In our very first conversation, Tarleton and I gave our opinions on the subject of Redundancy and Resiliency from Telco and IT perspectives, our respective fields of expertise.

 

Why do we need to know about Redundancy and Resiliency?

 

Well, if we have just launched a new enterprise, we will need to assess and understand all the elements of risk involved in running the business so that we can work out a new plan incase of an outage. Apart from that, it will be crucial for us to know about how to actually prevent an outage even in the worst cases. This is where we see the concept of Redundancy and Resiliency coming in the picture.

Often, the terms Redundancy and Resiliency are confused with each other but as a matter of fact, it is impossible to have one without the other, just like Tarleton says that

datacentre

 resiliency is the inbuilt strength of the network which tells us how to prevent things from failing and redundancy is the “Oh crap, we have an issue! What are we going to do about it?” For example, the IT service providers I work with build redundant networks for our clients to load balance and ensure they have a failover mechanism in the event there is a failed network device or Internet connection.

 

What I have learnt from my experiences:

 

In the 10 years that I’ve worked with IT service providers, I have embraced a certain perspective towards different elements of risk. When we have to respond to a tender, we check if it’s written for redundancy and resiliency. We make our own SLAs which makes it possible to evaluate whether the architecture meets the business requirements or not .

As a managed service provider, my services sit on top of infrastructure; so the SLA solution works both ways while making sure if anything could happen to us, we’re still available and accountable for the outcome.

What Tarleton has learnt from his experiences:

 

If we look at it from the Telco perspective, it’s basically moving risk from your provider to your business, but you still got to estimate the worth of the risk. Tarleton says that when he talks to heads of IT, ITM’s and CIO’s, he feels that they might understand what down time looks like in emergency situations but in a hindsight situation, they also don’t have a specific cost for the business. According to a research he conducted the other day, mid-size companies in Australia paid an average cost $74,000 an hour during downtime. With such a large number, It’s rare that you lose an entire company network but you definitely lose out on a branch site.

 

What are the different elements of risk that companies are protecting themselves against?

 

According to Tarleton, if we look from a retail industry perspective, the primary requirement that the retail companies need to fulfill is drafting their own POS. They can pretty much function with anything else as long as they have POS. Most POSs do offline settlements for under $100 or make use of 4G. However, in the field of finance – banks, gambling or stock exchange, we start talking about increased latency as lost money, which massively changes things at a network level.

 

Do retail companies benefit from the resiliency banks build into the POS system?

 

From a telco perspective, the retail companies definitely benefit from the resiliencyretail pos.jpg banks have in their POS system but they also benefit from the resiliency of their own network. The fact that they can operate offline for two weeks while it is far from an ideal perspective, means it is a resilient network built by them.

Talking about it from an IT perspective, I think vendors or the big names such as CISCO, HP and DELL have done a really good job in building redundancy and resiliency within their platforms. When we talk about the efficiency of a virtual machine, we see the application’s ability to quickly fail over to their second data centre or building that resiliency. It’s a high availability deployment. Instead of pushing a button that yells we’re in a redundancy situation, the actual application has a solution built into it so that even if there was an outage, the user wouldn’t know about it or wouldn’t be necessarily impacted by it.

 

When that platform is being designed, we make strategic investment to make sure we’re doing our bit of due diligence. We never buy things in ones but always in twos because we’ve got dual data centers. However, it’s pointless having two of something if the application can’t actually facilitate the redundancy situation. Thus, we never opt for a vendor who doesn’t have the same perspective.

 

What does a business owner need to know at the time of an outage?

 

losing-money-in-the-stock-market.jpgI think you as a business owner need to learn that it’s not a matter of ‘if it goes down’ but of ‘when it goes down’.

You should always keep these three things in mind at the time of an outage:

A- How we are going to be impacted

B- How much it is going to cost us

C- What we can do to protect ourselves against this

In my view, we need to understand what the impact can be and how much that will cost the company. This determines whether you need to look at two telcos or two managed service providers or completely redundant and resilience N+1 infrastructure.

 

When the companies are building networks and IT deployments, should they focus on the resiliency network over redundancy as a priority?

 

Retail companies want to prevent an outage from occurring at any time because even if there is an outage and companies have to enter a redundancy situation, there is still going to be that window of failover. Therefore, if there’s resilience built into it, you never experience an outage.

 

What are the key points from a networking perspective that you’d advise a customer to look at in terms of resiliency and redundancy?

 

Tarleton says that from a telco perspective:

  1. You need to understand how much you can spend and what down time is worth your business.
  2. When you’re talking to large enterprises with key sites and multiple data centres, you have to use diverse paths and connect them with a dark fibre.
  3. Your service provider should provide you with KMZ so that you can see what they look like. From an internet perspective, you need them to be delivered through two different head ends: a primary and secondary provider because that is a stronger solution.
  4. You should test your redundancy system because there’s no point of having resiliency built into your network if you don’t know about the status of your BGP configuration.

 

SaaS+SDWAN = Happy Users

My Top 3 features for SD-WAN and why they are relevant, in plain English.

Crew,

I am having 2-3 conversations a day about the business benefits of deploying an SD-WAN solution.

With the adoption of SaaS ever increasing, the need to consider a distributed gateway typology for your next network design is must consideration.

I have noticed some similar themes across the conversations, so I have put together a video that explains in plain English what an SD-WAN is and the Top 3 feature benefits your business stands to gain from deploying the technology.

Thanks you for being apart of this growing community, don’t hesitate to comment and share if you believe others can benefit from the knowledge.

Cheers,

Dom

 

 

5 Questions to ask yourself when considering a compromise.

iphone-x-gallery1-2017Hey Crew,

 

So the other day something interesting happened to me, I was presented with a choice, a choice to wait for something or compromise and solve an immediate problem I had now.

 

To give you context, I had a poor performing iPhone that was impacting me greatly, I could have waited and replaced it with the iPhone X, or choose the iPhone 8 and have all my problems go away now.

 

I elected for the iPhone 8, but this really got me thinking about what I just compromised on…did I just make a decision based on instant gratification or did I compromise to achieve an outcome?

 

In the 1960’s a study was conducted by two gentlemen by the name of Walter Mischel and Ebbe Ebbesen (seriously couldn’t his parents think a little harder?..Ebbe…seriously?). Anyway! the study centred around giving some children the choice to either wait 15 mins and getting two eatable treats, OR eat the one that was in front of them then and there. The vast majority were able to wait past the immediate temptation, but only 200 odd kids out of the 600 who took part got to the very end and were rewarded with the second treat…

 

Now here is the thing, I knew about this test in the lead up to my decision and the thought of succumbing to the insta-gratification temptation that these kid were faced with was seriously playing with my head… BUT!!! and hear me out here, what the study didn’t take into account was if the kids were hungry. I bet that if they hadn’t had breakfast or lunch yet walking into that room, a few more of that 200 would have been tempted over to the dark side.

 

Although my temptation wasn’t hunger related, I was being starved and I needed instant relief.

 

This leads me to my discussion topic of “Compromise” and specifically how IT Departments within businesses must compromise every day. I feel for you guys/girls, honestly I do, you’re presented with offers and propositions that will knock your business problems out of the park….but often the challenge is it won’t solve the problem in a time frame that is acceptable to the key stakeholders, OR more likely, you’ll end up spending 98% of your yearly IT Budget doing it.

 

I was presented with an option, wait an undetermined amount of time and suffer, OR compromise and solve the problem now. I want to share with you the thought process I went through and the general factors I considered. Trust me when I say I Googled this stuff and there isn’t anything documented to help…I’m breaking ground here crew!

 

Here are some questions to consider:

 

  1. Can I apply the Pareto Principle aka. 80/20 Rule?
    • Am I getting at least 80% of the desired outcome from no more than 20% of what I am compromising on?
      • E.g. most of what is different with the iPhone 8 and X is the form factor so the answer to this was YES!

 

  1. Does the compromise come at a greater or lesser cost to the desired outcome?
    1. In my example it was at a reduced cost which made the decision easier. There are examples however where time being an influencing factor results in a greater cost.

 

  1. Is the problem I’m looking to solve so bad that waiting for the desired outcome is almost impossible?
    1. For me it was dire, my work and productivity were all being impacted.

 

  1. Can I influence or change a suppliers position to better effect my own desired outcome?
    1. In my case it was no, because they themselves were being influenced by a supplier. In some cases though you may find yourself able to influence a cost or timeframe by using leverage…pricing incentives or penalties etc.

 

  1. Is my desired outcome overstretching anyway?
    1. Was it too farfetched to begin with, in which case is the compromise the most ideal outcome to begin with?
      • In my case it was 100% overstretching, there was not something so defining about the X that meant I just had to wait for it.

 

After reviewing my decision these were the 5 factors that I considered to be most important in effecting the outcome of my decision. My hope is that you can use these thought provoking questions to better equip yourself and your team when faced with similar dilemmas in the future.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this 2nd blog instalment, don’t be shy, please feel free to comment and continue the discussion.

 

Cheers,

 

Dom

Google PixelBook- Good for Business?

Google-PixelBookSo it’s interesting that when I was scouring the internet for a worthy topic to kick off my first blog post, I was immediately drawn to an end user computing device captivating bloggers around the world.

The fact is that Bill and his cohorts over at Microsoft dominate the business world for the simple fact that they own the operating system 99.99% of business around the world run off (wise man once told me that 80% off stats like this are made up on the fly….he’s right here too).

But here is the thing, most businesses I talk to now are adopting a cloud first or more specifically SaaS first methodology for corporate applications, so on that basis…who really cares what OS the Browser is installed on?

This really got me thinking. I asked myself..but Dom…what about the corporate apps that you personally can’t live without? PowerPoint, Word, Excel how can you function without the holy trinity of corporate applications?…To my amazement though, you can buy trimmed down versions of these Office Application in the damn Android store…(visualise your chosen mind blown.gif here).

So then, what’s to say that this fairly sexy, lite as feather, Intel chipped and highly intuitive device (thanks to Google Assistant) wont finally crack into the corporate world.

How can we give this little guy a fighting chance where the biggest of corporate end user devices rumble and jostle for market share? Well, we can start buy identifying the niche where itself can compete on a level playing field….

(que neck and knuckles cracking sound)

If I am a business that has:

  1. A workforce of emerging Millennials that need to be mobile
  2. Android devices throughout the Mobile user base
  3. 80% or more of my critical applications SaaS based
  4. Desire to loosen the shackles of Microsoft licencing costs
  5. A decent MDM application that can easily integrate a new OS
  6. G-Suite applications like Drive and Mail already integrated
  7. Decent Wi_Fi coverage in the office

If a business profile like that does in fact exist, then damn…the PixelBook has got a fighting chance!

Even though I use Windows machines in the home and office and iOS as my mobile platform, I personally would love to give this device a shot. I’m finding myself more and more drawn to the Google Eco-system, thanks to how well it seamlessly supports my life…gmail, Google Photo’s, Drive…My personal IT World is built off Google’s platforms. My company doesn’t fit the profile entirely but seriously, it wouldn’t be to hard to adapt and change the way I work to accommodate some of the potential short comings.

Although I can’t see the PixelBook worrying the market share of the likes of Dell and HP for the foreseeable future, it must be said, that as we move to world where more and more apps are delivered from the browser, devices such as the PixelBook will become more and more common.

I’d be keen to hear your expert thoughts on this topic, feel free to email me at dom@domgarfi.com, or comment below.

Thanks Crew!

Relationships are key to solving problems and achieving great outcomes, so become apart of the #ITCrew and help share the message. You can follow me on Twitter @Domgarfi or Connect with me on LinkedIn and become apart of the #ITCrew.

Cheers,

Dom

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