Alan Earls

Alan Earls is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business. He is contributing writer at TechTarget and New England Board of Higher Education Journal. Alan blogs about cloud technology and the cloud services market for Intronis

Recent Posts

Government can be a good cloud customer. Just learn the rules.

Posted by Alan Earls on Jan 28, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Government is big business. In the U.S., for example, the federal government represents about 40 percent of total GDP. A lot of that goes to things like Social Security payments, salaries for government employees, fuel, military hardware, etc., but a big part of it is information technology.

In recent years the U.S. government has been spending more than $80 billion a year on new IT projects, above and beyond the billions spent on operations. Therefore, it’s reasonable to suppose that some of that spending is—or should be—directed to cloud. But, what’s involved?

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Topics: Growing Your MSP Business, Cloud Trends

Bare metal restore software should be on your list of bare essentials

Posted by Alan Earls on Jan 20, 2015 2:00:00 PM

At one time or another every organization is bound to need to recover a server. Maybe it’s a hardware malfunction or a corrupted drive. Or it could be an unexpected physical disaster like a flood or a tornado. It could even be a virus or software problem.

No matter the cause, unless you have unlimited time and patience you’ll want to be able to do a “bare metal” restore—in which you bring back the whole operating system and every other characteristic of a system along with its applications and production data. Although different operating systems might handle it in different ways, it is never a small task.

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Topics: Backup Management

Can Big Data help you manage your IT infrastructure?

Posted by Alan Earls on Jan 12, 2015 4:20:52 PM

Big data has garnered a lot of attention in recent years for its supposed ability to magically turn mountains of data into actionable business information. Hadoop NoSQL and Cassandra and a host of other emerging tools and techniques have made sifting data an ever-more-manageable task.

Now, some are wondering if all the streams of operational data produced by IT operations could be similarly parsed and mined.

It is both the expansion in scale and the heterogeneity of IT-generated data that is encouraging the big data approach. With thousands of virtual machines to monitor, it can be difficult to predict just what a new application added to the environment will mean in terms of security, performance, or compliance.

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Topics: Cloud Industry and Technology, Cloud Trends

Application monitoring– Where the rubber meets the road

Posted by Alan Earls on Dec 22, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Users – and customers – care about one thing; they want their familiar and trusted applications to perform well and predictably. In the cloud, that’s usually not such a tall order. But there are plenty of exceptions.

That’s the focus of Application Performance Monitoring – born in the data center, but increasingly at home in the cloud. Cloud APM sees to the monitoring of resources that support actual applications, just like an on-premise APM. In the cloud particularly, the goal is often to identify user experience problems so that performance issues can be identified and cured.

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Topics: Cloud Industry and Technology

Why performance monitoring is critical in a cloud-virtualized world

Posted by Alan Earls on Dec 15, 2014 9:09:00 AM

The old saw that says you can’t manage what you can’t measure applies just as much in the virtualized world as it does in traditional environments. But practice and tools are still in catch up mode.

Indeed, for a long time, IT pros could fly by the seat of their pants – looking at a range of indicators to get a sense of what was happening inside the server. But virtualization makes that a practical impossibility –there’s simply too much to going on. As a result, monitoring practices – especially server monitoring and the tools that support it – have been evolving.

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Topics: Cloud Industry and Technology

Solid state storage– Nice to have or must have?

Posted by Alan Earls on Dec 9, 2014 8:30:00 AM

For most organizations, solid-state drive (SSD) technology is still on the horizon rather than in the data center. But as costs have come down, the benefits of solid-state have become more compelling for some. The reason for the appeal of SSD is the perception of higher performance as compared to spinning disk drives, which generally seem to be supported by experience and the idea that solid-state is safer than an electro-mechanical spinning disk when it comes to the risk of data loss – a point that is not quite as simple to define, as will be discussed.

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Topics: Cloud Industry and Technology

OpenStack— Almost ready for prime time?

Posted by Alan Earls on Dec 1, 2014 9:54:00 AM

OpenStack is on a lot of minds these days. The “free” open-source cloud computing software platform has attracted substantial support since its launch in 2010 as a joint project of Rackspace Hosting and NASA.

Frequently employed as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), OpenStack’s solution consists of several interlocking “projects” that focus on interrelated aspects of IT to control pools of processing, storage, and networking resources throughout a data center. Users manage their solution through a web-based dashboard, command-line tools, or a RESTful application programming interface (API).


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Topics: Cloud Industry and Technology

Advanced Persistent Threats– the Cyber Kill Chain response and other "cures"

Posted by Alan Earls on Nov 24, 2014 8:30:00 AM

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are trouble. And it can be difficult to figure out an appropriate response, one that is effective rather than just costly. 

In pursuit of that goal, Lockheed Martin’s Computer Incident Response Team created what they describe as an intelligence-driven defense process they have called the Cyber Kill Chain®. It is a process that helps IT remediate and mitigate advanced threats in the future. The program grew out of a paper on Intelligence-Driven Computer Network Defense authored by Lockheed Martin intrusion analysts Eric Hutchins, Michael Cloppert and Dr. Rohan Amin. It was first published at the 6th Annual International Conference on Information Warfare and Security in March 2011.

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Topics: Cyber Security

Going green can have bottom line benefits

Posted by Alan Earls on Nov 20, 2014 8:30:00 AM

For most people in IT – including MSPs – energy efficiency is not at the top of their list of concerns. After all, there are so many other things to worry about!  Still, even generally efficient technology, such as blade servers (which have long since replaced the bulky and energy hogging machines of the past), combined with cooling and other operational activities, require a significant amount of electricity. This in turn remains an important budget line item.

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Topics: Growing Your MSP Business

Taking Advanced Persistent Threats seriously

Posted by Alan Earls on Nov 11, 2014 12:05:00 PM

According to a recent report from the Internet Security Alliance (ISA), the intellectual property of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) has never been more at risk from “Advanced Persistent Threats” (APTs). APTs are stealthy and continuous computer hacking processes targeting a specific entity. The attacks are hard to detect and even harder to protect against. 

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Topics: Cyber Security

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