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    The SmallBizWindows Products of the Year 2010

    In 2010, we had the good fortune to use, review, and enjoy several products.

    Over the next few days, we would be revealing out selections for products of the year across several categories.

    There are some surprises, you’ll see….

    The products are here.

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    VMware Pilot initiated at Logikworx

    Virtualization is here, and for the near future, it is a trend that we all must contend with.

    As Logikworx, we are about as non-virtual as we can possibly be, having just started to bone up on virtualization as a means to reducing our cap-ex for our updated datacenter, and our op-ex with better system utilization within that datacenter.

    Naturally, we have been looking into Hyper-V as our virtualization vehicle. However, the current market leader is VMware, both in market share, and in ecosystem development.

    VMware creeps into my consciousness
    Over the past year, in person and online, I have met quite a few VMware pros who have seemed to be pretty engaged with VMware, the company and its eponymous products.

    I have been impressed with the level of engagement, especially since it reminded me of the close-knit NetWare community from the days of yore*. Moreover, the VMware people I know and/or follow have been extremely helpful, from suggestions to pointers. (Another key difference is that these professionals are very normal, and do not have the inflated egos of the Novell ‘Certified NetWare Engineers’.)

    As a result of that helpfulness, I started to examine VMware.

    Enter Train Signal
    I met David Davis, a vExpert and author of the VMware vSphere series for Train Signal Inc., the leading producer of video-based computer training, in Boston earlier this year.

    In fact, we have been able to secure a series of Train Signal videos that we have given away from our non-monetary relationship with Train Signal.

    Also coming out of that was a series of vSphere training videos authored by David Davis. I gave them to my staff to use as a primer, and based on their feedback, I have decided that VMware merits enough consideration that I authorized a VMware pilot for us today, over the objections of several members of my senior staff, most notably my general manager, Rod Kowalsky.

    This decision was hard from a philosophical standpoint, since we are about a 100% Microsoft shop. However, we are not blinded to the fact that there are other ways to get there – wherever there is – from here.

    The Logikworx VMware Pilot
    This is not going to be a cakewalk for VMware.

    For this pilot, apart from the training and acquisition expenses for VMware, I expect costs to be in line with Hyper-V. Concurrent with this VMware pilot, we are going to use the same identical data and hardware for one of our Hyper-V pilot programs. I want to see which product of these fits our needs or those of our clients better. Could be one or the other, or both.

    We will keep you informed.

    I would like to thank Train Signal in general and David M. Davis in particular, for the massive assist they have rendered in getting us here.

    Hopefully, that analogous resemblance to NetWare is just that, and not a portend of a very insular culture, one that would desperately cling to vestiges of all things VMware in order to maintain margins while unable to see any oncoming onslaught.

    That though, is a topic for another day.

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    HP at HIMSS 2010

    I was at HIMSS 2010 in Atlanta last week.

    Several videos were made, and the following 7 videos are of my tour around the HP booth.

    The HP Booth tour

    HIMSS 2010 in HD #1: HP Healthcare & Life Sciences Strategy from absolutelywindows on Vimeo.

    A talk with Jared Walker, Lead Industry Technologist for HP Healthcare/Life Sciences Initiatives

    HIMSS 2010 in HD #2: Talking with Jared Walker from absolutelywindows on Vimeo.

    Secure printing using plain paper

    HIMSS 2010 in HD #3: Secure Printing from absolutelywindows on Vimeo.

    The Digital Hospital

    HIMSS 2010 in HD #4: The Digital Hospital from absolutelywindows on Vimeo.

    PDI Patient Information & Entertainment Systems

    HIMSS 2010 in HD #5: - PDI Patient Info Systems from absolutelywindows on Vimeo.

    Nurse Call/Notification Systems

    HIMSS 2010 in HD #6: Nurse Call & Notification Equipment from absolutelywindows on Vimeo.

    The Microsoft Surface Table

    HIMSS 2010 in HD #7: Multitouch in Healthcare using the Microsoft Surface Table from absolutelywindows on Vimeo.



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    The HP Infrastructure Tech Day for Blade Servers 2010

    I was recently at the HP Campus in Houston, Texas, for the 2010 HP Infrastructure Tech Day for Blade Servers.

    In the market for servers of any kind, HP is a leader, and when this opportunity to reprise my 2009 visit to the (HP) Blades Team presented itself, I just had to take it.

    Fact: HP manufactures a server every 12 seconds.

    A pedigree like that is not easy to live up to, and surpass, especially in the challenging economic environment we have had recently around the globe. However, I am a believer in innovation, an HP has shown itself to be innovative.

    Alyson Griffin welcomed us to the event, and Gary Thome, VP for Blades then took over.

    Data Center Trends
    Datacenters around the world have found out some looming and costly side effects of datacenter sprawl: power and cooling concerns.

    I should know. For we have the same issues at our datacenter, which, unfortunately, is located in California. (Not unfortunate that it is in lovely California; unfortunate that it is located in California where power is muy expensive.)

    At the ProLiant G6 launch last year, I had the opportunity to be briefed on the new servers, and be introduced to blade computing. Gary Thome introduced us to blades, Brad May and his Blade Server SWAT Team were educated us on the benefits of blades, and Dan Bowers broke down several of the new blades. It was at this time that I had an epiphany: for Logikworx and our clients going forward, we were no longer going to consider rackmounts as the next step in the evolution of our datacenter, it would be blades, and blades only. Unless, of course, something better showed up.

    Fact: HP is the world leader in Industry-Standard servers

    Since that launch, HP hasn’t been sitting still. It has released the SL-series of blades and also storage blades.

    Power Capping* and Thermal Logic functionalities are built into HP blade servers. These technologies allow data center admins to granularly control the power and thermal footprints of servers deployed in datacenters. Power capping can also be selective.

    If you include the ‘sea of sensors’ and the multiple options available for the servers, including the usage of Intel Xeon ‘Nehalem’ CPUs, 1333 MHz RAM, and Virtual Connect, you have a world-class series of server blades. Don’t forget HP Insight Suite.

    * Power capping functionality is hardware-based.

    Virtual Connect
    One of the innovations in HP blades is Virtual Connect.

    Just what, you might ask, is Virtual Connect?

    Virtual Connect is a technology devised by HP that allows network administrators to add, replace, recover, and manage server blades on an ad hoc basis. The most visible part of Virtual Connect is Flex-10.

    From HP:

    Virtual Connect Flex-10 technology is a hardware based solution that enables server administrators to partition each 10 gigabit Ethernet port into 4 and regulate the data speed of each partition. HP Flex-10 technology is available only with Virtual Connect (VC).

    The Virtual Connect Flex-10 feature set enables VC to configure a single 10Gb network port of BladeSystem servers to represent four physical NIC devices, also called FlexNICs, with a total bandwidth of 10Gbps. These four FlexNICs appear to the operating system (OS) as discrete network interface controllers (NIC), each with its own driver. While the FlexNICs share the same physical port, traffic flow for each one is isolated with its own MAC address and virtual local area network (VLAN) tags between the FlexNIC and VC Flex-10 interconnect module. The bandwidth available to each FlexNIC is controlled by the server administrator through the Virtual Connect Manager interface.

    Suffice it to say, when you have technology like this at your disposal, those <censored> dreams of on-the-fly configuration of network resources become a pleasant reality.

    Fact: HP Blade Servers were used in the production of Avatar, the best-selling movie of all time.

    Furthermore, we were told, the amount of headroom built into Virtual Connect Flex-10 future-proofs your investment in the product.

    That added benefit alone makes it a good buy.

    Insight Software
    HP Insight is a suite of software management products from HP that provide hooks into the hardware.

    Insight Software consists of two suites: Insight Control for essential management, and Insight Dynamics for advanced management. A third layer is the Insight Manager.

    Some of the functionality in Insight Control is direct ProLiant management for deployment, system health, power management, and remote access.

    As usual, Insight integrates with HP OpenView, as well as Microsoft SCCM (Systems Center Configuration Manager) and VMWare.

    StorageWorks CTO Perez
    Calvin Zito, @HPStorageGuy, was able to persuade Paul Perez, HP StorageWorks VP and Chief technologist, to come over and talk to us about HP StorageWorks, and how the products relate to innovations in storage.

    One thing I like in a product manager/owner is confidence in their products, and their choices. Paul was able to exude that confidence about HP’s storage, a condition that permeated the room.

    He led us through the fruits of the IBRIX acquisition.

    Then he laid a good one: he thinks memristors will be at the vanguard of evolutionary advances in storage over the next few years. Furthermore, he added, he considers spindles to passé, declaring the era of spindles for IOPs to be over!

    Asked about SSDs, he informs us that they are viewed within his OU as an extension of RAM (main computer memory).

    HP ProLiant Blades Labs
    My second visit in as many years to the HP Blades Lab was just as informative as the first.

    This time though, the focus was on the HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosures.

    We were walked through several configs, and a few facts were also revealed:

    BladeSystems have four fan zones with variably spinning fans and 23-stage fans.

    Unquestioned efficiency

    Client Virtualization
    One of the technologies I am enamored with is client virtualization, and the promise it holds for compat mediation.

    Joseph George walked us through HP’s strategy in this space.

    HP is committed to bringing its products and technologies to market here. HP has been in client virtualization for several years, and has been making company and technology buys to round out their offerings, despite the fact that most of the technology is home grown.

    HP’s offerings are designed to work with client virtualization products from most of the major client virtualization vendors, especially Microsoft Med-V, formerly SoftGrid.

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    The 2010 Recommended List: Business Software

    Client Operating System 
    smallbizwindows3 Microsoft Windows 7
    Microsoft achieved an impressive milestone in operating systems with the release of Windows 7. Microsoft Windows 7 is the client operating system for computing available today.

    Server Operating System 
    smallbizwindows3 Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2
    With the release of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, the best server operating system on the planet got 1000% better. The list of impreovements are too numerous to detail here, but the ones I am most enamored with are DirectAccess, File Classification Infrastructure, Failover Clustering, BranchCache, and AppFabric. SmallBizWindows Absolute Best Award.

    Virtualization Solution 
    smallbizwindows2 Microsoft Windows Hyper-V Server 2008 R2
    Free, with a small footprint. Built on Windows Server 2008 R2. SmallBizWindows Superstar Award.

    * VMWare Vsphere. We do not have enough expertise with (market-leading) VMWare to definitively make a recommendation. However, I can count on several friends who are specialists in the product to recommend it. Furthermore, John Troyer, a social media specialist with VMWare, was kind enough to send recommendations my way in order to get my lead virtualization specialist on his way to gaining enough competence in the product so we might see if we should add it to our current virtualization offering.

    Collaboration solution: Hardware
    HP SkyRoom

    Collaboration solution: Software
    Microsoft SharePoint

    Client Security Suite 
    smallbizwindows2 Symantec Norton 360. SmallBizWindows Superstar Award.

    Honorable Mention: F-Secure Internet Security 2010 

    Server Security Suite 
    smallbizwindows2Microsoft Forefront Suite 
    This is a full-featured server security suite comprised of the following components: Forefront Protection 2010 for Exchange Server, Forefront Online Protection for Exchange, Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010, Forefront Unified Access Gateway 2010, Forefront Protection 2010 for SharePoint, and Forefront Identity Manager 2010. SmallBizWindows Superstar Award.

    Client Antivirus
    Symantec Norton Anti-Virus 2010

    Honorable Mention: F-Secure Anti-Virus 2010. SmallBizWindows Business Ready Award of Excellence

    Free Antivirus 
    Microsoft Security Essentials
    This product has already won kudos from users and analysts alike, with it performing better than some commercial packages

    Windows Home Server Security Suite 
    F-Secure Home Server Security 2009

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