Thursday, January 28, 2010

Four IT Pitfalls to Avoid This Year

According to Netcordia (full article here), here are the potential problem areas that await IT managers this coming year:

Unstable network infrastructure will be the undoing of ambitious virtualization projects.

Outages and more outages – at least five big ones in the next 6 months

Non compliance will lead to firings and fees as it is enforced more strictly

An increase in merger and acquisition (M&A) activity will result is a heavier burden on IT departments

“With the potential for network errors to wreak havoc in 2010, network managers will play a crucial role to navigate these potential pitfalls,” said Don Pyle, Netcordia’s CEO. “Based on what’s at stake, here are two more predictions: network managers’ work week will increase 20% – a full day – and ultimately, the network management role will finally get the respect it deserves.”

The specificity of these claims lend them a convincing ring. Time will tell definitively if these predictions will come to pass. Are you doing anything today to avoid the headaches described here?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Browser Mayhem: Exploring Your Options?

Ouch! Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is suffering from severe damage to its image, as both the French and German governments have recommended that people abandon the browser due to security breaches, according to the Wall Street Journal blog.

Does jumping ship at this point make sense? There is no clear consensus, as some express reservations about whether IE is actually any more vulnerable than other browsers.

The article states:

“Generally speaking, a browser switch is going to be a lot easier for an individual than it will be for corporate users, where IT policies often dictate which browser people use on their computers.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant and security firm Sophos, said in
a blog post Monday that companies may cause ‘more problems than it’s worth by summarily switching browsers’ because of the potential for employee confusion and Web site compatibility problems caused by the new software.

‘My advice is to only switch from Internet Explorer if you really know what you are doing with the browser you’re swapping to,’ Mr. Cluley said. ‘Otherwise it might be a case of ‘better the devil you know.’ “

Are you advocating a switch from Internet Explorer in your organization?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Minicom and SharkRack Partnership Announced

With SharkRack as a reseller, Minicom expands its presence in the US IT market

We are pround to announce a partnership with SharkRack, a premier provider of infrastructure solutions for data centers and network rooms. SharkRack chose Minicom as their KVM vendor because of their advanced IP KVM and KVM over CAT5 product lines, which include remote access management solutions, KVM switches, LCD drawers with integrated KVM switches, and KVM IP gateways.

“SharkRack’s proven track record of recognizing and responding to the changing needs of data centers makes them an exciting company to have as a partner,” said David Zucker, Director of Business Development at Minicom. “The flexibility and creativity that SharkRack offers its customers is a perfect fit with Minicom’s real needs™ approach, which advocates a customer-centric philosophy. Opening a direct relationship with SharkRack gives our customers better visibility to our industry leading solutions, and we feel confident this partnership will prove to be mutually beneficial.”

"Minicom's breadth of products, advanced technologies and commitment to creating customer focused solutions were the main criteria for why we chose to partner with Minicom,” stated Seth Schalet, president of SharkRack. “Minicom offers easily upgradeable platforms that provide our customers with a long-term solution for supporting their LCD and KVM product needs that is consistent with SharkRack's vision of bundled and standalone intelligent infrastructure solutions."

Join SharkRack and Minicom for "A Look Into Remote Access and Control Solutions" on February 3rd, 2010, from 10AM until 2PM, in Newark, California. In addition to a discussion of how remote access is evolving and can add value to organizations, there will be a drawing for a $200 American Express gift card. Sign up here:!

To learn more about Minicom, visit To learn more about SharkRack, visit

About SharkRack

SharkRack is a premier provider of infrastructure solutions for data centers and network rooms. We provide products and engineering services to improve the cost-effectiveness, availability and viability of mission-critical data and networking systems. For almost a decade, leading organizations in a variety of fields—from telecommunications to financial services to government and military—have trusted SharkRack for advanced data center solutions.

SharkRack's history of innovation includes pioneering multi-vendor rack-mounting systems. Today, we are leading the industry in addressing a new set of challenges—in cooling, space, management, and security, and other areas—through an approach that views the data center as a single, interdependent system. Our sharp focus on the problems facing modern data center workers and managers allows SharkRack to give customers the independent attention and flexible service required to solve unique technical and business problems.

Video: Manage Your Data Center From Your iPhone

OK very cool - The virtual I/O vendor Xsigo recently introduced an iPhone application which enables you to remotely alter an existing implementation, billed as a data center in the palm of your hand (video and more info here).

The glaring omission of any mention of security is a bit worrying. Should potential breaches be a concern?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Obama’s Plan to Update IT in the Government Sector

That there is a lag between technological advances and government adoption is old news. What is different now is that Obama is willing to listen and to make changes, inspiring hope that there will be significant strides in IT for government (full article here). According to the article:

“Modernizing the federal IT infrastructure and learning from the best practices used in the private sector has been a common refrain of prior administrations, but this time federal officials say it will be different -- the problem is getting the direct attention of the president. And, they add, government IT projects are becoming more visible to the public via efforts like the federal IT dashboard that tracks projects.”

The short list of those included in a meeting at the White House to help Obama with ideas for how to update federal IT systems include:

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft
Shantanu Narayen, president and chief executive officer of Adobe Systems Inc.
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist
Chris R. Hughes, co-founder of Facebook
Ronald Sargent, CEO of Staples Inc.

Having Vivek Kundra as the first federal CIO also sends a strong message that this administration is serious about closing the technology gap between the public and private sectors. Obama’s image of the children of federal employees having better technology in their backpacks than their parents have at work is a striking one, underlining the urgent need implementation of updated technology for federal offices.

Will Obama follow through? Will the next few years bring substantive changes in the world of federal IT?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Battle of the Bulge for British IT Professionals

From DatacenterDynamics:

“…a survey of British workers by Fat Free Fitness recently found that IT workers were the most inactive and had the poorest diet of all UK workers. Elizabeth Sparrow, President, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: ‘It is a concern that the IT profession has been deemed to be the unhealthiest in the UK according to recent research. Fewer than 19 per cent are getting the recommended amount of physical activity and only 14 percent are eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. With the start of the New Year and this new resource which offers and signposts expert advice, there has never been a better time to make a New Year’s resolution to change your diet and lifestyle habits.’ ”

Hmmm…do American IT workers have an equally grim reputation in terms of fitness? The shortlist of America’s least healthy professions always seems to focus on truck drivers and other sedentary jobs. Take a look around your next conference – should we be cutting back on the tea parties like our friends across the pond, or are our six packs tight as blade servers?

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Data Center in 2010

It’s still early enough in the year to get those last minute predictions in. What to Expect in 2010, by Mission Critical’s Kevin Heslin, covers the gamut in terms of what is coming up this year in the data center space. While most of his predictions are safe bets, there are a few riskier propositions that will be fun to follow. Have to respect someone who is not scared to put it out there, especially knowing the potential risk of public ridicule at the end of the year in the event of serious error. Funky choice going with nine predictions instead of the oh-so- expected ten…

What made the list?

1. More government involvement in the data center space (think this prediction is already coming true – see
Uncle Sam Distributing Energy Goodies)

2. End users will try new ways to beat high energy bills, to ensure compliance, and to simplify their data centers. See how this trend is playing out in
Taking Control of Your Data Center: New Approaches to Reduce Energy and Improve Efficiency.

3. The role of water will gain new prominence in the data center world.

4. Because IT and facilities personnel just cannot get along, enterprise problems like poor designs, security breaches and network issues will rear their ugly heads.

5. Outages and more outages. Smart Grid anyone?

6. Data center specific LEED certification

7. The proliferation of infrastructure products

8. Increased popularity of performance-based testing for data center systems

9. PUE will be a thing of the past, replaced by a more comprehensive metric

On a more general note, Reuters addressed the issue of how current expectations match up to the rate of technological advancements (
full article here). Interestingly, despite all the technological advances recent years have seen, those pesky 18 to 30 year old boys/men want more toys more quickly.

Some people find technology is moving too quickly – this video from SNL’s Seth Myers takes a wry look at the downside of technological advances.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Importance of Remote Centralized Access for IT Infrastructures

Could not have said it better myself:

“If you need to manage data centers and branch offices anytime from anywhere, there is an answer. A centralized management approach with out-of-band capability can increase data center control, allow you to do more with less, and provide remote access from anywhere in the world.

Today’s support-minded network administrators need around the clock access to servers 365 days a year – both at the rack and in remote locations. Fortunately, with centralized management (including both in-band and out-of-band connectivity), your data center has never been so close.”
(Excerpt of an article from Fix Laptop Problems – full article here)

In today’s IT world, 24/7 access is a requirement. Make sure you are meeting expectations. Minicom happens to have remote centralized management solutions designed to increase IT efficiency, to save on IT costs, and to simplify the daily workload of the IT staff.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Goodbye to 2009, From an IT Perspective

Just when you thought 2009 was so over…a last lingering look at memorable IT moments that can inform decisions and directions in 2010:

top five IT leadership blogs of 2009 span the range from entertaining (20 cynical project management tips) to advice (10 great ideas from five great bosses) – no wonder they made the list.

Top 15 Tech Events of the Decade will make you smile with recognition at trends past and present. Despite the proliferation of social media, “unfriend” is 2009’s word of the year. Remember the terror that accompanied the deadly phrase “Y2K?” Read them all and see if you agree that these are the top 15.

Even the
New York Times got into the act, with an article about how to make science and technology “cooler” so that promising students will be drawn to the field. C’mon, won’t you miss those bottleneck glasses and shirts buttoned all the way to the collar? How will we recognize the computer geeks if they walk among us in disguise?

Everybody enjoys watching someone else admit they were wrong. Enjoy a recap of
2009's most notable IT apologies, which includes a critique of the quality of the apologies. For example: using Twitter to apologize for an application which offered guys advice how to pick up women? Really? Pepsi’s half hearted mea culpa only earned a rating of one, while Google’s apology for its Gmail outage garnered a respectable 8.5.