Ditch the Digital Duck Tape – Consider All Options with Hyper-Converged

Tom Corrigan, sales director, Avnet Technology Solutions, UK, explains why the channel is perfectly positioned to take advantage of new modular hyper-converged systems and why there is no time to lose.

The channel is buzzing with terms such as the software-defined data centre, converged systems, hybrid cloud and more recently, hyper-converged infrastructure.  But what does it all mean and what is the difference between converged and hyper-converged systems?  Most importantly, how can the UK channel develop strategies that drive profitable growth from this technology sector?

Analyst predictions are suggesting >150% market growth over 2015 and beyond and this dramatic growth has seen a large number of technology start-ups delivering very capable solutions focussed in this area. Equally as exciting is the breadth of emerging technologies being launched from the established vendors who have strategic relationships with Avnet both in the UK and across the region.

Alongside this vendor push we are seeing significant volumes of requests from business partners and their end-user communities around the delivery of integrated platforms to manage new application deployments rather than the provision of disparate compute, network and storage systems in legacy fashion. In line with this change in demand, reference architectures and converged systems have emerged as pre-defined combinations of server, storage and network solutions to help simplify platform design for what are often fairly complex workload requirements.

Hyper-converged infrastructure takes this to the next level and offers a fully integrated platform across compute, network, storage and hypervisors that are designed, configured and delivered as a single appliance. This modular design means they are quick to design, simpler to deploy and can be scaled out by adding more appliances as required.

So what does all this mean to business partners looking to broaden their capabilities beyond selling compute systems, storage arrays and perhaps introducing a hypervisor for virtualisaton? With potentially simplified technology for end-users, in terms of design and deployment, now is the time for partners to expand their skills to include the application stack and delivery of margin-rich services to support a hyper-converged infrastructure. By taking this approach, opportunities will open up around private cloud and application consulting in addition to application deployment, which is where the best margin opportunities reside for the channel community.

However, the first step to hyper-converged is to carefully choose which vendors to partner with.  Which eco-systems offer the most benefits? While hyper-converged is an emerging technology it has already been validated by many established vendors. The building blocks of most hyper-converged platforms may not yet be one size fits all, but certainly one size fits many.

Within our global markets Avnet is are seeing this change and we feel that now is the time to look beyond the digital duct tape that holds disparate hardware and software stacks together and consider a more consolidated approach to delivering applications and related services.

How can Avnet help? Well for starters, the strategic partnerships we hold globally, regionally and locally are with the leading technology providers and this gives us a huge head start as we can access the technology stack that best fits the customer requirements. To supplement this we have a dedicated in-house technical and sales team focused only on converged platforms. We also have immense capability to build these systems to order and at a scale across EMEA from our Tongeren facility, which is certified to the highest levels as required by our supplier partners.

Bringing new technologies to market and enabling the channel to capitalise on this clear market opportunity is hugely important as Avnet continues on its journey to transform technology into business solutions for customers around the world.

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Posted under IT infrastructure

The channel needs to wake up to converged infrastructure and emerging technologies in the data centre

Dieter Lott, Vice President Business Development, EMEA at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

Many organisations’ data centres today are made up of complicated legacy models. This has led to a drastic increase in IT complexity overall, creating big challenges when it comes to IT management, security, scalability and cost efficiency within data centres.

On top of this, today’s IT departments have a perplexing choice of technologies as they build and maintain their data centres to meet the demands of the digital economy. To address the needs of the new digitally savvy workforce too, larger organisations have built teams around the technology disciplines of server, storage and networking and the best-of-breed solutions in each area. The luxury of dedicated teams though isn’t available to all organisations.

One increasingly popular approach to this challenge is by implementing converged infrastructure and new emerging technologies in the data centre such as software defined networking (SDN), operational analytics and big data.

Converged infrastructure is now well and truly a growth market and the channel needs to address this now. This technology has the ability to bring together all fundamental hardware components in an intelligently engineered, purpose-built configuration. A key benefit of converged infrastructure is the fact that these systems are pre-configured, integrated, tested and installed as a single, cohesive unit, rather than ‘bolted together’ with a digital version of duct tape.

In a nutshell, by deploying converged infrastructure, organisations can reduce complexity, ease deployment and integration, lower expenses and improve their ability to deploy technology for truly transformative needs, rather than simply to ‘keep systems operating’.

But what else can it do and what should the channel be addressing?

  1. Accommodating new and emerging technologies – complex and rigid legacy systems make it difficult to integrate newer IT such as mobility and cloud computing.
  2. Bridging skills gaps – close integration points between the different technologies within the converged infrastructure stack and upper level management/orchestration software means IT management is greatly simplified and training requirements are often reduced. However, in order for customers to realise these benefits, the channel needs to address skills in delivering solutions and services in tools around management and orchestration.
  3. Businesses operate in silos – to realise the full potential of converged infrastructure, end customer businesses need to have a consolidated approach to managing their infrastructure, and channel organisations need the same joined up approach to delivering it.
  4. Limited resources – converged infrastructure can alleviate this challenge of limited resource by providing technology that is built to work together and can be managed in a simplified cohesive manner.
  5. Legacy infrastructure – standardisation of infrastructure is the key to simplifying infrastructure management. Converged infrastructure needs to be viewed not simply as a typical IT cost, but as a means to reducing complexity and operating costs over time.
  6. Complex regulatory environment – converged infrastructure creates a standardised model to ensure compliance is met as you can define the mould and repeat it, which is much simpler than maintaining compliance in a non-standardised, ad-hoc infrastructure.
  7. Ensuring continuity – the inability to respond to customer demands for even a moment can be massively detrimental to an organisation’s financial health –business continuity is key. This doesn’t mean simply saving data in the event of disaster but maintaining “business as usual” IT. Converged infrastructure simplifies disaster recovery planning as businesses can work with a standard model for infrastructure regardless of location.

On top of these challenges, the pace of change within data centres is spectacular and this is why converged infrastructure, and new emerging technologies like mobility, cloud and software defined networking (SDN), are already key discussion points in the IT industry due to the drive for more scalable IT architectures. The convergence of data centre tech and networking tech is causing this significant market shift.

Data centre infrastructure is becoming increasingly complex as end-users embrace a combination of on- and off-premise cloud solutions, as well as platform and software “as-a-service” models. At the same time, businesses are under pressure to align IT costs more effectively to performance, ensuring high demand times for IT are covered effectively without over-investing. This need is compelling IT organisations to place more emphasis on capacity forecasting and analytics – yet finding the different skill levels required for these new emerging technologies in the data centre is a real challenge. Gartner backed this when it found 80 percent of businesses “will find growth constrained from a lack of new data centre skills by 2016.” This means there’s a question over whether the channel has the IT skills to address market demands.

I believe we now have an opportunity in the channel; this is a chance for resellers to step in and fulfil the IT skills on behalf of their customers. The channel needs to help businesses in EMEA to understand how and why these technologies help to overcome business challenges and requirements for today – and tomorrow. What is more, it answers, to a certain extent, where the value proposition in the future reseller landscape lies. The role distributors play will be affected too. We will be trusted to provide both enablement and the skills and training that are required.

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Posted under IT infrastructure

FlexPod at the Avnet Solution Centre in Tongeren, Belgium

In a previous blog post, on our Avnet Advantage blog, there is the opportunity to watch a complete FlexPod solution be built in 3 minutes at the Avnet Global Solution Centre located in Chandler, Arizona.

Now you can take a deeper dive into the planning and construction of the FlexPod at the Avnet Solution Centre in Tongeren, Belgium. One of the few places in Europe where complete FlexPod solutions can be built and validated.

Watch the video below to take a tour of the centre, and see the FlexPod process.

FlexPod Assembly in EMEA

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Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by on March 19, 2015

Flexible lifecycle services helps partners accelerate their success

Joost Masseur, Director EMEA, Lifecycle Solutions at Avnet Services

Avnet provides a range of well-established services to help our Channel Partners manage their customers’ IT equipment throughout its lifecycle.

To stay competitive it’s important Business Partners find new ways to make a real difference to their customers by enhancing the value their organisation can deliver. With its portfolio of lifecycle services, Avnet gives Business Partners greater capacity to do just this. They can contract in any of the services as needed. Then profitably resell them to their customers. Even if they have their own services in-house, Avnet can help where they need a little extra capacity to manage peaks in demand.

Avnet will buy back used hardware, or where it has no economic value Avnet can quote to recycle it responsibly. Where their customers need to procure equipment that has gone end of life, Avnet can usually source hardware from a network of contacts around the globe. Often for short-term projects or for proof-of-concepts it can make more sense to use Avnet’s rental programme. Avnet offers a number of data destruction solutions for retired IT assets. When the asset has gone end of life, Business Partners are encouraged to talk to Avnet about maintenance solutions. In addition, Avnet is able to provide installation and integration services around the globe. The short video on this page explains the range of re-sellable lifecycle services available from Avnet.

Avnet’s experts work alongside Business Partners to understand the business and IT challenges. Using lifecycle tools, resources and expertise, they will ensure they get the right solution tailored to meet the specific challenge.

To find out more about how Avnet can act as an extension to our Business Partners existing resources and support them with any short or long-term skills gaps, watch this short video  or contact the EMEA Lifecycle team on:
Tel: + 44 (0)1926 477 600
Email: lifecycle.emea@avnet.com
Website:  http://avnet.me/L4P

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Posted under IT infrastructure

2015 Vision for the Channel in EMEA

Dieter Lott Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

From Dieter Lott, Vice President, Business Development, EMEA, at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

This is how we see 2015 shaping up in terms of technology trends:

#1 Security

Hacking is widespread these days. Even the NASDAQ Stock Market was breached not so long ago. Security continues to be the most important trend in the IT market. It requires continuous changes and advancements. Year after year and into 2015, the channel simply can’t ignore this. With IDC predicting a 30 percent annual growth through to 2017 of smartphones purchased under a BYOD/A (bring your own device/app) approach, next year, the focus will move further into addressing security inside the firewall and not just around perimeter IT defences. Gartner, in its “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015” recently called this a “new multifaceted approach” which will lead to “new models of building security directly into applications.” Resellers will need to learn about these new approaches to address this growth area effectively and to help end user businesses overcome this huge challenge of how to secure apps. Distributors can help by enabling partners to take a more holistic data centre-centric approach taking BYOD (bring your own device) and the IOT (the Internet of Things) requirements into account. Such value-added services include not just technical training but also sales enablement activities. The channel needs this kind of help to address the demands of fast evolving data centres – where security and network efficiency is paramount. 

#2 Converged infrastructure, SDN and the data centre skills shortage

The pace of change within data centres is spectacular and this is why software defined networking (SDN) and converged infrastructure are already key discussion points in the IT industry due to the drive for more scalable IT architectures. The convergence of data centre tech and networking tech is causing this significant market shift. We’re experiencing a radical change in how data centre infrastructure is designed and implemented and we’re still in the early stages of adoption of these new technologies. This means there’s also a question over whether the channel has the IT skills to address market demands. It’s clear that data centre infrastructure is becoming increasingly complex as end users embrace a combination of on- and off- premise cloud solutions, as well as platform and software “as-a-service” models. Additionally, businesses are under increasing pressure to align IT costs more effectively to performance, ensuring high demand times for IT are covered without over-investing. In 2015, not only will the channel need to educate themselves on emerging growth markets and technologies such as SDN and converged infrastructure, but they’ll need to address skills shortages. Delivering efficient, reliable converged infrastructure and SDN requires new knowledge. In turn, the role distributors (like us) play will be affected – we will be trusted to provide both enablement and even the skills required. I would suggest that this is an opportunity none of the channel players want to miss.

3# Web-scale IT

According to Gartner: “Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting.” Everyone can see the successful cloud computing models the Internet Giants (e.g. Google, Amazon and Facebook) have in place. In 2015, more businesses are going to turn a web-scale IT approach to create and deliver highly scalable IT systems that can, for example, reduce downtime when a website has a busy period such as the “Black Friday” shopping peak without overspending. Ultimately, the software defined data centre will provide such flexibility. However, enterprises will not move their complete operations overnight to such an approach. As such, we predict that in 2015, organisations will place more emphasis on capacity forecasting and analytics – the ability to scale up and down and deliver “bandwidth on demand” within IT networks. The appetite for this is getting stronger, especially where CFOs are concerned as they work more towards moving IT from a CAPEX to an OPEX model, in order to improve their balance sheets and move more to a variable costing model for IT. It is essential the channel is able to offer a full spectrum of procurement, usage and payment models. The ideal situation for a CIO and CFO is a “pay-as-you-go” model. Distribution is well placed to support resellers to develop that offering – this should include both cloud and hosting models, as well as creative financing models.

4# The Internet of Things (IoT) combined with data analytics

The IoT will connect every kind of device and common object – machines, household appliances, watches, vehicles, doors, thermostats, even clothing – to each other and to applications in data centres and in the cloud. In 2015, the channel needs to start identifying its approach to this trend. The IoT will radically change the requirements of computer networks and data centres. What does it mean for a data centre that has to support 30,000 clients today but may have millions in the future? It completely changes the required architecture for that data centre and the network. Security and software to manage that kind of scale hardly exist today. There are opportunities for ISVs to create optimal software products; for distributors to enable the channel and for our partners to offer robust solutions around connectivity, data centre and networking management, security and data analytics, to respond to the needs of the newly connected world.

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Posted under Converged infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT)

This post was written by on January 21, 2015

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