What Do Intel’s Youngest Intern and NEC Have in Common?

Joey Hudy has been described as many things, including one of the 10 most brilliant kids in the world. He is a self-described “Maker” or someone who designs and builds things on his own time. Joey’s infamous “extreme marshmallow canon” made news when he launched a marshmallow across the East Room during the 2012 White House Science Fair. Another milestone for Joey is being appointed the youngest intern at Intel. At 16 years old, he has already achieved multiple accomplishments, including a solar-powered computer he submitted at another science fair. It’s that type of innovative thinking that helped Intel CEO Brian Krzanich hire Joey when they met at the Rome Maker Faire. Joey even has a personal credo that he has on business cards he passes out – “Don’t be bored, make something.” We couldn’t agree more, Joey.

Much like Joey, NEC also believes in “building something,” and we are also joined Intel recently when it released the new Intel® Xeon® processor E7 v2 product family. It’s the innovation of those chips that supports NEC’s latest enterprise server – the Express5800/A2000 (A2000) series server – providing a new class of server that manages big data projects, among others. In fact, the A2000 series server offers RISC-class availability, and is at least twice as fast as previous enterprise servers, making it ideally suited for enterprise mission-critical use.

Build with Innovation in Mind

When the NEC team makes a decision to “build something,” our standard is to empower it with innovation. The reality is that developing a new line of servers is certainly important to helping our clients’ growth, but it is even more powerful if we can help them reach new heights by combining technology for rapid transformation of their data centers, including virtualization. This is certainly the case when you combine the A2000 series server and software-defined networking (SDN).

With the advent of cloud technology and the continued need to process larger amounts of mission- critical data, it became time to rethink networking. NEC’s SDN offerings leverage the OpenFlow protocol in the ProgrammableFlow® networking suite. Combining SDN and the A2000 series server provides both server and networking virtualization that addresses the inherent challenge of inflexibility found in many IT data centers today.

Now, it is feasible to virtualize tier 1 applications with confidence. With its enhanced featured set, the A2000 series server provides excellent uptime and predictive failure analysis tools so that thresholds are continually monitored and SLAs are met.

It is this combination that intrigued NEC customer Edgenet, Inc., which collects, optimizes, and distributes data used by online retailers, search engines and consumers. Its systems process data for millions of products. Mike Steineke, VP of IT at Edgenet, had this to say:

“When you run applications that are mission critical and have high SLAs, it’s essential that hardware used in the infrastructure design mitigates the risk of downtime. NEC’s server architecture and engineering design were the biggest influence on our decision,” said Steineke. “The A2000 series server is engineered to offer advanced RAS features, such as redundant service processors or increased number of enhanced I/O slots, which Edgenet needs to provide continuous operation and performance. We are looking forward to combining the A2000 series server and ProgrammableFlow technology integrated with Microsoft’s SCVMM and Hyper-V to deliver improved management, reporting, quality-of-service, and dedicated resources for customer facing applications. It is this type of comprehensive solution offering that puts NEC at a level ahead of the competition.”

From Marshmallow Canons to Big Data

The A2000 series server offers up to 4TB of memory, making it an ideal platform for running in-memory databases. This capability supports rapid decision-making and large-scale analysis of complex data. The ability to analyze complex, robust data in minutes, rather than hours, provides opportunities for businesses to maximize profitability through greater access to important information.

There are other benefits as well, including having a smaller footprint and custom configuration options for performance requirements. In fact, there are exceptional levels of availability with this server for mission-critical applications, providing a better option over RISC. Some of the interesting technology benefits include:

  • 2 times* more powerful than NEC’s previous generation servers, with up to four CPUs using the Intel Xeon processor E7 v2 product family
  • Supports twice the memory capacity of current generation servers to support in-memory databases processing data at high speed using large-capacity memory
  • Highly efficient 80 PLUS® Platinum certified power supply significantly reduces power utilization when compared to current generation servers EXPRESSSCOPE ENGINE SP3 availability and serviceability framework delivers enhanced monitoring and autonomous operations
  • Improves efficiency through dynamic CPU core online additions when workloads increase, without suspending the system**
  • Responds to CPU and memory failures to ensure the system continues operating; memory can be added without a server reboot through a memory module hot-add feature
  • Includes up to 16 PCI-Express 3.0 slots (8x and 4x), delivering real-time analysis infrastructure that simultaneously supports network, storage and flash storage
  • Includes additional consolidation benefits (when compared to legacy two-way servers), such as: using nearly 78 percent less rack space; enabling nine-to-one conversion rate under standard test conditions, and delivering 124 percent more performance per watt.***

While the A2000 series won’t be launching marshmallows inside the White House, it will launch your business to new levels of reliability, flexibility, and cost savings. You can find more information on the A2000 series at www.necam.com/ExpressServer.

The Smart Enterprise: IT and Communications Trends for 2014

Part One: Advanced Mobility, Software Defined Tools, and High Availability

nec-smart-enterprise-2014-mobilityWith the start of the new calendar year fast approaching and businesses making plans to find new software and technology solutions for employees, now seems to be the perfect time to share the trends and technologies that we believe will drive productivity and build more flexible work environments for our customers in the coming year.

Many IT and Communications Trends from 2013 will be as prevalent this year as last. This portion of our two part blog series on The Smart Enterprise in 2014 covers returning IT and Communications trends that will help you maintain your competitive edge and keep current with the rapidly evolving Unified Communications technologies in today’s marketplace.

Advanced Mobility

As technology has progressed, employee presence in the workplace has evolved. In 2014, employees are going to continue to be mobile, and will be traveling or telecommuting even more than the previous year. These employees will continue to need access to data and applications in non-stationary locales.

As long as this trend continues, your employees will continue to require a fully-functional mobile work environment.  To today’s employee, location is unimportant, but presence and status remain crucial.

Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) capabilities offer communication services independent of access technique. FMC supports smartphones as an integrated extension of the company network, meaning it can be accessed from any location at any time via a WiFi connection. Mobile devices can then be used in conjunction with enterprise security credentials—thus simultaneously securing enterprise information and supporting ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policies.


Software Defined Tools

Software-Defined tools are the definition of new improved standards for infrastructure programmability and data center interoperability. Driven by automation and cloud computing, software defined technologies provide you with simple, cost-effective tools that are built on collaboration.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN), for example, provides technology to extract network architecture and make network devices programmable.

The goal of SDN is to allow network engineers and administrators to respond quickly to changing enterprise conditions. In a software-defined network, a network administrator can shape traffic from a centralized control console without having to touch individual switches. The administrator can change any network switch’s rules when necessary — prioritizing, de-prioritizing, or even blocking specific types of packets with a very granular level of control.

This is especially helpful in a cloud computing multi-tenant architecture because it allows the administrator to manage traffic loads in fast, flexible, and efficient means.


High Availability

Numerous organizations depend on generic or specific IT applications in their day to day operation and services, which is why providing these businesses with solutions that provide continuous operation of essential systems is vital for us.

IT has become a matter of providing services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year across countries. As a result, IT systems need to be extremely reliable, and, the application of High Availability in IT systems becomes one of the most important implementations in IT strategies.

IT managers need to protect data and applications, from sudden hardware, OS and application failures to sudden natural disasters. To achieve a high level of operational uptime, infrastructure components must be fault tolerant with the ability to recover from complex failures. This is all the more important in mission-critical environments, such as healthcare, banking, insurance, e-commerce or web services.

A virtualized infrastructure improves business continuity. A clustering solution can be key to continuing the workflow on standby systems without stopping business operations when failure strikes. This can be clustering software or fault tolerant server solutions delivering exceptional uptime through dual modular hardware redundancy. These servers provide continuous availability through hardware redundancy in all components: processors, memory, motherboards, I/O, hard disk drives, and cooling fans for optimal data integrity.

While some of these trends will accelerate, others likely won’t. NEC experts, however, expect all of these technologies and developments to help organizations drive productivity and bring new, powerful solutions to businesses everywhere.

Wondering what else NEC experts predict for next year? We’ll continue to uncover what IT and Communications will look like in 2014 in part two of our blog series on The Smart Enterprise.

To learn more about these technologies, download our eBook: Smart Trends Enterprise Trends 2014: 10 Strategic Drivers that Will Empower the Smart Enterprise.


Improving Unified Communications through Virtualization

nec-virtualization-voice-unified-communicationsMany organizations are improving communications through the virtualization of real time applications such as voice and unified communications (UC). All the financial and practical benefits of traditional server virtualization still apply as companies consolidate voice and UC into their data center. Namely: reduced capital expense, improved efficiencies, reduced risk, plus the savings on operational expenses since voice and UC can be managed with all other business applications on shared infrastructure. While the concept of virtualization has been around for a long time, it continues to be a leading trend in the transformation of data centers as organizations find new ways to reduce costs and improve efficiencies.

While hardware and energy expenses are the obvious savings, organizations sometimes overlook the reductions in operating costs. These savings can be drastic, especially in highly distributed organizations. The ability to easily manage your voice and UC in conjunction with other business application simplifies administration. It makes server testing, deployment and policy compliance easier as installations can be created from standard images. There are also IT benefits as it relates to the support of remote sites. When you have dedicated servers for individual applications managed by remote staff it can get really expensive. The common server infrastructure and application can reduce the remote site IT support staff requirements. Additionally, backup or clustered instances of your telephony, audio/video conferences and unified communications applications at your remote sites can play a critical role with load balancing and fail-over. This can add tremendous benefits to your business continuity and disaster recovery (DR) plans.


Reduced costs

With virtualization there are a number of benefits seen when it comes to reduced costs. First, there’s reduced hardware expenses. Virtualization vendors once touted claims as high as 50 to 100 virtual machines on a single physical server, but, even if you go with a conservative 10:1 consolidation ratio, there’s still significant savings on hardware costs and maintenance. Now that leading voice and UC applications are offered as purely software-based solutions, you can add telephony, audio/video conferencing, unified messaging, contact center, etc. to your data center on the standard off-the-shelf servers you are familiar with.

Reduced power consumption is a nice added cost savings. Organizations can become more energy efficient through server consolidation as a smaller number of fully utilized servers consume far less power than a large number of under-utilized ones. Additionally, there are real estate, cooling, and backup power savings that go along with the smaller footprint, not to mention the aesthetics of a clean data center.

Improved efficiencies

Virtualized server environments have a number of advantages when it comes to improved efficiencies and simplified administration that are often not available with physical servers. Advantages like live migration, storage migration, fault tolerance, high availability and distributed resource planning help you maximize uptime of your critical applications like voice and UC. These virtualization technologies keep your virtual machines up and running and give them the ability to quickly recover from unplanned outages. The ability to easily backup and move from one virtual machine to another is one of the best business continuity benefits out there. Additionally, combining these software advantages with fault tolerant servers can create a rock solid environment where it’s needed.

In addition to business continuity, disaster recovery for your communications is greatly improved in a virtualized environment. By reducing the number of physical servers required to run your operation, you have a complete backup solution at a remote site as we mentioned above, or in the cloud at a co-lo facility or offered as a service from your system integrator. In the past, this type of backup solution was cost prohibitive for most. The DR site had to have the exact, often proprietary, hardware configuration as the production site. This can be very costly and an administration nightmare to keep in sync. Now, through virtualization, this type of DR plan is more affordable and easier to maintain. One thing to consider as you plan to virtualize your communications is how your vendor prices user software licenses. Make sure you are not paying for the idle voice and UC licenses that are part of your disaster recovery plan.

For those of us that have suffered from server sprawl, we know all too well how this begins. The server room starts off clean, tidy and with plenty of physical space, but one-by-one we continued to add additional applications that required a dedicated server. Critical applications like voice, contact centers and unified messaging once required isolated processing power, memory and storage space to satisfy business requirements. Now that these applications no longer require proprietary dedicated servers, IT departments can escape the server vender lock that once limited options. Virtualization provides an ideal way for organizations to minimize the number of servers needed. By creating virtual machines that meet the exact requirements, you can overcome the hardware limitation and latency issues that prevented the virtualization of real time applications like voice communications in the past.

There is one common theme across all IT organizations in today’s economic environment – to do more with less. Virtualization is a great way to improve your organization’s communications and provide higher quality services with less hardware, lower costs, and reduced administration hassle. Click below to learn how NEC’s software-based unified communications applications have advanced the virtualization strategies of numerous organizations.

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The Ultimate Guide to Unified Communications Part 2

nec-unified-communications-ultimate-guide-uc-gary-audin-ebook-part2iIn part one of our series, we took a dive into Gary Audin’s eBook, entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Unified Communications.”  Audin’s publication gives an in-depth look on how to evaluate which UC approach is right for you. Read along as we dive deeper into the rest of the book and the pros and cons of the approaches to UC implementation.


7. Your Business Model Defines Your Communications Model

Your organization’s business model will have profound influence on the implementation of UC. Ask yourself the following questions in the process:

  • Does my organization have the financial strength to use capital (CAPEX) funds or the ability to borrow the capital?
  • If the capital is not available, does my organization favor expensing the costs of IT implementation through outside services?
  • Does our IT staff have the training, knowledge, and experience to implement an on-premises system? If not, do we want to retain a VAR to implement and manage the on-premises system?
  • How are my competitors implementing UC?

8. The UC Implementation Decision

In the process of UC Implementation you may find yourself asking “should we install and manage our own system or use a completely outside cloud-based UC service?” The answer depends, not only on security, staffing and economics, but also what is the best method to introduce the UC menu of features to your users.

There are three possible solutions available to you for implementing and supporting Unified Communications (UC):

  • Purchase a complete system and locate it at your data center(s)
  • Use a service that is remote with access through a private network (MPLS) or the Internet
  • Combine these solutions into a hybrid implementation, gaining the advantages of both

9. The On Premises Solution

Implementing an on-premises solution provides high levels of security and control, and lowers the implementation and operational risks. A major risk you can run into with a cloud service provider is service availability/reliability, since the cloud provider is not likely to include Internet access in their Service Level Agreement (SLA).

The major cost component of buying a UC system is the software licenses. Once the first year of ownership has passed, the primary costs to your organization are software subscription, maintenance, and data center facilities. These latter costs add up to far less than subscribing to cloud services over time.

10. Subscribing to Cloud Communications Services

If you’re facing budget constraints, it can make the up-front costs of implementing on-premises UC solutions from scratch a moot issue. Like many enterprises, you will likely want to avoid any new capital costs, making a cloud solution that is expensed with little or no capital impact more desirable. Why? Because the cost is fixed per month based on the number of users and the individule features used, so is a predictable and more easily budgeted operating expense.

Cloud based UC services can also be subscribed to by feature set, such as providing video collaboration for a single department, allowing greater flexibility for your organization when determining what UC features should be offered to what users. Many enterprises implement a few UC features to begin with, and observe their use to determine what the feature benefits and ROI will be for other areas within the enterprise.


11. The Hybrid Approach; Cloud plus Premises System

A hybrid solution allows your organization to get the best of both worlds. With a hybrid solution you can integrate functions that are required for the entire organization, while using the cloud to offer specific functions unique to individuals or departments. This capability occurs without the expense of enabling functions for departments that do not need them. If cloud costs begin to exceed the cost of on-site implementations, you can convert functions from the cloud to premises-based. The hybrid approach can also deliver business continuity failover services at a much lower cost.

As you move forward in deciding how you will implement Unified Communications within your organization, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong approach — you have to choose what works best for you. If you are ready for a guide to UC, click below to download the eBook that includes a comprehensive checklist on evaluating the best approach for your business. The checklist highlights factors such as the financial, technical and staff support impacts each system can have on your organization.


The Ultimate Guide to Unified Communications

Part 1
nec-unified-communications-ultimate-guide-ucWhether you’re thinking about deploying a cloud, premises-based or hybrid approach to unified communications, there are a number of factors to be considered. Gary Audin, president of Delphi Inc. has authored an eBook on the subject of how to evaluate which approach is right for you. We’ve summarized his recommendations and evaluation process, as well as provided a link to the full eBook below. As with most anything, there are pros and cons to each approach. For this evaluation, Gary focused on the items that make up the bulk of the expense and therefore, are most likely of greatest concern to you. Since communications technology is becoming more software driven, it should come as no surprise that IP Telephony and Unified Communications (UC) software expense makes up more than 40% of a solution’s total purchase price while hardware is becoming increasingly commoditized. As a result, for organizations to remain competitive, they need to consider today’s best practices in leveraging their software-based investments.
1. Realizing the importance of software architecture
PC’s, laptops, tablets, and smartphones have made their way into our daily lives as invaluable devices that not only enable access to personal information, corporate directories and email, but to specialized applications that facilitate communications in healthcare, financial services organizations, educational institutions, government operations and nearly every aspect of our lives. When you deploy the right communications software architecture you can enhance business agility by:

  • Easily growing to accommodate acquisitions, mergers and changing business environments
  • Providing common software services with multiple use cases
  • Leveraging pre-existing enterprise commodity infrastructure
  • Supporting the growing population of mobile workers and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend
  • Delivering tailored solutions
  • Offering multimedia conferencing and collaboration capabilities

2. Explore a software-based approach with UC
Unified Communications is all about multi-media communications and collaboration. A few benefits of UC are that it improves productivity, decreases costs, and can make your organization more competitive. Implementing a successful and attractive Unified Communications system can provide:

  • A rich, consistent user experience that streamlines business collaboration
  • Enhanced support for enterprise initiatives involving BYOD needs
  • A service-oriented distributed software design that delivers agility and scalability
  • A single business application that is easy to install, manage, upgrade, and support
  • A software-based licensing model, which grants high value features and capabilities that enable agility, reduce complexity and lessen costs

3. Servers in the communications architecture
Communications and collaboration vendors have migrated from proprietary, hardware specific solutions to utilizing generic servers. Doing so reduces the hardware cost, supports a wide range of scalability, and allows the vendor to focus on enhancing features and functionality through the implementation of software rather than the design of hardware. Proprietary hardware is becoming a thing of the past. Enterprises today are looking for flexibility without having to be tied to a single hardware solution vendor. Communications servers are general purpose in operation and offer:

  • Carrier-grade systems that can be upgraded in a non-disruptive manner
  • Flexibility that is scalable and designed to support added functionality.
  • Openness due to the fact that the servers are based on industry standards, allowing different applications to be implemented as needed

4. Data center consolidation and virtualization
In any organization, the data center typically always has room for improvement and optimization. With no wiggle room in IT budgets over the past few years, IT departments are facing technical as well as financial constraints. There is a continuous effort to consolidate systems, thus reducing the costs of both the purchase and operation of data center functions.

Virtualization is one answer to this effort. Virtualization is the use of software that allows a piece of hardware, usually a data center server, to run multiple operating system images simultaneously instead of a server dedicated to each function and operating system. Studies have discovered that single application servers are commonly underutilized, with as little as 5% busy. Virtualization allows data center operators to increase the processing utilization and efficiency of a server. One server can operate in the same manner as multiple servers, thereby reducing purchase and operating costs. Whether you deploy premise-based, cloud or hybrid solutions for communications and collaboration services, virtualization can benefit your organization.

5. Adopting standards; benefits and limitations
An IT standard is an agreed-upon document that defines the performance, operation, interfaces, interoperability and measurement of a device, software, hardware, protocol, or language. It is typically beneficial to adopt a standard, but remember that a standard does not define the implementation of the technology; therefore there can be significant problems of design and financial issues that were not anticipated. For example, the standard can include so many options that vendors could each adopt a different subset of those options, making all the products unique and not interoperable. This happened with SIP trunking, where each vendor chose a different implementation approach. As a result, the SIP trunking providers had to customize their operation to each vendor. The solution: the SIPConnect SIP trunking solution that is now common for these implementations.

6. Disaster recovery/business continuity for communications survival
In the days when communications systems were implemented using proprietary hardware, you could expect the cost of backup/failover systems to nearly double your expense. As a PBX backup, the second failover system needed to be co-located on the same site as the primary system. The move to IP-PBX solutions alleviates cost by allowing the backup/failover site to be remotely located, adding further protection against major primary system failures. A common server can backup communications and collaboration implementations, even while being shared with other applications.

While there is no right or wrong approach to implementing UC for your organization, you do want to be sure to implement the one that best improves productivity and decreases cost. Stay tuned for our second post where we will continue to summarize the pros and cons of each method. In the meantime, download the full white paper to learn more.