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8:24PM

Women’s Equality Day

Infuriatingly, it is a day shared with Dog’s Day.snip_20160827202113

While dogs are ‘Man’s Best Friend”, - man in this case not gender-specific, the fact remains that women are paid less than men for comparable jobs.

In a fantastic development, Kim Tran of Symphony Communications has written a blog post on this very important issue.

In it, she details Symphony’s commitment to gender equality.

It is very detailed, which is great, as it contains metrics that would help quantify progress.

Please read it here, as it stops me from mansplaining this issue.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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1:38PM

Windows 10 & Device Driver Coverage:

This is something Microsoft ALWAYS gets right.

No matter what your thoughts are about Windows – if you are not in awe, shush, and go to a lower table! – you cannot deny that Microsoft has made device discovery, and driver coverage an almost no-brainer.Windows_Insider_Firemonkey-310x102-Band

Windows 10, now in the Anniversary Edition build, is the first version in ages designed expressly for upgrades, which traditionally, have been for a small section of Windows users.

I have been able to upgrade several gen systems to Windows 10 without difficulty, including several PCs which had been mothballed.

For small businesses on shoestrings or constrained budgets, this is a very good thing. Since they can leverage their current resources to being productive until budgets allow.

It is also very astute, as it removes a potential roadblock to upgrading to Windows 10.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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11:04PM

Shiny New Thing: HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile All-In-One Printer

One of the greatest myths foisted upon us in this day and age, is that of the “paperless office”.

Boy, what a crock!

In some industries, paper use has been drastically reduced. In some, it is stagnant. At the rest, it has actually increased!

Moreover, since the demise of the unlamented facsimile machine, some specific industries require documents to be printed, signed, and then scanned for both records keeping, payments, and client/customer copies.

Adding to this, is the fact that sometimes, mobility is a requirement.

The result is a need for a mobile all-in-one multifunction printer.

Enter the HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile All-In-One Printer2-HP-OfficeJet-250-Mobile-All-in-One-Printer-1-450x450

I am in possession of this tidy device.

This is a portable, battery or mains MFC.

It is wireless, with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi – including HP Wi-Fi Direct, which allows for direct-to-printer connectivity without the need for a network. A paper-sensing, 10-page document feeder with auto page width sensors is included.

I have a couple of review scenarios that should tell us more about the capabilities of this printer.

Stay tuned.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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10:07PM

One Week with Windows 10 Anniversary Edition

No superlatives for this release.Windows_Insider_Anniversary-Ninjacat-800x1280a

OK, just one: this is the best Windows client release by Microsoft.

Ever!

It is immediately useful – a paramount requirement, for me – right ‘out the box’.

Upgrades are simple, speedy, and incredibly idiot-proof.

A lot of the issues with the initial release of Windows 10 have been fixed, and several hiccups have been taken care of.

Should you upgrade?
That really shouldn’t be the question.

The right question, as I see it, must be: how fast can I upgrade?

If you are on any pre-Windows 10 upgrade, do so as soon as your testing for incompatibilities with your LOB applications is complete.

In fact, do speed up your incompat testing regimen in order to do so faster.

If you are on Windows 10, it’s a no-brainer.

Unless there is a dependency or dependencies in your computing infrastructure that requires the version of Windows client you currently use, you should upgrade.

If you suffer from those dependencies, you have to remove them: start planning for replacement applications that are not tied to obsolete operating systems.

Going forward…
Over a series of posts, I will talk about those features in Windows 10 that I like, the improvements I see, and where Microsoft has absolutely missed the boat, with regards to glaring omissions, or to downright incompetence.

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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10:42PM

The Windows Touch Keyboard: Microsoft, why isn’t the default set to on?

Microsoft, why is this the selected default?

tablet option

1a Tablet option

Seriously.

I mean, if the system detects that there isn’t a keyboard, and that it has a touchscreen, again, why isn’t the default be that the onscreen keyboard automagically popup?

This is one of the vestigial silliness that makes me incredibly frustrated at Microsoft!

It is also a very annoying source of support calls that we have to field from first-time users to the touchscreen systems we deploy for clients.

Do you think I like those non-revenue-bearing calls?

Do you?

Microsoft, wake up!

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12:28AM

Dell and Innovating: Supercomputing

While at the last Dell Innovation Days 2016, I had an opportunity to see Dell’s innovation at a customer’s solution firsthand, at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, or TACC.

IMG_3515TACC, located on the grounds of the University of Texas, runs several supercomputers, also known as HPCs or high performance computers, on behalf of the National Science Foundation, and in conjunction with several other universities on behalf of researchers and scientist around the country.

Personally, it was a surprise.

As previously stated, Dell, to me, has always been a follower in terms of enterprise hardware innovations.

In fact, I really didn’t think Dell had innovated anything since their entre into laptops which brought new form factors and excellent prices to that segment about two decades ago.

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In other words, I was an unBelieber!

This is my mea culpa: I was wrong.

For one thing, the supercomputing space requires not just the financial wherewithal to do things, but a lot of innovation.

And Dell has hit the ground with a proverbial ‘Big Bang’ in this space, placing several devices in the Supercomputer Top500 list, including TACC’s Stampede, which debuted on the list at #7 back in 2012.

At launch, TACC Stampede sported a plethora of Dell PowerEdge C8220 servers, each running Intel Xeon E5-2860 CPUs coupled with the Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor for a total of 204,900 cores and delivered 2.66 teraflops. The Xeon Phi coprocessors were soon upgraded to Intel Phi SE10P coprocessors which saw the core count jump to 462,462 and an almost doubling of performance to 5.168 teraflops, which momentarily lifted the supercomputer to number 6 on that list, a position it has since relinquished, holding at #12 in the latest (June 2016) listing.

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Have no fear.

On June 2, the NSF, TACC and Dell announced Stampede II which will more than double the performance of Stampede when it is fully operational.

Stampede II will be a phased upgrade of Stampede, with a lot of forward-looking tech incorporated. These would include replacing the current CPUs with forthcoming Intel Xeons, the use of next-gen Xeon Phi ‘Knight’s Landing’ coprocessors, coupled with 3D XPoint NVRAM, and connected by Intel OmniPath architecture.

Phew!

In plain English, the current TACC Stampede supercomputer is built using technologies that Dell has built into its PowerEdge servers today, while the upcoming refresh will be created using innovations that Dell is in the process of building into its servers and hardware going forward.

In fact, Jim Ganthier, declared as much when he said:

“We are both excited for and proud to power TACC’s multiple Stampede Systems. TACC has been a great Dell customer and partner over the years, helping us to evolve our own portfolio as we continue to push the HPC industry forward,” said Ganthier. “Our Dell technologies at the core of the Stampede 2 supercomputing cluster will continue powering leading-edge research to both enable and advance science and society.”

This is a sector where every little performance gain that can be eked out matters a lot. It requires a level of sophistication and innovation to bring those gains about. If a 1% performance gain per core can be brought about, it becomes a virtual crescendo when replicated across the over 460,000 cores in Stampede. Or, for the current Big Kahuna of supercomputing, the Sunway TaihuLight, spread over 10 million cores.

For us mere mortals, it give me confidence that Dell is not just slapping [server] boxes together using an industry template gifted by Intel, but that Dell is actively investigating and innovating in products that will make Dell servers relevant again.

Making me a true believer, and a returning customer, in the process. (Never will I be a Belieber!)

Jim Ganthier is Vice President and General Manager, Engineered Solutions, High Performance Computing, and Cloud for Dell. His blog post celebrating the design win leading to the $30 million NSF grant for the creation of Stampede II is here.

Dell Enterprise Innovation Day

Dell Enterprise Innovation Day

© 2002 – 2016, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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9:09AM

I am at HPE Discover 2016

I am in Lost Wages, USA, also known colloquially as Las Vegas, Nevada, for the 2016 iteration of HP Discover, which is HPE’s enterprise event for partners and IT professionals.

Since this is the first event for HPE as a standalone company since the split into HP Enterprise (HPE) and HP Inc. (HP.), and I would like to gauge the sentiments from not only partners and the IT professionals expected to roam the exposition flows and meeting rooms, but also to see if I can get a feeling for the emotional state of HPE staffers.

As usual my dance card is full, starting yesterday with a meet-and-greet where HPE’s sartorial ‘Man of Security & Software’, Paul Muller, did a masterful job on the wheels of steel.

It continues today with almost round-the-clock briefings and Coffee Talks, and I am looking to get a brain full of HPE stuff.

Let’s do this!

John Obeto is CEO of Blackfriars Capital
© 2002 – 2015, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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7:06PM

I am in Austin, Texas for Dell Innovation Days 2016

We have been given a schedule of events, and I see that it is quite extensive.

We will visit their Thermal Lab, and a place called ‘Futuresville #2’, which, I hope has forward-looking goodies. There will be a server briefing, and an HPC briefing as well. Subsequent to that, we will traipse over to the Texas Advanced Computing Center to look at world-class supercomputers, and repair to TopGolf Austin for the evening.

Tomorrow, a visit to Dell Global Support & Deployment Center is planned, followed by a visit to the Dell Server Design Lab.

Of course these public events will be interspersed with private meetings and briefings.

Let’s do this!

This is a delayed blog post due to equipment and travel issues.

John Obeto is CEO of Blackfriars Capital
© 2002 – 2015, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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4:58PM

Dell Innovation Days 2016

I am off to sunny – and likely rainy – Austin, Texas, for Dell Innovation Days 2016.

This is a 2-day event organized by Dell ESG to showcase, and be transparent, about some of the innovative things they are doing.

Myths and Truths
One of the myths about Dell that I have to admit I help propagate, is that Dell doesn’t innovate, well, anything!

For a lot of people, Dell innovation is purely financial, or in manufacturing efficiency, of in product fulfillment. They see blandness across Dell product lines, not innovation.

For me, it is a case of familiarity breeding contempt. I have used Dell systems they were PC’s Limited devices.

Everyone was a boxslapper then, from Dell to Northgate, to the myriad number of local ‘OEMs’ in the Anaheim/Tustin/Costa Mesa/Orange County area, to those yo-yos in one of the Dakotas.

That image still resonated in my thoughts of Dell, not helped by the quality failure debacle during the Rollins era, at which time I ended my nearly two-decade association with Dell.

And moved to using HP products. After validating them, of course.

A Chance Meeting with an Old Friend
At Intel Cloud Day 2016 in San Francisco, I chanced upon Jim Ganthier, who is Vice-President and General Manager for Engineered Solutions, HPC, and Cloud for Dell.

Jim is a very smart, astute man, and someone I have known for years. I have interviewed him on several occasions for both this blog, the Blackgrounder podcast, and The Interlocutor newsletter. He is always on point, and gives very bright, insightful answers. I consider him a friend. (Hopefully, that is mutual J.)

As noted here, his answers to posed questions in a Q&A session were very intelligent, and pointed directly to Dell products or solutions for those posed questions. I like that. It showed preparedness.

Upon conclusion of the Q&A, we had a few minutes to talk, and he basically dared me to give Dell a look.

He assured me that my opinion of Dell – and Dell’s SMB and enterprise offerings, in particular – may have been valid a decade ago, but weren’t the case today.

I was intrigued.

Resultantly, when this opportunity to attend Dell Innovation Days 2016 arose, I practically leapt at it.

What I am looking for
I want Dell to blow me away.

In the words of several folks from that fine TV show, Fringe, I want Dell to ‘Show Me’.

I want to see Dell attempt to move computing forward in the spheres in which they compete. I want to see them with new products in their enterprise offerings.

I want to see them with world-beaters such as the delectable Dell XPS 15 – a SmallBizWindows Product and Laptop of the year Winner on this very blog – and XPS 13 laptops.

Can they do it?

Can Dell, you know “Show Me”?

This is a delayed blog post due to equipment and travel issues.

John Obeto is CEO of Blackfriars Capital
© 2002 – 2015, John Obeto for Blackground Media Unlimited

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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.

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© 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.

logitech-group

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.

notebook-xps-15-uhd-mag-feature-4

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”.

notebook-xps-15-uhd-mag-feature-2

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.

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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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