Aug 12 2011

Programmable Data Centers – BizTech Quick Take

BizTech Quick Take is our weekly digital tour of the web, serving up news and notes on IT and business that you need to know — and some things you’ll simply be glad to know

Are Programmable Data Centers the Future?

Data centers can require not only a significant amount of electrical energy, they also need a significant amount of human energy. That’s why the mantra among IT workers has been “automate wherever possible.”

But what if the whole data center could be run through scripts and code? With the flexibilities afforded to IT workers via virtualization, programmable data centers could be a reality in the near future.

Steve Jin, a VMware employee and blogger, thinks that programmable data centers are just around the corner. And he believes that IT will see four benefits from this shift:

  1. Unifying resources across compute, storage, and networking so that they can be shared across the traditional boundaries.
  2. Create multiple virtual data centers within a physical data center. With programmability, it can be done in a matter of minutes or hours. Unlike sharing up level resources, the boundaries are enforced strictly by low level system, therefore more secure for multi-tenancy
  3. Re-allocate system resources within a data center. You don’t need to move a physical machine or re-wire it to a different switch or attach to a different storage. All you need is several lines of commands or scripts.
  4. Isolate problematic components in a data center. What if a network switch is broken? No problem, you just “re-wire” it with a couple of commands.

Read more about programmable data centers on Steve Jin’s blog DoubleCloud.

One Man Is Already Planning to Line Up for the iPhone 5

In the past, the release of a new version of Apple’s wildly popular iPhone has resulted in long lines in anticipation of the mobile device’s launch, but iPhone 5 fever is hitting one man a little earlier than others.

Apple hasn’t even formally announced the iPhone 5 yet, so it seems a little early to start planning to camp out for it — but Rob Shoesmith, an App marketer for MEDL Mobile, just can’t wait.

GottaBeMobile interviewed Shoesmith, who plans to make his way through the ordeal with the help of sponsorships and freebies. When asked what he would do if the iPhone 5 wasn’t launched until October, he conceded that he’d settle for an official announcement from Apple.

GBM: What will you do if Apple doesn’t launch [the iPhone 5] until October?
Rob: That doesn’t matter. My aim is to wait until there is an official announcement from Apple then make a decision from there. I will however be camping out for some time!

Read more of the interview with Shoesmith on the GottaBeMobile blog.

Cisco Weighs In on the Digital Signage Industry

As a leader in the digital signage space, Cisco Systems commands a wealth of knowledge about best practices with this technology.

Janice Le Litvinoff, general manager for the digital media systems business unit, outlined her observations on the trends that she sees for businesses using digital signage. She identified specific examples in financial services, manufacturing and sports entertainment.

The three emerging use cases identified by Cisco are:

  • Financial Services: Banks are using digital signage to drive customers into the bank, using signage to upsell customers. For example, while waiting in line, customers are shown ads for credit cards, which tie back into the call center who receives the customer call with the immediate knowledge of what the call is about.
  • Sports Entertainment: The Miami Dolphins Stadium has a large Latino base and they deliver specific ads and information in Spanish that appeal to this target population.
  • Manufacturing: Manufacturers are using digital signage to deliver video training at the assembly line.

Learn more about Cisco’s observations on digital signage on the Cisco blog.

Don’t Wait for the Perfect Collaboration

Perfection is a nice ideal to work toward, but when it comes to emerging collaboration technologies, companies should prepare for things to get a little messy, according to Jacob Morgan, a writer for CloudAve.

Experience is the best teacher, Morgan writes, and companies shouldn’t avoid experimenting with collaboration because they feel like they haven’t come up with the perfect catch-all strategy.

That doesn’t mean businesses should go without guidelines though. He provides a few in his post:

  • Develop a solid set of use cases but don’t try to come up with everything, there will always be things you miss
  • Try to frame a big picture of where you want your efforts to be in the long-run but try to keep action items, changes, enhancements, and actionable strategic direction to manageable bite-size chunks, for example looking 1 quarter down the road instead of one year
  • Anticipate and expect surprises and things to happen that you didn’t anticipate or predict, such as the development of additional use cases
  • Expect that you will learn a lot as you implement and that your direction for emergent collaboration might change as you get feedback and insights from your employees

To learn more about the imperfection of collaboration, read Morgan’s full post on CloudAve.

Some Wi-Fi Benefits Aren’t Ready Out of the Box

That network router you bought for your office may tout itself as 802.11n, but did you know that many Wireless N options are disabled out of the box?

Stephen Foskett, an IT blogger, details the capabilities of 802.11n networking products that may be disabled in the name of compatibility with older versions of Wi-Fi on his blog.

This means that businesses that want to get the most out of their wireless networking products will need to spend a little time fine-tuning to do so:

Buyers of 802.11n wireless network equipment should not assume they will see a great benefit right out of the box. Most will have to enable by hand a high-performance configuration including wide channels and 5 GHz operation. And some client devices may never reach the levels of performance expected by consumers due to hardware limitations.

To learn more about 802.11n wireless networking products, read this post on Foskett’s blog.

Social Enterprises: Businesses with a Social Mission

What if the innovation and focus of the business world was applied toward a philanthropic mission? Small Business Labs is seeing a trend toward for-profit or non-profit companies that have, at their core, a social mission.

In a post highlighting the trend, Steve King of Small Business Labs talked about one company, Inveneo, which provides communications technology to people and communities in rural and underserved areas of the developing world.

Quoting the company on its business model, King highlights this tidbit:

"Our business model, based on both earned income and grant funding, is rooted in our belief that market-based strategies and relationships help to maximize social impact, sustainability and scale by aligning the interests and commitments of all stakeholders."

Read more about social enterprises on the Small Business Labs blog.

Fake Firefox E-Mail Attempts to Lure Users Into Malware Trap

While most experienced IT workers can spot Trojan bait a mile away, some less savvy users in their organization might fall prey to fake e-mails urging them to update their browsers.

The latest trick comes in the form of Troj/PWS-BSF, a Trojan horse from malware proprietors trying to hijack user information by spamming users with an e-mail message inviting them to click a link to update their Firefox browser, reports Naked Security.

Informed Internet users know that Firefox doesn’t e-mail users to update the browser; updates are made automatically through the browser. It’s important to educate all users within the organization about how updates to the browser work so that one user doesn’t unwittingly become a vulnerability in the organization’s network.

Read more about the Firefox Trojan scheme on the Naked Security blog.

5 Mobile Security Rules to Live By

In the rush to go mobile, some users and organizations are forgetting all of the painful lessons about IT security that they learned from desktop computing. Remember: Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets are still computers, and computers need smart security to stay healthy and malware-free.

Jason Holbert outlines 5 mobile security rules that businesses should implement to make mobile computing safe and secure for all users in the company. And they’re not difficult to put in place either. The first rule? Put a passcode on all company iPads.

Learn the 5 mobile security golden rules in this article from BizTech.

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