Today, we are kicking off a new series on our Channel blog – 5 Questions with…key partners. Today’s guest post comes from Rick Nelson, director of network solutions at Mainline Information Systems. Rick joined Mainline Information Systems in 2007 to establish and grow a network consulting and integration business unit. With 30 years in the information technology industry, Rick guides the network practices at Mainline and has developed the business relationships with IBM, Cisco, Juniper, and other vendors and business partners to supply customers with the right products and solutions for their business.
Take it away, Rick!
Q. What do you do, and what technologies do you specialize in?
Mainline is a solutions provider and value added reseller (VAR) of information technology components. Our focus is on the solution for our customers and not just technology for its own sake. We are focused on becoming the advisor to our clients to help them solve IT infrastructure and information availability issues with their business. Our goal is to be their most trusted advisor and a true partner with them as opposed to the model of a simple systems integrator with good pricing.
Q. Tell us how you are working with Emulex and about some of the joint solutions being taken to market?
Emulex is a key partner and customer of Mainline. Their laboratory team consults with us on a regular basis and we have helped them with some consultative studies over the last few years to assist them with analyzing the large network switches on the market.
We integrate converged networking products and interfaces provided by Emulex to deliver sophisticated server and storage solutions. As the industry migrates toward software defined networking, the role with integration and the use of convergence technologies will become very important to solutions providers like Mainline and to our customers.
Q. What is your best practice advice for customers as they deploy these solutions?
Our strengths have traditionally been in customer data centers and accessing information that drives their business. As newer technologies and the virtualization of all data center components become a reality, it will be more important than ever to have diverse high-speed routes to and from those platforms that hold information.
We encourage our customers, from the smallest to the largest, to use the virtualization products that fit their needs. It affords them the most redundancy at the lowest cost so that information is always available and that business recovery options are more reliable.
When virtualization and high-availability are built into their environments, it must be based on reliable technology that is flexible and doesn’t restrict access or movement of virtual devices. Building it into the design of systems prior to systems implementation ensures they will have the most robust environment for their applications.
Q. What are the biggest deployment pain points for customers right now?
Among the issues that cause customers the most anxiety are systems integration and interoperability. The network infrastructure in most IT environments is very complicated and usually involves multiple vendor platforms with nuances to each one that requires technical skill. The evolution of software defined networks will help ease the complexity by presenting a management system that takes some of the difficulty of having to know multiple systems out of the mix to allow for more speedy deployment of applications and their underlying platforms.
The cost of personnel and simply finding the right technical staff is also very demanding. Mainline helps in this regard by providing solutions that are streamlined and the supporting staff needed for our customers to help ease this pain point.
Q. What storage or networking technology are you most excited about coming to market in the next 12-18 months?
The advent of very high speed storage interfaces is going to allow for new and different types of storage environments that customers previously didn’t deploy either due to cost or efficiency. All of the network platform providers with whom we work have recently announced new and more robust network connectivity for storage. These network technologies are being “built-in” to product bundling strategies like those from IBM, HP and Cisco, and they are managed with a single management system.
Software Defined Storage (SDS) is a very new and exciting technology that is just beginning to emerge as a result of the move towards the Virtual Data Center. SDS is the abstraction of storage resources to enable pooling, replication and on-demand distribution. The result is a storage layer similar to that of virtualized compute: aggregated, flexible, and capable of elastic scale-out. In theory SDS provides the capability to pool storage arrays into logical pools (storage profiles) that can then be mapped to virtual data centers.
From VMware’s perspective, SDS is distributed storage, where internal server disks are pooled to create shared resources for virtual machines (VMs). This presumes an extremely reliable, fault tolerant, high-speed network layer between sever resources. Outside of the lab, this type of network does not yet exist at the level required to support a pure SDS architecture, but is being aggressively pursued by network infrastructure providers.
Thank you to Mainline for collaborating with us on this guest blog. If you are a channel partner and would like to participate in a future ‘5 Questions’ guest post, comment here and we would love to connect with you.
More information on Mainline:
Mainline, headquartered in Tallahassee, FL, is an information technology solutions and IT consulting firm, and has more than 500 employees nationwide. Mainline has received many industry accolades, including VMware Global Desktop Virtualization Partner of the Year, Red Hat’s North America Partner of the Year, multiple IBM Leadership Awards and a HP Virtualization Elite partner designation. Mainline provides solutions throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Brazil. The company may be reached by phone at 850.219.5000 and on the Internet at www.mainline.com.