Category Archives: Virtualized Environment

Seeing The Full Picture On Hybrid Cloud

If it seems that a lot has been written about hybrid cloud lately, that’s because there has – it is one of the hottest topics in the technology world, if not the hottest.  hybrid cloudThe hybrid cloud is a combination of a private IT infrastructure and a public cloud.  The public and private cloud infrastructures then communicate over an encrypted connection and can port data and applications back and forth.  Hybrid cloud is hot because it delivers real benefits:  increased speed of access time and reduced latency because of an on-premise, private infrastructure that is accessible directly as opposed to through the internet; more flexibility to have on-premises infrastructure that can support the average workload and to leverage the public cloud when the workload exceeds the power of the private cloud component; and more flexibility in server designs that can lower the costs of storage.

These benefits (there are many more, but the list would be too long) have IT departments excited to leverage hybrid cloud.  As organizations gain experience with hybrid cloud, we are seeing more and more written about it.  Most of what is written focuses on the hard-core IT issues.  Industry blogs often dig deep in the ability to port applications from on-premise to the cloud and back without requiring re-architecting the apps or hitting major bumps in the workload function.  Or, they might be about the ability to migrate server workloads to the cloud.  This is clearly important stuff, but it is only painting half the picture.   No one is talking much about where the information feeding these applications lives, or about how to ensure the information is accessible as needed.

This is why we need to see the full picture on hybrid cloud.  The reality is the information will live all over the place and business workers will need unified access to it, without having to know the location.   We should be talking about hybrid search equally as much as we talk about the other issues related to hybrid cloud. This is because end-user search experience is extremely important to executing successful IT projects.  We have seen this up-close-and-in-person in the VDI market.  Many organizations rolled out virtual desktops to employees and followed the best practice of turning off Windows indexing.  When users went to search for their information, they were unable to do so and revolted.  That is a lose-lose scenario.  The solution, in that case, is X1 Search Virtual Edition – the only search solution that is architected specifically for VDI environments.

The lesson from VDI is simple:  do not forget the business workers that will need to do their jobs (which tends to require finding their important emails and files quickly and efficiently).   Products like X1 Rapid Discovery enable hybrid search that lets IT glean all the benefits of hybrid cloud while ensuring end-users are happy with their ability to find information.  If we learn from that lesson as we venture into the hybrid cloud, we can avoid the nightmares that come when users are less than thrilled with the solutions IT rolls out to them.  If we think about hybrid search now, IT departments embracing hybrid cloud can be heroes to the C-Level executives tracking performance and to the business workers they serve.

 

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Filed under Cloud Data, Hybrid Search, Information Access, Information Governance, Information Management, Virtualized Environment

Citrix Synergy Conference: It’s About User Experience

by Barry Murphy

Citrix-Synergy-2014-300x165I had the pleasure of attending the Citrix Synergy event in Anaheim, CA.
Thanks to our partner Citrix for putting on a world-class event with excellent sessions, interesting labs, a comfortable exhibition area, and some great parties.  Of note was the party put on by the M7 Global Partners that featured an in-demand cigar bar and a rocking performance by Thundherstruck, the female AC/DC tribute band.  The Synergy conference was truly a great experience.

Experience was the theme of the week; user experience, that is.  As Citrix CEO Mark B. Templeton said in his opening keynote, “it’s all about being happy.”  In order for business workers to be happy, the IT systems they leverage must not be a source of frustration.

Citrix understands that, in order for IT projects to achieve success, business workers need an experience that will allow them to not only adopt, but embrace the solutions IT teams roll out.  A good user experience is necessary for both business workers and IT.  More than ever, IT teams need to control costs while also accounting for security.  The challenge for IT is doing this in the context of the consumerization of IT.  Business workers have very high expectations of being able to access and interact with information on the devices they want, where they want.  In an increasingly mobile world, virtualization is one way to securely deliver applications and information to business workers.

To that end, Citrix showed how it aims to deliver usable solutions such as XenApp, XenDesktop, and DaaS.  Business workers will be able to access desktops and applications when and where they need them.  And, with ShareFile, IT will have a solution that allows for on-premise, Cloud, and hybrid storage environments – that is a powerful way to save money while maintaining tight security requirements.

What Citrix customers and prospects will want to remember is that one key to making virtualization and hybrid Cloud solutions work is a good productivity search (the ability for workers to easily find the information they need to do their jobs) experience for business workers.  Desktop virtualization requires turning off operating system indexing in order to conserve virtual resources – that makes productivity search impossible without a solution like X1 Search 8 Virtual Edition that decouples indexing services from the client search interface that lives on the desktop.

It is the cloud search and hybrid environment search, too, that are key to making projects successful in today’s IT departments.  Organizations store information on-premise and in the cloud and need to be able to search across all of that information.  A majority of the cloud search solutions on the market today require downloading the content from the cloud in order to index and search it, which defeats the purpose of putting the content in the cloud in the first place.  It is not just cloud search – it is the ability to search across data both on-premise and in the cloud, as X1 Rapid Discovery can do, that is required in today’s fast-paced, information-fueled business world.

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Filed under Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Virtualized Environment

As Desktop-as-a-Service Gains Traction, Do Not Overlook Productivity Search

by Barry Murphy

Oftentimes, federal government agency IT departments are technology early adopters because of mandates to cut costs and increase efficiencies and business agility. It is not surprising, then, to see FCW.com pointing out that agencies are embracing Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). Benefits of VDI include simpler and more automated systems administration, better control over security (always a big factor for government agencies), and lower costs for client-side support. Those “hard” benefits are only part of the story – VDI also enables worker mobility (especially important to the Department of Energy) and helps enable more “green IT.” Because VDI provides a zero client environment, it can reduce the required power consumption per desktop, thereby reducing the environmental impact of the agency’s IT systems. This is perhaps more of a soft benefit, but a necessary one nonetheless.

As the FCW article states, there are now two options for deploying VDI: on-premise and through the Cloud, as Desktop-as-a-service (DaaS). There are good market options in both directions, with on-premise providers like Citrix and VMWare, and DaaS providers such as Amazon (with its Workspaces offering) and the aforementioned VMWare (with its Horizon offering). Whichever direction an organization chooses for its VDI, it is critical to remember that business worker adoption and acceptance is the key to ROI. In my experience, one thing that scares business workers when moving to VDI is the potential loss of easy access to their information assets. With VDI, it is a best practice to turn off Windows indexing, and that can leave a business worker without the ability to search for his or her information.

DaaS

With VDI in the Cloud, the DaaS provider will want to manage virtual computing resources diligently – also meaning that desktop indexing will likely be turned off. And with government agencies increasingly storing information in the Cloud, it can make search of that data a challenge. There is an opportunity to ensure a better business worker transition in these environments – build in productivity search requirements up front. Business worker access to information is an important component of easing any kind of end-user angst when transitioning to a new desktop environment. Providing these workers with unified access to common information like email, files, and SharePoint will help with change management and user acceptance. And it is important to stress again – without the end-users, there is no ROI on these VDI projects. Therefore, the upfront productivity search requirements should include a search solution that supports VDI environments and that is deployable in the Cloud, like X1 Rapid Discovery.

The move is on to VDI in the federal government, and industries like financial services and professional services are also in the midst of VDI roll-outs. These early adopters will set the trend of many industries. If the early adopters require excellent business worker productivity search experiences, acceptance of these new technologies will be much smoother and more successful. And that is good for everyone – VDI vendors and customers.

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Filed under Best Practices, Cloud Data, Corporations, Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, IaaS, Information Access, Information Management, Records Management, Virtualized Environment

Cloud Search: Not As Simple As You Think

By Barry Murphy

Corporations and Government agencies are moving data to the Cloud in droves.  No matter which analyst firm you look to on Cloud storage adoption, you will find consistent results:

  • Forrester Research reports that 40% of enterprises surveyed indicated they have already rolled out workloads on public clouds or have near-term plans to do so and that the number will increase to 50% this year.
  • IDC predicts that from 2013–2017 public IT cloud services will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.5%, five times that of the IT industry as a whole.
  • Gartner says Cloud Computing Will Become the Bulk of New IT Spend by 2016 and that spending on public Cloud services will have a CAGR of 17.7% from 2011 – 2016, with spending on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) itself will have a CAGR of 41.3% in that time period.
  • In eDJ Group’s recent Cloud services adoption fast poll, Greg Buckles found that less than 5% of respondents reported that all information is kept on-premise on company infrastructure and cloud services are not being actively considered.

Cloud-icon_magnifying-glassNo matter where data is being stored, though, the fact remains that the ability to search that data will be critically important.  Workers still demand unified access to email, files, and SharePoint information, and they want fast-as-you-type search results regardless of where the data lives.  In addition, Legal teams require that search queries and collections execute within specific time-frames.  But, Cloud search is slow, as indexes live far from the information.  This results in frustrated workers and Legal teams afraid that eDiscovery cannot be completed in time.

Lest you think this is not a big deal, consider the following story.  When I was at eDJ, we worked with a very large enterprise client that wanted to move its collaboration system to the Cloud.  The problem was that the Cloud system the client was contracting with could not meet the Legal Department’s requirements for speed of query results and collection.  This significantly slowed down the movement to the Cloud until the client had worked with the Cloud vendor to ensure that search and collection could execute at the necessary speeds.  The delay frustrated an IT team anxious to reap the promised benefits of the Cloud and cost the project team significant man-hours.

This story highlights the need to granularly define search and eDiscovery requirements before moving data to the Cloud.  Most “cloud search” solutions pass queries through connectors, and then the Cloud vendor needs to figure out where in its vast data center the index lives, find the content, return the query result, and then the customer will need to download all the content.  The result is a slow search and another copy of the data downloaded on premise, which basically defeats the purpose of moving to the Cloud in the first place.

If a customer wanted to speed up search, it would have to essentially attach an appliance to a hot-air balloon and send it up to the Cloud provider so that the customer’s index could live on that appliance (or farm of appliances) in the Cloud providers data center, physically near the data.  There are many reasons, however, that a Cloud provider would not allow a customer to do that:

  • Long install process
  • Challenging pre-requisites
  • 3rd party installation concerns
  • Physical access
  • Specific hardware requirements
  • They only scale vertically

The solution to a faster search is a cloud-deployable search application, such as X1 Rapid Discovery.  This creates a win-win for Cloud providers and customers alike.  As enterprises move more and more information to the Cloud, it will be important to think about workers’ experiences with Cloud systems – and search is one of those user experiences that, if it is a bad one, can really negatively affect a project and cause user revolt.

 

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Filed under Cloud Data, Enterprise eDiscovery, Enterprise Search, Information Access, Virtualized Environment

The Post-PC Era Will End eDiscovery Collections as we Know It

Post PC World image

Updated 11/14/2013: Amazon Webs Services announced today a “game changing” cloud-based desktop virtualization offering.

“As of next month, no employees get a new PC, we are going all virtual and B.Y.O.D.” These words, spoken by one of our customers from one of the world’s largest financial institutions, should be disconcerting to anyone in the traditional eDiscovery collection business.  With well over 1000 computer forensics and eDiscovery services businesses in the US and Canada alone, ranging from small shops to large firms with hundreds of eDiscovery professionals on staff, the industry faces substantial disruption going forward. This is because most all of these firms thrive on full disk imaging, or otherwise manual collections, from the PCs and laptops issued to corporate employees, either as a substantial source of revenue, or a foundational first step that feeds into their processing and hosting business.

However, enterprises have entered a “post-PC world,” where desktop virtualization, cloud, social media, and mobile devices are supplanting the traditional PC infrastructure and “local” data storage. In fact, desktop virtualization, which will be about a six billion dollar market in 2016 according to industry researcher the 451 Group, is an ideal infrastructure to enable B.Y.O.D. as employees can have access to a virtual PC across a broad range of devices, from traditional PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets. However, in such a framework, all the employees’ data and applications are stored and managed centrally in a virtual environment.

In addition to enabling B.Y.O.D., a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) provides IT significant benefits through the ability to centrally manage user desktops, gaining efficiencies in costs and resources. VDI provides for simpler desktop provisioning, lower costs for deploying new applications, improved desktop-image management, and improved data integrity through centralized backup services. In addition to a reduction in both desktop operating costs and call support, there is also a reduction in the number and duration of downtime events.

However, finding content is difficult enough on a traditional desktop, but the issue is compounded with the virtualized variety. There are many compelling benefits to VDI, but the architecture does not facilitate or even enable traditional desktop search solutions or physical disk imaging for forensic examination. X1 Search 8 provides search capabilities across physical, virtual and cloud environments with results returned in a single pane. X1 was specifically architected to uniquely and seamlessly operate in virtual desktop environments, including popular Citrix solutions XenApp and XenDesktop.

To further explore the disruptive challenges and benefits of VDI, X1 is partnering with one of the nations’ top VDI consulting firms, Agile 360 in a November 17 webinar (register here) to outline these challenges and opportunities associated with search and information access in VDI environments. We hope you can attend to learn more about the disruptive changes in store for enterprise search and eDiscovery in the Post-PC enterprise.

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Filed under Cloud Data, Virtualized Environment