Best Practices – Selecting New Servers

I’d like to lead with this strip from Scott Adams’ Dilbert…

Yes, upgrading servers can be a pain.  Not just in the sense of actually upgrading them, but in communicating to others why you should do so.  Whether it be age, needed technology upgrades for virtualization, more storage needed, new software requirements, etc…the list goes on and on.  Choices can be more annoying than useful nowadays since there are so many companies to choose from.  I’m going to let you in on a little industry secret…there is very little difference between servers from the mid-level manufacturers (Dell & Lenovo…but Dell is showing great improvement as of late) and some of their lower end competitors (Acer, NEC, & Supermicro).  Now when you look at HP, Cisco and Oracle SPARC servers, each have standout performance abilities.

Now there’s a distinct difference between Oracle SPARC and the other two.  Oracle’s servers are not for everyone, because they are designed to be (and priced to be) Mission Critical servers.  Ones that don’t go down unless it involves a shotgun at point blank range.Don’t get me wrong, HP is known for its high quality servers, and has been for many years.  They’re a brand I’ve come to trust for reliability and customer service.  The folks at Cisco as well have jumped into the market place with some great product…and those three really are the places you should be looking when it comes to updating your server pool.

Here’s a list of things you need to consider when examining your server environment and planning an update.

1) Virtualization? – Always a key for your business.  Now most of you have already virtualized, and shrunk your server farms down…but there are still many who haven’t taken the plunge.  That’s the time to use your consultants.  Whether you work with PCM & myself, or other VARs & LARs, we can help you do what you want to do.  The great fear over virtualization is that it’s difficult to learn and even more hard to master.  Well, I won’ t lie…it is.  BUT, I have staff here, and contacts across the industry who can help you do what you want…and we don’t charge for that kind of configuration help.

2) What kind of Server? – Tower (small business), Rack (Mid to large) or Blade (mid to large).  They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but you need to know where you’re going.  There’s limited space for and in Tower servers, so they’re relegated to small companies.  Rack servers are great because they take up less space, and provide a more beefy setup than a Tower ever could.  Blade servers are ultra-compact, taking up even less space & power while providing more capabilities than a Rack server could.

3) How many Processors? – The average server has 4-8 cores, with SPARC servers having 16 available.  The amount you need balances against what you’re going to pay for when it comes to virtualizing.  You need to balance the generation of the processor and its abilities against your cost savings.

4) How much RAM? –  Always a good question.  I’m of the mind that if you aren’t maxed out, you aren’t using your server to its full potential.  Remember, if you’re buying from manufacturers, they are going to HURT you on RAM prices.  Talk to your resellers to get the best deal/quality.  (Kingston is your best bet in my estimation.)

5) Storage?  – How much disk space do you need on your servers for all of your applications, their data, and even additional storage/archiving?  Do you need to RAID drives? I always recommend bringing the total amount of data and what you want to do to a partner to talk with an expert (and yes there are people out there who this is what they live to talk about) and develop a solution that is going to carry you forward 5 years.  Do you need further storage on a SAN or NAS?  (We’ll cover that in another Best Practices entry)

6) Software? – A tough question, and really it comes down to what you’re looking to do with this server.  Is it database management?  Is it email?  Is it for a Hybrid Cloud?  Are you going to virtualize it?  From Microsoft, to Oracle, there are hundreds of programs you can use with your server for management.  It’s a matter of personal taste, mixed with what you need done.


So there you go…6 steps.  Think about them and contact me.  We want to help you. 🙂

(For those of you linking from other folks I work with, contact your rep and talk to them…they are as just as concerned for you as I am. 🙂 )

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Malware will invade your iPhone!

Here’s a great reblog from the folks over at Barracuda.  They have been very proactive with their information in the past month, and are taking action that should be applauded.

Many spammers/malware developers have been buying legitimate apps over the past couple years in order to compromise their users with infected updates.  So your IOS setup isn’t going to protect you from things like this.  Internal attacks will rip your life apart…don’t be a statistic. 🙂

Read the article here.

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!

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FYI – Cisco reports Android and Java are top mobile security targets

Hello All and Happy Friday!  Stacy here with an awareness report.  Security and hackers are always a hot issue and that’s why I found the following read an interesting one.  Cisco reports that Android mobile operating system is the target of 99% of the world’s mobile malware.  Not only that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) listed 79 percent of all mobile threats as being designed to target Android in August 2013.

‘Droid Influenza is never anything to be chortled at.

Android and Java top security targets for malware and hacks

If you do have a Google Android device, be extra careful when downloading and adding applications, even from their marketplace.  You can become a potential target, and while this can relate to Android’s open source nature, don’t fool yourself into a false sense of security.  This is not to speak poorly of Android (that’s right! – editor), it’s one of the prices paid from using an open system.  Apple has their own issues with their marketplace recently, so nobody is immune.

“put your head on my shooooooulder…Anndroid.”

Another thing to be aware of is the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy as a growing number of employees are using these personal smartphones and tablets alongside company laptops in the workplace.  This trend created problems with device recognition and password reset requests. Certain devices could connect only over the wired network, others just to Wi-Fi, and some not at all. So, a robust BYOD framework is a strategic priority.  Zero Trust is the best policy to follow when it comes to BYOD, just be aware that some employees will push back and not want you deleting their phones on “a whim”.

Have an awesome Friday!

Even with malware issues, the Force is with Android. 😉

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Tis the Season…

Howdy and happy December 23rd!

I’m going to keep this simple today as it’s going to be a busy week for everyone, and I’m not in the office most of the week.

First, I have some new contributors from my team at PCM that will be joining us over the next week or so, in order to help me keep flowing information out to all of you…so when they join us, please provide them a warm welcome.

Second, if you need help contacting a manufacturer (HP, Cisco, Dell, etc) this week or next…they’re all closed.  There’s not much anyone can do.

Third…enjoy This Video and the following one below.  Have a Merry Christmas & a Happy Yule!

Cisco, buy my desktops!

Cisco has wanted in on the desktops and servers game for a VERY long time.  When they released their UCS server systems onto the market recently they met with decent success and have actively been working to grow that product in an already very competitive market.  What happened yesterday wasn’t too much of a surprise when I read it, because it seems to me that it was on Cisco’s radar quite a while ago.

Yesterday, Cisco announced Desktop as a Service (DaaS – anyone else find these acronyms silly?).  Now basically this helps allow for clients to build their own Virtual Desktops or subscribe out to Cisco’s Cloud for them to provide all of that.  Of what they mentioned in that LONG article were these 3 bullet points that caught my eye…

  • Improved density of hosted virtual desktops offering up to 252 virtual desktops on a single UCS blade server
  • Support for end user applications that require high-quality rendering of immersive, 3D graphics
  • New UCS Solution Accelerator Packs for Desktop Virtualization, providing simplified ordering

Look at #2.  So they’re saying that they can provide a virtual desktop that can render immersive 3D graphics?  Wow.  These have come a long way from the Dumb Terminals of the 1970s and 1980s! 🙂  Let’s not go back to those nightmares.

Tell me what your thoughts are on Desktop as a Service.  I’m always curious to hear.


Rut-Roh, Raggy! Meraki ras Radius!

Creative titles never come easy to me. 😉

Over on the Cisco Meraki Blog today, Ms. Emily Sporl announced today that Cisco Meraki switches will now have Mac-based Radius authentication, 1-Click DCHP server containment, and Mac whitelisting.  This is a huge step in the right direction for the Cisco Meraki switches.  While amazing in their own right, this will give them a strength previously unseen in Meraki’s switching environment.

Take a look and see!  And if you’re interested, join their webinar about switches here!

See what happens when you lament over not getting involved with Meraki sooner?












Have a great day! 🙂






End of Innovation?

This is a great article by Gil Press over at Forbes.  Normally I don’t frequent Forbes…I’ve had issues with their writers in the past, but this article to me seemed very on the level and not slanted to Mystery House proportions.  It poses a great point about Innovation and how current tech is only a scratch in the bottom of the proverbial bucket.  Here’s a snippet I liked at the end:

“IT is no longer a “department” like accounting or facilities. The businesses that continue to view it this way will not be able to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the digitization of everything. IT no longer drives the business. IT is the business. Every CEO should study Mckinsey’s disruptive dozenand any other emerging technology that may or may not be relevant to their business—and develop an action plan for embracing, extending, or ignoring that technology.”

It’s my belief that people love to speak negatively about anything.  There’s an intense desire to be right about something…and when you nay-say on a topic, and you’re right…you’re a SUPERSTAR!  Wow you foresaw that failure…what luck!  If you were wrong…nobody remembers and you’re off the hook.  But taking a chance and believing in something is dangerous…you might look like a fool if it doesn’t work out…oh no!  Seriously?  That’s what humans have evolved to?  Being afraid of believing in something and being wrong?  Cowards…and we’re all guilty of it, especially me.  This year I turned over a new leaf, helping to support projects through Kickstarter and Indiegogo in order to make new things happen.  Will they all be smash successes?  No…but I believe in them and the makers of them.

Four years ago, I was introduced to an amazing tech company…you might know them, I write about them a lot…Meraki.  I saw what they had to offer, wrapped myself up in it and began to share it with everyone.  Now I can look back and see those nay-sayers who said it would never matter, never take off, why waste my time on that product…you know, the one that Cisco bought for over 1 BILLION dollars.  Those nay-sayers are now selling it…and looking to me for help.  Thankfully I’m gracious, and happy to help, because it’s a great product…and I’m happy to help them.

What feels better to you?  To believe that future innovations are going to change mankind?  Or that we’re not going to go anywhere?  Think with your heart on that one…that always points you in the right direction.  Innovation is worth one set of these right?