Technology Forecast for Summer 2010

As a business owner, you need to focus on your core business, keeps risks in check, and maximize your IT dollar. As a strategic partner, we provide voice, data, and web services. Our specialties include SQL tuning, data protection strategies, perform system audits to ensure systems are set up in accordance with best practices, and we also handle company moves. Below are the types of items we review with IT professionals, just like those within your organization. In a sentence, we leverage the technology for the benefit of your business.

64-Bit Computing – This year is proving to be the pivotal year for larger adoptions of the 64-bit platform. This is exciting as a great increase in speed will result, providing your applications and databases can run 64-bit. As a direct result of moving to 64-bit, it also makes server virtualization more attractive, as you are really leveraging performance. Server virtualization will allow us to replace two or more servers with one in many instances. Less hardware, less energy and cooling costs, and less rack space required to do the job.

Server Virtualization – The competing products in this space are VMWare and Microsoft’s Hyper-V. Both products are now at the mature point in their lifecycle, though VMWare was here first and has the market share. Server 2008R2 includes the Hyper-V virtualization engine standard. This is one of the most exciting technologies of late, and holds more promise in reducing hardware and energy costs than any other technology today. The concept is that by and large, most servers are underutilized. This is true, but often times, this has been done as application and database vendors have requested ‘separate’ servers, this is done out of their products not performing up to par, due to other applications on the same server or known conflict (will not play nice with others). This also eliminates conflicts between applications and resources, such as processor and RAM. Allocation of RAM and processor are also part of virtualization, so if one application needs more, it’s a click here and there while it’s running.

With virtualization, you could have multiple servers on a single physical server, one running Linux, another Windows Server 2003, another Windows 2008 and so on. This opens up the door to being able to have smaller, yet controlled environments on the same server. You can also reboot one “virtual” server, while leaving the other ones completely unaffected. This technology is a winner.

Intel’s newest processor – It’s not more of the same, it’s more like more and more. As the architecture continues to change, the industry shifts to the new Nehalem processor to meet the growing computiong power requirements. More cache onboard and the ability to allocate regular memory (RAM) to each processor is also part of the newer functionality. New triple memory channels, hyper-threading, turbo boost, and server virtualization technology also significantly increase computing performance. The Nehalem processors are reported to be twice as fast than Quad Core Xeon processors, which plays well to the flexibility and power required for server virtualization.

Server 2008 R2 – Windows Server 2008 R2 succeeds Server 2008, but with a twist. Server 2008 R1 was released as both a 32-bit and 64-bit operating system. But as SP2 was rolled out for Server 2008 R1, it was only for 64-bit flavors. This would appear to greatly limit the 32-bit platform for the future. Server 2008 R2 not only encompasses Hyper-V, but other significant operating system platform features as well. Something important to know is that you cannot upgrade from Server 2008 to Server 2008 R2. Also, remember, just as Server 2008 (non R2) is Vista’s server companion, Server 2008 R2 is Windows 7’s big brother. An important note is that Server 2008 cannot be upgraded to Server 2008 R2.

Windows 7 – As a successor to Vista, Windows 7 is set to restore XP-like performance and the best of what Vista had to offer, with some additional functionality. We currently have 70% of our folks running Windows 7, over half of them 64-bit. Testing with current applications before moving to any new operating system is always advised before moving forward. There are many versions including 32-bit and 64-bit versions here as well, so choosing the right flavor is important and is usually driven by application compatibility, business environment and infrastructure requirements.

Server and desktop hardware – Dell and HP continue to vie in the marketplace. We are using more HP servers than before, as is the industry. Dell “built-to-order only” model is hurting our ability to deliver in a timely manner with many shipping delays. Nearly 90% of the time, we are able to use off-the-shelf configurations from HP and can get it within a day or two. If we have a custom-built need, HP can also provide these as well. Warranty costs are similar, though HP is a bit cheaper not only to buy, but TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is less as well.

Exchange 2010 – Here is yet another release in this area, and the time is now to move here. Moving from Exchange 2003 will be the most common scenario, as biting off every other major Exchange release here makes the most sense for a cost/benefit perspective. pairing this with Ofice 2010 wil maximize the benefit.

Mobile devices – So many new entries here. With the current iPhone 3G and the newly-released iPhone 4G now, Apple continues to make its mark, though we would wait a little for the iPhone 4G to mature and come down in price. The Droid and Droid X, based on a more open platform is making great strides, especially in keeping the price point down with the ever-so-famous 2-year re-up program. We like both the iPhone and the Droid, and also use Blackberry devices. Microsoft will foray back into the phone market this summer with the Windows Phone 7. All these devices work well with Exchange, though Blackberry is the only one that requires server software and an intermediary delivery platform, which to us is not only another point of failure, but a security issue as well.

Apple – Apple does put out a well-packaged product, but the 25% higher cost and limited applications released (although there are always more), keep it from being a unanimous choice for all. Apple also not being able to lock in an agreement with Verizon has many folks unhappy. Releases of iPhone 4G and iPad are welcomed, and we have deployed a few iPads already. They work well when you’re out of town, even when accessing Microsoft Exchange, infrastructures, and private VPNs.

Ed

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