Our insight

Daren Vallyon

Solutions Architect and 2017 & 2018 Cisco Champion

Recent Posts


Here's the problem with supporting a network: by the time someone comes to you and tells you they couldn't connect at, say, 7pm on a Friday evening, it's 10.30 on Monday morning. Sure, you could wade through thousands of lines of log text from your switches, access points or authentication server, but in the meantime the problem has resolved itself, and your team has more important things to do.

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I was lucky enough to spend 2017 as a Cisco Champion. If you're not familiar with the programme, it's a Cisco-sponsored network of technical experts, who love what they do, and are fired up about Cisco's technologies and solutions. Being new to it at the start of last year felt a bit like being a fresher at university, but the support on the programme meant that I quickly felt at home. I got so much from it over the year that I really wanted to stay on for 2018.

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It's been nearly a couple of weeks since I came back from VMWare 2017, and even now my head's still spinning a bit. I'd always planned an extended trip to Barcelona, initially to take a couple of days' holiday, but in the end almost the full six-day stretch filled up with meetings, briefings and workshops.

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For a long time, technology has existed in silos: hosted, cloud-based, on-premises, data centres, LANs v WANs v SANs - and that's before you even start to consider all the different proprietary brands, operating systems, backends and consoles it takes to make the average IT operation operate - some manufacturers can't even make all their own products talk to each other. But something interesting is happening with APIs, and the walls between systems are, perhaps, beginning to come down.

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We've looked before at how the public cloud, for all its benefits, isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition. From concerns about data security and sovereignty, to my own thoughts about the challenge of managing data and applications across providers, it's clearly not a panacea.

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We're always working to build stronger relationships with long-term, established players, but in the new partnerships we've announced this year, Ideal is also investing in new and exciting technologies. In Rubrik, we've added a partner with something truly disruptive: an appliance-based, converged backup offering that's so 'right' it's a wonder nobody did it before.

I want to explain what it does and why it's brilliant.

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Late yesterday, Cisco announced a new MDS 9700 series director module. For those who don't know, directors are an extremely high-end switch, designed to form the backbone of a fast storage area network (SAN) in the data centre. The MDS 9700 series already has industry-leading scale and performance, and with the new 32Gbps module the largest now supports up to 768 by 32Gbps fibre channel ports, operating with full-duplex aggregate of 48Tbps - astonishing.

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You've probably seen our recent announcement that we've entered into partnership with Pure Storage. Back in 2011, Pure was the first to market with an all-flash enterprise storage array, but nearly six years later flash SAN is a much more competitive market. I wanted to explain a bit about why Pure's three principles of smart storage - effortless, efficient and evergreen - still make it special, and why the two of us are building a closer partnership.

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I've recently been accepted onto the Cisco Champion programme, which gives me early access to certain key technologies and information. I'm delighted about it, as it gives me the chance to improve my skills and add to the pool of knowledge that we already have at Ideal. It's good for our customers, too, as it's another sign of us strengthening our relationship with one of our key suppliers, and gaining the strategic and technological insight we need to deliver effective business outcomes.

Last week I had an early sight of some major upgrades to Cisco's Digital Network Architecture (DNA), incorporating network functions virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN). That's an awful lot of TLAs to juggle, but I'm going to try and explain it through the lens of the business benefits - in other words: what can all this cool stuff actually do for you?

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Even with the best defence and planning in place, disasters happen. When they do, businesses face a scramble to minimise downtime and data loss, and to limit the reputational damage that can result.

With data increasingly at the heart of business, and organisations ever more at risk of orchestrated attacks - for example by criminal gangs exploiting ransomware - effective disaster recovery (DR) should be key to every firm's business continuity planning. And yet far too many still see backup as a DR solution. It simply isn't.

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Last week saw me flying out to Barcelona for the European branch of VMworld - VMware's annual conference on data centre, cloud infrastructure and business mobility. It's a big, interesting event, made all the more so this year by the announcement, just before, that VMware vSphere can now be integrated with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

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