How I Use IT Central Station to Provide Virtualization and Public Cloud Insight to My Customers

This user story is based on an interview with IT Central Station member, Roger Nurse, who benefitted from our real user feedback and product reviews in both the virtualization and public cloud categories.

Roger Nurse is a VMware SRM NSX SDDC Consulting Engineer – Trainer at Plan IT Virtual, LLC, a firm specializing in delivering VMware Consulting and Training services to mid-level and large Fortune 1000 companies.

“Our solutions of expertise”, explains Roger, are with ‘VMware SRM‘ and ‘VMware NSX‘.

“Which Pain Points Were You Looking to Solve by Reading User Reviews?”

Roger shares an instance where he used IT Central Station to address a specific pain point:

“Implementing VMware NSX to better recover VM workloads in VMware SRM with little or no manual IP changes.”

“Which Questions Were you Looking to Answer by Reading Virtualization Software Reviews?”

Roger sought review content that answered questions such as:

“How does the solution better secure a customer’s VM workloads?”

“How did you convince customers to adopt the solution based on existing network security configuration?”  

“How does licensing cost compare vs competitor product for same VM workload count?”

“What Value Have You Found In Using IT Central Station?”

“IT Central has been a value in helping us better understand how other engineers are using these solutions and how they are deploying/configuring them to meet customer business requirements.”  

“IT Central also helps us assist our customers in making better purchasing decisions when it comes to Virtualization (VMware, Microsoft)/Public Cloud software (AWS, Azure, Openstack).”

About Roger:

Roger has been a member of IT Central Station since 2014, where he has published:

Product Reviews and Questions

VMware NSX, Version 6.2 (April 2017)

VMware ThinApp, Version 7 (February 2016)

VMware SRM, Version 5.8 (October 2015)

“Cisco UCS or HP hardware for VMware SRM?” — December 2, 2016


SRM DR Testing for Fortune 100 Customer

Assisted Top Firm in Virtualizing Siebel Web App

Roger is ranked the #1 expert in three different product leaderboards:

Product Leaderboards

VMware SRM

VMware NSX

VMware ThinApp

Roger is featured in three different category leaderboards:

Category Leaderboards:

#2 in Network Virtualization

#4 in Application Virtualization

#5 in Disaster Recovery Software


Read our full collection of network virtualization reviews, written by real users at IT Central Station.

PaaS Review Roundup: Microsoft vs. Heroku vs. Google

As opposed to Microsoft’s Windows phone which lags behind competitors Apple and Google, accounting for 2.5 percent of new shipments in the worldwide smartphone market in the second quarter, Microsoft’s cloud business is thriving. Indeed this past week Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, hosted an event in San Francisco to advertise the company’s cloud business. Nadella said 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies used Microsoft’s cloud computing infrastructure in some way.


What are IT Central Station users saying about Microsoft and other PaaS solutions? This week’s review roundup compares Microsoft Azure, Heroku and Google. What is our community saying about their cloud computing solutions? Here are a few excerpts:

Microsoft – “The ability to kick start a new web application or website and having them up and running in matter of minutes still amazes me. Deploying new release for existing web applications has now become a matter of right clicking the name of the project and clicking ‘publish’, the same activity before might have been done in hours to days – depending on the complexity for the app. Anything to do with referencing other packages is simply frustrating, this is mostly a problem with the Windows framework and not the hosting service, but it is still the most time consuming and irritating thing about using ASP.NET.” Read the full review here.

Heroku – “Platform as a Service – you deploy an app in a sandbox and have a lot of useful add-ons for other services. You have two types of “dyno” – one that services web requests, and one that services background requests. Flexibility: low, because you run in a sandbox, but each add-on is configurable and there are a lot of add-ons, so it’s better than other PaaS options. The bad news for Java developers is that it only supports deployment by checking out from git, and building with maven. No other version control system or build tool.” Read full review here comparing various PaaS solutions.

Google – “Google App Engine is amazing, we got our prototype up and running in no time, and for no expense. We then decided it was the right platform to run a big part of our platform. We particularly appreciated the following features: No sys admin needed, Automatic scaling, Amazing uptime (despite earlier reports), Impeccable security credentials, Extremely flexible data model…But the devil is as always in the detail… As we have grown, so too has the impact of the limitations of app engine. Until TLS is supported more widely and app engine adopts that you cant have a custom HTTPS domain, you will have to do a bit of sys admin, and run a reverse proxy. Now you have just introduced a bottleneck, and depending on how you implement that possibly a single point of failure. “ Read this informative review here.

Visit IT Central Station to browse hundreds of PaaS reviews, about these solutions and others, including Amazon, Rackspace, Salesforce1 Platform and many more!

Rackspace vs. Amazon – Floating on a Cloud

Nowadays the term “cloud computing” is ubiquitous, but there is a big difference between an individual consumer cloud and that of a business, especially enterprise.

Cloud computing at this level is big business: McKinsey & Company estimates that 80 percent of the large companies in North America that it’s surveyed are either looking at using cloud services—or already have. The market is on its way to generating $100 billion a yearcloud.

Two of the leaders in IaaS are Rackspace and Amazon EC2. Our users on IT Central Station have provided interesting reviews based on their experiences.  Read what our real users have to say about both of these solutions:

Rackspace – “Behind Amazon, the rest of the market could be described as ‘everyone else,’ but there are some leading candidates to take on Amazon in the cloud and one of the strongest is Rackspace. Powered by the OpenStack cloud computing platform, Rackspace is positioning itself as the open source alternative to Amazon, and the company’s executives make no shame in aiming critiques directly at its chief competitor…Others believe that Rackspace’s OpenStack involvement allows it to compete at the scale and capacity of Amazon.” Read the full review here: Cloud Comparison Review

Amazon – “EC2 allows me to provision new servers in minutes…We have created proofs-of-concept in hours to days to test and evaluate new products across the enterprise. We have been able to leverage the agility of AWS to work faster and, in some cases, ‘fail fast’ so we can get on to the next thing, which works … [Amazon] customer service is ridiculously good. Back when I was admin of an account that only used a few hundred dollars a month, I got top-notch support from my account manager. He set up a couple of conference calls with Solution Architects with no hesitation. Now I preside over an account with significantly more usage, and the customer service remains great.” Read the full review here: Amazon EC2 Review

Visit IT Central Station to browse real user reviews of cloud solutions including, Heroku, Microsoft, and Google.  Become a part of the “Yelp for Enterprise,” as referred to by the Wall Street Journal. Get your profile up and start reviewing, posting, and commenting!





Gartner Flattens Abs—I mean Apps—with Cloud Tips

Flat AppsJust like the flat abs promotions that hit us one after another in online ads, in the check out lines, or some before-dawn infomercial, there’s a lot of talk about how clouds can quickly “flatten” applications, networks, and even organizational structure (30-day money back guaranteed!

Gartner’s Ben Tomhave,  Research Director for Security and Risk Management Strategies, writes that getting flat networks is one by-product of a cloud strategy.

Ben gives us three scenarios to help us understand the benefits of moving toward clouds. In his post, “All the World’s a Cloud,” he gives us these ideas:

  • Expanding Self-Service to Reduce Support Volume
  • Resolving BYOD Concerns Using a Cloud Services Model
  • Flatten Your Network, Fix Your Perspective

Take a look at them, and then take a look at the cloud reviews on IT Central Station.

You can start here to drill down to close to 100 other reviews for popular providers such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce (dot com).

For example, one of the reviews provides a “Simple Calculator for Comparing Windows Azure Blob Storage and Amazon S3 Pricing.” This same real user reviewer also wrote, “(Some) Best Practices for Building Windows Azure Cloud Applications.” Way to go, Gaurev Mantri!

Another real-user reviewer writes in her review summary, “Why I love Heroku.” As a Directory of IT for a company of 500, Tanya Nam provides insight about development using node.js.

Google Apps Cloud Rival—Microsoft Office 365

Google Apps must now go to the ring with cloud app rivals like Microsoft Office 365.

Microsoft attacks GoogleComputerworld picked up an IDG News Service feed from by Juan Carlos Perez, who states, “Analysts say [Google Apps] need to improve its unified communications and enterprise social efforts or risk being left behind.”

Perez also describes how the Schumacher Group is taking a close look at Office 365. It’s CIO, Douglas Menefee says,  “We’re evaluating Office 365 and Google Apps, and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of both products,” he said. “Microsoft has made great strides with Office 365. The sleeping giant awoke two years ago.”

Read the full post here: Google Apps, once a leader, faces growing cloud app rivals

When you’re looking at unified communications and pushing your everyday office tools to the clouds, you might want to rely on the advice or experiences from real users of the apps—their relationships to the support teams, and just generally what works well or does not work well for specific environments.

For example, click here to view a page that looks like this:


You can then ask your peers directly what their challenges are and what they recommend.

Alternatively, you could start at the Platform as a Service (PaaS) page as well and then drill down to the solutions and reviews most relevant to your environment.

For more information about IT Central Station, see About.


What if Henry Ford Had Also Sold Horses?

Our guest blogger this week, Fabrizio Volpe, works with the Iccrea Banking Group as a network and systems administrator. He manages more than 2000 users for a Microsoft Technologies workgroup in Iccrea Banca. Since 2011 he has been awarded MVP on Directory Services from Microsoft—focusing on Windows systems and security, unified communication, and virtualization.

Fabrizio Volpe

Fabrizio Volpe

Let’s start from completely imaginary; let’s say that Henry Ford in addition to selling cars was also one of the biggest (only?) sellers of horses in the United States. Let’s say that one day he decided that horses were a business with no future, and had focused on cars as a product. As a man of business, he made logical (although questionable) decisions to push his flagship product: raised the price of the horses to the point of making them an extravagance, he decided that after a year horses were to be replaced regardless of their status, losing the interest of the jockeys and blacksmiths who were just as obsolete as the horses. Maybe he also decided to sell the cars at a loss, just to entice people to move quickly on a new conveyance (to which there was a widespread distrust). If you see any similarities with real facts, you are probably a Microsoft IT Pro.

Didn’t they see it coming?

A few years ago I was in a classroom to train some support engineers from Bull who were going to transform their administrative skills from Unix to Microsoft. Their customers had switched almost completely to Windows systems (or had hybrid environments) so they had to switch too. We are talking about very smart men and women who were facing a step that is not trivial. What amazed me was their sense of displacement, some regret in front of the new situation (and the fact that their previous skills had become almost idle). Coming from previous experiences in mixed environments, having seen the rapid growth of Microsoft products, I wondered “didn’t they see it coming?” From my point of view it was clear that the administration of Unix environments was going to become one of many options, less important than before. Once again, you see references to the current situation?

Microsoft, IT Pros and the “triple win”

In subsequent years I have lived with a Microsoft policy that was quite consistent. I remember the motto was “win, win and win”. It’s the short form to say “Microsoft certified IT Pros earn credibility, companies who use certified people gain in competence and Microsoft has excellent and enthusiast evangelists at zero cost”. We all know that things were not always smooth. Over the years, we have seen too many stories of “paper certifications” awarded to incompetent people. Nevertheless, the basic concept of the IT professional who became “faithful” to Microsoft and was a vehicle for sale worked for several years. In my experience, Microsoft technical and sales people had another healthy habit: they preferred to stand alongside partners rather than go directly to talk to a customer. Again, a relationship that brought benefits to both parties.

Microsoft, IT Pros and the Cloud

Over the past four years, unless you lived under a rock, you should have noticed that the old rules no longer apply. Three years ago, during a meeting with people inside Microsoft, the concept was clearly expressed: our company has chosen a Cloud strategy and the number of IT Pros required in the future will be extremely reduced. The first to taste the bitter medicine were professionals and companies focused on small businesses. In that scenario, the Cloud is often a solution that simply you can’t beat, and their customers are essentially fading. Not even a role of seller is required. No man in the middle, for a company who now wants to sell services and has a bigger gain selling them directly. They (the IT Pros) had no time to see it coming, believe me. For professionals related to larger enterprise, the situation appeared as a long transition, made of hybrid scenarios and private clouds. I am using the past tense because all the signs suggest a sharp acceleration of the process. That famous “Henry Ford’s” situation when it is better to get rid of blacksmiths 😉

No one can hear you scream in the cloud

The future will not necessarily be the one in which there is only the Cloud (and it is not said, however, that this will be all Microsoft branded). But I hope that us (including myself) IT Pros this time saw it coming. It is a sterile knowledge in itself, so I will try to transform it in a few thoughts.

  • The private cloud scenarios are likely to remain on the scene, so a part of the current IT Pros will have to increase skills such as virtualization and automation of processes.
  • For some of us, I foresee a future of “assembler of cloud services”. It is a competitive and changing environment so, if until yesterday Amazon AWS or other services were not interesting to you, maybe it is time to investigate 🙂
  • Some of us will continue to do something similar to their current job. As virtualization has removed much of the hardware management, the Cloud can simplify systems management but does not completely remove the need for skills like networking (from the customer site to the services, for example), security, structuring of complex systems to give a customized service and so on. Certainly, the skill will be more vary than now, but the change is (already) part of our lives.
  • For those who already have it in the strings, the Cloud scenario could lead to an increase in the “developer” side of the work [horresco referens!—or I’m shuddering as I relate this😀 ]

Though my discourse has focused on Microsoft, I think the IT Pros of all types face similar challenges. I must also say that, although in a less extreme way, I think that not all of the current IT Pros will be positioned in the new reality. But from this point on, each person must find their solution.

On IT Central Station, check out the vendor page for Microsoft here. Or, if you would like to dive into a real user review for specific solution, such as Microsoft Azure, see what Gaurav Mantri says in his post: “(Some) Best Practices for Building Windows Azure Cloud Applications