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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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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The race to e-Christmas – will it be trouble free?

Christian Magirus, VP at Avnet Services EMEA

A recent IMRG study found the internet is expected to account for 27% of sales for multi-channel retailers during the last quarter of this year. eCommerce has been growing very strongly for more than 10 years, and mobile commerce have added even more impetus to this trend. Last year, Forrester predicted that European online retail sales will grow 11% a year up to 2017. The pace of growth will be fastest, at 18% per year, in southern European countries like Italy and Spain. eCommerce system performance will therefore be a significant source of revenue generation and an especially important area for retailers’ attention as the year draws to a close this year.

 

But how can we really prepare for this onslaught of consumers? Solution providers and value-added resellers (VARs) in EMEA need to turn to the most effective solutions to help their retail clients optimise eCommerce systems for this end-of-year increase in demand.

 

The busiest day overall in terms of internet purchasing is predicted to be the first Monday in December, although the peak day does vary by retailer. Some department store chains in Europe are predicting the busiest day in the run up to Christmas will be ‘Cyber Sunday’, when shoppers, armed with one of the final pay packets of the year, will hit the Internet to buy most of their presents.

 

Solution providers and VARs are in an excellent position to contribute to trouble free online ordering, transaction processing and logistics for their retail clients. These following practical steps are designed to help partners address their retail clients’ business challenges, such as eCommerce system slowdowns and failures:

  • Sort recurring website ‘issues’ now, don’t wait  Partners should work with their retail clients to baseline eCommerce sites before the holiday season begins, helping retailers immediately recognise if something abnormal occurs to the website functionality during the holiday season. Also, auditing sites allows partners and retailers to identify small and recurring errors that could multiply during times of heavy site traffic. Remediating these seemingly small problems before the holiday season, such as simply reducing errors written to logs, can significantly improve site performance during critical periods.
  • Assess sites to reduce risk – Partners should also carefully review retailers’ local and edge caching strategies, which often have not been updated since their sites went live. Any adjustments made should be tested to reduce the risk of a poorly performing site. Additionally, partners should examine retailers’ sites holistically. An assessment of items such as infrastructure stability, bandwidth usage, network backups and other back-end systems can help identify areas that could have a negative impact under increased holiday transactional loads.
  • Improve the omnichannel experience  In this digitally savvy world, customers now expect easy access to eCommerce sites through any device. Partners can work with retailers to incorporate solutions such as responsive web design (RWD), into retailers’ sites. This allows retailers to build one set of source code that can be adapted to any new device – smartphones, tablets, desktop browsers, etc.
  • Proactive site management leads to early detection of issues – Partners should also ensure that their retail clients have quantitative and qualitative tools to help IT support teams proactively manage the site during heavy loads. Actively monitoring user experiences can help retailers rapidly pinpoint issues, such as long-running pages and bad promotion codes, as they arise, reducing their impact to improve the customer experience during the e-Christmas rush.
  • Support for the support teams – As trusted advisors, partners should also discuss customer support team communication strategies with retailers. Customer support teams are often not as familiar with eCommerce sites as they need to be. By making time before the holiday season to gauge the support team’s confidence, retailers can help ensure support teams have 100% proficiency navigating and working on eCommerce sites. If needed, partners and retailers can create refresher training programmes to review overall operations, with an emphasis on explaining changes that have occurred since the previous year’s holiday season.

For more information please email: biz-sol.emea@avnet.com.

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Posted under E-Commerce

This post was written by on November 17, 2014

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