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10:54AM

5 Years already!

JEO - Dad

Seems like only yesterday, but I still love you.

I miss you, Dad.

Always.

2:44AM

The SmallBizWindows Product of the Year 2016: Dell XPS 15

2016-32 - POTYThis is unusual.

And very much so.

For HP is our normal hardware vendor.

In fact, HP Inc. products are the only client systems we directly support, and always recommend.

Until now.

We brought in a few units of the Dell XPS 15 as test units for a customer requirement for a several hundred-unit buy of 15” Ultrabooks as replacements for the systems currently in use at that company.

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Sadly, I did not like any of the offerings I had in our inventory, and the visibility I had into HP Inc.’s products did not offer me any confidence enough to put ourselves on the line for them.

I had reviewed the delectable Dell XPS 13 at the start of 2015, and found it capable. Moreover, the word-of-mouth on the newly-released XPS 15 was very positive.

As a result, I decided to give a single unit a go.

I liked it, and authorized a few more units for the staff assigned to that account for their testing and review.

To cut matters short, it passed our muster splendidly.

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Because of that, it was named our SmallBizWindows Laptop of the Year 2016.

Barring any unforeseen issues, we shall be proceeding with implementing the Dell XPS 15s at the customer location later this year.

Also resultantly, the Dell XPS 15, our SmallBizWindows Laptop of the Year 2016, is also the SmallBizWindows Product of the Year 2016.

Congratulations, Dell.

2016-32 - POTY32016-22 - laptop

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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2:04AM

HPE Cloud Tech Day 2016, Part III: HPE Composable Infrastructure

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Why the skepticism, you may ask.

Well, I don’t like manufactured words. And ‘composable’, seemed to the the real-world manifestation of the product of some PR shill’s agile imagination, so I wanted no part of it.

However, I was brought around.

In this instance, HP is using the word composable to describe the ability datacenter architects have to take parts of already-installed devices, and use them to create a “virtual physical infrastructure”.

As mentioned above, I dislike manufactured words, unless it is a name. or descriptive.

As it turns out, HPE Composable architecture is both a name, and quite descriptive, of the functionality it innovates for the datacenter.

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The road here, for HPE

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HP Composable Infrastructure
At HPE, their Composable Infrastructure is defined as seen in the images below

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To do so, HPE has embraced the following design principles:

  • A Unified API. The HPE Composable API, where a single line of code can be used to abstract every element of infrastructure for full infrastructure programmability. Bare-metal interface for Infrastructure as a Service
  • Software-defined Intelligence. Utilizing HPE OneView Composer, HPE Image Streamer, to enable template-driven workload composition with frictionless operations.
  • Fluid Resource Pools. The power of Composable compute, storage, and fabric to build a single infrastructure of disaggregated pools, giving users physical, virtual, and containers, and auto-integrating of resource capacity

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What it all means

Simply: hybridization of your IT operations are now cloudified within your own data center.

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As I see it….
The huge potential for the dynamic orchestration and deployment of a ‘virtual physical infrastructure’ by HPE Composable cannot be overemphasized.2016-31 - fUTURE EXCITING- Z

With Composable, HP is allowing datacenter admins to come up with, and use as varied a physical configuration for their needs as they want, not restricted to the physical constrains of the architecture in their actual physical hardware.

Currently, this is limited to five physical racks. However, the variety within those racks is endless, and I fully expect that rack count barrier to fall very soon.

For these reasons and more, we are enamored with the potentiality of HPE Composable Infrastructure, and that is why HPE Composable Architecture was named one of the SmallBizWindows Most Exciting Future Products for 2016.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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1:51AM

The SmallBizWindows Hardware of the Year 2016: (tie) Logitech Group & HPE Proliant DL380 G9

2016-30 - hardwareThis was easy, and hard at the same time.

We use great hardware, and selecting an outright winner proved to be rather tough this year.

It boiled down to two products we use daily, and get extreme value from.

So, a tie.

The SmallBizWindows Hardware of the year Award winners are the Logitech Group video collaboration solution, and the HP Proliant DL380 G9 server.

Logitech Group
As seen here, and with the following specs, Logitech group builds on the foundation of the award-winning Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e, and delivers even more, with additional full-duplex, noise-cancelation microphones.

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Our review is forthcoming. This is our Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e review.

Logitech Group Product page.

HPE Proliant DL380
This is a Proliant.

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More than anything else, that means a lot: Solid. Reliable. Dependable. Manageable.

It is a multiple award winner from us.

it just works. Reliably.

HPE Proliant DL380 Product page

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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1:47AM

The SmallBizWindows Operating System of the Year 2016: Microsoft Windows 10

2016-15 - OSIt has been a while, but this selection was simple: despite my current ambivalence about the usefulness of Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Windows 10 is simply the best client operating system around, and the winner of the 2016 SmallBizWindows Operating System of the Year Award.

Windows In All Forms is our operating system choice.

The Windows client, known generally and currently as Microsoft Windows 10, is the only one we recommend to clients, friends, and family.

It is ubiquitous, easy to deploy, even easier to use, and simple to manage.

Moreover, it boasts the world’s largest collection of applications, from productivity applications to time wasters. The stored experience of technicians for it is unparalleled

Best of all, is its legacy support.

Just about everything works. Mostly without modification.

Microsoft Windows 10 is the SmallBizWindows Operating System of the Year for 2016.

You truly CANNOT do better than it.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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1:34AM

The SmallBizWindows Laptop of the Year 2016: Dell XPS 15

2016-22 - laptopThough I love the 13-inch class of notebook computers, and my 12” laptop, sometimes, I find myself lusting for the added screen space afforded users by 15”-class of laptops.

(I won’t carry a 17-incher as my daily driver, so don’t even ask about them!)

Based on the fantastic performance and desirability of the Dell XPS 13, I really looked forward to their XPS 15.

I obtained a unit back in December, and from it. I found out that Dell has upped the ante.

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The Dell XPS 15
My review unit came with an Intel Core 17, 16GB of RAM, a beautiful touchscreen, and a 522 GB SSD.

I obtained this unit for a review to satisfy a client’s requirement for replacing his entire inventory of laptops, for which the optimal screen size was 15”.

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Initially thinking I would use the device for only a few weeks, I ended up using it for the past 11 weeks.

This is a very good, very capable laptop.3

It is powerful, very well designed, lightweight enough, and with excellent battery life.

It is the class of this space, and as such, we are bestowing the SmallBizWindows Laptop of the Year Award on it.

As a result, the Dell XPS 15 was presented the SmallBizWindows Superstar Award.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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1:18AM

The SmallBizWindows Server of the Year 2016: HP Proliant DL380 G9

2016-26 - serverIt probably comes as no surprise that the venerable HP DL380 G9 is again the SmallBizWindows Server of the Year award winner.

It is powerful: the Proliant DL380 G9 (9th generation) uses the very latest in available parts to deliver the highest performance to date. Proliant DL380 is equipped with up to 2 Intel Xeon E5-2600 V3 CPUs, with up to 18 total cores, up to 1.5 TB of DDR4 RAM spread over 24 DIMM slots, and 6 expansion slots, all this in a 2U package.

It is highly manageable: HP Proliant servers come with HP Integrated Lights Out or iLO management. This allows users to delve into virtually all configurational aspects of the server to achieve desired implementation.

It is extremely reliable: a 3-year parts, labor, and on-site warranty is included.

It plays well with others: HP Proliant DL380 plus iLO works magnificently with Microsoft Systems Center. I mean, what more could you ask for?

As I go to ‘press’, the HP Proliant DL380 has spawned an offspring: the HPE HyperConverged 380*.

The HyperConverged 380 is the first, and entry-level product in HPE’s futuristic ‘Composable Architecture’ line.

I learned a little bit more about it at the recent HPE Cloud Tech Day in Houston, and I will be bringing you more on it if I can snag briefing from the product manager for the product.

As a result of these goodness, the HP Proliant DL380 G9 is the 2016 SmallBizWindows Server of the Year.

*I don’t know if that’s the full, and correct trade name for the product. I will post an update when I verify.

Specific Server Categories
Blade Server
We did not have any requirement for blade servers this year.

Subsequently, we did not test or review any of the new blades.

However, our champion from 2015, the HP Proliant BL460c G9 still stands supreme. In our minds.

RackMount Server
The HP Proliant DL380. See above.

Tower Server
2016-23 - TOWER-ZThe much loved HP Proliant ML350.

That’s our workhorse, our Logikworx Management Server, and present in every location we manage, including all ROBO locations.

HPE Proliant ML350

ICYMI: HPE has a new entry-level tower server, the HPE Proliant ML10. I cannot wait to get that puppy on a test bench!

Finally, I have been challenged to try other server OEMs as review foils – my words J - or baseline/reference systems.

For continuity’s sake, and for consistency, I will validate a single OEM with which we shall work across all the server lines we utilize. That seems only fair. Stay tuned.

2016-26 - server42016-23 - TOWER-Z

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12:35AM

HPE Cloud Day 2016, Part II: HyperConverged Infrastructure

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HPE and HyperConverged Systems
Funny thing about HyperConverged: there are one or two firms actually delivering innovation, and innovative products in this space, of which only Nutanix readily comes to mind. The rest of the crowd are largely using the ‘hyper-converged’ buzzword to verbally modernize their lame, tired offerings.

Standing apart from these clowns however, is HPE.

HPE’s path to datacenter infrastructure hyperconvergence and beyond is not new.

HPE publicly unveiled, and has been talking about the converged datacenter since 2009, when then-HP SVP Ann Livermore announced HP Converged Infrastructure Architecture.

Funny how time flies. The vision that seemed rather esoteric then is now de rigeur, has been bypassed by HyperConverged, and is now at composable.

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With HyperConverged systems coming to the fore, choices have to be made that reflect true infrastructure convergence. It is not enough to take a rack, insert whitebox servers into it, generic storage appliances, slap any common top-of-rack networking module on it, and call it “hyper-converged”.

That, it isn’t.

HyperConverged requires a dedicated set of products working in sweet symphony to deliver orchestration and deployment that can be equally easily managed.

As a result of that Converged Infrastructure vision, HPE products have gained individual intelligence and remote manageability over the intervening iterations.

This hasn’t been by accident: intelligence in almost every strata of the hardware means that the manager has a greater visibility into the underlying infrastructure, allowing for easier, more reliable hyper-converged implementations to occur.

Why HPE for HyperConverged?
Simple: they’re iterating faster, and have a roadmap that, while continually evolving, allows you to retain the value of your investments in their products.

HP’s first product was the HyperConverged 200 StoreVirtual. This product combined compute, storage, networking, and VMware in a preconfigured package. Based on a Proliant, and housed in a 2U rack, the HC200 contained 4 servers.

The follow-on product, and improvement on the HC-200 was the HPE Hyper Converged 250 system, especially the version of HC-250 that comes with Microsoft Cloud Platform System, aka, the one which replaces VMware with Microsoft Hyper-V/Microsoft Azure Pack.

While a plurality of the server virtualization uses VMware, for us, it is Hyper-V and Azure. That makes this product one to look at, and look out for when building out hybrid clouds for clients.

Today, HPE has the Hyper Converged 380. Using the underpinnings of the venerated HP Proliant DL380, the HC 380 ramps up performance even more, utilizing the latest Intel Xeon E5 CPUs, NVIDIA coprocessors, 128-768 GB R-DIMM, or 1024-1536 GB LR-DIMM, the same 2U form factor, and more.

At this time, I don’t believe Microsoft CPS is supported. However, I am awaiting a reply to my enquiry on that.

As I see it….
The brainmap image above says it all: the days of siloed, and traditionally outfitted datacenters are over. In fact, basic converged infrastructure implementations are just about at end-of-life.

Any new, or improvement to your datacenter has to start at hyper-converged in order to be future-proof, and for both capex, and operational financial efficiency.

Reliability, and speed of service delivery to your users will be vastly improved as well.

Interestingly, costs of entry seem to be normalized relative to basic systems, and not priced as the loops at #1, Infinite Loop, in Cupertino, would have priced such innovations.

Today, now, you have no excuse for not going with hyper-converged.

And for just about all of us, HPE HyperConverged is the only reasonable choice.

* Much thanks to Calvin Z.(@calvinzito) for his info on the genealogy of the HPE Hyper Converged appliances

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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12:27AM

The SmallBizWindows Cloud Service of the Year 2016: Microsoft Azure

2016-13 - cloudIt is always very smart to take the prognostications of the dunderheads that make up the cheering section formally known as the tech media with a very jaundiced eye.

Why?

Because of their insularity as regards everything Silly Valley!

While the level of cynicism may seem unfair, it really is not, and quite justified.

For instance, look at cloud services.

If, Amazon and Microsoft, both firms not based in Silicon Valley, but in the Pacific Northwest state of Washington, had heeded their writings and evangelism, we would not have either Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure today.

The lamestream tech media had already called it for Google, with companies like Rackspace as runner-up, and both Microsoft and Amazon as cannon-fodder also-rans.

Today is May 1, in the Year of Our Lord 2015, Anno Domini, and guess who the leaders are in this space?

By revenue: Amazon Web Services.

By features, ease of use, and extremely idiot-proof hybridization, Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft Azure is Windows. A superset of it.

Microsoft Azure is Hyper-V. Again, a superset of it.

Microsoft Azure is easy to use.

Microsoft Azure is inexpensive.

Microsoft Azure makes my staff’s jobs happy.

Many more, but I am sure you get the reasons why Microsoft Azure is the SmallBizWindows Cloud of the Year 2016.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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12:08AM

The SmallBizWindows Printer of the Year 2016: The Epson EcoTank System

2016-02 - PrinterInnovation is not just invention, but sometime a creative new way of looking at things, and of making ordinary everyday items not only more useful, but quite indispensable.

Take printing, for example.

Our SmallBizWindows Printer of the Year 2016 is not actually a printer, but a printing innovation: a printer with integrated ink tanks that last a minimum of one year to about two years, and cost a whole lot less than if you purchase the inks individually over the same period of time.

This is the Epson EcoTank system.

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This, friends, is true innovation in this space.

Why so?

Because printing was in a decline due to the fact that printer inks are priced astronomically. So much so that people have actually stopped printing.

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Mix in the fact that kids nowadays consume their documents and photographic media online, and you have a disaster in the making.

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Printer OEMs didn’t help.

They have been, well, stupid. Their greedy pricing schemes have contributed to people not wanting to create printed documents.

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Environmental consciousness has been another dagger into that heart.

Into this breach steps Epson with their affordable, long-term inks, and printers, the EcoTank, our SmallBizWindows Printer(s) of the Year 2016.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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11:22AM

The SmallBizWindows Most Exciting Current Product (tie): Symphony

2016-08- Most exciting current techOh, Slack.

You’ve just got to love the absolutely incredible word of mouth, and the almost unbelievable amount of ink expended in the touting of that product’s necessity. Or utility.

However, much of that word of mouth has come from the lamestream – sorry about the Palinite word – technology media that seems to cream themselves over every new-NEW! that emanates from Silly Valley.

That said, what Slack has done, is highlight the need for collaborative messaging platforms.

For which I give you, Symphony.

What is Symphony?
sy_250x50_koSymphony is an enterprise-grade, secure, compliant messaging and collaboration platform.

It is engineered for businesses of all sizes, or far-flung teams working within, and external to a business. It is also highly customizable, and meets the complex regulatory, compliance, and data security requirements of that most demanding of sectors, the financial industry. Which, in fact, it was initially developed for.

Why we like it
The following thing about Symphony excite us the most:

  1. It is built to be secure. Symphony has end-to-end encryption for everything. Yes, including searches. That means your stuff remains your stuff. No peeking.
  2. Collaborative messaging. From one-to-one to group collaboration, both internal and external to businesses, collaboration is one of the foundational planks for which Symphony is built
  3. Cloud-based. It is available where you want it. iOS and Android apps are available today. Sadly, if you want Symphony for BlackBerry or Symbian, you’re out of luck. Smile
  4. Partners. Symphony has partnered with several firms in order to bring richer content to their eponymous app. These include Dow Jones, McGraw Hill Financial, Selerity, FlexTrade, Ipreo, GreenKey and InFront.
  5. Bonus: apps. Symphony – the company, has exposed a set of API for developers to build value on Symphony – the product, allowing further customizations. Auto-workflow apps and bots are also there.
  6. David Gurle, Symphony founder and CEO. David’s pedigree in this space is unparalleled. His ideas have influenced the major trends in enterprise communications over the last 15 years. He defined Microsoft’s unified communications strategy with Skype for Business – formerly known as Lync; and as head of collaboration services at Thomson Reuters, he introduced federated communications to the financial services industry. Before founding Perzo/Symphony, he was VP and GM of Skype’s Enterprise Business.

Symphony takes what is available with Slack, and amps it up, making security and compliance cornerstones of the product. That security extends to searches, which is not available with Slack.

It is simple to use, and on-ramping is rather easy. We were able to get far-flung employees and external consultants collaborating virtually instantly.

It is now free, and unlimited to use for individuals and teams, with an easy signup process. There is a business version, for which prices are displayed at www.symphony.com. Both Symphony for business and enterprise offers include the full range of administrative and compliance features

Additionally, Symphony is very well funded, with a plurality of the world’s largest financial institutions investing in it from the get-go.

For businesses not subject to the whims of the blogorrhea emanating from the Internet, this is a secure collaborative platform that should take care of your needs.

As a result, it is a SmallBizWindows Most Exciting Current Technology Award winner.

I hope to deliver a more detailed review and more on this product over the course of the year. 

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:35PM

HPE Cloud Day 2016, Part I

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The Cloud. The Cloud!!!

This ‘cloud’ thing is dangerous.

It is dangerous because it is a very subliminal, almost stealthy paradigm shift, that is evolving computing as we currently know it is ways that are so great, yet, largely invisible.

I will almost hazard a conjecture – hard hats, please! Open-mouthed smile – that several CEOs at largish firms are shocked when faced with the knowledge that the cloud is their only way forward.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Intel Cloud Day in San Francisco, where Intel, who’s CPUs are technically the engines powering the cloud, delivered their latest offerings in that quest.

This time, it is HP, talking about what they are offering to firms looking to make the transition.

Private, Public, or Hybrid?
The smartest firms always offer choice, correctly noting that each firm’s situation is somehow, unique.

ISVs, OEMs, and vendors destined for fails never realize that, exposing their customers and users to untold pain, and financial suffering.

I am glad to see that HP recognizes this.

There are three kinds of cloud that are in general, corporate use: public, private, or hybrid.

Following the hyperlinks will lead to brief descriptions.

HPE products are used in all of them, befitting HPE’s position as the largest server vendor on with side of the Alpha or Beta Quadrants.

Unlike my trepidations with Intel, for HPE I had none. In my dealing with them over the past decade plus, HPE’s Enterprise products team has constantly and continually delivered upgrades and updates to their Proliant offerings, enough to please even the most jaundiced of sysadmins, talk less of higher-ups who only tend to be enamored with figures.

I was not disappointed.

HPE Proliants are ready: The afore-mentioned HPE Proliants are ready for cloud computing, be it private, public, or hybrid.

HPE OneView is Ready: OneView is HPE’s orchestration and management software solution.

It is has been readied for the cloud, and works with most 3rd-party management schemes, especially our favorite, Microsoft Systems Center.

HPE is committed to Windows Server: Though I hear a lot about Linux, Windows Server is one of the MFNs (most-favored nations, or server OSs) for both HP Proliant, and HP’s cloud efforts.

HPE is committed to OpenStack: They are. If you are interested in, or vested in OpenStack, contact HPE; they will tell you more. I am not so…

HPE is virtualization-hypervisor-agnostic: HPE’s cloud efforts, I am informed, work very well with Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware, and KVM. This is very good, as it allows you to choose your poison, then bring it to the dance.

In Part II, I will report on HP’s HyperConverged status, and follow that with Part III, which will be about HPE’s Composable architecture.

Related

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:28PM

The SmallBizWindows Networking Product of the Year: the Aruba Networks Instant 325

2016-19 - NETWORKING -ZFor a second, the excellent HPE 5406 Switch seemed like it was going to be a repeat winner, then came the Aruba Networks*

Following a recommendation from HPE’s Kenn D., I obtained an Aruba Instant 325 device for testing and reviewing.

Just after HPE closed the deal for Aruba Networks, I had the opportunity to listen to Dominic Orr, CEO of Aruba at HP Discover Las Vegas 2015. This very animated man informed me that Aruba dogfooded it: everyone at Aruba was wireless.

I like companies that dogfood it!

That, including my respect for Kenn’s counsel, gave me the confidence to use, and depend on Aruba’s gear.

I have not been disappointed.

The Instant 325 is wicked-fast, easy to deploy and use, idiot-proof in managing, adjusting the device needed.

We have had no issues with it.

Consequently, it is the SmallBizWindows Networking product of the Year 2016

  • And NO! I won’t be writing the full, Rube Goldberg-ish trade name that HPE insists on calling Aruba Networks, and their products!

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:24PM

Intel Cloud Day 2016 Panel: Driving Optimized Cloud Solutions for the Next 10,000 Clouds

I had the opportunity to sit in a session at Intel Cloud Day 2016 called Driving Optimized Cloud Solutions for the Next 10,000 Clouds.

The panel was made up of representatives from Cisco, CoreOS, Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Mirantis, and Supermicro.

It was quite illuminating.

No only are several players approaching the tasks of enabling cloud infrastructures, they are doing it from several angles.

From OpenStack (Mirantis), to secure, containerized operating systems (CoreOS), to software-defined networking (Cisco) to commodity servers used as the basis for appliances (Supermicro) to vertically-integrated hardware OEMS – Dell and HP.

I loved all the answers to the moderators questions, which were fair, and gave everyone an opportunity to talk.

While everyone tried to stretch out the deliverance of their wares for the future cloud, Dell’s Jim Ganthier shone. He delivered answers that were not only relevant, but showed a direct nexus to a Dell offering just for that specific answer.

I was able to use his products as a baseline for a study being undertaken at Logikworx which seeks to determine what steps the average SMB business owner should take on their journey to cloudifying their operations.

He definitely put Dell into the conversation.

Conclusions
SDI, coupled with DevOps will rule the datacenter of the future.

Solutions to be delivered must be self-serviceable, easily implemented, and be extremely agile, enabling dynamic configurational change.

This requirement should spread across your devs, software, and hardware.

Nothing less will do. Any vendor that cannot deliver will be a hindrance to you business.

Avoid them.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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8:41AM

The SmallBizWindows Exciting Future Products 2016: Windows Server 2016 Windows 10 ‘Redstone’, & HPE Composable

These three items stand out as the most exciting products or tech we are looking forward to: HPE’s ‘Composable Architecture’, Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update, and Windows Server 2016.

Why?

HPE Composable Architecture
2016-31 - fUTURE EXCITING- ZImagine hyperconverged on steroids, uppers AND crack!

The idea of composable architecture is the ability to install a rack, or the current max of a 5-pack of racks, of composable hyperconverged assets.

‘Composable’ is HPE’s term for highly customizable products, that can be dynamically reconfigured ad hoc, letting administrative composers(?) create required hardware combos that they can stand up almost instantaneously.

If HPE can get this done correctly, quickly, and cost-efficiently, they will totally redefine the datacenter. Leastways, for when high speed reconfigurations are concerned.

Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update
2016-31 - fUTURE EXCITING- ZBased on what I am see in in the Redstone Insider Fast builds, what I am reading in the knowledgeable industry rags, glossies, and websites, and most especially, based on what Deep PacNorWester – my codename for the conglomeration of Microserfs that make up my valued ‘inside people’ – are telling me, this update to Windows 10 will be very impressive.

Microsoft is slowly, surely, righting all the wrongs.

Importantly, Microsoft Edge is starting to feel like a worthy improvement to not just Internet Explorer, but to all of the other browsers out there.

Sadly, no word on whether Windows 10 Storage Spaces will offer deduplication capabilities.

Oh, and containers!

Microsoft Windows Server 2016
2016-31 - fUTURE EXCITING- ZIf you know me well, you know that I have much respect and affection for the Server and Tools Bu at Microsoft.

They have never failed me, neither have they dropped the ball on delivering a smooth and very reliable product.

Well, they are continuing on that tract with Windows Server 2016.

Formerly codenamed Windows Server.Next – yes, even Mighty Microsoft can have brain farts, especially when it comes to product nomenclature! – Server 2016, as is the Microsoft norm, will be filled with enough goodness to make any sysadmin think they have died and gone directly to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

  • Windows Server Nano? Check.
  • Windows Server Containers? Check.
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux? Check. <- I don’t give a shift about this, but hell.
  • Beefed up Storage Pools? Check.
  • More, more more.

For which you can see why.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:33PM

The SmallBizWindows Most Exciting Current Product (tie): HyperConverged Infrastructure

We have a tie for Most Exciting Current Product: one is a product category, the other is an actual shipping product.

2016-08- Most exciting current techThe SmallBizWindows Most Exciting Current Product or Technology (tie) : HyperConverged Infrastructure

Hyperconverged or Hyper-Converged, is a new product category that is sweeping the datacenter by storm, especially in this past year.

Hyperconverged – my preferred spelling Smile – is the current iteration of a wave started back in 2009 by then-HP*, and dubbed Converged Infrastructure Architecture.

Hyperconverged takes that vision further, melding virtualization into what was formerly a troika of hardware components: compute, storage, and networking.

clip_image002I may be wrong, but I believe the first firm to go commercial with hyperconverged products was Nutanix. In fact, I am told, it was that distributed file system that helped Nutanix gain initial traction. (Feel free to correct me. Thank you.)

This sector is smokin’ hot right now, I decided to ask Keith Townsend**, (@CTOAdvisor) a few questions on hyperconverged infrastructure:

John Obeto: is Hyperconverged really a thing for virtualization, or is it a new case of buzzword bingo?

Keith Townsend: Hyper-converged is a serious option for pure virtual environments. This is especially the case for applications that are virtualization friendly such as VDI.

JO: Who benefits most in the short term? Users or vendors?

KT: Both users and HCI vendors can benefit. While most HCI solutions have a cost premium. SMB's can reduce overall operational expenses.

JO: Who is poised to be the single biggest loser?

KT: Legacy storage providers that sold into the SMB ROBO space may find that HCI cannibalizes those opportunities.

Thanks, Keith.

However, this space is rapidly heating up, as the bigs get into it.

I was at HPE’s sprawling Houston campus for HPE Tech Day, and HP seems to have taken hyperconverged even further with their ‘composable’ architecture. I shall have more on that in a later post.

*HP’s enterprise division is now a standalone company, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, or HPE.

**Keith Townsend is an Enterprise Architect and founder of http://www.thectoadvisor.com with over 18 years experience, including several with a "Big 4"global consultancy as a management consultant. He has a Bachelors and a Masters Degree from DePaul University, and currently works for a large BioPharma just north of Chicago.

Acronymania

  • HCI: HyperConverged Infrastructure
  • ROBO: Remote office/Branch Office
  • SMB: Here, as in Small & Medium-sized Business
  • VDI: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Nutanix is www.nutanix.com

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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10:42PM

Off to HPE Hyper-Converged and Composable Infrastructure Blogger Tech Day

I am off to the heart of Texas for the HPE Hyper-Converged and Composable Infrastructure Blogger Tech Day which takes place on April 13.

As usual, this should be chock full of actionable information, and I am hoping it will also be where HPE’s long-talked-about new hyperconverged product will be unveiled.

I understand that some information may be under NDA, so lips will be sealed for them. However, most of the event will be public, and I will make sure to let y’all know what’s going on.

Some preliminary information is here, and please follow the hashtag #HPETechDay on Twitter.

Let’s do this!

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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7:56PM

I was at Intel Cloud Day 2016

I was at Intel Cloud Day which took place at the end of last month in San Francisco.

I believe this day was quite necessary.

The Cloud
Even if you strip apart all of the ‘cloud-washing’ going on, the fact remains that the cloud is here, now, and rather inevitable for all but the most secure, or the most mundane of tasks.

Right now, and except for extreme instances, Intel has a dominance not seen since the heydays of IBM’s mainframe hegemony. Most clouds are x86-based, and in them, Intel rules supreme. Intel’s Xeon CPUs are the class of cloud computing, without a doubt.

Though Intel leads in having its chips – both central processing units (CPUs) and chipsets – running an impressive majority of datacenters, that same dominance leads profit-envious firms to want to participate.

Witness, ARM.

While the thought of ARM chips running server-class workloads seems fanciful today, the truth remains that ARM might make a breakthrough one of these days that allows ARM to be the primary CPU vendor for datacenters, with Intel kicked out of that henhouse.

However, ARM has been nibbling on the heels of Intel. It is emboldened by the dominance it enjoys in the mobile space, and is making noises about scaling up into webscale-class CPUs.

Thankfully, Intel does not seem to be suffering from what that great sage of SMB computing, John Obeto II, calls ‘The Myopia of the Dominant Incumbency’.

Intel has been improving the products called out above, and also the peripheral components that help them. Intel’s Xeon chips have continually improved every year, largely following “Moore’s Law”.

What I want to see, is how Intel will be making clouds more accessible to VARs and enterprises for whatever solutions we aim to implement for our clients.

Intel Cloud Day, NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center, San Francisco, California
The keynote is headlined by Diane Bryant, Senior Vice President & General Manager of the Data Center Group, Intel

Diane immediately lays down a fact: “The cloud has the potential to be more impactful than the PC”.

This is true. In today’s primarily mobile world, most, if not all data lives in a cloud somewhere. These days, just about everything we do is somehow connected to the web. If you live a mobile life, assume that almost 100% of your life resides outside the physical parameters of your mobile device.

I’m sure it comes as a surprise to non-technical folks that these apps are not powered by some kind of computer magic, or pixie dust. The sysadmins toiling thanklessly in datacenters around the world could use some luv and appreciation.

She follows on by reminding us that clouds now tend to be spread across private, public, hybrid, and across multiple cloud providers.

Even for me as a consumer of Microsoft assets, I find myself using other apps, services and whatnots from other providers on a daily basis. That is a fact of daily life today.

"Intel Cloud for All"
Intel’s proposition is to be “there”, in every conversation when clouds, private, public, and hybrid are mentioned.

In other words, they want to be the enabler of the next 10,000 clouds.

To reach there, they have identified three objectives:

    1. Investments in the Cloud: they are going to have to standardize software defined infrastructures, using improvements there to drive efficiency and mitigate deployment woes.
    2. Optimize the Cloud: look at the cloud today. The needlessly varied cloud infrastructures make the term ‘Balkanization’ seem optimistic. Structure is needed in order to optimize cloud across various workloads, not the other way around.
    3. Align the industry to accelerate cloud deployments. Their own words, not mine. For which I wish them luck. It is a great ideal. I just don’t see how it could be pulled off. I hope I am proven wrong.

In order to do that, they have assembled an impressive list of global consumers of Intel's cloud offerings across several markets and verticals to help bring the goal to fruition.

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New Intel #Xeon, the E5-V4

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To help make these plans come to life, Intel is seeding computing with two new products: the Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4 CPU series, and a datacenter-class (?) SSD family, the P3520/3320, and D3700/3600 SSDs.

The Intel Xeon E5-2600 V4
As we all know, Intel Xeons are the dedicated server parts Intel produces.

For this new rev, Intel has raised performance even higher. Compared to the previous gen CPUs, the E5-V4 series now contain up to 22 processing cores per CPU. Coupled with virtualization, this new chips are able to deliver up to a 40% increase in performance, while some security workloads can see a 70% performance gain.

While impressive, the star of these new CPUs seem to be the Intel Resource Director technology.

The images below show a simplified view of how Intel Resource Director works.

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Intel Resource Director tech seems to have completely won over @NASDAQ, w/ potential for 4x datacenter efficiency

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I will need ,ore information and more data on Intel Resource Director before I crown it. However, it is a very important development. And one that, no doubt, would be very welcome to datacenter architects and managers.

The new PCIe-based SSDs are optimized for high performance, with very low latency. Just right for datacenters and the cloud, I am told.Evidently, they are faster than SATA. Until Howard Marks (@DeepStorageNet) says so, a grain of salt for me for now.

Several partner case studies are trotted out.

The case study that made the most profound impact on me from was the one by Dr. Joe Gray from the Knight Cancer Institute at the Oregon Health & Science University where they are trying to create drugs targeted ad hoc to each individual, since, as they put it, each cancer, is microscopically different because of the minute mutations from victim to victim.

They are harnessing open source to do this.

In a nutshell, they basically have to create precision medicines, since every cancer is technically unique, based on the victim's distinct DNA

As profound, but in a very scary way, was the statement below:

Healthcare data is so informative and rich that previously anonymized patient PII can be easily de-anonymized

My takeaway: security has to be an intrinsic part of your infrastructure plans, datacenter or not!

 

One of the greatest barriers to nirvana in the cloud is the lack of standardization, across training, expertise, standards, certifications, and more.

Coincidentally, it was something I had some thought on shortly before this event. Please follow the link above to read the article on CIO.com

In Summary…
Intel is all in.

I came away from Intel Cloud Day 2016 with the realization that Intel understands the stakes involved here.

It just cannot produce faster, more powerful and/or more efficient CPUs, chipsets, and other components, then let the chips – no pun – fall wherever they may.

It has to lead several parties into the creation of a cohesive ecosystem that delivers coherent, quantifiable solutions that help drive further cloud adoption.

My only issue with all this is the reliance on OpenStack to deliver.

Personally, I have issues with a Hydra-headed organization composed of very vocal extremists who wage their little jihads as they try to steer their most-favored into being the standards. This is where I need a “Show Me”. (See the TV series “Fringe for deciphering that term.)

Show me, OpenStack.

Apart from that, Intel is on to ‘A Good Thing’!

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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12:14PM

The SmallBizWindows Scanner of the Year 2016: The Epson WorkForce WF-7610 All-In-One

2016-08 - ScannerWide-format devices are hard to come by.

Affordable wide-format devices are just about impossible to find.

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The Epson WorkForce WF-7610 is one really cool printer.

It is a large-format all-in-one, meaning that it not only prints on up to 11” x 17” paper, it has a scanning bed that does the same as well.

Ii use it for diagramming the work I do, and it is great.

My Princess has adorned my entire office with her masterpieces, some created freehand, then copied, or others created from her HP Sprout computer.

I could go on, but read this exchange.

My buddy Justin had a requirement.

I replied thusly:

Epson turned out to be what he wanted.

Remember also, that this is a sibling to our multi-year Printer of the Year Award winner, the Epson WordForce WF-5690. I has all of the great things we like about the WF-5690 plus the added benefit of being a large-format device.

Consequently, the Epson WorkForce WF-7610 is the SmallBizWindows Scanner of the Year.

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© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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7:10PM

Intel Cloud Day, San Francisco.

I am in lovely San Francisco for Intel Cloud Day.

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As the primary  - OK, incredibly dominant – developer of the CPUs used in cloud datacenters globally, Intel has to have ears to the ground trying to decipher what trends are forthcoming, and what it needs to do in order to both facilitate those trends, and equally importantly, use that knowledge to stay relevant.

Because ARM.

It is very good to see Intel knows this, and has created this event.

I go now to dinner with a subsection of the delegates to this event.

I shall keep you posted.

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