TechVirtuoso

HP’s SQL Server Appliance for Big Data

May 7th, 2013 at 9:00 AM  No Comments

Big Data.  It has been around for some time but like “Cloud” I think it is the next big buzz word C-series exec’s will be asking their people if they have it, but not understanding why they want it.  HP, partnered with Microsoft, recently released the second iteration of a SQL Server appliance.  They call it the HP AppSystem for Microsoft SQL Server.  I recently was invited to a virtual briefing about their second version based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012.

Why would anyone want to buy a appliance instead of just buying the hardware and then installing SQL Server 2012 you ask?  From my understanding traditional SQL wasn’t built to handle the workload or storage requirements and more importantly buying a PDW Appliance you get one stop shop for support.  Once you call Microsoft for a support issue there is no passing the buck to the hardware manufacturer.  They may need to transfer you to HP but there should be no finger pointing on who is to blame.

HP isn’t the only partner Microsoft has, but with features like a modified version of Smart Update Manager and Insight Online not to mention their world class hardware, I believe HP has a leg up on their competition.

HP Printing, who knew?

November 13th, 2012 at 4:37 PM  No Comments

In late October, I was invited to a HP Tech Day that focused on printers.  In the past, these events have been great, but they were around more (at least to me) exciting technologies, like servers or storage.  With the way my schedule has been (I moved back to Colorado in August to take a new position with more responsibilities), I almost passed up the opportunity, but I am glad I didn’t.

Inkjet, or Laser?

I have always been a Laser person.  I have a small Brother Laser printer at home, and I used it for almost 3 years without needing to replace the toner.  If I would have purchased a comparable Inkjet printer, I would have been replacing the ink cartridges every 3 months.  HP’s OfficeJet Pro X, being released in the 1H of 2013, may change my views when it comes to ink, instead of toner.  This beast can print up to 70 color pages per minute!  The black cartridge can handle 9,000 prints before it needs to be replaced.  Color costs almost half of what a traditional color laser does, and black costs a tad bit less.

She is pretty!

LaserJet Testing

I had no idea what all went in to bringing a new Laserjet printer to market.  They not only stress test them, but since they are shipped all over the world they also test them under different temperatures and humidity levels.  Since different paper reacts differently in different printers, they also test over 200 types of makes/models of paper through every printer.  These types of tests do not come cheap, 1 million a year just for the paper alone!

Look at all that paper

I will be elaborating on these items further, as well as on Quality HP Toner, how they are helping their clients be more efficient and the Digital Oasis lounge.

Disclaimer:  HP invited me to the Printing Tech Day and paid for all accommodations while I was there.  I received some swag including a HP backpack and a Notebook but I was not required to blog anything good or bad about this trip.  My opinions are my own and cannot be bought.

Interop 2012

June 4th, 2012 at 4:10 PM  No Comments

Back in the day the Consumer Electronics Show was the one event that I made sure I made it to every year.  I love Vegas and a week of geeking out + Vegas was something I could not pass up.  I think part of it was growing up, but spending 7 – 10 days in Vegas and the humungo CES show drug on me.  I stopped going to CES but found my new favorite conference was Interop.  Three days in Vegas, a much smaller show floor and the type of tech shown is what sets it apart for me.  I was planning on going to Interop 2012 when I got invited by HP to the Gen 8 Tech Tour.  The Tech Tour took up two of my planned days but they graciously offered to send me to the Interop show as well.

Dreamworks and HP

After the Keynote on Wednesday morning some of the bloggers (and even a few from press) got to spend some time with Bethany Mayer, SVP and General Manager of HP Networking and Derek Chan , SVP, Operations; Head of AT Global Operations at DreamWorks Animation.  Derek spoke about the strong partnership that Dreamworks and HP have had in the past.  They have collaborated on many different projects over the years, and really gave back to their industry.  Dreamworks collaborated with HP to build the first LCD that could replace the contrast quality and the black levels of the high end CRT’s they were using.  They worked with HP to build Halo, the only fully global, fully managed end to end solution (having participated in a Halo teleconference at a HP Tech Day I have to say it is an awesome  technology).  It only makes sense that when they are looking to replace their network, they check out HP as well.  They have replaced their entire network infrastructure with HP gear and haven’t looked back.

HP Wireless Networks

As the BYOD fad get larger, wireless becomes more important to the enterprise and HP is no slouch when it comes to wireless.  There were a number of devices on display at Interop 2012 ranging from a rugged waterproof access point up to a device that replaces a network jack to give you 4 ethernet ports and wireless connectivity up to 400 square feet.

108+ million packets per second and 74 Gbps traffic

The HP Booth and the Interop show floor was very loud, but as you moved toward the back of the booth it got louder.  That is where we ran into Sam Rastogi, Global Product Marketing Manager, HP with his monstor of a router, the HP 6600 and a rack full of Spirent gear.  The Spirent test setup was simulating 74Gbps traffic and 108+ million packets per second!  For more info on the setup and how the HP Distributed Multi-core arcitecture kicks ass visit Sam’s blog post

Conclusion

There was some questionable decisions brought up this last year with HP’s previous management that left me and a lot of other people uneasy.  If they continue innovating like I am seeing in both the network space and the server space and keep the right dedicated, passionate employees like the ones I met on the trip I think HP is on the right path.

There was a lot more information shared about HP’s announcements on their partnership with F5, DVPN and their new 10500 campus switches that I haven’t been able to get into here (I am way over my 500 word limit) but after HP Discover expect many more in depth posts on this and other technologies from HP.

Insight Online: Where have you been all my life?

May 10th, 2012 at 11:10 AM  1 Comment

I am used to additional software and functionality for server management to cost money, especially when it comes in the form of a cloud hosted service.  I was surprised to hear at HP’s recent Gen8 Blogger Tech Tour that HP rolled out a free online version of the Insight software focused on making administrators duties less painful, take less time, and provide proactive support.  This new service is called HP Insight Online and can benefit everyone from the SMB, to the Enterprise and even VARs.  It is completely free to anyone who purchases a Proliant Gen8 server, because according to Doug Haskell, “You were a smart guy…you bought a Proliant!”.  After your server is out of contract, some functionality will be reduced, but you still have access to the base features of the product.

Privacy Concerns

The participation of Insight Online is opt-in, so it doesn’t automatically just start sending information from your servers to HP.  Insight Online has also been certified through the TRUSTed Cloud certification program to ensure sound data management practices.  In order to keep this certification HP has to work with TRUSTe to get re-certified annually and have to go through a strict listing of requirements for the program.

Interface

The interface of HP Insight Online is a breath of fresh air.  It goes along HP’s new design scheme where pages without a lot of text has a black background (which @mattvogt doesn’t like) but I think it was easy to read and to follow.  Very simplistic but it allows you to drill down on each server to gain more information. You can also add users to specific servers so they only have access to the servers that they need to manage.

 

Hardware Fails

It happens, even to the market leaders.  Hardware, especially the pieces that have moving parts, fail.  In the past, your monitoring system would send you an alert and you would investigate and then call support.  Then you would spend at least 30 minutes (if not hours, especially if they want logs) going through prompts and giving the technician the information.  Why can’t this be easier?  Well, with HP Insight Online it is.  If you opt in, your new Gen8 HP Proliant will communicate failures to your local CSM server that pushes the information out to HP (they are working on a direct connection for those instances where you do not have a CSM server).  It gathers the needed data, automatically opens up a ticket, emails you the information, and (depending on the problem) earmarks a shipment out to your location.  If you need to contact a technician about the issue, you already have an open case and HP has all of your information.

Not only will they detect problems, they can also detect trends with hardware failures.  If they see a lot of a specific type of hardware failing in mass they can cross check that hardware to see if it all came in on the same batch.  If they find a pattern they will automatically send out a replacement part to the clients that haven’t reported any issues before the part fails.

Warranty Tracking

This is a feature I am sure many HP fans will love.  In the same interface with your server status you can also see which service contracts you have and when they expire.  No more spreadsheets!  Something small, but it is a feature that is low overdue.

VAR Access

HP is very VAR friendly, and their Insight Online product is no different.  You can give your VAR permission to have a lot of the same information that you see in your portal.  They will see a similar interface but have all of their clients grouped in the main dash board.  This allows var’s to show their clients more valueadd as well as strengthen their relationship with the client.

Wrapup

You can tell HP put a lot of thought into this product before it was launched and went through the scenario’s from the system admins viewpoint.  This is a win-win for both the customer and HP.  The customer gets better service from HP and HP can take the information they get and use it to improve their products. This is one of the many solutions that came with Gen8 that is adding value to the Proliant line to differentiate the product from the competition of commodity based server providers.  I believe it is a welcome addition to any IT toolbox and will benefit you if you have 1 or 500 servers in your organization.

 Jeffrey Powers from Geekazine recorded the presentation by Jeff Carlat.  It is located below.

Disclaimer:  HP invited me to the Gen8 Blogger Tech Tour and paid for all accommodations while I was there.  I received some swag and a 32GB thumb drive but I was not required to blog anything good or bad about this trip.  My opinions are my own and cannot be bought.

HP Gen8: More then just a Pretty Face..plate

May 7th, 2012 at 3:07 PM  Comments Off on HP Gen8: More then just a Pretty Face..plate

Day 1 of the HP Gen8 Blogger Tech Tour is over and there was a lot of information I need to digest.  One thing is for sure, the face plate wasn’t the only major change that HP made to this generation of servers!  I will be going more in depth about some of this items but I wanted to quickly share what I thought was most important from the presentations and demos today.

Less Headache for the Customer

One of the biggest transformations was the focus on making things easier for the client and less time spent fixing the server when there is an issue.  When there is a hardware failure instead of your monitoring software notifying you, you investigate and then contact HP Support and answer questions/gather logs to send the server can (not a requirement, but the functionality is there) notify HP with all the pertinent information.  HP can already start processing the RMA for the failed part and getting your replacement into your hand.  This, to me is a must have.

Smarter Hardware

HP added “intelligence” to many components on the servers to allow each component to save logs about possible issues or operating conditions to each piece of hardware, instead of on each specific controller.  If a RAM chip starts failing, the Insight software doesn’t just show that the RAM slot has a bad chip but saves this information onto the RAM stick itself. This way if the stick is accidently placed in another machine it will show immediately as a failed chip instead of running and possibly causing problems.

This same functionality is also built into the new hard drives.  However, instead of just making the hardware “smart”, they also helped the end user from being dumb.   I have never pulled the wrong hard drive out of a working server, but I have pulled the wrong card out of a working PBX, and I am sure that is almost as fun (as in not).  This seems to happen a lot, afterall the majority of us are human and we make mistakes.  With Gen8 HP has put a “dummy” LED that gives the user a little reminder that bad things may happen if you pull this drive.  This to me is something small that makes a big impact.

HP has also re-designed the way the processesers are installed to the servers.  They even called it a “Smart Socket”.  This new socket allows for you to slip in a Intel CPU and install it without worrying about bending the pins on the system board.  This will not only help out for customer installed upgrades, but also with pins that get bent in the factory.

Firmware Upgrades

I am sure the majority of small to medium sized shops have probably never upgraded the firmware on their hardware.  When you are short staffed, don’t have the expertise and things are working properly you usually don’t want to mess with things.  This can cause problems down the road as well as security concerns.  With HP’s new Smart Update Manager, they make this a fairly pain free automated process.  It will download the updates, check dependencies, apply them in order and if one of them fails, roll back to the previous versions.  Instead of taking hours or even days to patch a few racks of servers, this can be done painlessly in minutes.

Mobile iLO

HP released a mobile iLO application back in Feburary for iOS/Android phones and tablets.  This brings iLO functionality to the mobile sysadmin.  Gone are the days of lugging that laptop bag with you everywhere and trying to find a corner and wifi to check on an alert you received from Solarwinds on one of your servers.  You can now perform these same duties from a very mobile friendly app and can be done on your portable tablet or phone.

I am looking forward to what HP has in store for us tomorrow.  We will be going more in depth with HP’s Automated monitoring and management, power and cooling ideas and also CloudSystem Matrix.

Disclaimer:  HP paid all expenses for my trip to Houston to experience the HP Gen8 Blogger Tech Tour.  I was not required in any way to write anything about the trip, good or bad.  I was given a reusable HP branded grocery store bag, a nice water bottle, a polo shirt and a Gen8 DL380 server (if you really think they gave me a server, then you must be drinking).  My opinions are my own and if I cannot be bought by a iPad2 I for sure can’t be bought by a re-usable grocery bag.

A few days with a dead tablet

August 28th, 2011 at 9:12 AM  No Comments

Like many others the announcement that HP would discontinue all current WebOS devices surprised me. I knew it wasn’t selling as well as HP expected (especially with the Rumors about Best Buy wanting to return a huge chunk of their stock) but I didn’t think they would give up this easily.

I went on the hunt to get one after the $99/$149 fire sale started. Since I was traveling that Saturday I didn’t get my hands on one until this past Wednesday. I am not a complete newb to WebOS. My wife used the original Pre on Sprint for a year and after she upgraded to the Evo I swapped it to my account as my primary device a couple of times. I really like WebOS but the Pre’s hardware killed the experience for me. I was exited to see how WebOS had evolved since version 1 as well as the experience on a piece of quality hardware.

Overall the WebOS interface hasn’t changed much, but it seemed much more polished over version 1.45. The hardware seemed solid but I was surprised to experience a little lag when doing some basic tasks. I would think the Dual Core Snapdragon system wouldn’t have small performance issues like this. Even with the performance shortcomings I didn’t use my laptop for three days after bringing the tablet home which surprised me.

The HP Touchpad had potential to be a great device, but with the previous price point I can understand why it wasn’t selling as well as it’s competitors. VPN Functionality and LAN Printing are great features but without apps like Remote Desktop, no support to access network files (CIFS Support is available in a Homebrew kernal, but no file manager supports it yet) and the crazy limitation to only be able to print to HP Printers it almost renders these features useless. There were also a number of applications in the HP Market that I was surprised not to see.  No Google Voice (there was an app to send SMS messages through your Google Voice account), no LogMeIn and no Dropbox just to name a few.

Overall I am happy with my purchase.  Would I have paid $499+ for the device?  Absolutely not but I don’t think I would pay that much for an iPad even with it’s ever mounting list of applications. Will my Touchpad force me to leave my trusty Thinkpad on the charger? I am not sure, but after using the Touchpad I do know some tablet (not sure which at this point) will.

One of these tablets is not like the other, one you can buy right now

February 9th, 2011 at 8:06 PM  4 Comments

Today was an interesting day in the tablet world. We learned that what was left of Palm has now officially been smashed into HP, and that HP is serious about really building on the momentum that Palm had started to build with webOS. HP announced a plethora of new things today (which you can read more about over at Engadget, who I stole/borrowed the wonderful chart above from) but the most interesting today was their new tablet, the HP TouchPad.

I have been getting a lot of crap from people for talking a lot about Apple on this site recently. If you’re bothered by this, feel free to stop reading now, or write your own articles. Fact of the matter is, they’re key to a lot of the technology I’m interested in right now and they execute it better than anyone else.

(more…)

HP releases new commercial featuring Palm Pre 2

October 25th, 2010 at 10:25 PM  1 Comment

Due to hit Verizon any day now, and possibly AT&T later, the Palm Pre 2 is starring in it’s own little video trailer showing off some of the new features of WebOS 2.0.

Sporting a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, it’s the most powerful smartphone Palm/HP has ever produced. Although it’s specs are becoming more and more common and are being quickly outranked by many of the new Android phones and almost all of the new Windows Phone 7 handsets.

And oh yeah, it has Angry Birds.

Dude, I hope you didn’t get a Dell

July 1st, 2010 at 2:03 AM  No Comments

Until the last few years I was a big Dell supporter. I recommended Dell to the majority of my business clients as well as anyone looking for a home machine. At the time I had no problems with the brand and they were usually one of the low price leaders in their class. I had clients buy Servers, Monitors and Desktops without blinking an eye.

I have noticed over the years the same customers I gave my recommendation to were complaining about increased problems but I just shrugged it off. I then was given 30 machines from around 1999 – 2001 to build a temporary training class with, half HP, Half Dell. I had problems with almost each one of the Dell’s. Everything from not posting to the heat sink clip being broken. The HP’s also had a couple of issues but not near as many as the Dell’s.

I thought at the time it might have been a coincidence, until my company decided to buy 500 off lease Dell GX260’s for a fresh build out. I was horrified, not because they were Dell’s but because they were old and ratty. We made due with what we were given and put them out to production and have seen nothing but issues. Everything from BIOS batteries going out to smoke coming out of the power supply. We have between 4 – 6 of these off lease Dell’s go bad every month and at least 2 of them have “caught fire” from the power supply.

Now I hear that Dell knowingly covered up that they sold faulty motherboards? Not just one or two, but 11.8 million!  How can I recommend for anyone to get a Dell product when they try to sweep this under the rug? How am I to know that they didn’t cover up a faulty power supply design in the GX260’s that we have so many issues with and they just haven’t been caught yet?

If you are looking for a new build out of any type I would steer clear of Dell, I know I will be for quite some time.

The Calm Before the Storm – HP Tech Forum 2010

June 21st, 2010 at 11:36 AM  1 Comment

I am on the ground in Las Vegas at the HP Tech Forum 2010 at the Mandalay Bay.  This event will show HP and their partners newest technolgoy and how they plan on making the “Converged Infastrucure” that we have been hearing about fall in line.

I will be attending keynotes, hands on sessions as well as trolling the floor and talking to the many HP Partners that will be presenting at the expo.  I will be tweeting about anything I hear and see that I find interesting and snapping shots and uploading them to Flickr as the day goes by.

If you have anything you would like to see or if you want to get answers about specific technology from HP Execs let me know!

Disclaimer:  HP has provided my flight and accomidations for this event.  However they have no control over the content I produce.  My opinions, tweets and blog posts are my own.

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