SCCM Cloud Management Gateway

April 18, 2018
  If you ask any SCCM administrator, they’ll tell the most obvious pain point around client management is how to deal with internet-facing clients.  In the early days of SCCM 2007, Microsoft developed a functional, yet complicated solution for internet-based client management, or otherwise known as IBCM….and no, not ICBM.  It required additional SCCM infrastructure to exist in the DMZ, while poking holes through the external firewalls to reach the internal network and SCCM hierarchy residing there.  This external infrastructure is also exposed to the Internet, as well as causes additional overhead and operational cost.  During those early days of configuring IBCM, there was not much supporting documentation from Microsoft or the community, and the SCCM admin usually would have to zigzag through the process.  Admittedly, Microsoft and the SCCM community have in the past few years put together comprehensive guides to implementing IBCM… and that is something this SCCM admin has been extremely grateful for.   Fast-forward nearly a decade later to SCCM 1610 Current Branch.  Microsoft releases a pre-release feature that has become a contender to the behemoth of IBCM: the Cloud Management Gateway.  In very elegant fashion, Microsoft simplified and modernized the notion of managing internet-facing devices through SCCM.  The hardware requirements to have in the DMZ and be exposed to the Internet was no more.  Instead, with the use of a new PaaS type cloud service residing inside a company’s Microsoft Azure tenant, communication between internet-based clients to the internal SCCM environment is now handled in a secure, certificate-based method.  Also, I might add that this is significantly easier to implement than an intercontinental ballistic missile … for those that are acronym-challenged.   CMG has some other side benefits besides the obvious connectivity feature to internet devices.  Combining the CMG service with another PaaS service, the Cloud Distribution Point, you then have a winning combination of actually deploying applications and software patches to our internet-facing client friends.  Then you have pure simple scalability.  Each PaaS service can support 4000 devices and provisioning another CMG service can be done very easily from within the SCCM console.   Some detractors would say that the requirement of an Azure subscription is a huge roadblock due to cost and overhead.  Perhaps network egress costs of content flowing to those internet clients is a scary thought.  I would say, yes proceed with caution, and that if you are really serious about leveraging Azure cloud in this manner, some math homework will be in order.   Just some quick calculations for outbound data transfer costs: Assume 10,000 clients x 100MB (machine policy request/once per hour) = 1TB per month Rate = $.14 per GB x 1TB = $140/mo.   CMG (PaaS Service Cost) (A2 VM) = $133.92/mo   Total: $357/mo   Let’s not be neglectful by leaving out the costs of applications/patching payloads.  Of course, for every enterprise, those numbers will vary, and this will be the additional homework for any SCCM admin or organization that should be willing to do if attempting to persuade the power-that-be of this type of solution.   For those companies that are truly trying to embrace the cloud-side of life, this new feature for SCCM Current Branch helps to adopt a truly modern workplace IT scenario.  CMG is truly a testament to Microsoft’s dedication of a long-standing (25 years folks!) toolset that continues to deliver for enterprise environments everywhere.
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Activate Digital 2018: More Than A Call To Action!

April 6, 2018
  During the #ActivateDigital2018 Conference in Guelph, Microsoft President Kevin Peesker and I gave an interview on where the digital evolution is heading in this country. In talking about our vision and the passion we share for Canada and its future as a dominant player in the emerging digital economy, we also discussed the responsibility all organizations have regarding the need to evolve from both a technological as well as a cultural standpoint. In fact, and in speaking about ICT professionals, Kevin went so far as to say that if you are a check the box on a menu service provider, you will need to look for a new career because this will not cut it in today’s fast-paced, highly complex world. The reason for this seismic shift is simple; customers are more advanced and technologically astute than they were in years past. Now I am not suggesting that clients have all the answers to their technological or digital questions. However, they know what they want to accomplish, and what they need to look for in a service provider, and it isn’t a product list. What they want is a partner – or technologist as Kevin put it, who has an organizational depth that can empower them to move their Business agenda forward with a digital transformation strategy. Of course, on the client-side of the equation, organizations must also go through a cultural shift regarding how they view their business model in the context of their digital future. One example Kevin gave during the interview was a Canadian financial institution who has been in existence since before Canada became a country. Specifically, their recognition that they were a technology company that provides banking services. In short, and in the new digital age, we are all technology companies because we all need to recognize that digital reinvention is not a case of “if” but rather “when” and that organizations will either transform or be “transformed” by this new reality. Unfortunately, not all companies are hearing the call. According to an HBR report “most incumbent firms are failing to adjust to the digital era.” This disconnect, or more to the point bridging this disconnect, is why the #ActivateDigital2018 Conference is so important. It is more than simply a call to action. It is a call to action that provides a means by which those in attendance gain access to this country’s biggest and brightest digital minds, and an unprecedented depth of resources that can facilitate the certain transition into the brave new digital world. Now you might be thinking that the conference has already taken place and that if you were not able to attend, you missed the opportunity. While I will encourage you to make plans to attend #ActivateDigital2019, you have access to Long View Systems’ deep knowledge and resources, including a series of eight 30-minute podcasts featuring the speakers and industry thought leaders who were at this year’s conference. In the end, the ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference is not a one-time engagement but is a continuing and essential part of your growing knowledge base through your partnership with Long View Systems. We look forward to working with you to achieve your digital objectives!
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Are Your SCCM Clients Healthy?

April 5, 2018
Let’s face it.  Although System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is a great tool for software installation, patch implementation, and just down right making a System’s Administrator’s job a lot easier, it’s not perfect.  For all of the fore mentioned things to take place, one major component needs to be working spot on. The SCCM machine client. The SCCM machine client is what communicates between the computer and the Management Point in the SCCM infrastructure to allow software to be pushed from software Distribution Points to the workstation or server and either installs required software, such as patches or updates, or makes applications available for install to a certain collection of devices or users.  When there is a breakdown in communication between the client and the Management Point, the machine never receives these important updates, which could lead to the machines not working properly or possibly making them susceptible to virus attacks.  Needless to say, improper client remediation can possibly be a costly expense to a corporation, if not addressed immediately. Throughout the years, SCCM Administrators have had their struggles with finding the cause of faulty clients and performing a proper remediation. In most cases, it may be simpler to just uninstall and reinstall the client. But, what about the circumstances that can’t be solved by this method? Do you back up the data on the machine, re-image the machine, and start fresh?  Of course not.  That’s when you need someone with the knowledge and powerful tools to help you find out what the underlying problems could be.  These issues could range from a corrupt WMI to communications between endpoints.  But, how do you troubleshoot these types of issues and get down to the solution?  That’s where Long View Systems comes in.  Long View has top notch SCCM Consultants that have the expertise and tools needed to perform a total assessment of, not only your system client health, but your entire SCCM Infrastructure.  And the end of your SCCM Health assessment, your Long View Consultant will provide you a report, go over the issues that need to be addressed to provide the best SCCM environment possible, and give you step by step procedures on how they can fix the problems that plague your current infrastructure.   Jasper McLarrin, Systems Consultant, Long View Systems
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Modernizing Security Alongside Digital Transformation

March 12, 2018
Download our latest case study Modernizing security alongside digital transformation written in partnership with Microsoft.
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Data Centric Empowerment In The Digital Age

February 23, 2018
You have undoubtedly heard the famous quote; “what’s in a name.” In this article, I would like you to join me as I delve a little deeper into that question regarding Pure Storage and the evolution of data management. You see in this age of digital transformation; the word transformation takes on a very real and important meaning for a modern data storage company like ours in that we believe organizations must liberate themselves from managing their data and move towards truly leveraging it to transform their businesses. In other words, you can no longer look at data as something you store but, as a critical asset, in which you can turn it into intelligence and ultimately competitive advantage. Or as one of my associates put it; “Data is the new oil - it is the single most important asset that companies have today.” To maximize your return on such a valuable asset requires that you adopt what I call a data-centric architecture framework. Specifically, organizations have to put data at the core of their infrastructure in which they manage their “own” data-as-a-service environment, through the provision of rich storage services. These storage services are controlled and delivered to support production, development/testing, and analytics environments. In establishing your data-centric architecture, you need to: ·       Consolidate and simplify on flash; ·       Provide real-time accessibility with the necessary performance to power next-gen analytics and insights; ·       Create an on-demand and self-driving capability that transforms your storage team into a storage service provider for the organization; ·       Accommodate a multi-cloud environment, allowing you to manage data across private clouds, public clouds, or no clouds; ·       Ensure ongoing or continuous adaptability so that your data architecture is ready to support what the business will demand, including AI, advanced analytics, DevOps, containerization, and CI/CD.   Based on the above, when you think of Pure Storage, recognize that besides delivering a simple, don’t need to read the instructions evergreen data platform, we are helping everyone to turn their data into intelligence and advantage, and through it empowering innovators to build a better world. Now, this is what I call true digital (and business) transformation. The Pure Storage team is looking forward to meeting you at Long View’s ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference on February 27th in Guelph to share more exciting insights into how we can empower you to put data to work for your organization!
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Eliminating Digital Ambiguity Through Virtualization

February 21, 2018
  This past September I wrote an article titled Charting our Path Forward: Recapping VMworld 2017. In it, I talked about how VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger who, in explaining how technology is “leaving the nest” as it becomes increasingly “woven” into the fabric of our everyday lives, laid out the following four-step cloud strategy: 1.    Make private cloud easy; 2.    Form deep partnerships with major cloud providers; 3.    Expand the VMware Partner Cloud Network; 4.    Offer a portfolio of cloud services. I had originally planned to dedicate this Spotlight article to expand on each of these four steps. However, it dawned on me that while I know the great insight and expertise that went into developing the VMware strategy, explaining what differentiates our approach to activating the multi-cloud/no cloud environment from other strategies will provide the proper lens through which to view our value proposition. Or to put it another way, share with you how VMware eliminates the ambiguities of computing in the new digital era and converting its promise into tangible outcomes for our clients. To start, it begins with pedigree. More specifically, VMware was the first commercially successful company to “virtualize” hardcoded processor intelligence, i.e., the x86 architecture that enabled us to understand the pathway in which software could be used to simultaneously run multiple operating systems and applications -- on a single server. In essence, transform a single x86-based server into a viable, virtual platform for business. What this means is that whether you operate in a private cloud, public cloud, no cloud, or a combination of these environments, VMware virtualization will increase IT agility, flexibility, and scalability while creating significant cost savings. This last point is particularly important in that some think that virtualization is synonymous with “the cloud.” Cloud computing is not the same thing as virtualization. Cloud computing describes the delivery or sharing of computer resources – including data, through the Internet on an on-demand basis. But you do not need to be in the cloud to virtualize your servers. Of course at the heart of a transformative virtual capability is not just technology. Considerations regarding security are what I referred to in my earlier article as being a “core component of our strategy.” In a future post, I will go into greater detail regarding VMware’s three-tiered approach to cybersecurity, which focuses on layering security technologies into everything we do. In the meantime, I invite you to meet with our VMware team to learn more about charting your organization’s digital path forward at Long View’s ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference on February 27th in Guelph.
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Transform Or BeTransformed: The New Digital Reality

February 16, 2018
Back in December, I wrote an article regarding the Microsoft Tech Summit in Toronto, and how “it is an exciting time to be in technology.” Over the 2-days and 80 amazing sessions, everyone gained insight into the tremendous promise and prosperity of the emerging digital era. Regardless of the industry or sector, you are in, or whether you are part of the government or a budding SMB entrepreneur, the same digital promise holds true across the board. Given the breadth of its impact which permeates into all areas of our everyday lives, it is no wonder that digital transformation is one of the hottest topics globally. A testimony to this fact is that the World Economic Forum predicts that the digital economy will be worth over $100 trillion by 2025. However, with the great promise, there is an even greater responsibility for business leaders to be champions of what a recent Harvard Business Review article called “digital reinvention.” According to a study cited by HBR, only a minority of companies have taken the necessary steps toward reinvention, meaning that in conjunction with restructuring their businesses they are also investing “more money than their peers into an aggressive digital strategy based on new platform business models.” Based on the HBR reported findings, this means that “most incumbent firms are failing to adjust to the digital era.” In this context, these businesses would be wise to recognize that digital reinvention is not a case of “if” but rather “when.” Or to put it more succinctly the time is now, and organizations will either transform or be “transformed.” So what does digital transformation look like in a practical sense? As part of his presentation, at the Toronto Tech Summit, Arpan Shah spoke with Param Singh, who is the Chief Operating Officer at Mojio. For those unfamiliar with the company, Mojio’s platform provides drivers with simple, snap-in access to the data generated by their car through the company’s app. The app enables you as a driver to plan and record trips, share driving information and better understand the health of your car. Mojio’s ultimate goal is to provide a turnkey aftermarket “connected” car solution for consumers via their business partners, e.g., Mobile operators, Auto OEMs, etc. While Mojio experienced tremendous success at an early stage, and at a furious pace, the resulting avalanche of incoming data through their app threatened to overwhelm the company’s existing platform within the year. In Mojio’s case, digital reinvention or transformation came through management’s proactive decision to launch a second-generation platform 50 percent faster than anticipated, while avoiding an additional $1 million in estimated development costs. The key point that I want to stress here is that digital transformation is not a one-time event, but reflects an attitude of perpetual curiosity, an openness to new ideas, and an unquenchable desire to achieve more. For Mojio, this mindset has seen the company grow from a bold start-up to becoming the cloud platform of choice for the deployment of secure, connected car apps and services. In fact, Mojio, who is currently live in 5 countries, is now connected to more than 5000 unique vehicle models, with 500,000 paying subscribers who have driven 5,000,0000+ miles making them the leading platform in the aftermarket for connected cars. Similar to the Microsoft Tech Summit in Toronto, which is what I referred to as being a “great coming together of innovative IT minds and creative solutions,” I am equally excited about sharing how your organization can make digital transformation real at Long View’s ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference in Guelph on the 27th of February.
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When It Comes To Security In The Digital Age, You Have To Play The Man Not The Puck

February 14, 2018
Given the title of my article, it is obvious that I am a hockey fan. However, and based on my recent conversation with Richard Stiennon who is Chief Research Analyst at IT-Harvest, and author of the book Surviving Cyber War, you don’t have to be a fan of the sport to understand the hockey-security analogy. For those of you who may not know Richard, he is the holder of Gartner’s Thought Leadership award and was named “one of the 50 most powerful people in Networking” by Network World Magazine. While Richard does not follow hockey, he readily understood my comment about playing the man instead of the puck from the standpoint of managing threats as opposed to managing risk. In his years of experience in advising top US government organizations and corporations in the private sector, he said that the clients who are the most vulnerable are those who solely focus their attention on trying to determine what data they should be protecting as opposed to identifying “the actors” who will perpetrate an attack. In other words, you have to protect yourself against the “who” not just the “what.” With hockey, coaches teach players to play the man (the who) and not the puck (the what), because if they focus on the puck, the opposing player will almost always evade them and get a shot on net. Having been in the security industry for many years, I can tell you with confidence that even the best protective measures be it with people or technology, will not protect you unless you understand the makeup of your security ecosystem. Specifically the people, the environment, and the technology. Once you have identified the external industry-specific actors who are likely to pose a threat and monitor their activity, you then have to build your security ecosystem, by asking the following three questions: 1.    Do you know what “normal” is in your environment from the standpoint of activity and access? 2.    Do you have control of your privileged access points? For example, the breach of an employee’s “personal” ID is not as bad as a breach involving a core system administrator’s ID. 3.    Do you know what’s connected, and more specifically do you know what’s running on your network – the advent of the BYOD employee is one thing that immediately comes to mind? When it comes down to it, security in the digital age is as much about having the right intelligence as it does having the right technology. Or to put it more succinctly, it is when we understand the source of the threat that we can protect against its risk. I will look forward to talking with you more about security in the digital age at our Long View ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference on February 27th in Guelph.
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Hyper-convergence In The Digital Age

February 9, 2018
CIO’s need to deliver enabling capabilities that drive value and bottom-line outcomes. If I were, to sum up, what digital transformation means and why it is important this single statement tells the story. In a world where most vendors focus on technology and talk about whose memory and hard drives are bigger, Nutanix focuses on our clients achieving what I call a “cohesiveness” in diverse platform management. What this means is that attaining a high level of adaptable hyper-convergence in a multi-cloud, multi-architecture environment enables IT departments to deal with the inevitable changes in workload requirements quickly and for the most part seamlessly through a single point control management system. Of course, customers today are more sophisticated and have greater access to knowledge, meaning that they understand the diverse and sometimes fluid nature of the architectures through which data flows both within and outside of the enterprise, and how being able to manage it to drive competitive advantage and bottom-line results are the key to success. This understanding is perhaps one of the main reasons why we continue to onboard a record number of logos each quarter, with significant growth in our footprint with large enterprise accounts. It also speaks to the importance of Nutanix’s vendor alliances with organizations such as Dell EMC, Lenovo, and IBM, who have played and will continue to play an instrumental role in our Canadian success story. In the end, helping our clients to manage their diverse infrastructures to maximum efficiency is what we do best. The Nutanix team will be at Long View’s ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference on February 27th in Guelph where we will have the opportunity to share with you in greater detail how you can harness the power of hyper-convergence in the digital age.  
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Business Transformation Before Digital Transformation

February 7, 2018
  I was recently asked to sum up in a single statement what Commvault’s approach was for transforming IT in the digital age. When viewed from a purely technical perspective, one might consider it a daunting if not an impossible task to compress what Commvault CEO Bob Hammer called the explosion of different types of applications, data, and IT infrastructures into a single and succinct thought. Let’s face it, given the panoply of technological advancements that are taxing the bandwidth of our ability to comprehend their full impact, harnessing the promises of the digital age through a technology-centric lens alone is like trying to catch the wind. Within this context, the merger of these elements into a single response is simply this; we must focus on business transformation before digital transformation. In other words, "digital transformation” and the technologies it entails is the “how” or the nuts and bolts, while “business transformation” is the "why" and is where you add the greatest value and build trust as a knowledge source for your client. In this regard, the process of engagement should start with two basic questions; what is it you want to accomplish and what is driving your need for change? It is through this conversational process in which you move beyond the digital hype that you will achieve an understanding of what is required to build a single, holistic data management strategy that is right for your organization. In an article, I wrote this past October titled the 5 Fundamentals to Control your Data & Derive Value from it, you will find the foundational principles for launching a holistic strategy that will enable you to gain insights and value from your data in disparate environments. Besides encouraging you to read this article, I would also invite you to join our Commvault team at Long View’s ACTIVATEDIGITAL 2018 Conference on February 27th in Guelph to talk about your businesses’ transformation in the digital age including the strategy that will work best for your organization.
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