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Spring Journal

Volume 28, Issue 2

Full Contents Now Available!

Jon Seals

VMware predicted software-defined data centers (SDDC) would “hit it big” in 2013. Spoiler: That didn’t happen.

Nonetheless, the concept hasn’t gone away. In fact, IT Business Edge’s Infrastructure blogger, Arthur Cole, wrote about SDCCs several times this year, including a November article in which he called the idea “a work in progress.” He did a great job of summing up SDCCs and the current opinion of them.

Still, it begs the question: Could 2015 be the year that SDCCs actually, finally, take off? Michael Hay thinks so.

Hay is the vice president of Product Planning at Hitachi Data Systems and chief engineer for the Information Technology Platform Division (ITPD). In a recent Information Week column, Hay predicted that SDCCs will be one of three disruptive trends in the coming year.



KEMP, Texas – Industrial lighting equipment leader Larson Electronics has announced the release of a fourteen foot telescoping light mast with 360° rotating capabilities. The LM-14-8-FM-500LB is a telescoping two stage steel light mast that provides a safe and effective way for operators to quickly deploy lights, security cameras and other equipment to elevations of fourteen feet.

The LM-14-8-FM-500LB produced by Larson Electronics features a five hundred pound max payload rating, a rotating boom that allows for 360° of rotation and a removable mast head for storing mounted equipment when not in use. This light boom can be extended to a height of 14 feet for effective coverage and collapsed to 8 feet. The mast is elevated to its full height with a 2,000 pound hand winch that is fitted with 3/16 inch cable. The 360° rotation is provided by a single T-Handle. By loosening the T-Handle, operators can rotate the mast with ease in either direction. It can be locked into place once the desired position is found by tightening the T-Handle. These light masts are typically mounted to trailers or other stable surfaces by an 18 inch by 18 inch, 3/8 inch thick mounting baseplate which has been predrilled to accept six 9/16 inch anchor bolts. A 44 inch wide and three inch by three inch by ¼ inch thick mounting plate is attached to the upper section of the mast which provides a strong and stable platform for lights or equipment. The mast can withstand winds up to 125 miles per hour, weighs approximately 725 pounds and can easily support and lift five hundred pounds of weight.

“The LM-14-8-FM-500LB offers a fast and secure solution to elevate equipment up to fourteen feet,” said Rob Bresnahan with Larsonelectronics.com. “We can custom tailor these units to the customer’s requirements with longer sections and larger mounting plates if desired.”

Larson Electronics produces a full range of industrial and commercial lighting equipment, telescoping light towers, explosion proof lighting, and LED work lights. To view the entire Larson Electronics line of industrial grade lighting solutions, visit them on the web at Larsonelectronics.com. You can also call 1-800-369-6671 to learn more about all of Larson Electronics’ lighting products or call 1-214-616-6180 for international inquiries.




NEW YORK, NY – Send Word Now, the worldwide leader in enterprise-class critical communications, including emergency notification, announced today its selection by Bermuda-based insurance and pension provider, Colonial Group International. The client will use Send Word Now’s award-winning Alerting Service to expedite communications during critical events, augmenting its business continuity and disaster recovery strategy.

Colonial Group International, through its regional operating companies, provides insurance services, including claims handling, reinsurance and underwriting services, to clients in Bermuda, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos and throughout the Caribbean. With equity in excess of $200 million, the company manages over $320 million in premium income and over $60 million in pension contributions annually.

“Serving such high-risk markets and having paid over $300 million in storm claims since 2000 alone, we certainly understand the importance of having a comprehensive and detailed strategy to safeguard the interests of our customers and our own staff in emergencies,” said Ian Cummings, VP of Information Technology, for Colonial Group International. “We, along with the help of an independent consulting firm with 25 years of experience in business continuity and disaster recovery, MM&I Technology Group, review our plan regularly and make improvements – like the implementation of Send Word Now – where needed. In fact, the software was put to immediate use with the advent of two major storms hitting Bermuda in one week.”

Send Word Now, acknowledged as a “Leader” in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for U.S. Emergency/Mass Notification Services, serves the critical communications needs of more than 1,800 public and private sector organizations worldwide. Its SaaS-based Alerting Service, which features a 100% uptime guarantee, provides immediate, multimodal and two-way communication, enabling clients to automatically notify and account for personnel, mobilize response teams, and staff emergency operations centers. Proven uses of Send Word Now include inclement weather, IT disruptions and employee safety hazards, among countless others.

To further improve communications with management, employees and other key stakeholders during business disruptions, Colonial Group International will also utilize Send Word Now’s fully integrated incident management system and newest mobile app,SWN Direct.

SWN Direct, available for iPhone® and Android® devices, puts the robust capabilities of Send Word Now’s Alerting Service in the hands of mobile alert recipients. The app utilizes Internet Protocol (IP) end-to-end for expanded capabilities and control over traditional alerting channels. Features include:
• SWN Express Messenger – a flexible, low-cost alternative to SMS (text messaging)
• SWN Express Voice – fully integrated voice capabilities 
• SWN LockBox – secure file transfer and storage among recipients
• SWN One-Click Connect – easy, one-touch connection to needed information or assistance

“Knowing that Colonial Group International places such a premium on business continuity makes supporting their critical communications efforts all the more rewarding,” said Lorin Bristow, Senior Vice President, Marketing, for Send Word Now. “We are particularly excited about their implementation of SWN Direct, and are honored to add their name to our long and growing list of clients, both within the insurance industry and internationally.”

About Send Word Now 
Headquartered in New York City, Send Word Now is the leading provider of on-demand alerting for crisis communication. The company’s easy-to-use, web-based emergency notification solutions and mobile applications are used by businesses, government agencies, universities and non-profit organizations worldwide to ensure fast, effective, two-way communication when it is needed the most.

Among its many accolades, Send Word Now was named a ‘Leader’ in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for U.S. Emergency/Mass Notification Services. Its Alerting Service was recently awarded “Notification System of the Year” by DRI International, and the company received the 2013 Small Business Achievement Award from the Department of Homeland Security for its work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Maxta and Mirantis Deliver on the Promise of Hyper-Convergence to Next-Generation Data Centers and Clouds, Leveraging OpenStack and Standard Hardware for Compute and Storage

SUNNYVALE, Calif. – Maxta®, a leading provider of hyper-converged and software-defined storage solutions, today announced solutions to enable hyper-convergence for OpenStack. For the first time, service providers and enterprise customers can build private and public clouds based on OpenStack orchestration software and their choice of x86 server platforms, eliminating the need for complex and expensive storage arrays. This latest announcement aligns with Maxta’s vision to run on any x86 server platform and support any compute abstraction while providing the full suite of enterprise-class data services to meet the demands of private and public clouds. In addition, Maxta announced an expansion of its relationship with Mirantis and that it has joined the OpenStack Foundation with a focus on accelerating the delivery of next-generation data centers. Tweet This: @Maxtainc announces #Hyperconvergence for #OpenStack #KVM and #Dockercontainers with enterprise-class data services #Storage. Tweet This: @Maxtainc announces relationship expansion with @Mirantis leveraging #OpenStack & standard hardware for compute & storage #Hyperconvergence Maxta is a market leader in hyper-convergence and software-defined storage – two fast growing segments that are designed to eliminate the need for storage arrays in modern data centers. By integrating storage functionality into the virtualization layer, shared storage leveraging server-side storage devices is enabled. Additionally, by integrating data services to the data management layer, high availability, data availability and data protection are enabled, thereby improving IT simplicity, agility, availability, scalability, and cost. In virtualization environments such as VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, the virtualization and the data management layers are bundled. However, most OpenStack deployments are based on or moving into open virtualization frameworks such as KVM and Docker containers, which do not provide an integrated data management layer. Maxta’s flexible architecture allows its MxSP™ software-defined storage to run on any compute abstraction layer, either virtualization or containers, and is the first to create a data management layer for OpenStack, enabling hyper-convergence with enterprise-class data services for OpenStack environments. To further accelerate hyper-convergence for next generation data centers, Maxta is collaborating with OpenStack industry leaders. Maxta and Mirantis will be providing pure play OpenStack deployments based on Maxta MxSP software-defined storage, KVM and/or Docker containers and Mirantis pure play OpenStack distribution. Interoperability testing was completed and was certified under the Mirantis Technology Partner Program and pre-validated under the Maxta MaxDeploy™ Program. These deployments will support the highest level of data resiliency, availability and protection leveraging a cluster of standard x86 servers, providing agility and scalability for even the most demanding clouds. Maxta solutions for OpenStack include support for data center infrastructures based on Intel processors and align with the Intel Software-defined Infrastructure (SDI) initiative. Recently, Intel awarded Maxta with the Intel Developer’s Forum Most Innovative App for being the first hyper-converged solution to run on the new Intel® Xeon® E5-2600 v3 processors, providing users with 40%+ performance improvements. Maxta MaxDeploy for Mirantis OpenStack is pre-validated for Intel Rack-Mount Servers. Quotes “OpenStack is emerging as a key driver for cloud proliferation and innovation,” said Yoram Novick, Founder, President and CEO, Maxta. “Maxta is a market leader in hyper-convergence and has brought the flexibility to run on any server, any hypervisor and any storage to OpenStack. By combining our complementary strengths with Intel and Mirantis we have a unique opportunity to fuel the growth of pre-validated OpenStack solutions with the highest degrees of simplicity, scalability, availability and cost savings.” Yoram Novick, Founder, President and CEO, Maxta “As a company committed to pure play OpenStack, we have worked closely with Maxta to ensure that we deliver a pre-tested and pre-validated solution that not only meets Mirantis-specific requirements but also those of the broader OpenStack community,” said Boris Renski, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Mirantis. Boris Renski, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Mirantis “Cloud platforms are showing great upside opportunity for first-time adoption,” said Peter Ffoulkes, Analyst 451 Research. “As the development and deployment environment for future enterprise workloads, the choice of cloud platform is a critical strategic decision, probably the most important choice enterprises will make in the next two years. In recent 451 research, we saw continued demand for VMware but surprisingly more than a doubling of interest in OpenStack from 2H’13 to 2H’14. Having an OpenStack eco-system of partners to provide pre-validated hyper-converged solutions will help simplify the process and fuel this adoption rate.” Peter Ffoulkes, Analyst 451 Research About Maxta Maxta maximizes the promise of hyper-convergence. Maxta software-defined storage solutions provide organizations the choice to deploy hyper-convergence on any x86 server, use any hypervisor and any combination of storage devices. The simplicity of Maxta’s VM-centric solution reduces IT management to further maximize cost savings. Hyper-scale, enterprise-level data services and capacity optimization, empower organizations to hyper-converge, eliminating the need for SAN or NAS devices. Think outside the storage box. For more information visit http://www.maxta.com.
Small to Mid-Sized Companies to Benefit from Data Protection and Universal Access 

HOUSTON, TX – Abletek, a leader in unified communications, announced today that the company has launched a cloud-based file syncing and storage program in order to enhance business productivity for their small to medium-sized customers. This program's overarching goal is to streamline daily operations for their customers and enable businesses to collaborate, share, and securely backup business critical files. In recent years, businesses have witnessed the profound flexibility of cloud-based technology and nearly every application has become cloud-friendly. Data storage is a natural fit for this environment and today, Abletek is proud to announce their new development. 	In essence, this program is about ease-of-collaboration. As businesses grow from small teams to larger organizations, there is a growing need to communicate and collaborate effectively. The problem that central data storage solves is that it gives everyone on the team the ability to immediately retrieve, backup and share mission-critical files in real-time. Salespeople no longer need to wait around for support staff to send them follow-up files for customer contact. Managers can instantly access subordinate data in order to make sure that work is getting accomplished. In sum, everyone can get what they need, when they need it, wherever they are, without having to wait on other people. 

When evaluating cloud-based data storage services, two primary concerns for businesses are security and ease-of-use. One of the pioneers of cloud-based data storage, Dropbox.com, is clearly a simple-to-use solution, yet they lack in security. According to Business Insider, "Nearly 7 million Dropbox usernames and passwords have been hacked, apparently via third-party services that hackers were able to strip the login information from."
This security breach has huge implications for other off-the-shelf data solutions in that they lack the foundational feature of data storage technology; it must keep your company data safe. This is exactly why Abletek is actively educating their customers on this type of technology and why they feel compelled to stress the importance of encryption for data to reside safely behind.
The second key factor is to examine a solution's simplicity and ease-of-use. With many providers data storage can be set up at a secure physical location and a central file repository can work well within the confines of an office. Unfortunately, this falls short for the "71 percent of businesses who require technology that enables their staff to work anywhere, at any time." Solutions that are cloud-based and work independently of employee location are clearly superior.
"It's become quite clear to us how valuable collaboration is to the health of a business in today's marketplace," stated Robert Valentine, Vice President at Abletek. "Today's businesses cannot afford to have staff waiting around, in order to get access to the tools they need, so they can do the job. And that's what we're focused on. We're thrilled to finally have a secure, unifying collaboration tool that we can put in the hands of our customers. We're very excited to release this solution." ABOUT ABLETEK Abletek is not your typical IT & communications company. We are a TECHNOLOGY SOLUTION PROVIDER and we care deeply about helping you maximize your productivity through effective Managed Services (MSP), IT, communications and related business technology solutions, and while a lot of companies may talk about increasing your productivity, Abletek actually delivers. ABLETEK will remove the burden of managing your network and communications infrastructures by providing everything needed to maintain your servers, workstations, laptops, Pocket PCs/PDA/Treo, Switches, Routers, Email, Printers, VoIP, SIP, Digital & Analog Communications systems and more. Leverage our team of dedicated professionals and proven technology management resources to: CONTROL & REDUCE YOUR COSTS. For more information on Abletek, call (713) 455.1888 or visit www.abletek.com.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00

2015 Technology Predictions: An MSP Perspective

Somehow it got to be the week December 15, which seems crazy to me because wasn’t it just last week that I was already breaking my week-old New Year’s resolutions? But end of year means that it’s time for predictions about 2015. What events and trends will rock the managed services world in 2015? Here’s this humble blogger’s take.



(TNS) — The hacking group behind the Sony cybersecurity attack has made its first physical threat.

In a message sent at around 9:30 a.m., the group — calling itself Guardians of Peace — issued a warning along with what appears to be files related to Sony Pictures CEO and Chairman Michael Lynton.

“We will clearly show it (our Christmas gift) to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” the hackers wrote.

The hackers also invoked the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, urging people to keep themselves “distant from the places at that time.”

“The world will be full of fear,” they wrote. “Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.”



(TNS) — The hostage crisis at the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney, Australia, unfolded in a way impossible a decade ago.

Much of it played out on Facebook and text messaging (already there as of 2004), and on YouTube, Twitter, and other social media as yet unborn in 2004. To be a hostage-taker or hostage as of 2014, it seems, you need good social-media skills.

"There's an unprecedented degree of immediacy to such crises now," says Lawrence Husick, senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and co-director for the Center for the Study of Terrorism. "All the players are so acutely aware they're being watched. It's Shakespearean: All are walking that stage."



Rentsys Recovery Services plans to offer its BlackCloud Virtual Office business continuity solution to managed service providers (MSPs).

The College Station, Texas-based business continuity solutions company today announced it will work with MSPs, healthcare software companies and regional data center providers.

Rentsys introduced BlackCloud Virtual Office last month, and now, MSPs can offer this business continuity solution to their customers.



Wednesday, 17 December 2014 00:00

6 Corporate Holiday Gift-Giving Tips and Ideas

By Rachel Weingarten

If the idea of buying holiday gifts for your friends and family isn’t enough to send you into a tailspin, there’s the added pressure of trying to figure out what to buy for those you work with. With so many rules–both written and unwritten—it’s all too easy to make a corporate gift-giving gaffe. But, with some thoughtfulness and a little planning, it is possible to give just the right gift to just the right person.

“Remember, gifts are a form of communication in the same way as what you write and what you say,” says Stephen Paskoff, CEO of workplace learning company ELI. “Give clients, employees and colleagues gifts in line with your organization’s values and standards, and keep in mind that what you give directly reflects your judgment and professionalism.”

Sure, you could always give a gift card, but they can feel too impersonal. The trick is to balance thoughtfulness and appropriateness. Here are some tips for giving corporate gifts that strike that balance, along with some suggestions to help inspire you: