Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lenovo Announces a Deal to Buy IBM's x86 Server Business

Lenovo Group Ltd, a Chinese PC manufacturer, has agreed to buy IBM Corp’s x86 server business for a combination of cash and stock adding up to $2.3 billion. Beating out competitors such as Dell and Fujitsu, the Lenovo/IBM deal is currently awaiting U.S. government approval. Lenovo had previously purchased IBM’s personal computer business and the ThinkPad brand for $1.74 billion in 2005.

As yet another step forward for IBM in their shift away from hardware to software and services, the proposed deal encompasses the following IBM product lines: System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, x86-based Flex integrated systems, NeXtScale and iDataPlex servers, software, and maintenance.

Since Lenovo is primarily a PC business, the benefit of adding these product lines to their offerings is that Lenovo can diversify their revenue and enter into the datacenter. In addition to the x86 server business, this deal also includes a reseller agreement for IBM's Storwize disk storage systems, tape storage systems and certain cloud, file system, platform computing and system software products.

While IBM’s x86 server business has been experiencing declining sales, Lenovo is optimistic that they can turn this trend around and, in fact, plan for this acquisition to offset the slow decline of their PC business through its higher margins. Lenovo has already experienced some success selling servers in their home market of China due to their 2012 partnership with EMC to sell servers and storage.

The transaction is expected to close later this year, subject to the approval of Lenovo’s shareholders and the satisfaction of regulatory requirements. In the coming months, Lenovo will work in partnership with IBM to finalize this business transaction, and to plan a smooth and seamless integration for partners and customers.

Currently, HP, IBM and Dell lead the server market, accounting for over 2/3 of all server sales, so Lenovo will need to face off with these leaders to make a name for itself in the server world. However, Lenovo has already upset HP from its place as the reigning leader of PC business, so they may be up for the challenge.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

VMware Acquires AirWatch for Mobile Device Management

VMware, the industry-leading virtualization software company, has reached a deal worth $1.54 billion to acquire AirWatch. AirWatch is a leader in mobile device management with over 10,000 customers, including Lowe’s, Delta Air Lines, and nine of the top ten retailers. This acquisition follows VMware’s October acquisition of the desktop-as-a-service company Desktone and is part of a larger move to offer consumers a robust enterprise mobility platform.

Since the widespread adoption of mobile device use by their employees, businesses are faced with securing a multitude of new devices while providing end-users with access to their documents. VMware sees the future of end-user computing and has continued to improve the VMware Horizon Suite through in-house development and acquisitions.

VMware Horizon revolves around desktop virtualization and delivering enterprise applications to tablets and smart phones. AirWatch’s products and experience will allow VMware to enhance the VMware Horizon Suite with:
  • Robust mobile device and application management
  • Ability to separate personal and corporate data and applications on mobile devices
Moving forward, AirWatch will become the focal point for VMware’s mobile development initiatives. Ultimately, VMware is looking to expand their end-user computing offerings with a range of virtual desktop capabilities that provides end-users with a secure virtual workspace that they can use to access applications from any type of device – desktops, notebooks, tablets, smartphones – anywhere, at any time.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Changes to HP Firmware Updates Will Affect Customers

We’ve all heard the phrase, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” And now at HP, their customers are experiencing first-hand that there is no such thing as a free firmware update – anymore, at least. Affecting product lines such as HP EVA storage, firmware updates will now only be accessible through the HP Support Center (HPSC) with an active maintenance contract written by HP.

This means that any HP customers without an active, HP-written contractual support agreement, HP Care Pack service, or warranty will no longer be able to access firmware updates.  Up until December 2013, HP customers without an HP-written maintenance contracts still had download access to update their firmware without paying any fees.

Since similar changes have been made by other technology manufacturers including Cisco, IBM, and Oracle, HP states that this change “Is in line with our commitment to support entitled customers, whether directly or through authorized partners, and follows industry practices of protecting HP’s firmware and software updates.”

This forces customers to get maintenance directly from HP or through one of their partners, impacting customers who use 3rd party maintenance providers or who self-maintain their legacy equipment. These customers will be forced to make a decision because it affects them in two keys ways. First, it places them in a bit of a financial crunch since the cost of an HP maintenance contract can be hefty. Second, it causes technological issues since outdated firmware often has compatibility issues with new technologies.

By causing these pains for the customer, it seems that HP is trying to push their customers into a full-blown support contract for every product and, of course, to work with companies that benefit HP the most. While HP is claiming that “these changes will provide our customers with a consistent experience”, the benefit to the customer is truly yet to be determined since what used to be a free service is now an added expense to their already limited budgets.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Challenges of Rising Mobile Device Usage by Clinicians

Dramatic increases in efficiencies amongst healthcare providers can be directly attributed to the widespread adoption of mobile device use by clinicians.  As the demand for mobile device use increases, it is critical that healthcare providers develop a network infrastructure that is both robust and secure enough to support all of traffic being pushed across their wireless networks.

Insufficient data throughput, gaps in coverage, service interruptions, and wireless security are four major concerns relating to wireless networks in healthcare organizations today.  Addressing these issues requires optimizing the wireless network, which can include things like building redundancy into the wireless network, proper placement of access points throughout the location to provide a complete coverage model, and frequent and proactive testing of the wireless network to identify potential issues.

The wireless network will not only need to be robust, but it will also need to be secure. With the HIPAA Omnibus Rule being effective since September 23rd, 2013, healthcare organizations are now being held to higher standards of security and receiving more severe punishments for privacy breaches with protected health information (PHI). The Omnibus Rule implements privacy and security provisions proposed under the ARRA’s HITECH Act and affects privacy breach, minimum use, and disclosure reporting requirements.

Not only will patients and clinicians want to keep access data through their new mobile devices, they will still want to use their “old” stationary devices – meaning they want access with any device, anywhere, at any time. This creates an increased risk for data loss and privacy breaches; however, security measures can be taken through role-based access controls, authentication methods, and various Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) security products.

So when discussions begin to turn to mobile devices, regardless if they are discussing doctor’s iPads, the hospital’s mobile health (mHealth) devices, or even patient smartphones, it’s important to consider the implications to both your supporting network infrastructure as well as the security of your network and the data being held on it.