Kurt Bosch

Director, Professional Services Organization (IIS)

Kurt Bosch, Director of Professional Services for SHIKurt Bosch is the Director of SHI’s Professional Services Organization (PSO) with expertise in storage, networking, and virtualization. He joined SHI in 2009 as a PSO Senior Solution Architect, and then advanced to Principal Architect before assuming his current position. Prior to his time with SHI, Kurt designed and implemented hardware and software solutions as Senior Solution Architect for Melillo Consulting.

You can reach Kurt at Kurt_Bosch@SHI.com.

Anatomy of a Design: Moving applications to the cloud

infrastructure designThis is the fourth post in a series about IT infrastructure design.

In our last post about IT infrastructure design, we considered the layout of a local network based on the requirements of a small, hypothetical law firm. In this post, we’ll illustrate how cloud applications can support this firm’s needs. (more…)

You may also be interested in:

4 best practices for sidestepping cloud migration challenges Whether you’re the head of IT at an enterprise company with 100,000 users, or at an elementary school with 50 users, this much is true: Migrating to t...
Here’s how a company patched up its crumbling IT foundation The company had a problem: Its IT environment was so disjointed and outdated, it was a proverbial house of cards, teetering on collapse. The outdated ...
Anatomy of a Design: Building a robust server architecture This is the third post in a series about IT infrastructure design. We laid out what our hypothetical law firm needs in our last post. Today, we’ll ...

Anatomy of a Design: Building a robust server architecture

infrastructure designThis is the third post in a series about IT infrastructure design.

We laid out what our hypothetical law firm needs in our last post. Today, we’ll focus our attention on the server, where the work actually gets done.

Building the right server based on our needs

Before we begin, we need to make some more assumptions about the applications a law firm might use to properly specify the right server. Our first assumption will be the firm is using Office 365 for e-mail and Microsoft Office applications. We’ll also assume that Voice over IP (VoIP) services are provided by a carrier, and only an external network connection is required to make and receive calls. It’s possible to wirelessly connect the phones to the network, but if the firm uses regular VoIP phones, running additional cables to each desk and a primary power over Ethernet (POE) switch will do the trick.

Our final assumption is that most of the remaining functions can be provided by single applications sold in suites from various software companies. The only exception might be document management and storage applications, which could be two different applications. Part of our assumption is that certain specifications, such as CPU, memory, and storage capacity, will be met by the server.

What do we need? Let’s add it up

If we list our requirements (these will vary based on different vendors’ applications), and add in potential virtual desktops, here’s what we arrive at:

AnatomyOfDesign_LawFirmRequirements

Based on these requirements, we’d suggest virtual infrastructure — a virtual host running multiple virtual guest operating systems to support the firm’s applications and users. While we could use physical servers, it represents too much extra management and a waste of resources. In our virtual infrastructure, the CPUs and, to some degree, the memory will be shared among the applications and desktops.

But a single server does represent a violation of the requirement of being highly available. To remedy this weakness, redundant connections for external storage and network, as well as redundant power and fans, will be employed. Our backups will protect against data loss and we’ll add some additional features to the server to prevent any single component from failing.

Finding the right solution through floor plans and server designs

Visuals will help us check our approach. Figure 1 is the floor plan of our hypothetical law office, complete with dedicated offices for the lawyers and cubicles for the administrative assistants and paralegals. There is also space for a kitchen and conference room.

AnatomyOfDesign_Figure1

Figure 1

Marked on the diagram are the locations of various wireless access points; while there may be better placements for these access points, the current setup should more than cover all of the cubicles and offices. Cable drops for the VoIP phones aren’t shown, but let’s assume wires can be run along the perimeter of the office space to each office, cubicle, and the conference room.

Next we’ll examine a diagram of the overall network that details connections for the wireless access points, desktops, and laptops (Figure 2). The network diagram shows the server with two connections to our POE switch and a dedicated storage array. The virtual machines or virtual guests that will run our applications are all contained within a single server. We also have enough capacity to run four or more virtual desktops.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Now for a breakdown of the server design, or specifications to support our law firm. We only need enough CPU cores to support about half of our needs; because all of the cores required by an application aren’t in use at the same time, some of these resources can be shared. But that’s not true for memory, which is locked to a virtual guest’s operating environment. If we’re forced to use a CPU with more cores, we can simply install more memory than needed –what application doesn’t do better when it has more than enough memory?

If we use the right memory DIMM size, we should have extra slots to add additional memory later. The same is true for the CPU. We’ll specify one CPU with at least 16 cores or more, and reserve the spare slot for future expansion as needed. Let’s examine a general diagram (Figure 3) of how this would look, including all of the redundant connections and components (fans, power supplies, cabling, controllers, disks, etc.).

Figure 3

Figure 3

Can you spot the glaring issue? The network switch represents a single point of failure. If it fails, all work ceases – bad news for a law firm dependent on the billable hour.

Network switches rarely fail, and the one we’d look for (from a reputable vendor) would have dual power supplies and sufficient ports, which should ensure a long life. But we could avoid that trouble by employing a second switch. This diagram shows another design, complete with enough redundant connections to satisfy almost anyone (Figure 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4

Since we have more than enough wireless access points by a safe margin, losing three of the access points wouldn’t prevent any work from getting done, but it would be slightly annoying. A single connection for the VoIP phones isn’t shown, but because we have spare ports, it shouldn’t present a problem.

Check your shopping list twice

At this point, we’ve addressed almost every aspect of the firm’s requirements, including the ability to support virtual desktops. Below is our shopping list and the necessary specifications required to build out our custom, 21st-century IT infrastructure for the law firm. The items on this list can be purchased through a third-party vendor for agnostic advice and favorable pricing.

AnatomyOfDesign_ShoppingList

We haven’t yet mentioned some of the software products listed in our shopping list: The VEEAM backup software provides protection for our virtual guests, backing up the data to the internal storage on the server. VEEAM also allows for almost instant recovery, running the backup directly from the backup storage.

Additionally, the wireless management software supports the access points. One option is the use of a network gateway or firewall to support the access points’ connections. This saves ports on the primary switch and should include the ability to manage the wireless network and secure user access.

Our next post will detail how to run this infrastructure in the cloud.

You may also be interested in:

Check this: How Belly planned ahead to avoid bandwidth bottlenecks Belly had a fairly simple problem: Success. As its user base grew, so did its data, to the point that it outpaced the company’s available bandwidth. ...
Life in the fast lane: Maintaining Ethernet that drives your IT environment The need for speed is a central concern for data center operators. These admins juggle server virtualization, cloud computing, LAN/SAN convergence, an...
Network design for the overworked administrator System administrators have a full plate. Maintenance, monitoring, and management of their organization's IT infrastructure keep them busy, leaving few...

Anatomy of a Design: Determine the right network requirements

infrastructure designThis is the second post in a series about IT infrastructure design.

In our last post on IT infrastructure, we examined the general requirements of a hypothetical law firm in need of a new infrastructure. Now, we’ll research network requirements, because without the network, business as usual grinds to a halt.

In this example you can see how an organization’s employees, business, and other requirements influence the best solution for its needs. Think about the factors that go into determining this solution and how they might apply to your own organization. (more…)

You may also be interested in:

Why you need to consolidate data integration now Imagine you had one cell phone to make phone calls and another to send text messages. And what if you had to tote around a third device solely to send...
How to find the perfect network switch The perfect network switch is elusive. Organizations want a cost-effective option, as well as one that supports the majority of protocols, from RFCs t...
Anatomy of a Design: Moving applications to the cloud This is the fourth post in a series about IT infrastructure design. In our last post about IT infrastructure design, we considered the layout of a ...

Anatomy of a Design: How business needs shape IT infrastructure design

infrastructure designThis is the first post in a series about IT infrastructure design.

IT infrastructure design can be the difference between getting a job done and doing the job well. Infrastructure design is a relevant topic no matter your business or industry, though exactly what that infrastructure looks like will vary from company to company. Financial and business considerations will influence the “must haves” and “wish list” components of a business’s IT environment.

Imagine a law firm. What are its IT needs, and how does it fill those requirements? Does it have in-house IT professionals or does it rely on an outside expert to handle IT issues? What are the firm’s core IT requirements, and what are its special requests?

There are two main reasons to focus on law firms. The first is size: Because most law firms in America are small businesses (a law firm is a service business, and most firms employ less than 50 people), their needs are relatable to many organizations. Second, many firms fail to maximize their technology or network capabilities due to lack of IT expertise. (more…)

You may also be interested in:

Here’s how a company patched up its crumbling IT foundation The company had a problem: Its IT environment was so disjointed and outdated, it was a proverbial house of cards, teetering on collapse. The outdated ...
Anatomy of a Design: Moving applications to the cloud This is the fourth post in a series about IT infrastructure design. In our last post about IT infrastructure design, we considered the layout of a ...
Anatomy of a Design: Building a robust server architecture This is the third post in a series about IT infrastructure design. We laid out what our hypothetical law firm needs in our last post. Today, we’ll ...

Strive for disaster prevention with a colocation data center

colocation data centerA lot of organizations chase down the idea that they need a disaster recovery center. The specter of flooding, earthquakes, malware, or even just power outages often spurs the thought.

But the truth is that for many companies, it’s an unnecessary step. Much of the time, disaster prevention is a better option, and one that’s also less expensive. The move to a disaster prevention site, or colocation, is also an option for organizations that need more servers or storage space and can’t afford to build new or expand their current infrastructure.

Colocation should involve a Tier 3 data center, which safeguards IT systems from man-made and natural disasters (minus administrator errors). But choosing a colocation site will hinge on a number of factors. From what to look for in the data center to different disaster prevention migration options to planning for contingencies, keep the following strategies in mind to ensure a successful move. (more…)

You may also be interested in:

This is how Datacate got a great deal on data center space Datacate, a regional colocation provider, was recently in the market for new colocation space, but had strict requirements: Space had to come at the r...
7 reasons why colocation makes sense for your business Data centers are a lot like cafeterias for most organizations -- a necessity, but not something they want to manage. Frankly, most organizations are n...
Life in the fast lane: Maintaining Ethernet that drives your IT environment The need for speed is a central concern for data center operators. These admins juggle server virtualization, cloud computing, LAN/SAN convergence, an...

Network design for the overworked administrator

network designSystem administrators have a full plate. Maintenance, monitoring, and management of their organization’s IT infrastructure keep them busy, leaving few opportunities to complete a thorough network design. A poorly designed or unorganized network, however, often requires more attention, and can be costlier down the road, making it worth the time investment up front.

If you have an opportunity to address the key requirements of your network infrastructure and organization as a whole, administration becomes easier in the long run. Here are three major steps for approaching network design to put you on the right path.

Gather initial network requirements

  1. Know your network. How many users connect to your network — 100 or 10,000? Do you have enough bandwidth to support those users? What kind of traffic profile are you looking at? Understanding the traffic on your network will help you make decisions down the road in terms of capacity and what protocols need to be addressed.
  2. Understand your organization’s expectations. What are the requirements for overall uptime for the network? Does your organization need three nines? Five nines? It doesn’t have to be exact, but you want to have an idea of what your business expects so you can design a network to support that. If your organization doesn’t require anything beyond two nines, putting in secondary power supplies would be foolish. At the same time, if your organization requires five nines, then not having the second power supply is just as foolish.
  3. Determine the budget available and how that fits your requirements. The right products for your network depend heavily on budget. The perfect network switch might be too expensive for some organizations, but they still need to choose the right switch family or product line. The switch might need to support certain features, like dual power supplies and layer 3 or light layer 3 protocols. It might need to do some kind of inter-VLAN routing, and should provide a command-line and web-based interface. If these requirements are missed initially, it’s almost impossible to get them later on after the purchase.

(more…)

You may also be interested in:

Anatomy of a Design: Determine the right network requirements This is the second post in a series about IT infrastructure design. In our last post on IT infrastructure, we examined the general requirements of ...
SD-WAN 101: Understanding the technology that makes your network more efficient There are a few clear signs that your school’s network deserves a failing grade. Do students in the computer lab struggle to do research because the a...
Life in the fast lane: Maintaining Ethernet that drives your IT environment The need for speed is a central concern for data center operators. These admins juggle server virtualization, cloud computing, LAN/SAN convergence, an...

How to find the perfect network switch

network switchThe perfect network switch is elusive. Organizations want a cost-effective option, as well as one that supports the majority of protocols, from RFCs to IEEE 802.1 standards. But the perfect switch must also be smart, simple to implement and maintain, and primed to adapt to new technology, all of which are more difficult to find. It must also be capable of providing an overall data center network topology that solves the organization’s need.

Here are five aspects of the perfect network switch that avoid the common challenges that network administrators typically deal with when implementing and maintaining network switches.

  1. Uses a command-line interface you’re used to. Most admins don’t want to relearn another command-line interface. The perfect switch offers an interface that’s similar enough to what you’re using and doesn’t require you to relearn anything. A gentle learning curve is an important requirement.
  2. Has a flexible product portfolio. Work with vendors that offer not one solution, but many different types of solutions. Organizations have different requirements based on what they’re trying to do with their network — cloud switches are different from data center switches and workgroup or office switches, and each type of switch has different needs. By working with a vendor that offers a variety of switches within a product group — from 1GB to 100GB — organizations can more easily support current and future requirements.
  3. Supports future technologies. You must identify new ways to connect switches to take advantage of all the connections they can support. For example, Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) has been widely adopted across most data centers by networking engineers, but there’s also a new one called TRILL that provides advantages with a greater number of links across all the switches, creating a fabric. And then there’s software-defined networking (SDN) — a topic suitable for a complete book. By supporting future technologies, the switch prepares for future requirements and enhancements to the overall network.
  4. Commits its configuration across the entire environment. When adding another switch to a network, the perfect switch should be able to download the current configuration for the network and apply only the parts that the switch needs for its own use within the topology. This includes VLANs, default settings, route tables, and other applicable networking settings. In a sense, the perfect switch eliminates the need to update every switch in the network. The network fabric does this work for the administrator instead.
  5. Integrates with and understands the hypervisor’s view of the network. There should be integration between the switch and the virtual hosts and virtual machines (VMs). When a VM moves among the various hosts, it can bring its VLAN or have its VLAN ready for it to use. The perfect switch is smart enough to do that for the administrator. This eliminates the time an administrator has to spend configuring all of the VLANs necessary on every switch or supporting changes.

(more…)

You may also be interested in:

SD-WAN 101: Understanding the technology that makes your network more efficient There are a few clear signs that your school’s network deserves a failing grade. Do students in the computer lab struggle to do research because the a...
Network design for the overworked administrator System administrators have a full plate. Maintenance, monitoring, and management of their organization's IT infrastructure keep them busy, leaving few...
Lessons learned from a year in the SHI Cloud: Networking It's been just about a year since we rolled out the SHI Cloud, a milestone that has made us take a look back on the past year to see where we've been,...

How to make professional services work for you

professional servicesIn his classic book “Flawless Consulting,” Peter Block lays out the three ways that a consultant interacts with clients: as an expert, a pair of hands, or a collaborator. As Block points out, when a consultant is the expert, all the responsibility rests on his shoulders, and when it’s just a pair of hands, it’s of little value to the customer. But if the consultant and client collaborate to solve a problem, everyone gets the best outcome and the most value.

Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in IT. Companies approach professional services organizations (PSOs) when they face an IT problem they can’t fix on their own, whether because they don’t have the skill set internally, can’t spend the time, or don’t have the resources needed to solve the problem. The best of these relationships are true collaborations. The customer has a clearly defined problem and the PSO helps the customer develop and implement a clearly defined solution.

But too often organizations approach professional services with only a vague sense of the problem, like the need to “configure hardware” or “fix a performance issue.” The timeline is hazy, the goals uncertain, and the outcome poor. These projects often take longer and cost more than if the organization brought specific needs to the table from the start. It impacts the effort required on the part of the consultant, and even how the professional services are purchased.

Here’s how to ensure a strong collaboration with a PSO and get the job done on time and on budget. (more…)

You may also be interested in:

What one organization’s migration from Windows XP can teach you about your IT depart... Windows XP reigned as one of the most popular Windows operating systems, making the end of support for the beloved system a bitter pill to swallow for...
The hazards of ad hoc data centers If I've seen it once, I've seen it a hundred times. Organizations start out by installing a few small-scale servers to back up and restore network dat...

How to find the perfect storage array

server rackIf your organization is like most, your storage array is one of your most valuable assets and also one of your biggest headaches to manage. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In a perfect world, there would be an ideal storage array, one that not only solves the most common problems in maintaining storage but also makes it easy and simple to get the best performance out of the system.

Here are five of the most common issues that limit how quickly and how effectively organizations can use their arrays, and how the perfect array might solve them: (more…)

You may also be interested in:

The playbook to stopping dark data Lurking in every data center is an unseen enemy: dark data. This unstructured data causes surging storage costs and exposes organizations to a variety...
How to launch a streaming TV service when your file storage is at capacity On-demand streaming services have made relaxing easy – search for a title, and hit play. But the behind-the-scenes technology that makes streaming con...
SHI launches Backup as a Service to help customers manage Big Data Big Data can offer organizations a true competitive advantage, creating new ways to enhance their dialogue with customers and partners, evaluate and i...