Virtual Summit Wrapup: Architecting and Supporting the Pillars of IT in 2020

The next decade is around the corner: 2020 beckons, and with it come a host of challenges and opportunities in the IT space. To help get a handle on what we can expect, ActualTech Media held its largest-ever Virtual Summit on Nov. 8, 2019. In all, 12 vendors presented their vision of the future, and how their products will help enable that future.

The companies represented the full gamut of IT: storage, backup and disaster recovery, data management, automation, hyperconvergence, security, monitoring and more. Basically, anything that touches your infrastructure had a representative at this webinar. If you’re looking for solutions to your IT problems, these vendors are ready, willing, and able to lend a hand.

You can watch the full video by clicking here, or on the graphic at the top. Let’s go through each vendor’s presentation, and see what they had to say.


StorageCraft kicked things off, and positioned themselves as “One vendor. One solution.” They offer the hardware and software, making them a true one-stop shop.

Protecting and managing data is what StorageCraft is about, and they pointed to some statistics about ransomware and other cyberattacks and how vulnerable your data is on the internet.

Toward that end, StorageCraft showcased several new products. They included OneXafe and ShadowXafe, which are designed to provide and protect primary storage, both on-premises and in the cloud. They also highlighted their cloud services for things like backup and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS).

Expedient and Zerto

The next session was a tag-team effort from Expedient and Zerto. Their topic for the Summit was continuous availability, and how that type of resilience offers companies a competitive advantage as we move into 2020.

Zerto touted their “one platform for IT resilience” theme, which encompasses continuous data replication, application consistency grouping, journal-based recovery and long-term retention.

Cloud services provider Expedient delivers host-to-host replication service to Zerto, as they have done since 2012. During the Summit, they detailed their “push button DR,” which makes DRaaS as simple as just pushing a button. Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) can be delivered in near real-time, and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) can be as low as 15 minutes.


GitLab specializes in security for cloud-native apps. This is a crucial area of concern, since these apps are by their nature portable, typically deployed in containers, and therefore much more vulnerable than an application sitting behind a data center firewall.

That calls for different security strategies that require solid monitoring, automated response and standardization, policy automation and other controls that can keep the bad guys at bay.

One of the primary attack vectors that GitLab pointed out was misconfigured cloud storage, which has resulted in countless breaches. They also provided a handy 10-step guide to securing cloud-native and serverless software.


HPE spent their time focusing on their intelligent data platform. They began by showing how the nature of data location is changing, from on-premises only, to the cloud, and now to distributed Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

These evolving situations create issues in how to address the disparity of applications and data types across locations. What customers need, HPE said, is a consistent data plane. HPE calls their data plane “Flash Fabric.”

Its platform, which works across hybrid clouds, predicts and prevents issues across your infrastructure, which is why HPE calls it an “intelligent” platform. The platform, called “InfoSight,” can learn and adjust to changing conditions in real time.


Nutanix discussed private cloud during the event, starting with its advantages, and then a practical look at how to build it in a simple way.

Nutanix noted that companies need the rapid time to market, flexible consumption model, and innovation provided by public clouds. But there’s a drawback: the public cloud isn’t an option for every workload. Many companies, though, don’t realize this until they’ve moved them into the cloud, which is leading to many workloads being moved back to on-premises environments.

But those benefits don’t have to go away forever: a private cloud can still offer them, while giving organizations the control they need for compliance or regulatory requirements, cost issues, or other reasons.

Red Hat

Red Hat was all about “agile integration” during the Summit. As they pointed out, in digital business, nothing happens until something’s integrated. The success (or failure) of a new service or application depends on its ability to communicate with other services, across an infrastructure, in scalable and secure ways. For instance, if your website isn’t properly connected to your supply chain, its chances of success are greatly diminished.

The presentation then moved on to some practical observations, including that fast moving, highly productive teams feature developers who leverage the three pillars of agile integration: 1) distributed integration, 2) containers, and 3) APIs.

This integration is changing rapidly, as modern architecture has different needs and requirements. Your organization needs to keep up to stay competitive, and Red Hat believes it has a compelling story to tell there.


DataCore had a specific purpose in this Summit: to show attendees, with a simple three-step process, how to convert block, file, and cloud storage into a modern, auto-tiered resource pool.

It started with an overview of those storage types, and the obstacles that the disparate file types cause for organizations, given their different methods of provisioning, protecting data, assigning workloads, and so on.

The solution, they said, is to treat this diverse storage as a single storage pool, using software-defined storage (SDS). DataCore said their SDS solution eliminates hardware and vendor lock-in, giving IT departments maximum flexibility, while simultaneously making storage smarter, more efficient, and highly available.


KnowBe4 says they’re the world’s most popular integrated platform for security awareness training combined with simulated phishing attacks.

It made sense, then, that they focused on the huge cost to business of ransomware attacks and security breaches more generally. The average cost of a ransomware attack, for instances, was $133,000. Ouch.

KnowBe4 provided a list of things companies can do to protect themselves against these growing threats. At the top of the list was training users. This is good advice, since social engineering continues to be one of the most common ways that security’s compromised. Other checklist items included having backups that are isolated from the network, applying the principle of “Least Privilege” and keeping your systems patched.


SaltStack’s intriguing theme was “The Secret to Winning IT Security Roulette.” SaltStack is Python-based, open-source software for event-driven IT automation, remote task execution, and configuration management.

They spoke on the importance of an automated security workflow, and how this workflow is usually rather poor. This leads to continual firefighting, trying to constantly fix things and staying behind the security curve. It leads to leaky security, to say the least.

The answer to this problem, said SaltStack, is SecOps, which combines workflows, and quickly finds and resolves security issues using automation. Integrating security and operations is the key, and something not done in nearly enough organizations.


NetApp discussed a new IT buzzword that at first seems like a contradiction: disaggregated hyperconverged infrastructure (or HCI).

“Disaggregated HCI is The New HCI,” NetApp said in a slide. But what does that mean? For NetApp, it means expanding HCI capabilities to support multiple applications with guaranteed performance for even mixed workloads.

Disaggregated HCI enables businesses to scale compute and storage independently, with no wasted resources and reduced CapEx. That means more efficiency, without the silos that plague traditional data centers.


SolarWinds was the final presenter for the Virtual Summit, and their discussion revolved around how to monitor, manage, and secure Microsoft Azure. To that end, they provided statistics showing how much public cloud is growing, and Azure in particular. One slide stated that Azure adoption is now 85% of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in year-over-year numbers.

Customers still have multiple pain points, though, including increased IT complexity, regulatory and compliance issues, and a lack of control of, and visibility into, the performance and security of public cloud infrastructure.

SolarWinds then showed how having the proper processes in place—establishing fundamental controls, migration preparations, setting up solid monitoring once the switch is turned on, then managing it all efficiently (including multi-cloud environments), through a single pane of glass.

12 Vendors, Tons of Solutions

So there you have it: a dozen vendors showcasing their wares. Attendees got a thorough overview of the possibilities for digital transformation moving into the new year. Every one of them would be delighted for you to reach out and ask for a free trial or demonstration, or just to tell them you enjoyed their presentation.

Here’s to a great 2020!