Thursday, December 27, 2012

Have You Heard The Word On Juniper EX4550 Switches?

Announced in late summer of this year, the Juniper Networks EX4550 Ethernet switch is a contender. As the latest addition to Juniper’s 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switching line, the EX4550 switch offers the ability to mix and match between VC modules and additional port modules for the added edge of Juniper’s Virtual Chassis technology. This unique-to-Juniper technology enables multiple interconnected EX-series switches to function as one, singular device.

Offering a compact, 1U design perfect for space-cramped quarters, Juniper EX4550 switches feature an impressive 32 pluggable SFP+ ports built to provide either 1GbE or 10GbE connectivity, depending on the needs of your environment. In fact, the EX4550 can even be configured alongside EX4500 and even EX4200 switches in one Virtual Chassis configuration to make it easier on customers making the move from 1GbE to 10GbE servers.

Juniper EX4550 switches also offer a huge amount of flexibility. This flexibility comes from the option of EX4550 models with different airflow directions, fiber and copper interface options, and an optional 8-port SFP+ expansion module so that you can add even more devices to your network. These options and more eliminate having to make tough compromises between powerful features and latency or future-ready technology and backwards-compatibility – but no more! The EX4550 truly provides the best of both worlds.

As a result of their performance and flexibility, EX4550 Ethernet switches offer the perfect combination of features for applications such as high-density 10GbE data center top-of-rack, enterprise, and campus aggregation/core deployments. So if you haven’t heard the word, and any of these attributes sound appealing, you just may want to look into the new Juniper EX4550 switch.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

HP Integrity Gets a Refresh with i4

While the excitement may not have been quite as high as that of Tolkien diehards waiting for The Hobbit to be released, but the anticipation for the newly released HP Integrity servers was there. This refresh of the Integrity product portfolio shows HP’s commitment to this server line and its continuation. The new HP Integrity servers include HP Integrity BL860c i4, HP Integrity BL870c i4, HP Integrity BL890c i4, and HP Integrity RX2800 i4.

As HP-UX software-based server solutions and members of the Converged Infrastructure portfolio, the new HP integrity servers boast faster transactional speeds and improved performance with 2-socket (BL860c i4 and RX2800 i4), 4-socket (HP BL870c i4) and 8-socket (HP BL890c i4) blade and rack options. The faster transactional speeds are possible thanks to the new Intel Itanium 9500 series processors.

Designed to work with the HP BladeSystem c-Class enclosure, the new HP Integrity i4 blade servers offer never-before-seen flexibility through electrically-isolated hard-partitioning capabilities. Not only does this provide workload flexibility, but exceptional fault tolerance as well. Other shiny, new benefits offered by HP Integrity i4 servers include enhanced scalability, efficiency and availability.

The new HP Integrity i4 rack server is designed to handle mission-critical workloads with performance enhancements of up to 3x its predecessor. Featuring HP Virtual Partitions technology, RX2800 i4 rack servers allow rack-based datacenters and branch offices to do more with a small space and energy footprint. RX2800 i4 servers also offer disaster recovery capabilities and reduced software licensing expenses.

Not only do the servers offer exciting features, but the HP-UX software itself has also been refreshed. The HP-UX software now offers the ability to optimize the resource allocation of your datacenter as well as quicker threat detection through enhanced security and management features. So, if you run HP Integrity servers, now just might be the time to hop on the refresh train and take a look at your datacenter. After all, the holidays ARE the perfect time to pick up some shiny new toys. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How-To: Step 1 of Your Private Cloud Journey

While clouds are all the rage – who knew some condensed water would ever get this popular? – you might not know where to start developing a cloud infrastructure of your very own. But good news on that front – today is your lucky day. We’re here to help guide you on your cloud journey.

Where should you start?  Should you choose a private, public or a hybrid approach?  Is out-sourcing less critical functions and building out an existing infrastructure the right hybrid cloud model for your organization?  We are focused on helping organizations deliver IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and we can help you find the right answers to these questions. 

First off, in building your next generation data center, it’s important to create a customized private cloud solution in order to take full advantages of the multi-tenancy, agility, availability, and scalability benefits that private clouds offer.  To begin developing your private cloud, you need the crucial elements that make up a private cloud: shared storage, network infrastructure, high compute servers (virtualized preferably), and most importantly, cloud-optimized software. To let you in on a secret, it’s the software that really takes the hardware and turns into a true private cloud solution.

HP and VMware lead the pack in providing comprehensive, easy-to-manage, converged  infrastructure products that make your cloud deployment virtually turn-key. The 5 distinct layers of this private cloud solution are the hypervisor, advanced management, and standardized hardware including servers, networking, and storage. Additional elements that are essential building blocks for your private cloud include self-service portals, policy-based controls, targeted independence, elasticity and automated deployment and maintenance.

Once you are aware of all of these features, then you can began developing your in-house cloud with the help of a solutions provider such as Great Lakes Computer with your eyes wide open.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New FlashCopy/VolumeCopy Promotion For Your IBM DS3500

Do you have an IBM TotalStorage DS3500 storage system in your datacenter? Thanks to a limited time promotion running from November 1, 2012 – December 31st, 2012, you can now add FlashCopy/VolumeCopy to your DS3500 at no additional cost. And if you’re like me, always forgetting to take advantage of a promotion that you don’t have to shell out cash for, here’s why you should actually make a point to fill out the form and send it in:
  1. Create point-in-time images for fast recovery from data corruption and errors
  2. Create images for backups in seconds
  3. Create Volume Copies for use in testing and development or as full backup copies
  4. Simplified migration from traditional RAID arrays to new Dynamic Disk Pools
So if any of these mean anything to you (let alone the thrill of getting something that typically costs $4100 for $0) take a minute to fill out this super-simple, 7 question form and start the process towards your very own FlashCopy/VolumeCopy feature key.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oracle Sparc T5 Processors Pack a Punch

Expected to be released by early 2013, the new Oracle Sparc T5 processors are an innovative step into the big leagues of computing power.  Designed to handle Oracle workloads and engineered systems, the Sparc T5 processor seems to be a Sparc T4 processor mini-me, but it packs a sizeable punch in its compact 28nm form.

The basic version of the Sparc T5 processor comes with 16 3.6GHz Sparc S3 cores that each feature 128KB of level 2 cache, which are connected to 8MB of shared L3 cache through crossbar interconnect links. This design allows the new Sparc S3 cores to do single-threaded work better than ever before, making Sparc T5 legitimate contenders in the large-scale Solaris workload arena.

Sparc T5 processors have also taken a major generational leap when it comes to on-chip I/O processing. Oracle has shifted the designed from 10GbE interfaces to new PCI-Express 3.0 technology for the T5 processor’s on-chip x8 peripheral controllers. Also featuring an 8x9 crossbar switch design, this crossbar has a bisection bandwidth of 1TB/sec, which is double the bandwidth of the on-chip crossbar in the Sparc T4 chip.

But the most impressive new feature of the Sparc T5 processor is it enhanced 8-way, 1-hop glueless NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access) scalability. This allows Sparc T5 processors to deliver much more effective bandwidth, and nearly perfect linear scaling capabilities for 8 sockets – allowing 8 sockets to provide close to 8 processor performance. This is pretty much unheard of given just how straight-up difficult it is to create near-perfect linear scalability for any processor type.

Overall, the Sparc T5 process has twice as many processor cores on the die, twice as much shared L3 cache, faster clock speed, enhanced scaling, and more optimized performance than the Sparc T4 processor, in almost half the form factor. So basically, we’re telling you that you should be getting pretty excited about the release of these processors. And we didn’t even mention the other impressive features like Advanced Power Management with DVFS and 8 DDR3 Bl8 Schedulers…

Thursday, November 22, 2012

HP ProLiant G7 is Going End of Life, What's Your Game Plan?

As we’ve talked about before, in the technology world, it’s a tough break when equipment you depend on is made end-of-life (EOL) by the manufacturer. With HP ProLiant DL380 G7 and HP ProLiant DL360 G7 rack servers going end of life this month, and HP ProLiant BL460c G7 blade servers next month in December, this uncomfortable time of forced transition is upon us again. By design, the inventory strategy of HP’s distribution channel is to run completely out of G7 by the time of the EOL date. This is because HP wants the distributors fully stocked with Gen8, and their business model doesn’t allow them to sustain both G7 and Gen8 inventory.

As a result of the market constraint, your average reseller pricing for G7 servers will start to rise quickly because they don’t keep hardware in stock. Instead, they have to buy them from avenues such as stocking resellers (like Great Lakes Computer) in order to fulfill your orders, and then inflate the pricing even more so that they can make a living. That’s a tough situation for them to be in.

We, on the other hand, don’t have to work like that because we are a stocking reseller, which has allowed us to take a substantial inventory position to continue to supply our customers. However, this week we were informed by our suppliers that we have come up against the last inventory of G7 servers. This can be a major issue for customers who are standardized on G7 servers, and hope to continue to standardize on this server platform for the next year and beyond.

Another roadblock is that HP will now be pushing the more expensive Gen8 servers, and the majority of companies simply won’t have the budget for a datacenter server overhaul to the latest and greatest. Especially when just one generation back, the G7 servers were doing everything they needed them to do just fine.

And even if you do have the budget to make the leap to Gen8 servers, you may not be aware of some significant consequences that go along with the leap. For example, if someone is currently running a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system or lower on their G7 server, and want to keep running that operating system, they will be unable to do so with a Gen8 server since they only run Windows 2008R2 and above. Also, since G6 and G7 had compatible components, you are probably used to having a supply of spares on hand that you’ve built up over the years. However, these will now be unusable because Gen8 servers are not compatible with G6/G7 components (with a singular exception– the power supply).

We’ve built our HP business on being able to successfully meet the needs of a variety of companies using the HP platform, whether the product is new or end-of-life. Since we’ve been through this many times before, we’re here to ease the pain for you so that you don’t have to feel like you’ve been left out in the cold by a manufacturer with their Gen8 blinders on.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Juniper vGW 5.5 Update: The Top 3 Features

While the new VMware vSphere 5.1 upgrade might have been all you saw in the headlines, there has been another important upgrade in the virtualization sphere. I know, it’s hard to believe! But yes, Juniper Networks has released an upgrade for their virtual gateway solution, vGW. Able to be used as a spplement to the security offered by VMware’s virtualization solutions, the Juniper vGW product delivers the ultimate in virtualization security solutions as a third party vendor. 

Now with the new version 5.5 upgrade, Juniper vGW software offers even more datacenter benefits that are specifically geared towards growing virtualization security challenges, something BYOD has made a major concern for the enterprise.

The top 3 new features provided by the Juniper vGW 5.5 update are:
  1. Full IPv6 support – The Juniper vGW software now offers full IPv6 support, allowing users to express and enforce policies on IPv6 networks. This is a major advantage for their target market of large service providers.
  2. Different management views – Juniper vGW version 5.5 features the ability to logically divide the security software at the front end in order to allow for different views into the management center. 
  3. New API – The version 5.5 upgrade provides Juniper vGW software with a new API that endows large service providers with the ability to control what they make available to their virtualization clients.
The one feature still on my virtual security wish list after this upgrade would be integration with the recently acquired Mykonos security product. But with Juniper’s history of constant innovation, I feel positive that this integration is not so far off in the future. For deeper insight into this product, check out our vGW series page at

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hey Everybody, We Do New Too!

In our last IBM-related post, we talked about how despite the IBM System x3550, IBM System x3650 M3 and IBM BladeCenter HS22 servers being discontinued by the manufacturer; we were still a viable source for these products. And while we have made our name by being a great source for hard-to-find, end-of-life equipment, we think a crucial element of our IBM business may have been unintentionally kept a secret – but hey everybody, we do new too!

Not only do we do new, but we’re an excellent, affordable alternative to the slow and often costly IBM business partner channel.  One thing that really sets us apart is our ability to offer great discounts to our customers without requiring a minimum sale price. As a big buyer in the market, we’re able to pass our buy-in-bulk savings down to all of our customers.  Another bonus is that in situations where a traditional business partner may have to wait weeks on one obscure part, we can ship out orders two to three weeks faster on average, translating to time, money, and resources saved!

So what’s the “So what? Why does it matter to me part?” Well, two things that you will definitely care about are getting products you need faster, and at a better price. Plus, not having to go two different places to get quotes for both refurbished and new IBM product options will cut your time finding sources and getting quotes in half, and who doesn’t need a few more hours in their work day?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Juniper MX Routers - Network Edge Domination

Revealed on October 2nd, Juniper Networks has placed themselves one step further towards network edge domination with innovative new hardware and software additions to their MX Series 3D Universal Edge Router series. Already an impressive series with the Junos Trio chipset for 3D scaling capabilities, the Juniper MX series is now optimized for service providers trying to get ahead, while also dealing with the escalating cloud computing, mobile and video momentum.

Allowing service providers to make the leap from trying to doing, the new offerings for the Juniper MX series enable service providers to deliver and expand their services up to 69% faster than competing solutions. Providing service providers with the ability to scale bandwidth and subscribers, the MX edge router platform also allows service providers to offer differentiated services, increase energy-efficiency, and reduce overall network expenses.

The 5 key new offerings of the Juniper MX series platform include:
  1. Junos Web Aware software – Extends server provider capabilities to include parental-control services and targeted advertising.
  2. JunosV Firefly – Tightens network security with virtualized managed services that include virtualized security. 
  3. Junos Node Unifier – Allows Juniper MX routers and top-of-rack switches to be combined into a single virtualized element.
  4. Business Cloud CPE – Enables enterprises to offload their private cloud monitoring and Layer 3 routing intelligence onto the service provider’s MX series router.
  5. Junos Content Encore – Featuring a new MX Application Services Modular Line Card, this allows IPS, content management, firewalls and other MX series capabilities to be offered with the option of a software or an appliance format.
The new Juniper MX edge series platform capabilities arose from a firm belief in the continuation of the cloud computing, mobile and video movements, with astronomical figures projected for industry-wide adoption and spend for these items by as early as 2016. It's not just a bunch of fanfare, ladies and gentlemen; it’s where the future is heading.

You can learn more about Juniper products through Juniper University.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New HP Integrity Servers Live Up to Their Name

It looks like the HP’s high-end server line standardized on Intel’s Itanium platform is living up to its name – NonStop. After a lengthy court battle spurred by the software giant Oracle's claim that they would stop developing the enterprise software required to support the Intel Itanium processor platform, HP has emerged victorious. While prospects looked gloomy for the HP’s Intel Itanium-based server line before the trial, with quite a few customers preemptively jumping ship, now that Oracle has been court-ordered to continue supporting Intel Itanium technology, there’s nothing to stop HP from continuing its dominance in the Itanium server world and expanding its Integrity NonStop server portfolio.

And HP didn’t wait long to get back to work. Arriving just a few short weeks after the end of the court battle, HP has released the new HP Integrity NonStop NS2100 server. The HP NS2100 is designed for small to medium-sized businesses with high transaction workloads (think manufacturing or health care), but offers the same exceptional high availability offered by its enterprise-targeting older siblings. Even though they are manufactured as entry-level servers, HP NS2100 servers come equipped with all of the traditional NonStop server benefits, like full fault tolerance, tight hardware and software integration, incredible scalability, and high flexibility – all at a price point that won’t put the hulk smash on your IT budget.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Becoming an HP Virtual Connect Believer

Does HP’s new Virtual Connect technology make you want to simultaneously yank at your hair, throw your pen, and groan in frustration? Well, that might just be me, but coming to a solid understanding of this technology was not an easy task. However, once you get it (and finally, I did!), you realize what incredible benefits this technology can bring to your data center.

Some of the features that really caught my eye are:
  1. Vendor-Agnostic – This is what I consider to be the most important feature of Virtual Connect technology. Here is one technology solution that allows you to uplink to Cisco, Brocade, HP, Juniper, Force10, QLogic…you name it! 
  2. Cost-Efficient – When HP Virtual Connect technology is used with a FlexFabric Converged Infrastructure architecture, it is proven to be the most cost-effective solution in the industry for servers needing 4 or more NIC’s in combination with 1 or more HBA.
  3. Simple – Since HP Virtual Connect technology connects server blades to LAN's and SAN's through a virtualization layer between the edge of the server and the edge of the network, it allows you to consolidate individual networking components by up to a deeply impressive 95%. 
  4. Change-Ready – Again, taking advantage of the converged infrastructure architecture provided by HP FlexFabric, HP Virtual Connect technology allows your data center to add, replace, and recover server blades on a moment’s notice.
If this doesn’t sway you to the benefits of HP Virtual Connect technology, check out our webinar on the subject, located on this page in the right-hand corner under "Have Questions?". All I know is, regardless of who’s selling what product to whom, I’m a believer in HP Virtual Connect.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Where to Turn When Products are Discontinued - IBM x3550 M3, x3650 M3 & HS22's

Have you ever been put into the position where technology that you depend on is no longer being produced by the manufacturer? Unfortunately, it’s a pretty common dilemma amongst the technology-dependent. One group of users that’s being targeted right now are IBM customers, since IBM has recently announced that their System x3550 M3, System x3650 M3 and BladeCenter HS22 servers are going end-of-life.

Being replaced in production by next-generation IBM x3550 M4, IBM x3650 M4 and IBM HS23 servers, the M3/HS22 generation might not have some of the bleeding-edge features and technologies, but they do have a few key things going for them that the M4/HS23 generation doesn’t.

Some examples being: hey, you’re standardized on them, you need them to fill out your existing clusters, or you don’t have the budget. Whatever it is, you shouldn’t HAVE to get “the next best thing” if it’s not the best thing for you at this time. After all, “planned obsolescence” should be dictated by your needs, not a manufacturer’s product development schedules.

When a manufacturer puts a product end-of-life they leave their faithful customer out in the cold, along with the older generation technology, forcing those previously faithful customers to look beyond the traditional distribution channel and to the independent/secondary marketplace for a trusted, reliable technology partner. This was the very catalyst that caused us to establish our IBM business over 10 years ago.  Since that time, we have been able to successfully meet the needs of variety of companies using the IBM platform. Accordingly, we have made a substantial investment in IBM x3550 M3, IBM x3650 M3 and IBM HS22 servers so that you don’t have to feel left behind by a one-dimensional, future-facing technology manufacturer.

Check out our press release for the full details including the SKU's for all of the discontinued models.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

You Asked, We Answered: "What Does Refurbished Really Mean?"

A frequent question that we receive here at Great Lakes Computer is, “What does refurbished equipment mean?” The fast answer to this question is that it means you’re going to save money – and I mean a lot of money. This is because refurbished equipment costs significantly less than new equipment, while offering the same technology and performance, and often the same warranty and support.

Let me break down why this is true:

    1. It’s important to note that contrary to some old wives’ tales, the majority of refurbished equipment is 1-3 years old and in good to new condition. Typical sources include: off-lease equipment, trade-ins, company bankruptcies, liquidations, or a number of other sources.  Depending on the reseller, the product is usually re-tested and prepared for resale before being put in inventory to ensure that it’s in good-as-new working condition.

    2. Some of the equipment that finds its way to the secondary/refurbished equipment market comes from distributors that want to liquidate excess inventory positions. This product is unused and often has warranty coverage by the manufacturer. This is not an uncommon practice as there are nationally known warehouse clubs and consumer goods retailers that source some of their goods in this manner. You’d shop in those stores, right? Great Lakes Computer does the exact same thing with SMB to enterprise-level technology equipment.

    3. While - like any industry - there are unscrupulous operators, the best way to protect your company is to deal with an established reseller possessing an excellent reputation. Be sure to go with an established reseller (say a 26-year established reseller…) and there’s no reason to fear what they have to offer, especially the savings – they might be too good to be true, but they are true! Not only will you save on price, but you can also recoup previous expenses by trading in used equipment.

There is a vast amount of high-quality, refurbished equipment that is available in the secondary/refurbished equipment market. So give your IT budget a break, and don’t just sprint for the new – consider refurbished alternatives in your purchasing decisions.