Wednesday, December 30, 2009

KVM Switches for SMBs: A Buyer’s Guide

Thanks to Paul Mah at IT Business Edge, who eloquently explains what to look for when investing in a KVM switch.

What criteria made the list?

1.You should decide whether you want an
IP KVM switch or not.

Advantage: The freedom to work from anywhere.

Possible deterrents: Increased potential for security breach; higher price.

2. You should determine your ideal number of concurrent users.

Paul Mah posits:

“However, I would advocate support for at least one remote and one concurrent local user in instances where more than a dozen servers are connected via a KVM.”

This is a logical recommendation, given the number of servers being accessed. Minicom’s
Smart 232 IP, for example, enables one local and two remote users access and control of up to 32 servers, as well as the capability for two remote users to operate serial sessions for controlling serial devices such as routers, managed network switches or PDUs.

3. Do you want
CAT 5 cabling, which reduce cable clutter and are relatively inexpensive, or shorter, pricier cables (Duh!)?

4. If you are thinking about expanding the number of servers your SMB has, make sure you get a KVM switch which supports cascading. The author points out, “Note that the connectors for these KVMs are typically proprietary and support cascading only with the same models or devices within the same product family.”

Still have questions? Check out our
KVM library or contact us.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Year That Will Be: Data Centers in 2010

It’s always fun to see what industry experts are willing to commit to in print about the upcoming year, and then see what does and does not come to fruition. Matt Stansberry, on, puts it out there with “The top data center 2010 trends.” Mostly the usual suspects (dip into the cloud, keep a close on energy use), but some new trends as well, such as a direct correlation between the rise in popularity of hot-aisle/cold-aisle containment and the death of the raised floor.

There has also been a recent spate of “How-to” advice for 2010.

Take a look at the slideshow
Seven Ways to Make Your Security Budget Pay Off in 2010. Nice visual presentation which reinforces the messages on the slides.

Slide 4 talks about single-sign on as an important security measure – read about how
Minicom has implemented single-sign on in our remote access management products with great results.

Who could not use some direction about
How to Improve Your IT Planning in 2010? Despite the vagueness of the title, this article offers practical and specific suggestions.

Facebook, Google and Amazon: Data Center Developments

Check out these developments in the data center world:

Facebook now has 30,000 servers

Google’s Belgian data center spurns chillers in favor of free cooling

Amazon Web Services’ December outage

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Finally, Some Optimism in the Tech Sphere

Some light breaking through the clouds of all the dire predictions for 2010. It is not unbridled, unrestrained optimism, but there is encouraging news for the future of IT. In an article by Marc Ferranti in, the following news brings hope:

“Global IT spending will increase by 3.2 percent in 2010, attaining the 2008 spending level of about US$1.5 trillion, IDC said Thursday [December 3rd]. The research company said it based its prediction on a fairly conservative forecast -- an increase of 2.6 percent -- for global GDP growth... ‘High tech should lead us out of the Great Recession in 2010,’ said Frank Gens, chief analyst at IDC, on a conference call Thursday. The main themes for IT in 2010 will be recovery and transformation, he said. “

The article continues on a less upbeat note, with warnings not to get too comfortable, but the potential for good news is there.

eWeek’s article,
Technology Hiring Expected to Increase in 2010, echoes this generally positive sentiment. In the words of Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics:

"Based on our 20 years of tracking IT budgets, all signs point to a recovery year. IT executives are prepared to make midyear adjustments, up or down, based on the strength of the recovery, but right now it appears we see a year of stabilization in IT spending and staffing."

TechNewsWorld seconds that emotion in
Pragmatism, Persistence Fuel 2010 IT Budget and Hiring Trends, which strikes the same note of cautious hope.

What is the feeling out in the field? More of the same, or light at the end of the tunnel?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dramatic Data Center Crashes - The Best of 2009

Everyone was a-twitter about these show-stopping outages, news of which circulated like wildfire on social media sites. Funny how the very proliferation of social media is both the cause and the instrument of publication for some crashes. A flurry of tweets about the fall of Gmail in February, for example, would not have been possible during the August 6th three hour downtime on Twitter.

Michael Jackson’s influence remained strong posthumous, as the Web strained under the weight of his June 25th death. Storm clouds made a brief appearance, as the loss of data for T-Mobile Sidekick cast a shadow on much hyped cloud computing.

Interesting information about different ways of handling the sheer volume of Twitter.

Will 2010 boast outages as colorful as this year’s? Watch this space…

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Product: Smart 108 IP - For Small Scale IT Environments

The ability to access servers around the clock, from any location, is an essential element of IT infrastructure today. IT managers have to be able to troubleshoot and maintain their servers even if they are not physically in the server room. The Smart 108 IP is a high end remote access solution designed for small scale IT environments, with excellent price performance. Using the Smart 108 IP, one local user or one remote user can access up to 8 mixed platform (PS/2 & USB) servers at a time. The combination of convenient local access and secure remote access means that businesses can make sure their servers are available 24/7, and that downtime is kept to a minimum. Because the Smart 108 IP is operating system independent, allowing access to servers at the BIOS level, administrators can access, control and manage servers even in the event of system failure.

“We keep seeing companies with branch offices, and companies that need to keep their options open in the event of growth. The Smart 108 IP fulfills the demands of businesses in disparate locations, and businesses that need a solution that can accommodate expansion. We are also happy to have an attractive package for Managed Service Providers who want to offer their customers the flexibility of small scale local and remote access without the price tag associated with unnecessary ports,” explains Benny Hayumi, KVM Product Manager.

The Smart 108/116 IP can be managed by Minicom’s remote management solutions, AccessIT and II. The Smart 108 IP is the latest addition to Minicom’s highly successful Smart line of digital KVM switches: Smart 116 IP, SmartRack 116 IP, Smart 216 IP and Smart 232 IP.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Year That Was: Data Centers in 2009

Check out The top 10 data center stories of 2009.

Lots on environmental monitoring – ASHRAE’s raise of recommended inlet air temperature for servers made the list, as did the growing popularity of hot-aisle/cold aisle containment. Some business deals like Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, and some related economic news such as reduced budgets for data centers. Chock full of links so you can find out more about whatever catches your fancy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Recipe For Data Center Success Over the Holidays

Brick and mortar storeowners may be hearing their voices echo, but online traffic remains steady as people shop and spend, with sales up 14% from last year’s Cyber Monday (full story from here).

According to the article:

“The trend highlights the importance of keeping the data centers powering e-commerce sites and online traffic running smoothly, says Dan Blum, principal analyst for the Burton Group.
‘Availability is crucial,’ he says. ‘Without availability, you are going to lose traffic; you are going to lose business.’ "

Good point, as every crash translates directly into lost business opportunities. The article goes on to mention a number of ways businesses can prepare for the holiday onslaught. Surprisingly,
remote access did not make an appearance – given that it is a fast way to access servers at the BIOS level from any place at any time, you would think it would be offered as one way of keeping data centers up and running 24/7.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More Gloom and Doom From Gartner on Upcoming Data Center Challenges

OK OK we get it – there are tough times ahead for IT leaders. Statistics like the projected 650 percent growth in enterprise data over the next five years do cause one to pause (full article here).

The ten key issues that David Cappuccio, Gartner analyst, identified as necessary for IT managers to examine are:

The data deluge
Energy and green IT
Complex resource tracking
Consumerization of IT and social software
Unified communications
Mobile and wireless
System density
Mashups and portals
Cloud computing

Why does social networking get such a bad rap? The article states:

“Social networks are coming into the enterprise whether CIOs want them to or not, Cappuccio said. Twitter use grew an amazing 1,382 percent in 2008 and the majority of new users were between the ages of 39 and 51, he said.

‘It is a growing phenomenon which we can't shut down,’ he said. Employees and customers are using wikis, blogs, Facebook and Twitter and ‘it's affecting you now whether you know it or not.’ Businesses need to examine Web-based social software platforms because they are transforming interactions with both customers and employees, he said.”

Seems more negative than the situation warrants – how can you explain the concern about social networking, a potentially positive development?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Minicom Celebrates the Opening of Shanghai Office

Minicom is proud to announce the opening of our Minicom China office in Shanghai. The Shanghai office joins Minicom’s global network of offices in North America, Europe and APAC. The office will be headed by Kingsun Kwok, based in Shanghai, with other representatives located in Beijing and in Guangzhou.

Minicom has had a lot of success in China to date, with projects in industries such as government, banks, telecomm, electrical, and finance. Established OEM customers are already using Minicom’s solutions. Looking forward, Minicom hopes to invest considerably in additional sales and marketing activities.

Read the rest of the Official Press Release>> "Minicom Celebrates the Opening of Shanghai Office"

Take a look, we also updated our Minicom China Website!

Green Energy = Big Business

Undiluted capitalism, without any environmental claims.

This post on
Energy & Capital: Practical Investment Analysis in the New Energy Economy confirms conventional wisdom that energy use is on the rise, then proceeds to make a case for cutting data center costs.

The logic is as follows:

“Intel executives have said publicly that 2010 will be the year that lifetime electricity costs (about 4 years) for a single server outweigh the sticker price of the hardware. That'd be like buying a $25,000 car that used more than $6,000 per year in gas.

You'd be in the market for a more efficient car, right?

That's exactly what internet executives are thinking. At the recent Emerging Technologies conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one executive was quoted saying that ‘profits will deteriorate dramatically if data center costs don't get contained.’ "

The author, Nick Hodge, equates smart grid development with profits for investors, without any whiff of idealism.

Is his theory correct? Are energy efficient innovations going to line the pockets of those who get there first?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

IT quizzes for midmarket CIOs

Thought you had put school behind you forever? Not so fast.

If you embrace the challenge of testing your IT knowledge, these quizzes are for you.

Have no fear – results will not be published online, making you the laughingstock of the industry. Use these quizzes as an indication of your areas of expertise and of where you could use some help.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

How to Improve IT Efficiency Without Breaking the Bank

A survey on IT efficiency, conducted by London School of Economics and Dell, took a lean mean approach to achieving IT efficiency, with a focus on making better use of current systems rather than replacing them with new ones.

No mention was made of any green initiatives in this article.

Worth reading to see what all the findings are.

Would you also say that providing better products and services to employees and customers is one of the main business goals driving your IT strategy, which was true for close to 40 percent of those surveyed?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Helsinki’s Unusual Data Center Heating Solution

Not the usual environmental offering - a green solution that works on all levels, according to the article on CNET:

“Excess heat from hundreds of computer servers to be located in the bedrock beneath Uspenski Cathedral, one of Helsinki's most popular tourist sites, will be captured and channeled into the district heating network, a system of water-heated pipes used to warm homes in the Finnish capital.”

In addition to heating homes, the data center will use 50% less energy than a standard data center.

Lower energy bills sweeten the pot as well.

Yet another benefit is the security the cathedral will be getting as a result of having people in the basement.

Watch this space – it will be great to see this project in action.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bleak View from Gartner on Energy Expenditures for Data Center

Data Center Journal discusses Gartner’s view of energy costs for data centers continuing to rise rather than decrease in 2010.

Do not lose hope – there are some essential questions you can ask in order to meet the challenges of rising costs. For example:

“Do you have any pragmatic tips for helping me to cut my data center costs?

R: Gartner has several suggestions:

- Rationalize the Hardware. This involves taking out those systems that are underutilized or old, or where the workload can be run on more efficient hardware. Gartner clients have reported that rationalization and consolidation programs have resulted in 5 per cent to 20 per cent fewer servers being deployed.

- Consolidate Data-Center Sites. Consolidating multiple sites into a smaller number of larger sites will often result in financial savings.

- Manage Energy and Facilities Costs. Tools and techniques for managing the energy cost curve include: raising the temperature of the data center to around 24 degrees Celsius, which reduces the level of cooling required; using outside air as an alternative to air conditioning where possible; using hot aisle/cold aisle configurations, blanking and economizers; and using server based energy management software tools to run workloads in the most energy efficient way.

- Manage the People Costs. People costs still form the single largest cost element for most data centers, sometimes as much as 40 per cent of overall costs.

- Sweat the Assets. Delaying the procurement of new assets is a necessary step for all data center managers, especially as a server's useful life often exceeds its amortized life.”

Good to at least have the realistic heads-up on what the upcoming year holds, without illusions.