Five IT Pain Points for SLED Organizations

If you’re a state, local or education (SLED) organization, you understand the need for a robust, secure and resilient IT infrastructure. There is little room for infrastructure failures. For essential services like 911 operations and police and fire departments, downtime is unacceptable. Aging infrastructures are more likely to experience component failures or slow performance, reducing employee productivity and the citizen experience. Security is always at the forefront, too. If a ransomware or malware attack occurs, services could grind to a halt. But DataON has a Microsoft Azure Stack HCI solution that can address your pain points.

Here are five pain points that SLED organizations face.

1. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has been one of the top SLED pain points for years, and rightfully so. According to the McAfee Labs Threat Report, ransomware, across all sectors, has doubled in the last year. And brute force attacks on remote desktop protocol (RDP) and SMB have consistently risen1. DataON believes the first step in preventing these attacks is to have a sound infrastructure that includes encryption at the hardware, system, application and network levels, software threat protection, and a resilient backup and recovery architecture. Azure Stack HCI solutions from DataON with Veeam backup & replication can make this possible.

Let’s start with the DataON platform. All our solutions include TPM 2.0 key attestation. These chips protect encryption keys, certificates and passwords when sent in an unencrypted form. It stores them in the chip itself, which is much safer than in software or drive storage. If the chip senses the system’s integrity has been compromised, it will start up in a quarantine mode.

At the platform level, Azure Stack HCI offers multiple layers of security. Azure Stack HCI includes Windows-native BitLocker, enabling protection of entire volumes, end-to-end encryption of SMB data between the file server and clients, and encryption for data deduplication. It supports shielded VMs to protect against a compromised virtualization fabric and integrates Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, a unified platform that offers preventive protection and automated response.

Even more important is to have to comprehensive backup and disaster recovery strategy. As a Veeam partner, DataON offers Veeam Ready solutions that feature the Veeam Availability Platform. The Platform makes it easy to manage backups in multiple media types, create air gaps, and put you in control if a ransomware or malware attack occurs. It gives you the ability to set up a resilient backup infrastructure and provides tools like SureBackup and SureReplica, and the On-demand Sandbox to test and recover quickly.

McAfee Labs Threat Report (August 2019)

2. Disaster recovery and continuity of operations

DataON offers several business continuity solutions, including hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) and scale-out storage solutions with Azure Stack HCI, on-premises RAID hardware (with optional Veeam Availability Platform), or Azure services.

Azure Stack HCI business continuity solutions offer many benefits. Storage Replica, a feature in Windows Server 2019, offers disaster recovery and preparedness capabilities that can give you peace of mind and avoid data loss. You can also accelerate backup and disaster recovery performance with two and three-tiered storage configurations that use Intel® Optane™ or NVMe SSD cache and 25/40/100GbE RDMA networking. DataON customers have seen in improvements in their read/write times between primary and backup storage as a result of RDMA connectivity and all-flash cache storage tiers. With the ability to scale from two to sixteen nodes and up to 4 PBs per cluster, Azure Stack HCI is an extremely flexible and robust business continuity solution.

For more traditional backups, DataON offers DCS hardware RAID solutions. Although they lack the scalability of an Azure Stack HCI solution, they provide excellent resiliency, can be used as a standalone unit and don’t require two or three+ nodes.

With any of these solutions, you can use OS-integrated Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery services—native in Windows Server 2019 and managed in Windows Admin Center—as a hybrid cloud or complete backup and disaster recovery solution.

3. Infrastructure Modernization

We’ve worked with many SLED organizations. When faced with an infrastructure refresh, nearly all of them want to get rid of their SAN infrastructure. SANs are expensive and lack scalability.

Azure Stack HCI is an evolution of data center computing that blends Windows Server technologies with Azure management service integrations. It features the same Hyper-V based software-defined compute, storage, and networking as Azure Stack and shares similar testing and validation criteria. It follows engineering best practices to get customers up and running without lengthy design and build times. Microsoft also optimizes Azure Stack HCI with the most popular workloads, including branch office and edge, VDI, SQL Server, enterprise virtualization, and scale-out storage.

Gartner has named Microsoft a visionary in its Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure for its Azure Stack HCI offering. DataON and Azure Stack HCI were also awarded an ‘Editor’s Choice’ award by Storage Review.

4. Hybrid Cloud Computing

Many SLED organizations either have a cloud strategy or plan to implement one in the future. Azure Stack HCI is a complete hybrid cloud solution that provides the on-premises control, customization and security you need to create private cloud deployments with the flexibility to add Azure services. As previously mentioned, Azure services are OS-integrated for easy management and part of an Azure Stack HCI validated solution. This makes it easy for you to move to the public cloud as your needs change.

Azure Stack HCI also gives you the flexibility to choose the most cost-efficient backup and recovery option for your organization. Azure Backup and Azure System Recovery are ideal for SLED organizations with smaller data centers, especially when there isn’t a lot of budget for a hardware backup and additional offsite co-location (COLO) costs. For larger data centers, choosing an on-premises business continuity solution can be a more affordable solution in the long run. However, with Azure Stack HCI, you can choose which data you want backed up in Azure, providing an extra layer of resiliency, while keeping costs low.

Azure services also offer more than just Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery. It also offers Azure Monitor, Update Management, Azure Arc and a cloud witness.

5. Budget and Cost Control

Funded by taxpayers and limited by annual fixed, and sometimes extremely tight, budgets, SLED organizations must find ways to get the best infrastructure and performance while limiting costs. In many cases, SLED organizations are more likely to use equipment longer than other organizations or businesses, so it’s important to be future-proofed.

Choosing an Azure Stack HCI solution is one way to dramatically cut costs, improve performance and manageability, and get the scalability needed. You can start as small as a two-node switchless solution and scale up to sixteen nodes. With two-node and three-node switchless solutions the nodes are directly connected so you don’t need to buy a networking switch to connect the nodes. This simplifies networking and saves money. If you need to scale beyond two or three nodes, you can add a switch and additional nodes.

Unlike Nutanix and VMware, which charge per-component fees, Azure Stack HCI includes an all-in-one, complete hybrid cloud solution. It includes the hypervisor (Hyper-V), software-defined storage (Storage Spaces Direct), software-defined networking (SDN), and optional Azure services in one Windows Server 2019 Datacenter license. Azure Stack HCI is 4x more affordable than VMware and Nutanix because there are no tier-ups or upsells to unlock additional functionality.

In addition, DataON solutions for Azure Stack HCI are built on industry-standard hardware. That means you won’t have to pay expensive OEM taxes for replacement hardware or upgrades. You also won’t be forced to purchase mandatory service contracts that can eventually exceed the cost of the hardware.

If you’re in the market for a data center refresh or looking to add ROBO, edge or IoT deployments to your infrastructure, DataON has a high-performance Azure Stack HCI solution for you.

Read our customer stories and see how our solutions for Azure Stack HCI have helped small, medium and enterprise sized customers succeed in their IT goals.

Contact us for a detailed consultation with our sales team and we can help turn your IT challenge into a success.