Feeling of Uncertainty

I know a professional blog site is not usually where you will see personal revelations about the author’s current state of mind. I am going to go against conventions and tell you where I am in life. I am somewhat trepidatious about what the future holds. Now I know that to some of you that might be the understatement of the century.

However, those that know me, that will instead be quite an eyebrow raising moment. I am not one who is usually anxious about things or worries about tomorrow. I instead am a person that focuses on the now and works to complete the tasks of life that are directly in front of me. I don’t know whether it is the pandemic, the elections, or the state of flux in the economy, but I have caught myself thinking a lot about “what’s next?” When will the other shoe (or in the case of 2020, the other, other shoe) drop?

I also came to realize that if I am feeling this, I sure many others are as well. This includes many of our customers. So what to do? Well, for me, on the rare occasions that this happens to me, I like to go back to basics. Take a step back and do what I am comfortable with and what I know I can do successfully. Things like spending more time with family, working the nuts and bolts of my job to the best of my abilities, and listing out the things that are positive in my life every morning when I wake up. This may not work for everyone, but it works for me.


Getting Back to Basics

This process did get me thinking about my job and our customers. What would a calming “getting back to basics” process be that we might be able to offer or help them work through? I tossed many things around, and I came up with a few. The one I wanted to share with you today is the workings of a datacenter refresh plan.

Now you might ask, “with current flux in budgets and instability in the market place, why would you look at a refresh?” That is a great question. The answer is not a refresh in a “what am I going to buy” kind of mentality. Instead, a refresh PLAN that will allow you to immerse yourself in your environment and thoroughly understand exactly where it sits. Let me explain further.


Datacenter Refresh

Firstly, what do I mean by a Datacenter refresh? I would define this as a strategic IT infrastructure project intended to overhaul storage, servers and related network devices. Refresh project plans that address on-premises hardware, cloud-based platforms and services, and the in managed or co-located data centers — or a hybrid approach involving all.

But is that all it is? I would argue that there is more to this. You can also develop a good Datacenter refresh plan that is a top to bottom assessment of the current state of your IT infrastructure. This not only tells you what might be aging, but also what is costing you too much money to maintain. Discover where possible security vulnerabilities might be, or something as simple as what firmware needs to be updated.


What to Consider with a Hardware/Software Refresh

Knowing this, the next step would be to understand what to consider when looking at a Hardware/Software Refresh.

For example:

  • What hardware has reached its end-of-life (EOL) stage? Use performance metrics like load tests to indicate what needs a thorough overhaul.
  • What original equipment manufacturer (OEM) warranties are expiring? Is the current OEM still supporting all of your hardware versions/generations?
  • Is my company meeting regulations regarding equipment and data storage?
  • Will there be significant business expansion that requires an overhaul in data storage devices and related capabilities?


Next, you would need to prioritize what part of your infrastructure needs to be refreshed or enhanced. A couple areas to start would be:

    1. Windows Server Review – A Windows server upgrade, such as upgrading Windows Server 2008 to 2016 or Windows 10, can be planned proactively as part of a wider server refresh cycle.
    2. Datacenter Optimization – this is a moment to compare the costs, convenience and amenities of your current environment with an alternative. For example, if you’ve been using on-premises servers, compare it to the latest in Co-location or Cloud Services
    3. Future Storage Needs – When scaling is on the horizon, experts recommend an estimated server storage expansion plan by at least four times your current capacity. This might be something to focus on as work from home models become more and more prevalent the future, flexible storage needs will need to be met.
    4. Auditing Other Devices (again especially in the increase in the work from home model that we have seen in 2020)
      • Office Computer Devices
      • Office Mobile Devices
      • Peripheral devices, such as monitors, printers and copiers
      • Network devices including routers, switches and network printers
      • Network infrastructure like cabling and internet connection
    5. Review cybersecurity components for your entire datacenter

      • Firewalls
      • Spam Filters
      • Authentications
      • Traffic monitoring and controls
      • IDS Applications
    6. Firmware/software updates

      • Is your environment up to date?
      • Do you have a lead that has the responsibilities for these updates?
      • Which updates need to be done first? Is security or peformance updates more important?

Implement Best Practices Routine

Once you have prioritized and completed these tasks/ and audits, you will have a much better idea of where to focus your budget. You can plan how best to take your environment through the next calendar or fiscal year. We also recommend to develop a best practices routine for how you can keep yourself focused on next steps and maintaining your current environment optimally.

Here are a couple of our most recommended:

  1. Perform Regular Audits, looking for the following red flags:
    • Processor power
    • Input or output speeds
    • Load testing
    • Bus speeds
    • Server performance and benchmark tests
  2. Check Your Link Dependencies – Consider adding a formal dependency log into your auditing procedures to track and manage reconfiguration histories and schedules and ensure every application layer runs cohesively.
  3. Roll out Upgrades in Phases: Start with pilot upgrades in a production environment to check cross-system compatibility and functionality.   Then, prioritize the Refresh based on Downtime Tolerance per group with the following server functions having downtime kept to a minimum:
    • Application servers or any similar extension of your web servers
    • Domain controllers
    • SQL server
    • Any related layers permitting business-critical operations to function, such as file access and email

Comfort Food for the IT Soul

In the end, whether you use these examples or not, the idea will be to put together a thoughtful, immersive, end to end deep dive.  Discover what is working, what will soon need to be addressed, and what is critical to replace/enhance/ refresh. To me, that sounds like comfort food for the IT soul.

That knowledge and understanding would help me sleep at night. Knowing that I don’t have some unknown surprises lurking in a unsupported product that is about to die, or a security vulnerability because I did not update my firmware, or any other host of small issues that this kind of plan can mitigate.  If you would like to learn more on this from Zunesis, we are of course standing by to help when and where it is needed!

Every 11 seconds, a network is attacked by ransomware. Each successful attempt costs a company $80,000 on average. This adds up to over $20 billion each year. This number continues to grow each year. Cyber security is quickly becoming one of the most important investments for companies large and small.

These investments come in many forms; training, antivirus programs, spam filters, and backups to name a few. Once your data is compromised though, there is really only one thing you can do. You need to do a restore from a backup.

So, how does Veeam backup help protect data against ransomware?



Immutable backups

Immutable backups are copies of your data that cannot be changed. Veeam offers immutability in the capacity tier of their Scale-out Backup Repository (SOBR). It leverages a native function of object storage that prevents blocks of data from being changed for a set amount of time. Not even a malicious admin with full access to backups can change this data, let alone ransomware.



A related concept is air-gapping your backup repository. This basically means backups are unreachable or offline after the backup is taken. A common way of doing this is tape backups. Once the tape is written, it is physically removed from the network. It is stored in a secure location, inaccessible until the tape is moved back onto the network.

Another feature offered by Veeam that is similar is rotated media. This allows to swap hard drives for the backup chains so that one or more hard drives with backup data are offline or air gapped at all times. This protects that set of data from attacks.


Veeam ONE

Detecting ransomware in its initial stages can be difficult. Veeam ONE provides the ability to monitor your environment closely and be aware of any suspicious or abnormal activity. By analyzing CPU usage, datastore write rate, and network transmit rate, Veeam ONE can help identify higher than normal activity on a particular machine, trigger an alarm, and immediately notify you to inspect the machine.


Veeam SureBackup

SureBackup is a feature of Veeam that allows you to create a sandbox to test your backups before restoring them to production. It can run virus and malware scans on backup sets, automatically or manually. It ensures your data is not infected without the need to restore the data somewhere first.


Secure Restore

A related feature is Secure Restore, which scans your data as it is being restored. This gives you access to the latest virus definitions which helps safeguard against viruses that were previously unknown at the time of the backup.


Veeam DataLabs

Unsure of a workload, or suspect it may be infected? DataLabs gives you the ability to restore the data to a fully secured and isolated environment to test. A fully isolated sandbox lets you run any tests you want without impacting production systems, so you can make sure your workloads are uninfected before you restore them.


Ransomware protection alliance

Veeam is part of a group of leading hardware and software companies, like HPE, Cisco, and AWS, that work together to make sure their products integrate using the highest security standards possible. They bring together the most powerful recovery solutions to combat ransomware.


Veeam backup and recovery is a powerful tool in the fight against ransomware. It is completely dependent on how it is implemented and used. You should always secure your backup server, follow the 3-2-1 rule, implement Veeam’s features for ransomware detection, protect your network, and test your backups. A good backup strategy is just another piece in the puzzle in the fight against ransomware.

Contact Zunesis to find out more about Veeam backup and recovery solutions for your organization.

Previously, I talked about being a leader, even when you are not the boss.  I believe a good leader is a person that people want to follow. They are honest and have a high level of integrity.  These traits are important to get people to buy into the strategy and the journey.  A leader has  a clear vision, and a path to get there.  They inspire others and make sure everyone knows their importance to achieve the vision.  As a result, they must have great communication skills.  These are the people that lead by example, that people gravitate towards.


How To Lead A Remote Workforce

So, now the question is how do you be a great leader with a remote workforce?  Given the changes created with COVID-19 and working remote, how does a leader continue to be successful?  From what I have observed, communication and availability are key ingredients.  Managing remotely changes the dynamic of leadership and requires an additional set of skills.

The best leaders engage remote employees in frequent and authentic conversation. They put time aside to make sure they are communicating frequently and effectively.  They dig for real information by asking direct questions including “What’s frustrating you? or What’s getting in your way?” They also ask the very simple, but important question of “How are you doing?” Some remote leaders may set aside time for virtual team coffees and social conversations. No matter what method is chosen, being mindful to communicate often and openly is very important.  Be transparent.


Clear Boundaries and Guidelines

Leaders should also prioritize the development of clear boundaries and guidelines. At its most basic level, this involves assisting employees in defining their availability.  Clearly define when the employee will be working.  What is the best way to reach the employee at home.  If additional personal challenges such as childcare and home schooling are involved, how will the employee address these challenges.

The typical leadership characteristics still apply. A good leader will still need to understand team dynamics. He or she needs to create and communicate a clear vision.  Provide coaching and mentorship when needed. One must understand the implications and effective use of technology.  These are all still very important.


Distance Impact

They require an awareness of how distance and a lack of frequent physical interaction impact how a team works together. When you’re not together, how do you read the signs of team interactions? Do your teams continue to work effectively?  This goes back to frequent and open communications. One needs to really listen to what people are saying and how they say it.  Providing and using technology effectively to communicate with the team and each other is critical.  Sending people remote to work is not enough.  You must provide them the tools they need to work remote.  In addition, being a great communicator around a conference table isn’t the same as delivering an effective webinar. It is every bit as critical wherever one is communicating.

I saw a quote the other day that I truly believe.  “Leadership is not about being the best. Leadership is about making everyone else better.“

HPE Acquisition of Silver Peak


DENVER, CO  October 1, 2020 – Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has completed the acquisition of Silver Peak, an SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) leader.  For many years, Silver Peak has been a strong leader in the WAN Optimization and SD-WAN market.  Silver Peak is now part of Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

The acquisition will enhance and strengthen Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform). This helps to advance enterprise cloud transformation with a comprehensive edge-to-cloud networking solution. It covers all aspects of wired, wireless local area networking (LAN) and wide area networking (WAN).

Steve Shaffer, CEO of Zunesis, a long-time Platinum Aruba and HPE Partner, says “Silver Peak provides a key piece of a comprehensive end-to-end Aruba solution offering. It creates additional value for our clients providing reliable and secure work-from-home and branch office connectivity.  Work from home and branch office solutions just got a lot easier to deploy, secure and manage thanks to the combination of Silver Peak and Aruba’s SD-Branch & remote work solutions.  All of us at Zunesis are very excited about these new developments.”


WAN Transformation

“WAN transformation is a key component of HPE’s Intelligent Edge and edge-to-cloud vision and growth strategy,” said Antonio Neri, president and CEO of HPE. “Armed with a comprehensive SD-WAN portfolio with the addition of Silver Peak, we will accelerate the delivery of a true distributed cloud model and cloud experience for all applications and data wherever they live.”

“I am very excited to welcome the Silver Peak team to the Aruba family,” said Keerti Melkote, president of Intelligent Edge for Hewlett Packard Enterprise and founder of Aruba Networks. “With the evolving nature of the hybrid workplace, enterprises are looking to extend connectivity to branch locations and enable secure work-from-home experiences. By combining Silver Peak’s advanced SD-WAN technology with Aruba’s SD-Branch and remote worker solutions, customers can simplify branch office and WAN deployments to empower remote workforces, enable cloud-connected distributed enterprises, and transform business operations without compromise.”

As part of the acquisition, Silver Peak founder and CEO David Hughes, will join HPE as the senior vice president of the WAN business within Aruba.  “I look forward to leading the new WAN business unit within Aruba and accelerating our customers’ edge-to-cloud transformation initiatives,” said David Hughes, founder of Silver Peak and senior vice president of the WAN business at Aruba. “Digital transformation, cloud-first IT architectures, and the need to support a mobile work-from-anywhere workforce are driving enterprises to rethink the network edge. The combination of Silver Peak and Aruba will uniquely enable customers to realize the full transformational promise of these IT megatrends.”


SD-WAN Technologies

Enterprises are increasingly investing in SD-WAN technologies as legacy WAN architectures incur relatively high costs. They are cumbersome to operate, manage and secure. Aruba and Silver Peak share a common vision and goal to provide simplicity, scalability, and application-awareness at the edge of the network. Aruba’s all-in-one SD-Branch portfolio and remote worker solutions, combined with Silver Peak’s self-driving SD-WAN and WAN optimization solutions, allow Aruba to better address a wide set of customer requirements in order to capitalize on a promising and growing market opportunity.

At the same time, enterprises are also moving applications, including Internet of Things (IOT) and real-time analytics, to the edge of the network.  Aruba is uniquely positioned to help organizations to support this network evolution while providing the needed connectivity to Public cloud resources.  “We believe HPE Aruba are making all the right moves to help us offer the best and most reliable networking solutions for our customers large and small” says Shaffer.  The next few years are going to be very exciting!

About Zunesis

Zunesis, headquartered in Englewood, Colorado has been an HPE Platinum Partner for 16+ years.  Zunesis has expert engineers in HPE server, storage and networking technologies along with common software applications like VMware and Microsoft.  We serve clients large and small but our sweet spot is the mid-market organization – the heartbeat of the US economy.  Our mission is to make the lives of our clients and community better. www.zunesis.com



EMAIL: info@zunesis.com




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