Nov 172014

It’s that time of the year where the ghosts and ghouls begin to drift out from the cracks in the walls and everyone starts to feel the chill of the Halloween breeze.  At Arbitech, this is certainly no exception with more than half of our staff participating in the annual Halloween costume contest.  This year’s contest more than lived up to the expectations, with costumes ranging from cute and funny to downright terrifying.

After the drumroll subsided the judges cast their votes. The dynamic duo of James and Jimmy took the prize for funniest, dressing up as Ryu and E. Honda from the video game “Street Fighter”.  Greg stole the show for the most creative and Jeff scared the judges into submission as Jigsaw from the popular horror movie franchise “Saw”.

Well done and thank you to all of our participants, judges and all else who made this fun day possible. It goes without saying that we cannot wait to see what’s in store for next year.


Oct 062014

October 6, 2014 – by Steven Burke – CRN

Hewlett Packard Monday confirmed that it is splitting into effectively what would become two publically traded Fortune 50 companies: a $56 billion PC and Printing business and a $56 billion enterprise computing business.

HP’s personal systems and printing business will do business as HP Inc. and retain the current branding and logo. HP’s enterprise computing business, which will include enterprise systems, software and services, will do business as Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

HP shares were trading up six percent in premarket trading to $37.20 on news of the split.

Following the split, which is expected to be completed by the end of HP’s fiscal year 2015 ended Oct. 31, 2015, HP shareholders will own shares of both HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

HP said the split will provide each company with its “own more focused equity currency, and investors with the opportunity to invest in two companies with compelling and unique financial profiles suited to their respective businesses.” What’s more, HP said both companies will be “well capitalized and expect to have investment grade credit ratings and capital structures.

The complex transaction, which is intended to be a tax-free distribution to HP’s shareholders for federal income tax purposes, has been approved by HP’s board of directors, but must still receive favorable rulings with respect to the tax free nature of the deal.

HP Chairman and CEO Meg Whitman, who will retain a hand in both companies, said in a prepared statement that the split will accelerate her five year HP turnaround plan which is approaching the fourth year.

“Our work during the past three years has significantly strengthened our core businesses to the point where we can more aggressively go after the opportunities created by a rapidly changing market,” said Whitman. “The decision to separate into two market-leading companies underscores our commitment to the turnaround plan. It will provide each new company with the independence, focus, financial resources, and flexibility they need to adapt quickly to market and customer dynamics, while generating long-term value for shareholders.”

Whitman said that by transitioning from one HP to two new companies HP “will be in an even better position to compete in the market, support our customers and partners, and deliver maximum value to our shareholders.”

Whitman will be president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise with lead independent director Pat Russo acting as chairman of the Hewlett Packard Enterprise board.
Dion Weisler, the current executive vice president of HP’s personal systems and printing business, will be president and CEO of HP Inc. with Whitman acting as non executive Chairman of the HP Inc. board of directors.

Partners said they the split opening the door to unlocking value and increasing innovation in both companies. “It’s a brilliant move,” said Mike Strohl, CEO of Entisys Solutions, a Concord, Calif.-based HP Platinum partner, No. 253 on the 2014 Solution Provider 500. “The PC printer business is more consumer focused and the enterprise business is a commercial focused business. Separating them will allow HP to drive more innovation, propelling them and their partners into a market leadership position.”

HP said the split will provide HP Enterprisewith “additional resources and a reduction of debt at the operation company level to support investments across key areas of the portfolio.” The company assured that HP Enteprise customers will have the same “unmatched choice of how to deploy and consume technology with a simpler, more nimble” company.

“Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will accelerate innovation across key next-generation areas of the portfolio,” assured Whitman.
Weisler, for his part, called the split a “defining moment” in the industry as customers look for more “innovation to enable workforces that are more mobile, connected and productive.

“As the market leader in printing and personal systems, an independent HP Inc. will be extremely well positioned to deliver that innovation across our traditional markets as well as extend our leadership into new markets like 3-D printing and new computing experiences – inventing technology that empowers people to create, interact and inspire like never before,” said Weisler in a prepared statement.

HP said as a result of the split it was postponing its October 8 analyst meeting. However, it reiterated fiscal 2014 non GAAP diluted earnings per share outlook of $3.70 -$3.74 and updated its net earnings per share outlook to $2.60 – $2.64.

For fiscal 2015, HP said it expected non GAAP diluted net earnings per share outlook of $3.83 – $4.03 and GAAP diluted net earnings per share of $3.23 – $3.42.
The HP outlook for fiscal 2015, however, does not include one time GAAP charges the company is expected to incur in connection with the split including advisory and tax costs.


Sep 242014

September 24, 2014 – by Ron Miller – Tech Crunch

There are certain ways of doing things in hardware engineering, and engineers simply follow these rules because there’s no use fighting them even if they wanted to. Frankly, most don’t even think about it because it’s just a given, but during a recent tour of Facebook’s hardware lab, director of engineering Matt Corddry, says Facebook scale requires them to rethink the old rules and let engineers imagine outside industry standards.

Since Facebook has begun building much of its own hardware, that means engineers can rethink how things are done, and when you build equipment for the scale of Facebook, it requires creative thinking. “We understand our challenges, costs, operating environment and needs better than an outside vendor and we are able to specialize on the specific needs of Facebook,” Corddry told me recently.

Corddry explained that one of the ways Facebook encourages this creative thinking is to get engineers to work across specialties and talk to one another. “What I find is you need to give engineers learning experiences to find optimizations and break boundaries to get discussions across disciplines,” he said.

Facebook has found when engineers work together instead of in isolation interesting things begin to emerge. “Many silo these engineering teams –server, storage, database, [and so forth]. We don’t create these barriers,” he said. “We bring different teams together to find new ways to solve problems.”

Another thing they do, that many companies, even hardware manufacturers fail to do is they bring their engineers into their datacenters and they watch how people maintain the equipment they design. When you see someone taking out 6 screws (or 16) to replace a hard drive, and you need to do this hundreds of times a year, you begin to get that there needs to be a simpler way.

That’s how they designed the disk array shown here. It’s designed for easy maintenance with no screws. You simply flip the large green lever to slide out the array, pop the small green lever in front of the hard drive you need to replace, lift the hinged lid (as shown below), tug out the hard drive and pop it in a new one. There are no screws involved at all, and when you have Facebook scale, you need to be thinking about these types of issues.

He said that the disk array design I looked at had been iterated over time to make it as simple as possible to maintain. It’s possible they aren’t done yet.

In contrast, Corddry told me he spoke to one hardware engineer at unnamed vendor who admitted he had never watched a technician try to repair his design. When you don’t think about maintenance, it shows and we’ve all dealt with equipment with way too many small screws and poor placement. You end up with bloody knuckles from scraping against the inside of the machine and it’s not fun.

When you’re dealing with a few machines, that’s troubling. When you’re dealing with thousands or even tens of thousands, it takes on a different dimension.

Another way that the Facebook engineers thought outside the box (literally) was the server design. Corddry told me engineers are conditioned that the server design has to fit into a 2u rack, but he gave them permission to forget about that and imagine how they would design a server if there were no rack limitations.

When they left those limitations behind, it opened up all kinds of possibilities. Left to their own design devices, the engineers came up with a long narrow box. Facebook designed a rack to accommodate the new size. You can afford to do that when you’re Facebook. The box slides out of the rack and the top slides off –again no screws –and as you can see from the pictures below, the engineers laid out the box so that you could see the different parts at a glance. As one hardware engineer friend who looked at these pictures pointed out, some of the design principles still hold in terms of where you sit memory in relation to the CPU and the distance you want information to carry, but once again Facebook allowed its engineers to break the design mold and do what felt right.Inside the Facebook server.

Corddry said the idea is to put specialists with a narrow and deep focus together with broad generalists in a hackathon-style approach and let them have at these design problems and they really do come up with creative ways to solve what would have been much more difficult design problems.

It’s worth noting that when they are done producing these unique forms of hardware they open source them to the Open Compute project where the designs are delivered to a community of designers to further attack the scale computing problem and figure out ways to produce hardware that’s easier to maintain, runs much more efficiently and can be managed more cost-effectively throughout its lifecycle.

Sep 092014

Summer time at Arbitech means only one thing – Wiffle Ball tournament time!  The journey to the final on August 8th took the field of 13 teams just over two months to complete.  Competition was fierce and passionate during the double elimination tournament.  In the end, Makin’ Bacon and The Backdoor Sliders were left standing, battling it out to see who would take home the title of Wiffle Ball Champions 2014.  By a score of 2-0, The Backdoor Sliders edged out Makin’ Bacon for this year’s title.  Once again TK Burger’s mobile food truck supplied everyone with some unbelievable made to order hamburgers and fries while Rita’s Italian Ice helped cool everyone down.  Special thanks goes out to all those that helped make this such a special event.

Wiffle Champs2

Sep 092014

September 8, 2014 – by Joseph F. Kovar and Tom Spring – CRN

Intel launched its latest Xeon family of processors that boasts as many as 18 cores, a 3X performance boost, and support for DDR4 memory for fast application performance in a world quickly moving to software-defined architectures.

The new processor families, known as Grantley, consist of the E5-2600 v3 and E5-1600 v3 processors. Intel unleashed 32 SKUs and an additional 20 custom SKUs designed for customers and their specific workload needs. The processors are available Monday, with a host of system vendors including rolling out servers in tandem with Intel’s news.

“We are very excited to collectively re-architect the data center with this new Xeon platform. With the new Xeon chips we move to a software-defined world — from static to dynamic, from siloed to open, and from proprietary to open standards running on standard architecture,” said Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel, at a press event unveiling the new processors.

The Xeon chip highlights include baked-in monitoring and management features for automated deployment and improved servicing capabilities. The processor also emphasizes three workload types, including compute horsepower, storage optimization and the ability to juggle a variety network workloads. Another highlight includes a performance increase with up to a 3X boost in horsepower compared with previous Ivy Bridge generation processors.

The move to software-defined infrastructure is inevitable and necessary, Bryant said. Intel’s Xeon processors are optimized for that transition with nearly 50 SKUs optimized for specific customer needs, she said.

Intel’s Xeon chip news coincided with the flurry of new system announcements from Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Dell and IBM. Intel said that as of Monday’s launch there are 65 servers shipping from various OEMs with hundreds more to launch later this year.

Cisco, San Jose, Calif., refreshed its UCS server line with two major additions based on the Xeon processor. The first is a new line of modular servers dubbed the Cisco M-Series. The line features a new Cisco 2U chassis that fits up to eight compute modules, each of which consists of two independent Intel Xeon E3 servers. By putting 16 servers in 2U of rack space, Cisco is focusing on high-density implementations. And rather than including storage and networking on each server, the eight modules share four SSDs and dual 40-Gbit Ethernet connectivity.

Cisco also took the wraps off the UCS Mini, which uses existing B-Series blade chassis and blades, but adds the Cisco UCS 6324 Fabric Interconnect, a small device that plugs into the back of the chassis. The Cisco UCS 6324 provides network connectivity for up to eight Cisco UCS blade servers and seven direct-connect rack servers, giving it a total domain of up to 15 Cisco servers. The UCS 6324 replaces more expensive Cisco Fabric Extenders, making the UCS Mini more suitable to remote and branch office and edge computing applications.

HP, Palo Alto, Calif., told CRN prior to the Intel Grantley launch that it plans to introduce 21 new platforms as part of its ProLiant Gen9 family through fiscal year 2015, with the higher performance of the new processors to be married to RESTful APIs, a modular architecture to increase configuration flexibility, and HP’s OneView infrastructure management application for both physical resources and clouds.

Lenovo Monday showed it is pushing ahead on development of its own ThinkServer line despite the pending acquisition of IBM’s server business. The Beijing-based company is unveiling two rackmount and one tower server that use the ASHRAE A4 control standard to run at 113 degrees Fahrenheit continuously to significantly cut cooling requirements.

The new Lenovo servers also include the company’s AnyRAID solution, which allows any RAID adapter to connect to the server backplane; AnyFabric to allow choice of networking fabric; and AnyBay technology to allow the use of any SAS, SATA or PCIe drives. They also feature an M2 connector for miniature SSDs that can be used to decrease boot time.

Dell Monday touted flash storage and ease of management in its new 13G (generation 13) server line. One new model has a tier of 18 1.8-inch SATA SSDs paired with a tier of eight 3.5-inch spinning drives that takes advantage of the Microsoft Storage Spaces to manage the tiers. The Round Rock, Texas, company also added a common connector that allows SATA, SAS and PCIe flash and spinning drives to be easily added depending on requirements.

On the management side, Dell introduced ZeroTouch, which allows servers to automatically configure themselves once installed. Another new capability is iDRAC QuickSync, which Dell said makes it the first server vendor to provide NFC-enabled technology that allows an administrator to get server updates via a smart device just by tapping the device to the server. Dell also introduced iDRAC Direct, which automatically configures servers by plugging in a USB drive.

IBM, meanwhile, unveiled its M5 portfolio of x86 servers, with an emphasis on security, efficiency and reliability. As IBM, Armonk, N.Y., readies the sale of its x86 business to Lenovo, the company is taking additional steps to quell any concerns over security with a revamp of its Trusted Platform Module that includes more encryption features and support for a new Secure Firmware Rollback feature that prohibits any unauthorized updates of previous firmware versions.

IBM’s product mix includes System X servers that range in configuration from 1U to an all-in-one 5U, two-socket rack and tower designs. The new Xeon chips also will power new Flex System and NeXtScale systems aimed at high-density and energy-efficient enterprise workloads.

Aug 212014

Now that the technologies behind our servers and networks have stabilized, IT can look forward to a different kind of constant change

August 11, 2014 – By Paul Venezia – InfoWorld

One of the best and worst parts of IT is that it’s always changing. Day to day, week to week, the only constants are help desk calls from clueless users and, well, change. As time wears on, though, we might even see a shift in the clueless user department — we are well into the time where “I’m not a computer person” holds no water. However glacial this progress may seem, users are getting savvier. But I digress.

If you look at the struggles IT has gone through in the past few decades, you can see several clearly defined eras, each shorter than the last. Coming through to today, eras seem to be measured in mere months, not years.

In the 1970s through the early 1990s we had the era of the mainframe, with S/390s and AS400s running everything, and TN3270 green screens the predominate interface with computers. The 1980s saw the appearance of disruptive PC technology, which would obviously blossom into a wholesale global revolution by the mid-1990s, then combine with the Internet to fuel the single largest and fastest change to civilization in history.

In IT, we rode this wave of cataclysmic upheaval, building all the necessary parts along the way. Moving through the early 2000s, we were still refining and exploring this new world, making all kinds of questionable decisions as we charted a course through unknown waters.

Then the mobile revolution was upon us in the form of the first iPhone and all the subsequent fallout from there. I watched a 75-year-old man fiddling with his iPhone 5 the other day, pulling it out of his pocket and checking his text messages as if he’d been doing that since he was a teenager.

But in IT, we are actually seeing a bit of stasis. I don’t mean that the IT world isn’t moving at the speed of light — it is — but the technologies we use in our corporate data centers have progressed to the point where we can leave them be for the foreseeable future without worry that they will cause blocking problems in other areas of the infrastructure.

Within the course of a decade or so, we saw networking technology progress from 10Base-2 to 10Base-T, to 100Base-T to Gigabit Ethernet. Each leap required systemic changes in the data center and in the corporate network. We were forever replacing switching and routing gear, PC network cards, and so on. Network upgrades occurred almost yearly in some places. Now, with 10G cores and 1G to the desktop in the vast majority of corporate infrastructures, we won’t be doing any forklift upgrades for a long while. SDN is changing the game in the data center, but that’s still not the access layer. We have essentially achieved stasis there — for now.

Another area that has stabilized is server infrastructure. Virtualization has completely revolutionized server deployments, obviously, and we are now in a place where many pitfalls of server administration no longer exist. Where we once walked on tightropes every day doing basic server maintenance, we are now afforded nearly instant undo buttons, as snapshots of virtual servers allow us to roll back server updates and changes with a click. We aren’t straining under the weight of 100-pound, two-socket servers anymore, and the servers we rack and deploy carry a load that would have required several racks of hardware only a few short years ago.

Even the desktop system has changed completely. Gone are the bulky tower PCs that were constantly getting kicked under desks. Even if there isn’t a VDI infrastructure, desktop PCs are tiny and built such that they need little of the maintenance they formerly required. These days, many users want laptops, which are generally cheap and reliable.

Of course, the cloud explosion has eliminated many internal services completely, as long as you’re willing to place a certain amount of critical data and applications in the hands of others. The Application Service Provider pipe dream from the year 2000 is finally reality.

What all this means for IT is not that we can finally sit back and take a break after decades of turbulence, but that we can now focus less on the foundational elements of IT and more on the refinements. We can collectively direct our attention away from rinse-and-repeat network and server overhauls and toward extending the functionality of our computing infrastructure, at least in the corporate data center.

In essence, we have finally built the transcontinental railroad, and now we can use it to completely transform our Wild West. This isn’t a period of stasis, but the launching pad for the next revolution.

It’s sure to be a heck of a ride.

Aug 152014

On August 1st, 2014 the Del Mar racetrack played host to Arbitech’s social event of the year – Where the Surf Meets the Turf – the Del Mar Races!  Everyone was ready to Win, Place, and Show some Arbitech spirit.  The afternoon began with a swift ride on the Coaster Pony Express train down the coast and into the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.  The running of the 27th Real Good Deal Stakes, the 7th race of the evening,  was the highlight of the racing action.  The stakes were high for the seven furlongs on the all-weather track but in the end, Red Outlaw took the win followed by Patriots Rule and Convoy.  The Summer Concert Series, featuring the Neon Trees,  capped another successful company event.


Jun 262014

The Ocean North Course at Pelican Hill Golf Course in Newport Coast, California played host to the 2nd annual Arbitech “Bushwood” Open on May 9th, 2014.  The field of play was loaded with thirty-eight sales and support colleagues competing against each other on either Team Noonan or Team Spaulding.

The Arbitech foursomes of Team Noonan and Team Spaulding took over the golf course from the early afternoon until sundown.  In the end, Team Noonan took home the “Bushwood Open Dancing Gopher” trophy with a score of 43 to 18.  Congratulations to Team Noonan, the trophy and bragging rights for the year are once again yours.