Recent Posts

Search AbsolutelyWindows

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!

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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.

IMG_3522

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.

IMG_3525

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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.

xs15_9550t_bnb_08150007_54960

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.

xs15_9550t_gnb_00065rf100_gy

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

2:04AM

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

clip_image002

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.

clip_image004

The road here, for HPE

clip_image006

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

clip_image008

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

clip_image010

What it all means

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

clip_image012

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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.

c04411605

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

12:35AM

HPE Cloud Day 2016, Part II: HyperConverged Infrastructure

clip_image002

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.

clip_image004

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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.

clip_image002

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.

clip_image004

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

clip_image006

Printer OEMs didn’t help.

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

clip_image008clip_image010

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

9:35PM

HPE Cloud Day 2016, Part I

clip_image002

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white

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

Blackfriars - 417pxverbiage white