TL; DR: Steadfast, a specialized provider of flexible cloud environments, infrastructure solutions, and managed services, has designed its newest cloud platform to deliver unique benefits for small and medium enterprise customers. Steadfast Simplicity Cloud Services employs new VMware software and the NSX platform to provide clients with the reliability, agility, and scalability they need. With plans underway for a multitenant NSX-enabled cloud environment, Steadfast is committed to providing exceptional value to SMEs worldwide.
Public, private, hybrid — oh, my! When it comes to cloud deployments, businesses may seem to have a dizzying amount of choices. But, according to the experts at Steadfast, there’s no need to pick one: The future is decidedly hybrid.
Hybrid cloud infrastructure, which consists of a mix of private and public platforms, allows businesses to enjoy the best of both worlds simultaneously. Often, this approach improves agility, scalability, and reliability for the network as a whole.
To that end, Steadfast’s Simplicity Cloud services can be custom-built to combine multiple platforms in a hybrid cloud environment, including on-premise infrastructure, VMware vClouds, and public cloud services (such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure). The company’s hybrid cloud experts are now using the new VMware NSX to deliver virtualized networking and security solutions that support a software-defined datacenter approach.
And they’re doing it to provide unique value for their small and medium enterprise (SME) customers.
“So many SMEs haven’t moved much of anything to cloud services yet, and they aren’t doing it because the setup is way too difficult,” said Karl Zimmerman, CEO of Steadfast. “We’re now able to virtually set up a fully software-defined data center where they can basically replicate the things that they’re already doing in-house. It makes the transition much more comfortable.”
Moving forward, Steadfast will continue to leverage NSX in its Simplicity Cloud services to deliver virtualized networking and enhance security. The company’s managed services ensure that SMEs achieve streamlined performance and enhanced value overall. With plans for a multitenant NSX-enabled cloud environment on the way, Steadfast strives to put advanced technical solutions within reach for SMEs worldwide.
A Network Virtualization and Security Platform for SDDCs
Edward Dryer, Senior Technology Strategist at Steadfast, said NSX is a revolutionary technology that represents a paradigm shift in networking for SMEs.
“Their networks are extraordinarily complicated; they can involve 20 years of legacy design, and it’s truly a fundamental change to virtualize them,” he said. “But the benefits are clear: Once they strap themselves in and convert from their hub-and-spoke designs into north, south, east, west kinds of design, it adds security, function, and portability.”
Karl said NSX is comparable in certain respects to the cloud. “I look at the cloud as analogous, on a different level, to NSX in that a software-defined datacenter is really the virtualization of the network component, similar to what the cloud is doing for bare metal,” he said.
This provides never-before-seen levels of agility and accessibility, saving both time and resources. With NSX, Edward said clients are often up and running in days, rather than weeks. “You’re looking at a deployment that, in the past, would have taken many weeks to design and send out. Today, these deployments are being designed partly in the scoping process with the client, and then in a few days can be pushed out to the hardware that’s already in place.”
Steadfast’s goal is to combine cutting-edge technologies with managed services that allow business leaders to focus on their core competencies.
“With NSX plus our team, we have the technologies that allow businesses to do things largely the way they’ve been doing them, but we also have a team that can make sure that transition happens not just smoothly, but in a way that the business can take full advantage of all of the technologies,” Edward said.
Define Security Policy at the VM Level Through Micro-Segmentation
NSX brings clients additional levels of security by dividing virtual networks into incredibly small segments that are logically enforced regardless of physical network locations. The process, called micro-segmentation, keeps breaches from spreading throughout different parts of the network.
“In a traditional environment, even in a lot of cloud environments, you’re looking at a firewall in front of your infrastructure,” Edward said. “With micro-segmentation, you’re talking about individual policies for each VM, workload, or application within the NSX environment.”
This means that north-south traffic (client-to-server traffic between a datacenter and the rest of the network) is protected by policies in addition to east-west traffic (server-to-server traffic within a datacenter). These advanced technologies come with a cost, but Edward said Steadfast helps business leaders understand the value that comes along with them.
“With IT guys, it’s really easy — it’s either performance, or it’s not,” he said. “But with your business decision-makers, the challenge is explaining what is relevant — you have to show them a value that means something to them.”
With Steadfast’s Simplicity Cloud Services and NSX, that value includes comprehensive visibility and management capabilities, high availability, lateral security, and scalability, among numerous other benefits.
“In order to get those lower costs with other providers, you’re losing something: you’re losing that engineering knowledge, you’re losing that partnership,” Karl said. “The technologies that we’re talking about aren’t cheap — VMware charges a premium for them — but the value you get is incredible.”
Karl said anyone can log onto AWS, flip a switch, and spin up some machines. But that doesn’t mean they’re backed by a comprehensive cloud strategy.
Managed Services that Streamline Performance and Enhance Value
Steadfast is known for supporting clients through attentive and comprehensive managed services from day one. The moment a customer reaches out for managed networking services, Steadfast’s knowledgeable support staff is there to start designing a potential solution.
“That’s just part of what we do,” Karl said. “Sure, there are migration costs, but as far as the scoping process goes, we’re going to design all that with our clients upfront, as we have been for many years to show them how it’s going to work before they even sign on the dotted line.”
For SMEs, this type of service can be quite impactful. Say you’re adding a VLAN, for example. “Think about the hours involved and the potential human error,” Karl said. “In the VMware environment, we can see if it’s going to work correctly and make sure it’s taken care of and done within minutes.”
Labor and operational expenses add up — and Karl said those efficiencies make a real difference when it comes to the bottom line. “Values will always go up, whether it’s through ease of operation, ease of management, or an increased feature set,” he said.
Managed services through Steadfast aside, Edward said businesses adopt NSX for multiple reasons. First, he said, NSX “lowers the cost of switching and firewall technology because navigating east-west traffic versus north-south saves money on switching and connectivity infrastructure.”
Second, it streamlines communication between servers, enhancing performance. Third, it provides security and compliance benefits. Finally — and this is where Steadfast steps in — NSX allows users to adopt a software-defined data center.
Up Next: A Multitenant NSX-Enabled Cloud Environment
James Webb, COO at Steadfast, said the company has been working hard to design a multitenant cloud solution for those who seek a software-defined data center. The solution will lean heavily on NSX, which Steadfast maintains is the future of datacenter management.
“Our new push is a multitenant NSX-enabled cloud environment,” he said. “From what I can tell, we’re going to be one of the first ones to market with this particular implementation of NSX at a provider level.”
Of course, there’s no one solution for every SME — often, the best solution is an individualized setup tailored to customer needs. “That could mean things are going to get more complicated for the customers, but that’s why we’re here: to bring technology and people together so everyone can utilize our solutions in the best way possible,” James said.
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