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Saturday, December 19, 2009

IT shops weigh Microsoft buy of Opalis Software

By Mark Fontecchio, News Writer
16 Dec 2009 | SearchDataCenter.com

IT pros using Opalis Software have strong opinions on the pending
Microsoft acquisition of Opalis, depending on how much they use the
data center automation software. The deeper they are into Opalis' run
book automation and job scheduling features, and the more they lean on
support, the more concerned they are.

James Hankey, vice president of IT and director of operations at
financial investment firm John G. Ullman & Associates (JGUA) in New
York, professed shock at the news announced late last week.

"I'm afraid we're going to have to end up paying more money," he said.

JGUA has been an Opalis data center automation customer for about 10
years. In 2000, the company needed to streamline processes required to
produce client reports. Hankey said JGUA spent a lot of money paying
people overtime for processes that the Opalis software performed using
run book automation. Now JGUA uses it primarily to monitor those
processes.

"Microsoft is lousy in terms of support," he said. "Other Microsoft
products we use we have to pay $250 just for a call, and we use the
support lines heavily with Opalis."

Victor Martinez, director of information systems at Kawasaki Motors
Corp., USA, has a different take on the deal. Kawasaki started using
Opalis Integration Server software to help run its online commerce
site. Most data the site needed -- including catalog, dealer and
pricing information -- sat on the company's mainframe. Kawasaki needed
an automated way to manage the transfer of that data to and from the
staging and production servers that ran the site. They used Opalis'
data center automation software to do it.

The company has since scaled back its e-commerce site, and now uses
Opalis for job scheduling process management and automation. Martinez
said he was happy to hear about the acquisition, and hopes Microsoft
bundles Opalis software up with other products so that Kawasaki has to
pay even less to use it. The company rarely uses Opalis support lines.

"Anything Microsoft gets their hands on, they commoditize," he said.
"From our standpoint, that's positive. If we were really using Opalis
in creative ways, I might have some concerns around it. Custom things
might not be built or I might not be as creative with the product as
in the past. But for us it's been kind of a sleeping giant that does a
lot of good stuff for us without a lot of work."

That seems to be the direction Microsoft could take Opalis, according
to Microsoft channel partners. The thought is that Opalis software
will be sold with Microsoft System Center, the company's Windows
management products. Partners also said Microsoft's purchase of Opalis
is a way for it to push harder into the cloud computing space.

Mark Fontecchio can be reached at mfontecchio@techtarget.com.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Green data center allows virtualization growth for Congress

By Alexander B. Howard, Associate Editor, SearchCompliance.com
14 Dec 2009 | SearchDataCenter.com

Skyrocketing energy costs in the data center aren't just a corporate issue. Server consolidation, utilization efficiency and virtual machine sprawl also challenge the biggest enterprise in the United States: the federal government.

Greening the Capitol
Two years ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched an initiative designed to reduce the carbon footprint of the United States Capitol. The implementation of a green data center by House Information Resources fits into this broader context. Download a full report here.


Over the past several years, the operators of the data center that supports operations at the U.S. House of Representatives reduced energy consumption by over 50%, saving taxpayers money and allowing the rollout of server virtualization to member offices.

That effort took hard work, but the return in energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction also helped improve security, disaster recovery and brought the flexibility necessary to enable desktop virtualization in the future.

"Long before there was a green initiative, before it became fashionable, we had a power issue," said Jack Nichols, director of the Enterprise Operations department for the House Information Resources (HIR).

Eight years ago, he explained, the House data center in the Ford office building was "chock full of equipment" and was right near the capacity of finite power that could be delivered to the old structure. After years of right-sizing, consolidation and virtualization, the House data center is now saving nearly $1,000 a day in energy costs, Nichols said. Best of all, "We were able to do this virtualization and consolidation effort without an additional dollar in our budget, using planned lifecycle replacement money."

Long before there was a green initiative, before it became fashionable, we had a power issue.
Jack Nichols,
director of the Enterprise Operations department, House Information Resources



Nichols, an Air Force veteran, knows a thing or two about working under pressure. He used to be attached to the White House communications agency, where he experienced the unique pleasure of having the President of the United States looking over his shoulder while he set up a mobile network. After a tour through contracting and some time consulting for Lucent, he now manages the IT infrastructure for the House enterprise operations group.

The enterprise ops group had a tactical reason for approaching server consolidation and creating a green data center, Nichols explained in an on-site interview. "We had about 500,000 watts available to us for powering the servers, which was very near capacity," Nichols said. "Another 750,000 watts or so of power was available to us for the servers to be cooled. We needed to look at ways technology could help us reduce consumption."

The group looked at everything available to figure out what was possible. In the end, the group adopted tried-and-true best practices for reducing energy consumption in a green data center. Nichols said that they've reduced energy consumption to between 125-150,000 W, which equates to about $1,000 per day in real savings, assuming a cost of 11-12 cents per kW hour. That adds up to about $365,000 saved annually for taxpayers.

How did they reduce data center power costs?
First of all, test environments weren't being decommissioned. "We inventoried all of the servers to see what could get turned off," Nichols said. After that, they looked at whether servers were matched to engineers' needs, right-sizing servers for workloads. Nichols said that they achieved 45% power reduction in the servers chosen through right-sizing alone.

Consolidation of applications, especially in the data center's Unix environment, was the next target. His group was able to host multiple applications on a single platform, leading to a 55% energy reduction for the relevant machines.

Finally, virtualization was a significant factor. "The biggest savings here was in our test environments," said Nichols. "We realized 75% to 80% power savings there. We had about 200 servers, which we virtualized into a single rack."

Nichols was also able to significantly improve utilization rates. "In our Windows environment, for instance, most of the servers were at 2% to 5% utilization," he said. "In virtual settings, not only could we host multiple applications on a single server, we could build in a level of fault tolerance that wasn't there. That meant that we could be assured of a downtime measured in minutes, as opposed to hours or days."

"With every watt you save from a server standpoint, there's about another equal watt saved in cooling. As a result, we were able to change the way we cool the data center. We were able to remove or turn off CRAC units."

These energy savings have been all about following classic best practices. "We spent time clearing cables, avoiding barriers that inhibit air flow, setting up hot-aisle/cold-aisle arrangements, and ensuring we had proper placement of our CRACs. That's all what led to a green data center," Nichols said.

New horizons for a virtualized House: BC/DR, improved security
Creating this much room between the maximum power ceiling has opened up new possibilities for HIR to provide additional services to member offices.

"In many ways, the House is a collection of small businesses," said Nichols. "In the past, members have had physical servers in the office. We'd offer best practices for backup and maintenance." That member's office IT staff was responsible for everything, from networking to databases to Web development.

Now, power consumption reductions have led directly to the ability to virtualize members' offices. Every member office's data is uniquely encrypted to his virtual server, with a different encryption algorithm associated with each office. That unique identifier was a key step. "When you can get that hurdle cleared and we can say we can uniquely secure your data, then we can talk about centralizing," Nichols said.

That common security posture made the HIR chief information security officer happier, said Nichols. Decreased administration and capital costs pleased members too, he said, in terms of acquisition and repair. Nichols is happy about improved business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities, as centralized data is now replicated to secondary data center outside of the district

Blade servers save space, energy in this green data center
The HIR enterprise operations department was able to take two rows of individual servers and collapse them into a single blade frame rack.


Before the consolidation

That meant moving from about 300 servers to about 30. That one blade frame consumes about 20,000 W, Nichols said. His department has now created virtual servers for more than 150 member offices so far, which saves the direct cost of the server itself as well as administration and 400 to 500 W per server in each office.


After the consolidation

Nichols keeps a close eye on the potential for virtual machine sprawl, a common headache for modern data center operators. "We're under very tight constraints in terms of who has the rights to create a virtual server," he said. "We have restrictions and safeguards to limit that. In our initial foray into virtualization, there were tradeoffs between achieving the greatest consolidation ratio and achieving it in a secure fashion. We had to examine the business process behind each one of the servers. It's gotten better with third-party tools that can monitor traffic between hypervisors."

There are other possibilities under discussion now, like the potential for creating a private cloud or rolling out desktop virtualization down the road. Not every technology is going to be right for this environment, however. "If you can't clear the security hurdle for deployment, it's not going to be a good fit," said Nichols.

For now, Nichols maintains a heterogeneous virtualization environment and is keeping an eye out for other areas where the office can reduce energy consumption or improve utilization. "We want everyone competing, whether they're hardware or software vendors, so that we can get the best bang for the buck for the American taxpayer."

Alexander B. Howard is the associate editor of SearchCompliance.com at TechTarget. His work focuses on how regulations affect IT operations, including issues of data protection, privacy, security and enterprise IT strategy.

http://searchdatacenter.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid80_gci1376814,00.html?track=sy185&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+techtarget%2FSearchdatacenter%2FItInfrastructure+%28SearchDataCenter+%3A+IT+infrastructure+news%29

Masa depan Digital Signage

Janji datangnya sang prospek klien pada jam 11 terlewatkan sampai jam
14, tapi saya senang menerima kehadiran mereka di kantor kecil kami.
Dalam diskusi singkat mengenai perusahaan, kami mengakui bahwa kami
memang memiliki fokus untuk mengembangkan Digital Signage di
Indonesia.

Yang menarik bagi saya, Digital Signage ini bukan barang baru, tapi
teknologinya terus berkembang. Secara umum terbagi menjadi 2, yaitu
hardware Digital Signage dan software Digital Signage. Kami terus
terang, lebih berfokus kepada Digital Signage berbasis software karena
lebih luas dan fleksibelnya pengembangan yang dapat dilakukan.

Digital Signage sekarang dengan mudah ditemukan dimana-mana. Di jalan,
diatas pos polisi, persimpangan jalan utama, hingga di depan lift
gedung perkantoran, ada beberapa di apartemen. Konteksnya tetap sama,
yaitu memperkenalkan atau memvisualisasi dengan menggunakan media
digital, khususnya adalah teknologi display. Teknologi ini konon
adalah teknologi yang paling mudah menyerap perhatian orang, membuat
orang teringat tentang apa yang disampaikan, tetapi juga bisa menjadi
terlalu cepat untuk dilupakan.

Oleh karena itu, visualisasi, penampilan dalam media display, yang
mungkin hanya dilihat sebentar saja itu, menjadi sangat penting. Kami
dalam beberapa tahun ini mengembangkan aplikasi finosMDS sebagai
pilihan, khususnya industri perbankan untuk menggunakan media digital
signage menggantikan media tampilan kurs berbasis led atau manual.
Tapi toh, tetap kurang maksimal. Kami sempat beralih ke industri lain
beberapa tahun yang lalu, belum mendapat respon. Tapi sekarang, luar
biasa. Dimana-mana kita temukan, bahkan ada yang menggunakan mobile
unit untuk membawa display yang luar biasa besar, guna mempublikasikan
iklan mereka.

Belakangan kami tertarik dengan Navori, perusahaan berbasis di
Switzerland yang memiliki fokus di Digital Signage Software. Kami
sedang menggodok beberapa strategi membawa produk tersebut masuk ke
Indonesia dengan mudah, meskipun cost nya tidak sedikit. Beberapa
peluang pernah hampir kami raih dengan menggunakan software ini,
tetapi belum ada yang gol secara maksimal.

Navori menawarkan konsep yang menarik tentang Digital Signage
Software, yang tentu saja, balik ke konsep awal saya, dengan mudah
dikonfigurasi, dibuatkan template, sehingga saya dapat mengganti-ganti
dengan cepat. Navori juga menantang untuk dikoneksikan dengan aplikasi
lainnya, seperti queuing system yang telah kami miliki sejak lama.

Digital Signage, mungkin suatu saat tidak hanya kita temui di media
luar ruang, atau dalam ruang yang kita masuki, tetapi mungkin juga
dalam pesawat mobilephone Anda. Who knows? Yang penting tetap sama
yang dimaksudkan menyampaikan pesan secara lebih menarik. Bahkan, ada
demand dari beberapa prospek untuk membuat Digital Signage interaktif,
jadi bisa berkomunikasi, kita bisa memilih apa yang ingin kita lihat,
kita dapat merespon. Dalam konsep kiosk, hal ini telah lazim
digunakan. Tapi dalam digital signage mungkin akan jadi hal menarik.
Belum lagi, apabila bisa dipersonalisasi. Contoh, adalah saya yang
masuk ke ruang lobby kantor saya, maka tampilan digital signage nya
adalah khusus untuk saya. Wow. unlimited ideas khan.

Ok, kita lihat saja,apakah kami berhasil memperkenalkan Navori di
Indonesia dengan lebih baik pada tahun 2010.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

ICT EXPO - JCC 14-16 DES 2009

Kepada seluruh rekan-rekan,
Bapak dan Ibu, anda semua diundang untuk dapat menghadiri acara ICT EXPO yang di selenggarakan di JCC dari tanggal 14 - 16 Desember 2009 (09:30 - 17:00), dengan cara melakukan pendaftaran secara online GRATIS di: http://www.ictindonesia.com/reg/ yang mana selain anda akan mendapat kesempatan memenangkan undian berhadiah, Bapak dan Ibu juga akan memperoleh sebuah buku catalog pameran senilai Rp. 50.000,-
Untuk mengikuti ICT FORUM 2009 silahkan klik di:

NCR acquires DVDPlay, will convert 1,300 kiosks to Blockbuster Express brand

Caroline Cooper

• 10 Dec 2009

NCR Corp. has announced its acquisition of Campbell, Calif.-based
DVDPlay, which operates approximately 1,300 DVD-rental kiosks in the
United States and Canada. In a news release, NCR says it will convert
the DVDPlay kiosks to add to its Blockbuster Express-branded line of
kiosks and is revising its installation forecasts from 2,500 to 3,800
by the end of 2009. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Alex Camara, vice president and general manager of NCR Entertainment,
says DVDPlay's presence in California, Colorado and Illinois will
allow NCR to extend its DVD-rental reach to new markets, bolstering
its efforts to compete with redbox.

Our acquisition of DVDPlay accelerates NCR's growth in the
DVD-rental business as we expand our operations, technology leadership
and consumer experience in key markets with premium retail partners.
Over the past six months, we've seen tremendous enthusiasm from
consumers and retail partners for our DVD-rental kiosks. We've been
able to deploy quickly and maintain high levels of availability. This
further investment will help us bring our kiosks to even more
consumers in even more locations around the United States, especially
in major markets in California and other parts of the western U.S.

Coinstar Inc., whose redbox brand is NCR's primary competition in the
DVD-rental kiosk market, today announced it has exceeded its forecast
for 20,000 redbox kiosks installed by the end of the year.