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Spring Journal

Volume 29, Issue 2

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Jon Seals

(TNS) - Monett and the railroad have a long history together.

Founded in 1887, the town was named after Henry Monett, a passenger agent for the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Co.

It was laid out at the junction of what was then the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Co. and a southbound branch, but apparently without much concern about Kelly Creek, which flows just north of the present railroad tracks.

That creek has been an ongoing source of trouble for Monett.



(TNS) - On the evening of April 25, 1994, Ellen Clark looked out the window of her Lancaster office and saw the sky had turned to a strange hue of green and gold.

“Somebody’s going to get a tornado tonight,” she said.

She was right. Eighteen minutes after she left her office, the building, along with the rest of Lancaster’s historic town square, was flattened by a tornado that left three dead and damaged about 700 homes and buildings.

It was one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in recent North Texas history, before the storms last month that swept across Garland and Rowlett, killing 11 and causing an estimated $1.2 billion in damage.



Just two months ago I wrote about how the Internet of Things will fundamentally reshape the future of cyber warfare, evolving the cyber threat from simple website defacements, denial of service attacks, and data breaches, to affecting the physical world. Two weeks ago an hours-long power outage in Ukraine may have offered a preview of this new world as hackers were claimed to have disabled a portion of the nation’s power grid.

On the evening of December 23rd, power was lost across multiple cities in Ivano-Frankivs’ka oblast in Western Ukraine, leaving nearly half the region in the dark for almost six hours. While it has not yet been proven that a cyber attack was responsible for the outage, key related malware was found on the computer systems of the affected power company. More troubling, the malware in question not only had the capability to create a remote backdoor that would have allowed power to be cut off, but also included tools designed to permanently delete files and disable the hard drives of the industrial control computer systems.

Just last year was the first confirmed case of physical damage to a non-military target being caused by a cyber attack, when a German steel mill was “massively” damaged. The US Government is among many racing to develop offensive “lethal” cyber weapons designed to “trigger a nuclear plant meltdown; open a dam above a populated area, causing destruction; or disable air traffic control services, resulting in airplane crashes.”



Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

The Next Energy Challenge of Computing

Computing always seems to be facing an energy crisis.

In the 1940s, mainframes were powered by power-hungry (and fragile) vacuum tubes. If you tried to make a Google data center out of early supercomputers like the ENIAC, it would consume as much energy as all of Manhattan.

Back in the ’90s and early 2000s, chip designers warned that chips could begin to emit the same amount of heat—for their size—as rocket nozzles or nuclear power plants, a trend that was stemmed with the advent of multithreaded and multicore devices.



Wednesday, 06 January 2016 00:00

Cabling solutions for tomorrow’s data center

As they become increasingly vital to the functioning of global societies and economies, the way in which data centers and networks are designed and used is changing rapidly.  The role of data centers has changed significantly in recent years. The data center is no longer a repository of huge volumes of information, but helps make all kinds of services possible. This has been triggered by a wide range of developments: the rise of ‘Big Data’, the Internet of Things, new ways of (remote) working and the rise of portable computing devices like tablets and smartphones.

Computing devices are increasingly equipped with communication capabilities. According to research firm Gartner, the Internet of Things will encompass 26 billion interconnected devices by 2020. By that time, Smart Buildings and Smart Cities will also be generating vast amounts of data. All this will lead to further changes and demands placed on data center networks and structured cabling.



New partnership between two industry leaders will help mutual clients strengthen their business continuity capabilities

Regroup Mass Notification, the award-winning leader in emergency and mass notification technology, and PrivInt, risk management experts in business continuity and crisis management, have entered into a new partnership that will provide organizations with the technology and thought leadership necessary to manage disasters and disruptions and overcome them.

By combining their expertise and resources, these two industry front runners are enabling mutual clients to leverage award-winning mass communications technology with experienced and respected consultants.

“One of our main goals is to help clients become more resilient through our SUSTAIN | Resilience Management professional services spectrum.  Now, through our partnership with Regroup, we can provide our clients with a robust and reliable multi-modal, mass communication tool that will provide business-essential emergency communication capabilities when they need it most." said Todd Bardin, Founder and Managing Director of PrivInt.

Regroup’s powerful, yet easy-to-use mass communications platform is used by universities, state/local governments, corporations and nonprofits across North America to streamline emergency and day-to-day communications.

Their ‘Intelligent, Full-Spectrum Risk Management Methodology’ is focused on building sustainable continuity capabilities through any type of disruption, whether manmade or natural. Combined with Regroup’s mass communication platform, our mutual clients will have all the tools they need to mitigate and successfully manage disruptive events,” said Joe DiPasquale, Regroup’s CEO.

About Regroup:

Regroup, the leading provider of Emergency and Mass Notification solutions and DRI 2015 Notification System of the Year, offers easy one-click messaging to mobile phones (text/voice), landlines, email, social media, websites and more. Regroup stands apart from other mass communication systems with its ease of use, automated messaging capabilities, seamless integration with client databases and other third-party systems, unparalleled 24/7 customer support and unlimited text/voice/email messaging.

To learn more about how Regroup’s Emergency Notification System can provide rapid communications during a crisis, as well as streamline day-to-day communications, call 917-746-6776 or email inquiries@regroup.com.

About PrivInt | Risk Management:

PrivInt is an internationally focused risk management advisory services firm that provides professional services to businesses who recognize that if they don't manage risk, it will manage them. We specialize in Private Intelligence services providing threat, security and resilience management through an intelligent, full-spectrum risk management methodology: SURVEY | SECURE | SUSTAIN.

Leveraging more than 50 years of combined professional experience gained in both public and private sector service, PrivInt enables businesses with professional expertise to help them SURVEY their risks; SECURE their people, information and property; and SUSTAIN their mission-essential operations against "all-hazards."  To learn more about PrivInt, call 1.844.PrivInt (774-8468) or email info@privint.com.

'CrisisTether' helps tourism providers with fewer than 500 employees

KITCHENER, Ontario – In what many may hail as a sign of the times, a crisis communications firm now has a solution that addresses one of the scariest problems for tourism providers - damaging headlines and bad publicity.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160106/319662

"The global tourism industry is a mess right now. Recent terror attacks have made consumers nervous. The US State Department has issued a nearly unprecedented, totally useless worldwide travel advisory," says Checkmate Public Affairs President Jeff Chatterton. "We grew tired of seeing that suffering. So we created CrisisTether to make that expertise available to smaller operators, too."

"Large tourism providers have resources to handle moments when things go wrong in a scary environment. But small tourism operators are forced to suffer with negative headlines, rumors, or angry stakeholders," says Chatterton. "The global tourism environment is ugly and confusing."

CrisisTether takes advantage of group purchasing, using a model similar to the mutual insurance industry. Hundreds of tour operators will band together and each pay a tiny monthly fee. Members get 24/7/365 access to a crisis communicator who is familiar with not only the travel industry, but also their unique business.

"In the tourism industry, things will go wrong. It's not a case of 'if,' but 'when.' And when something goes wrong, whether it's a terror attack, a vehicle accident, a volcanic eruption or a propane explosion, members receive immediate advice on what to say, to whom, and how. In the event of a truly serious situation, members can even choose to have a professional communications consultant fly to their operation, without additional fees," he said.

For a small tourism provider, having this level of resource available to them is industry changing.

"The old way meant that when a crisis occurred, a small business owner needed to launch an expensive marketing campaign. Bookings would drop, and the owner merely hoped the business could survive. Hope is not a solution," says Chatterton. "CrisisTether members will get world-class expertise right away, and won't be charged a dime extra."

"Our members know two things," says Chatterton. "First - no matter what, we've got their back. Secondly, there are no hidden fees or invoice surprises."

Checkmate has partnered with eTurboNews, the world's largest tourism trade journal. CrisisTether members will receive access to a nearly unlimited supply of news release, social media and public relations tools in the event of a crisis.

The flat-rate monthly fee will include everything - the 24/7 access to a dedicated crisis communicator, access to the eTurboNews news release platforms and social media tools, and in-person, on-site assistance. For the vast majority of CrisisTether members, the monthly rate will be $349.

The $349 price was not without internal controversy. "I initially wanted something higher," admits Juergen Thomas Steinmetz, the Publisher of eTurboNews. "I was concerned we may be giving away the store."

"There's a possibility that we may have to raise rates slightly in 6 months," said Chatterton. "We feel the value equation is lopsided in the consumer's favor. But this is new. It's a different and unique concept for the travel industry."

Steinmetz says the product should be appealing to a broad range of travel companies. "It simply makes way too much sense. If you're a hotel, if you're in ground transportation, charter flights, tour guides, adventure travel, you name it - this is brilliant. CrisisTether manages the unforeseen, but with consistent and guaranteed costs. This way an operator can focus on growth, versus merely crossing their fingers and hoping bad things never happen."

For more information about CrisisTether, including how to apply, visit www.crisistether.com.

NEW YORK – Swiss Re Corporate Solutions has signed an agreement with Independence Holding Company (NYSE: IHC) to acquire IHC Risk Solutions, LLC and its direct employer stop loss (ESL) business, for an aggregate of USD 152,500,000 in cash. The transaction includes IHC Risk Solutions' operations, its team of experts and business portfolio, including in-force, new and renewal business written with IHC subsidiaries, Standard Security Life Insurance Company of New York and Independence American Insurance Company. Upon closing, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions expects the transaction to be accretive to earnings already in 2016.

Through this arrangement, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions broadens its current ESL capabilities in the small- and middle-market self-funded healthcare benefits segment. The transaction enhances the company's underwriting and claims management capabilities, while strengthening its product distribution through IHC Risk Solutions' direct broker and third-party administrator relationships. Under the terms of the agreement, business produced by IHC Risk Solutions will be written through Swiss Re Corporate Solutions' largest US carrier, Westport Insurance Corporation, rated "A+ (Superior)" by A.M. Best and "AA-" by Standard & Poor's.  

Bob Petrilli, CEO North America of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, comments: "We are very pleased to join forces with IHC Risk Solutions, a firm with an excellent reputation and disciplined underwriting. Employers will realise tremendous value from our combined capabilities and expertise as they seek to better manage high-cost healthcare benefits and the financial risks associated with catastrophic medical events."

Mike Kemp, President of IHC Risk Solutions, says: "Since its inception, IHC Risk Solutions has focused on growing a world-class employer stop loss operation. Joining Swiss Re Corporate Solutions allows us to advance toward that objective. Our current and future clients will benefit from the financial strength of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, while we grow our existing operations and core partnerships."

IHC Risk Solutions has over 100 employees in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana and New Jersey. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close during the first quarter of 2016.

About Swiss Re Corporate Solutions
Swiss Re Corporate Solutions offers innovative, high-quality insurance capacity to mid-sized and large multinational corporations across the globe. Our offerings range from standard risk transfer covers and multi-line programmes, to highly customised solutions tailored to the needs of our clients. Swiss Re Corporate Solutions serves customers from over 50 offices worldwide and is backed by the financial strength of the Swiss Re Group. For more information about Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, please visit www.swissre.com/corporatesolutions or follow us on Twitter @SwissRe_CS.


About Independence Holding Company
Independence Holding Company (NYSE: IHC) is principally engaged in the life and health insurance business, and the acquisition of blocks of policies through its insurance company and its marketing and administrative affiliates. The company furnishes medical stop-loss, group major and limited medical, short-term medical, group long-term and short-term disability, group life and various supplemental insurance products. 

Cautionary Note on Forward-looking Statements
Certain statements and illustrations contained herein are forward-looking. These statements (including as to plans, objectives, targets, and trends) and illustrations provide current expectations of future events based on certain assumptions and include any statement that does not directly relate to a historical fact or current fact.


Forward-looking statements typically are identified by words or phrases such as "anticipate", "assume", "believe", "continue", "estimate", "expect", "foresee", "intend", "may increase", "may fluctuate" and similar expressions, or by future or conditional verbs such as "will", "should", "would" and "could". These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause Swiss Re's actual results of operations, financial condition, solvency ratios, liquidity position or prospects to be materially different from any future results of operations, financial condition, solvency ratios, liquidity position or prospects expressed or implied by such statements or cause Swiss Re to not achieve its published targets. Such factors include, among others:

  • instability affecting the global financial system and developments related thereto;
  • deterioration in global economic conditions;
  • Swiss Re's ability to maintain sufficient liquidity and access to capital markets, including sufficient liquidity to cover potential recapture of reinsurance agreements, early calls of debt or debt-like arrangements and collateral calls due to actual or perceived deterioration of Swiss Re's financial strength or otherwise;
  • the effect of market conditions, including the global equity and credit markets, and the level and volatility of equity prices, interest rates, credit spreads, currency values and other market indices, on Swiss Re's investment assets;
  • changes in Swiss Re's investment result as a result of changes in its investment policy or the changed composition of its investment assets, and the impact of the timing of any such changes relative to changes in market conditions;
  • uncertainties in valuing credit default swaps and other credit-related instruments;
  • possible inability to realise amounts on sales of securities on Swiss Re's balance sheet equivalent to their mark-to-market values recorded for accounting purposes;
  • the outcome of tax audits, the ability to realise tax loss carryforwards and the ability to realise deferred tax assets (including by reason of the mix of earnings in a jurisdiction or deemed change of control), which could negatively impact future earnings;
  • the possibility that Swiss Re's hedging arrangements may not be effective;
  • the lowering or loss of one of the financial strength or other ratings of one or more Swiss Re companies, and developments adversely affecting Swiss Re's ability to achieve improved ratings;
  • the cyclicality of the reinsurance industry;
  • uncertainties in estimating reserves;
  • uncertainties in estimating future claims for purposes of financial reporting, particularly with respect to large natural catastrophes, as significant uncertainties may be involved in estimating losses from such events and preliminary estimates may be subject to change as new information becomes available;
  • the frequency, severity and development of insured claim events;
  • acts of terrorism and acts of war;
  • mortality, morbidity and longevity experience;
  • policy renewal and lapse rates;
  • extraordinary events affecting Swiss Re's clients and other counterparties, such as bankruptcies, liquidations and other credit-related events;
  • current, pending and future legislation and regulation affecting Swiss Re or its ceding companies and the interpretation of legislation or regulations;
  • legal actions or regulatory investigations or actions, including those in respect of industry requirements or business conduct rules of general applicability;
  • changes in accounting standards;
  • significant investments, acquisitions or dispositions, and any delays, unexpected costs or other issues experienced in connection with any such transactions;
  • changing levels of competition; and
  • operational factors, including the efficacy of risk management and other internal procedures in managing the foregoing risks.

These factors are not exhaustive. Swiss Re operates in a continually changing environment and new risks emerge continually. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Swiss Re undertakes no obligation to publicly revise or update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

This communication is not intended to be a recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities and does not constitute an offer for the sale of, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, securities in any jurisdiction, including the United States. Any such offer will only be made by means of a prospectus or offering memorandum, and in compliance with applicable securities laws.

New Custom-Designed Data Center Contract Reaffirms T5's Expertise in the Design and Construction of Build-to-Suit, High-Performance Data Centers

KINGS MOUNTAIN, NC – T5 Data Centers™ (www.t5datacenters.com), innovators in providing state-of-the-art, customizable and highly reliable computing support environments, has broken ground on a new build-to-suit data center at its Kings Mountain, North Carolina, campus. Construction of the new enterprise-grade data center follows an exhaustive national search led by Kristina Metzger, Data Center Specialist at CBRE Data Center Solutions on behalf of an unnamed Fortune 50 company.

T5 Data Centers won the competitive bid for this build-to-suit contract after meeting and exceeding the stringent specifications outlined in a comprehensive Basis of Design and RFP. "Following a highly competitive process, T5 was ultimately selected as the right solution based on their extensive expertise in build-to-suit enterprise data centers, the company's ability to meet and exceed a rigorous set of requirements, and because T5@Kings Mountain proved to be an ideal location," said Kristina Metzger of CBRE. Ultimately T5 Data Centers will achieve several Uptime Institute Certifications including: Tier III Certification of Design Documents, Tier III Certification of Constructed Facility, and Tier III Gold Certification of Operational Sustainability.

In addition to T5's design and engineering team having responsibility for the facility's construction, T5 Facilities Management (T5FM) will be responsible for on-site building operations management and systems support.

"This new contract is a real testament to the discerning customer's recognition of T5's expertise and excellence in building and operating true enterprise quality data center environments. We brought a solution to the table that included design and construction expertise, a proven data center location, and best-in-class facilities management capabilities," said Aaron Wangenheim, Chief Operating Officer for T5 Data Centers.

T5 has been designing and building customized data centers from the ground up for 20 years. The company recently completed a similar project for a tenant at its T5@Portland campus. T5 Data Centers maintains seven data center campuses strategically situated across the country. T5's Kings Mountain campus has the added advantage of being located in North Carolina, since the state recently passed the North Carolina Competes Act, which includes tax incentives for data center operations, including power and equipment.

For more information about T5's data center services, visit www.t5datacenters.com.

About T5 Data Centers

T5 Data Centers (T5) is a leading national data center owner and operator, committed to delivering customizable, scalable data centers that provide an "always on" computing environment to power mission critical business applications. T5 Data Centers provides enterprise colocation data center services to organizations across North America using proven, best-in-class technology and techniques to design and develop facilities that deliver the lowest possible total cost of operations for its clients. T5 currently has business-critical data center facilities in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas, Portland and Charlotte with new projects announced in New York, and Colorado. All of T5's data center projects are purpose-built facilities featuring robust design, redundant and reliable power and telecommunications, and have 24-hour staff to support mission-critical computing applications.

For more information, visit www.t5datacenters.com.

Partnership to Enable Existing and New Channel Partners; Drive End User Demand for HyperConverged Infrastructure

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Gridstore®, the leader in hyper-converged all flash infrastructure for the Microsoft Cloud-Inspired Datacenter today announced that they have engaged Cloud Distribution, a next generation value-added distributor that specializes in bringing new and innovative Security, Networking and Storage solutions to market to act as their only distribution agent in the UK. The formation of this strategic distribution partnership leverages the mutual strengths of each organization to take advantage of the burgeoning hyper-converged infrastructure market.

Cloud Distribution is Gridstore's only distributor in the UK and as an organization experienced in bringing disruptive technology to the UK market is prepared to drive the rapidly-expanding hyper-converged trend. Cloud Distribution plans to attract new resellers with the addition of Gridstore, and will be offering unique virtual marketing services to help make them successful.

Tweet this: @cloudtweeters joins hyperconverged infrastructure leader @gridstore in technology distribution partner program for the UK

"We are extremely pleased to form this distribution alliance with Gridstore," said Bruce Hockin, Director of Storage Solutions, Cloud Distribution. "We strongly believe in Gridstore's approach to providing a truly innovative hyper-converged infrastructure solution and look forward to providing this revenue opportunity to our UK channel partners. There's rapid growth in this space right now and this partnership will provide our channel partners the industry-leading solutions they demand to enable incremental sales and services revenues, by them promoting this solution to their end user customers."

Andy Hill, Vice President of EMEA Sales says, "We are very excited to welcome Cloud Distribution as our exclusive UK distributor and believe that its expertise will help drive the expansion of our hyper-converged solutions purpose-built for the Microsoft Cloud-Inspired Datacenter. We've seen tremendous growth in demand for our HyperConverged Infrastructure, and now with Cloud Distribution we'll be better prepared to handle the rapid expansion of our reach through the channel."

Gridstore HyperConverged Infrastructure (HCI) delivers compute, storage, and storage networking in a single appliance that offers market leading price/performance, efficient scaling, and scale-to-fit design. The Gridstore HCI is easy to deploy and reduces management time and effort. Leveraging its patented technology, a Gridstore HCI delivers the same performance and VM density as traditional converged solutions with 75% less physical infrastructure and a 65% lower price-per-VM. The Gridstore HyperConverged Appliance is an ideal platform for infrastructure refreshes and specific Windows workloads such as VDI, SQL Server, Dev/Test, Private Cloud and ROBO.

About Cloud Distribution

Cloud Distribution is a value added distributor of disruptive next generation security, networking and storage solutions that VARs can take to market quickly and easily. It currently distributes A10 Networks, Aerohive, BlackBerry, Check Point Software, Cisco Meraki, Cloud4Wi, CloudFlare, DataCore, Exinda, Netskope, Maxta, MemBlaze, NexGen, OpenDNS, Peplink, Vectra Networks and Talon. Its portfolio of disruptive security and networking solutions helps resellers to differentiate themselves from the competition and create new markets to sell in. The company was founded in 2009 by senior executives with a wealth of experience in the security, networking and optimisation space. Its philosophy is to take innovative, cutting-edge vendors into the UK market by recruiting and working together with skilled, reputable, market making partners. For further information please visit www.cloud-distribution.com or follow us on Twitter @cloudtweeters.

Follow Gridstore

Read our Blog: http://www.gridstore.com/blog/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/gridstore

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/2065619

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GridstoreInc

About Gridstore

Gridstore™ is the leader in HyperConverged All-Flash Infrastructure for the Microsoft Cloud-Inspired Datacenter. Our customers gain a 10X performance improvement over traditional storage as we put all-flash as close to the workload as possible. They realize 4X lower TCO by consolidation of three layers of infrastructure into one built on X86 hardware, and 10X less management effort due to less management points and less infrastructure to manage. Gridstore's HyperConverged Appliances (HCA) include both compute and storage in a single system with the flexibility for nodes being compute and storage or storage only and can scale from a minimum of three nodes to 256. Gridstore's patented software architecture delivers native Windows integration, per-VM I/O control, and elastic and independent scaling of resources. The Gridstore HCA is an ideal platform for infrastructure refreshes and specific Windows workloads such as VDI, SQL Server, Private Cloud, and ROBO. Gridstore is headquartered in Mountain View, CA. and its products and services are available through a global network of value-added resellers.

Gridstore is a Microsoft Gold OEM and Gold Datacenter Partner, a member of the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Alliance and Certified in the Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track Program.

© 2016 Gridstore. All rights reserved. Gridstore, the Gridstore logo, Grid, GridCache, HyperConverged Appliance, rController, Server-side Virtual Controller Technology (SVCT), Thin-Provisioned vLUNS, TrueQoS, vController, vmOptimized, vPool, and vStore are registered trademarks or pending trademarks of Gridstore in the U.S. and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Information regarding products, services and offerings may be superseded by subsequent documents and are subject to change without notice. For the latest information and specifications regarding Gridstore and any of its offerings or services, please visit www.gridstore.com.