Triangle achieve VMware Master Services Competency: Data Center Virtualization
Triangle are delighted to have achieved the Data Center Virtualization Master Services Competency. Master Services Competencies recognize and validate outstanding services partners for expertise in specific VMware solution areas and require achieving advanced technical certifications and proof of high-level service capability and expertise as validated by our customers.
Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to speak with Ross Wynne, a Technical Architect Consultant who works at one of VMware’s Premier Partners, Triangle Computer Services in Ireland.
Over the years, Ross has built skills and continued professional training through a variety of VMware educational and certification programs. Today, Ross offers consulting services to UK & Ireland-based VMware clients working across multiple products and services, including VMware vSphere®, VMware vRealize® Orchestrator™, VMware vCloud®, and VMware NSX®.
In the following interview, Ross offers his experience and insights into the value of getting – and remaining – certified with VMware.
Why is it important for people to continue building skills and training, particularly with VMware?
One thing is that the market and technology is constantly changing. That means that as a professional, it’s necessary to stay up-to-date, informed, knowledgeable about what’s new and what’s changing. A major benefit of doing a course with VMware is that you not only get outstanding, in-depth training in a particular product, but you also get the opportunity to test for a certification proving your knowledge.
What’s the value of getting certifications?
I can probably answer this best through my own experience. To date, I’ve passed about 20 different certifications with VMware. I did my first one — a VCP3 [VMware Certified Professional 3] — in May of 2009. Up to that point, I had a couple of years of job experience, but I didn’t have a way to validate my knowledge. From a career perspective, getting this certification was completely life-changing. Within a month of receiving my certification, I had a very attractive offer for a new job. This was due to the recruiter being able to simply search for VCP holders in Ireland and know that I met a particular set standard for the role that they were looking for. Beyond this, though, I had much more confidence in my knowledge when contributing to solutions within a team.
The reality is, you can say that you’re an expert in your field, but simply saying you’re an expert in something doesn’t amount to much on a CV or in an interview. What a certification does is it validates your experience to prospective employers. By definition, it creates a minimum standard by which an employer can assess your skills.
What’s your experience been like taking courses with VMware?
For me, I’ve had really enjoyable experiences taking VMware courses. There are a few different types of courses for beginning, middle, and advanced knowledge. One of the best things about the courses is that you can start off with the free online Foundation courses which you can take from the comfort of your own home or office when time allows. But when you are a bit more serious about your learning, there are whole host of excellent classroom courses. These classes have the added benefit of direct access to experts — course teachers who really know their stuff. You get the opportunity to have all of your questions answered, and then bring back what you learn to your company or employer. Additionally, VMware courses are a great networking opportunity. With the classroom courses, you get to spend time doing deep dives and sharing knowledge with peers who are as passionate as you are.
How important is it to renew your certification?
Keeping your certifications up-to-date is important because it proves that you still know what you’re talking about and are current in the market. New and updated technology stacks come along every few years, and while there are similarities between versions, there are always new features that can improve your day-to-day working life. Keeping your certification up to date proves that you know how to upgrade, fix, deploy, and manage whatever changes have come along. There was a point when I let one of my certifications expire. I was applying to a job, and it’s likely that I was well-qualified, but because my certification wasn’t up-to-date, there was no way I could prove that I had the knowledge compared to other candidates.
VMware has made it really easy for people to renew certifications. If your certification is expiring, instead of taking another course for the latest upgrades, you can just go and sit a VCP exam in the same track or a different track. Better yet, you can challenge yourself with a VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP) exam. The VCAP exams are tough, but immensely satisfying when you pass!
Of the courses you’ve taken, which one stands out to you as a favorite?
I would definitely have to say that my favorite learning experience was the brilliantly titled NSX Ninja Course (aka, NSX Design & Deploy). During that course, we focused exclusively on network design. For me, it was exciting to meet so many likeminded people, get feedback on my thinking, and get to see how other people approached the same challenges. It was great to interact with people who were at a similar level and to geek out together on tech that we all get so excited about.
Click HERE for more information on the recertification process. To hear more from Ross, follow him on Twitter: @RossWynne.
SELF-FUNDING PROJECT ENSURES FULL DATA TRANSPARENCY
Aviva is Ireland’s only composite insurer providing life, pensions, general and health insurance products to its customers. The company employs over 1,000 people between its head office in Dublin its offices in Cork and its Galway call centre. Aviva’s data centre sprawled over an area the size of half a football pitch and the company wanted to modernise the aging IT infrastructure and reduce it to a quarter of its footprint.
“Our Data Centre in Ireland runs in combination with part of our UK data centre. It’s our heartbeat,” explains Sean Bellamy, Head of Infrastructure at Aviva. “It runs every single system from our GI business which sells motor and home and our Life and Pensions business.”
Aviva engaged Triangle to develop a compelling technology proposal backed by a cast iron business case for renewed investment in the Irish data centre. The cost effectiveness of the solution was to be measured on two scales; the initial investment and the total cost over time.
As the estate was old, it was expensive to maintain as production systems were failing. The company was having more and more incidents where outages to the business were quite significant. Following an assessment and design phase, Triangle worked closely with Aviva to develop the project. Using their expertise in network creation and migration, they built a highly secure dark fibre data centre network and SAN fabric to provide improved connectivity in a smaller footprint. Aviva had 350 Wintel systems running a variety of operating systems.
The company virtualised its estate to one third and reduced those down to six hosted VMware solutions. On the AIX side, Aviva had a P590, P595 and a P770 in the Dublin office and they eradicated the P590 and P595 and updated the local P770 and bought a new P770 for the B site which is hosted in IBM.
“Storage was another challenge for us with three huge storage units.” adds Ian Farnan, TSS Infrastructure Manager at Aviva. “These have been replaced with a three tier solution based on IBM FlashSystem technology coupled with an IBM V7000 clustered system containing both SAS and NL-SAS tiers”.
Aviva realised savings by retiring old hardware that would have required renewed maintenance contracts and licenses for backups
Triangle converted Aviva’s legacy systems onto the new infrastructure enabling the company to run legacy applications crucial to the business. The nature of the project improved the company’s test and development environment, improved disaster recovery capabilities, and increased flexibility to react to the organisation’s needs. In addition, warehousing processes are much faster which makes better use of current resources.
“It is a phenomenal leap forward in technology for us. We have saved significant costs this year – half a million euro and next year somewhere in the region of €800,000. For us these will be year on year savings,” says Sean.
“We have achieved a significant reduction in footprint and we have been able to use the saved floor space for another purpose. This is real estate in the centre of Dublin which is very expensive so it’s a fantastic saving. We’ve also achieved significant energy savings because our electricity use has reduced by about three quarters and the cooling is significantly reduced as well which is great from an environment point of view.”
“Triangle has played a core part in the design, development, build and management of this adventurous project,” continues Ian. “Without their dedication, technical knowledge and expertise, we would not have achieved all we did. We now have the modern, future proofed, agile and flexible data centre that we wanted.”
“There are many benefits with this project,” concludes Sean. “In terms of stability, the data centre is ten times better than it was. Also, performance has improved dramatically, for example, we are able to run our month end processes on our systems locally and they are completed in one hour as against eight hours before we did this work.
Triangle pulled out all the stops and the project was delivered on time on 31 December. The €3 million initial capital investment will have paid for itself in 22 months. This project has made our business more efficient and more competitive.”
Pictured: Michelle Harris, Triangle; Phil Croxford, VMware; and Miriam Byrne, Triangle
SERVICES AND CONSULTACY APPROACH IMPRESSES AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL
Triangle Computer Services has been accredited as the first VMware enterprise professional services partner in Ireland having exceeded the standards required to gain this status within the newly launched partner professional services programme (PPSP).
Eligibility for the programme was focused on partners that have demonstrated expertise in selling and delivering software defined data centre solutions.
The PPSP represents the top tier of the VMware partner network, specifically those who can demonstrate expertise in delivering software defined data centre solutions. The designation requires that Triangle meet a series of stringent criteria, proving the company’s ability to lead with a consultancy approach.
The programme recognises and rewards partners who sell and deliver their own consulting services with an emphasis on moving customers to the adoption of the software defined data centre (SDDC).
Phil Croxford, director, alliances channels UK & Ireland, VMware said: “Through their services and consultancy approach, Triangle is winning considerable amounts of Software Defined Datacentre (SDDC) business. Triangle has successfully raised the bar by developing a deep understanding of their customers’ business and goals. They also have a solid understanding of solution selling and its real-world implementation.”
As a professional services programme partner, Triangle will have access to experienced software-defined data centre architects and experts at no cost. In addition to training discounts and access to VMware architects, customer-focused labs will be offered to partners to accelerate time to self-sufficiency. Partners will be empowered with services sales and delivery IP that have been tried and tested to deliver predictable outcomes in customer implementations.
“Triangle was the first VMware partner in Ireland in 2002 and we have grown and trained to become the first PPSP in Ireland”, said Miriam Byrne, Services Director, Triangle.
“We take great pride in helping our customers reach their potential. This recognition from VMware is a fantastic validation that our technical and professional services teams are delivering value for Triangle and recognises the contribution they are making.”
Pictured: Jean Philippe Barleaza, VMware; Miriam Byrne and Michelle Harris, Triangle; and Jean-Pierre Brulard, VMware
Triangle Computer Services received the EMEA partner innovation award in the partner professional service programme category at VMware Partner Leadership Summit 2016, held in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“We value and appreciate the achievements accomplished by our partners in 2015,” said Jean-Philippe Barleaza, vice president, channel & alliances and general business, VMware EMEA. “VMware and our partners will continue to provide organizations with technologies that offer greater flexibility and agility. We congratulate Triangle on winning a VMware Partner Innovation award, and look forward to our continued collaboration.”
Miriam Byrne, services director, Triangle Computer Services, said: “[This award is] a powerful example of Triangle’s strategy in action, combining real insight, true innovation and operational excellence to create opportunities for our customers. It’s a real testament not only to our own teams, from innovation to design to delivery, but more importantly the team at VMware who have constantly embraced new thinking, ideas and innovations as we have built our partnership.”
Recipients of a VMware Partner Innovation Award in EMEA were acknowledged in 17 regional categories for their excellence in performance and distinctive achievements during 2015.
Read more: http://www.techcentral.ie/fu6cT#ixzz43nxvu450
COMMON CHALLENGES, CLEAR STRATEGIES
Beaumont Hospital’s commissioning of Imprivata was not borne of immediate crisis. The hospital has a long-standing relationship with Dublin technology consultancy, Triangle. With over a decade’s partnership, Triangle’s role has moved beyond tactical problem-solving to offering strategic advice on cutting-edge technologies and their applications in the healthcare sector. This allows Beaumont to make IT decisions with foresight and on a strong business case.
Equally, Beaumont was facing many of the challenges shared by hospitals across Europe seeking to generate efficiency, value and improved healthcare outcomes from technology.
The use of multiple applications in innumerable clinical contexts meant that staff were signing in and out of machines and services up to 100 times a day. It was easier to have all-day logins for whole teams, but that came with a cost to governance and audit. Legacy systems on multiple platforms and a blend of direct and virtualised access to systems meant multiple sign-in processes and passwords between software and terminals.
Clinicians were being hampered by an ever-increasing workload of login credentials. When they forgot them, the IT team would need to spend their time and talent on password management.
The Imprivata solution To resolve staff authentication in the most demanding of clinical contexts, Triangle recommended Imprivata Single Sign-On and Authentication Management.
Triangle’s Technical Director, Richard O’Brien says:
To initially demonstrate use cases and allow Beaumont’s IT team to skill up, Triangle built a prototype ‘lab’, with Imprivata installed on machines with similar load and configuration to Beaumont. Imprivata has now been deployed with an initial pilot into one of the most challenging environments at Beaumont; the oncology department, which features a day/outpatients ward and a 24/7 care ward.
Beaumont Hospital IT specialist David Kelly says,
“We picked the oncology ward because it’s like no other. It has so many patients that doctors are moving from bed to consulting room to PC constantly all day long. They are updating the system all the time, and it’s not unusual for a consultant to use every one of the 12 PCs on the ward at least once each day.
With Imprivata, doctors are able to walk up to a terminal anywhere in the oncology ward, tap once and be straight into their desktop. Then, click once on an application and they’re straight into that application. And some of the applications are Citrix-based which typically have required two logins to gain access; or have multiple menu levels. Imprivata brings it straight to where they need to be. So they are not only saving log in time, they are also saving a number of additional ‘clicks’ in getting through menu items. What Imprivata does is enable that ‘Tap, I’m in, let’s go!
Oncology staff of course benefit from all the services via Imprivata they would expect to use in their everyday work. Says Kelly, “We have email, the internet proxy and our Directory Manager which is an HR application“, says Kelly, “But we have 9 applications integrated in all, and more to follow“. Agnostic of platform or OS, Imprivata at Beaumont already gateways to:
- PACS, the national system for images (X-Rays, scans etc.)
- RIS, a national radiology service ordering system
- NIS, the Notes Information System used on the ward for patient notes and medications etc.
- PIPE, the Patient Information Profile Explorer used by doctors and nurses on the wards
- And the bespoke BHIS, Beaumont Hospital Information System.
Dr. Oscar S. Breathnach, Consultant Medical Oncologist, says,
“The introduction of the ‘tap and I’m in’ system to auto–populate key high frequency use applications has been a success throughout most users’ experiences. As we are preparing for the go–live of our EMR / e-prescribing system, the ability to auto-populate both the Citrix and Aria gateways has removed the barrier that two separate though dependant passwords was creating. Parallel to this is the fact that currently we use the PIPE system to order and review lab reports. The auto–population of passwords has again allowed more speed and efficiency in moving between the various programs.”
BHIS in particular was a challenge turned into an opportunity. Says Kelly,
“BHIS is 25 years old and we use a terminal emulator to connect to it. Plus there are four different ways to sign into it depending on role and what you want to do; for example making an appointment in three months time. All in all, there are probably 70 different options once a user has signed in with their ID.
“So as part of installing Imprivata, we looked at the way the staff were using it and replicated the keystrokes in macros. Even though it’s a 25 year old system, when staff log in via Imprivata, they now get dropped into exactly the part of the system they need. It saves three or four screens and clicks at a time.”
CLINICAL TIME SAVED, GOVERNANCE IMPROVED
Those saved clicks are mounting up. O’Brien says;
Imprivata automatically gives us reports on logins, and we can extrapolate from that into keystrokes saved and therefore significant clinical time saved per week.
Plus, because we’re monitoring the usage of each application, governance suddenly becomes workable; integrated into each clinician’s workday. We can leave it all to each individual’s proximity cards rather than having shared logins for each department.
And it’s not just the time constantly keying in passwords in many different applications that’s saved: it’s a hospital, so they’ve got a lot of restrictions in terms of time-outs, most of which happen sooner than a lower-security operation would demand. Staff were constantly rekeying passwords. Logging out, too, used to involve multiple keystrokes for each application; now they can log out of everything on a machine with one tap. We’ve taken away all the effort and, more importantly, the irritation.
This has not gone unnoticed. Dr Breathnach says “Other allied health professionals are eager to have similar access as they can also see the obvious benefits.” David Kelly adds, “We are already getting requests for Imprivata proximity cards from other staff. So word is spreading fast and our next step is to equip everyone associated with oncology with Imprivata and then work outward with licenses from there. It’s not often we get clinicians going out of their way to ask for technology, but this isn’t about IT, it’s about making lives easier.“
Moving forward, single sign on is a key aspect of Beaumont’s IT. “We’re actually at an interesting point in our IT development“, says Kelly. “We’re working out our optimum end-user computing strategy. It might be mobile desktop or virtual apps but I can promise that it will be single sign on and the next step there is Follow-Me Desktop.“
Single Sign-On has opened the eyes of the administration team here in the hospital to what can be achieved, so the next step is the additional saving of Follow-me Desktops; but also then adding extra applications. One of the areas we’re hoping to target here is the system for tracking medical instruments used in theatre because it’s actually a third party application that’s hosted offsite and there are two layers of login to access it. Again, we’re hoping to implement Imprivata because it will make the system more acceptable for users.
Then, there are lots of additional value adds like Self Service Password Management under the control of Imprivata that has been recognised as part of the pilot and which will keep on saving time for clinicians and reduce the burden on the IT team.
SWITCH AND GO!
Kelly says the initial (and indeed future) investment in Imprivata is more than outweighed by the time it saves “time for staff at all levels of clinical expertise. He monitors the tally of clicks saved and notes that the oncology team is now fully accustomed to the technology’“ his only expense being some laminated posters featuring tips for beginners. “They’re using it all the time“, he says. “They literally walk up, tap and I’m in.“
About Beaumont Hospital
Beaumont Hospital is a large academic teaching hospital 5km north of Dublin City centre. With 820 beds, its 3,000 staff provide emergency and acute care services across 54 medical specialties to a community of almost 300,000 people.
It is the principal teaching hospital for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and has privileged status as the National Referral Centre for Neurosurgery and Neurology, Renal Transplantation, and Cochlear Implantation, as the Regional Treatment Centre for Ear, Nose and Throat, and Gastroenterology, and as a Designated Cancer Centre.