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Data Center Tech 'Graduation': What IT Pros Have Learned

  • As schools around the country hold graduation ceremonies, classic songs like Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” will be sung, played, or reminisced about by students everywhere as they reflect on fond memories and lessons learned in school. Graduation is a symbol of transition and change, a milestone that represents growth, progress, and transformation.

    Just as education fosters growth in students, digital transformation drives progress in an organization and ultimately leads to innovations in the data center, but not without a few lessons learned from setbacks and failures.

    In the spirit of graduation season, we asked our THWACK IT community to tell us what technology they “graduated” to in 2018. According to the SolarWinds 2018 IT Trends Report, 94% of surveyed IT professionals indicated that cloud and/or hybrid IT is the most important technology in their IT organization’s technology strategy today. But what else have organizations experimented with over the last year? Check out some of the most popular technologies that THWACK community members tell us they have implemented this past year, in their words.

    (Image: Nirat.pix/Shutterstock)

  • Security tools

    "We have made a huge push toward cloud security to prevent threats including data breaches, data loss, account and service traffic hijacking, malicious insider attacks, and phishing attacks. Malicious technologies have continued to get more sophisticated, and we have had to double down on our security practices, operations, but most importantly, the tools that we use to help us keep not only ourselves, but our customers, safe from security threats."

    (Image: Marco_Piunti/iStockphoto)

  • Automation

    "Much of our investment in technology in the past year, both time and money, was driven by demand to do more in less time with less staff. Automation of production infrastructure has made this possible for us. We were motivated to achieve zero-touch deployments and repeatable processes. Our team continues to shrink, but our need continues to grow at a rapid pace. Automation technologies are helping us stay up to speed while eliminating a lot of the work. Our plan is to continue to experiment with automation tools to quicken our processes and help our IT team deliver the best results."

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  • Hyperconvergence

    "Our servers and storage units were five years old, and our warranty and support were expiring. So we got rid of all our traditional SANs (we were already using VMware), and migrated everything to Dell's hyperconverged VX-Rail system with integrated vSAN and 10-gig backbones. Took a bit to get everything straightened out, but it's super-fast and easy to manage!"


  • Cloud

    "Cloud has been a major priority for us. We’ve been gradually moving towards the cloud, but we have taken an 'easy does it' approach. After our company migrated to Office 365, we started simple, bringing the company over to OneDrive and SharePoint. We also moved our chat communications to Slack and it has greatly reduced our email volume. The goal is to eliminate our file shares, quicken existing work practices, and make everything more accessible."

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  • AI tools

    "This past year we started experimenting with machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to protect our networks and applications. Some of my colleagues believe network administrators and human enterprise security experts will be replaced fully by AI one day, but in reality I think that’s unlikely. The management demands of increasingly complex systems are likely to require roughly the same resources saved by automating day-to-day management. We implemented easier to deploy tools, and now our metrics and events are being continuously observed through IT systems' telemetry, as opposed to irregular scanning and manually watching a dashboard."

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  • Network virtualization

    "The biggest thing for us is VMware NSX, which is an awesome product that is going to change how we do everything from networking to server builds to application dependencies. The list of current opportunities are endless and the future possibilities are staggering."

    (Image: domoyega/iStockphoto)

  • Flash storage

    "As the cost of flash storage has continued to drop, we felt like it was time for the businesses to take advantage of its performance and low-latency benefits. Flash storage can be any type of drive, repository, or system that uses flash memory to keep data for an extended period of time, and the benefits can be immense. We started experimenting with Cisco Spark, vSphere SRM, and Unity flash SAN to see what we can use long-term. The experiment continues, so check back in a year to see where we net out."

    (Image: scanrail/iStockphoto)