All major server manufactures have a built-in baseboard management controller (BMC) for remote server management. These are great tools for onboarding a server and maintaining the server throughout its lifetime. Most of my day to day experience has been using the Cisco IMC, Dell iDRAC, HPE iLO, and IBM IPMI. Some of the server vendors require an additional license to unlock the full features of their remote server management such as Dell iDRAC Enterprise and HPE iLO Advanced licenses, while other server vendors include all feature capabilities by default.
The conference room video solutions have greatly improved and are simpler to implement, use, and support than ever before. I see two major drivers for this trend. First is the move to cloud for endpoint registration and video bridging in the cloud. This move to cloud has lowered the entry point for many customers to enable video in the conference room. The second driver is the decreasing cost for the video endpoint. Video is now more affordable for all types of rooms including small huddle rooms, general purpose rooms, large training rooms, and executive conference rooms. However, there are still major differences between manufacturers when it comes to the way these solutions are installed, managed, and their usability. For this blog I will be comparing the Cisco Room Kits and the Zoom Rooms. I find it very interesting how both companies have taken a completely different approach enabling video in conference rooms.
There are many video solutions in the industry. When deciding on a solution it’s important to understand the primary needs for a Collaboration Conference Room. This includes whether the room will be used purely for video and content sharing or if it’s more of a multi-purpose room with movable tables. Conference rooms where everyone sits around a table are quite different than a classroom style room where there is a speaker at the front of the room. It’s also important to review the user experience with any video / collaboration solution. Many technologies look good on paper, however successful video room deployments are directly tied to the user experience. This includes how easy is it to schedule a meeting, start the meeting, and join the meeting. I’ve seen this be a complicated process that involves IT for the entire process and I’ve seen it as easy as placing a FaceTime call from an iPhone. When video rooms have been designed with usability at the top of the list, you will see an increase of collaboration.
What is Two-Factor Authentication?
At its core, two-factor authentication is all about checking credentials. Are you who you say you are? Traditionally, a user name and password are used to log into a secure system. Two-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security, in the form of something you physically have, to be able to log into the system. This can be a physical token in the form of a smart card or embedded into a key fob. With the proliferation of smart phones, such as iPhone or Android devices, people are already carrying something that can be used in place of a key fob. This can greatly simplify the deployment and feasibility of implementing two-factor authentication.
We’ve been hearing a lot about NVMe Solid State Drives (SSD) and we’re just starting to see it introduced by many of the of server and storage vendors. NVMe which stands for Non-Volatile Memory express is a logical device interface specification for accessing non-volatile storage media attached via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus. You can think of NVMe as being the successor of SATA SSD. NVMe is a device interface designed for low latency and parallelism for flash based storage. Traditional spinning disks can have a latency of 140ms, SATA SSD can be around 2ms, while NVMe SSD is at around 0.2ms. Now these numbers may vary based on manufacture, but the idea is that NVMe greatly improves on lowering latency.
The two primary storage architectures in many companies today are a Storage Area Network (SAN) or a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution. Traditionally a SAN provides Block storage while a NAS provides File level storage. It’s also worth noting that internal server storage is making a comeback with the advent of software-defined storage (SDS). I’ll save the software-defined storage (SDS), Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI) as well as Object storage such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for another article.
Many companies have invested in VMware infrastructure software and have a lot of knowledge in supporting on-premise virtual servers. The VMware vCenter Server is extremely popular for managing virtual machines and providing automation for distributing resources evenly across a cluster of servers. There is a comfort in having direct vendor support from VMware for ensuring a stable production environment. However, when moving virtual machines to a public cloud can be disruptive to many IT departments. Let alone, the gap in support can increase risk for many Application Support Teams.
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