Vision vs. Reality: The BYOD Debate [Cisco]

Gone are the days where workplace communications were limited to an office phone and desktop computer. Employees are demanding the freedom to communicate in multiple streams any time, anywhere, from any device.

Take phones for instance. A recent article published by Gartner predicts by year end 2013, 40 percent of enterprise workers will have abandoned or removed their desk phone in favor of their mobile.

This “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) trend is empowering users to communicate more effectively. It allows them to use whichever device they’re most comfortable with and gives them the freedom to access information, clients and colleagues in the office, on the road or in the coffee shop and, increasingly at home.

All great news if you’re a BYOD user. A challenge – some might say nightmare – for the IT department, in whose lap the challenges of creating and managing this unified experience falls.

We invited Softchoice’s own IT Manager James Ambursley and Unified Communications Expert Frank Ball to sit down over a cup of joe and discuss the promise and challenges of BYOD.

What are you overall thoughts on the advent of Bring Your Own Device?

Frank: At the end of the day, it’s a win for everybody – even IT and even if they’re not seeing the light just quite yet. BYOD and the unified communications and collaboration tools behind the scenes that make it a reality ultimately help organizations move with greater speed and agility. It’s technology that empowers people to communicate more effectively, improving business processes and helping businesses achieve better profitability.

James: Well, BYOD is one of those new buzz terms in the industry and I think what it really means is “look out!” Unified communications sounds like a great answer for many organizations but I have concerns that the theory and reality don’t mesh up in a whole host of areas – end user experience/performance, security, resource use and compatibility. [Read more…]

UCS Express: Converging computing, virtualization and network platform for the branch office [Cisco]

Data center consolidation and server virtualization have gone a long way in reducing costs and complexity in organizations’ IT systems, not to mention displacing a lot of traditional branch-office infrastructure. But these dual and interrelated trends haven’t completely led to full application centralization, in large part because of inherent speed and reliability limitations of the WAN that affect the quality of user experience, as well as concerns over privacy and access with data being stored outside the branch office.

 In short, a variety of performance, availability and compliance concerns have meant that some applications – including core Windows services, mission-critical business applications and client management services – can’t leave the branch office.

 But while branch office infrastructure isn’t going away, that doesn’t mean it can’t evolve or that new solutions aren’t being introduced to reduce complexity and costs and address a whole host of IT challenges in the brand office.

 What kinds of branch-office-specific challenges?

  1. The high costs associated with unused or inefficiently used physical servers, for starters, as well as performance, application availability and increased complexity. This is still a problem at the branch office, just like in the data center. Converting a branch office’s physical servers to virtual ones and running them on a virtualized platform – with each application assigned to a dedicated virtual server and all virtual servers hosted on one or two physical servers – can still substantially minimize costs. [Read more…]

Going from 1,600 cables to 28 in your Data Center [NetApp]

NetApp & Softchoice helped an Atlanta-based company virtualize

Like many growing companies, a Softchoice customer specializing in printing supplies was relying on a hosted data center to enable efficient operations. But when costs and power usage continued to mount, the company needed to do something different.

The Atlanta-based organization partnered with Softchoice to build a virtualized dynamic data center that would use far less power and space – dramatically reducing their costs.

Softchoice recommended NetApp due to its native support of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) giving the customer an end-to-end solution that allowed them to: [Read more…]