Here’s what you need to know before your business buys a drone

DRONELike the Pony Express 150 years ago, the Drone Express may change the way you get mail and packages. Of course, the Drone Express is still a few years away, but drones are allowing organizations to think up new ways to conduct business.

Insurance companies, for example, rely on drones to inspect houses for damage; government engineers use them to examine buildings, bridges, and railroads; utility companies check phone lines with drones; and law enforcement and fire departments employ drones to scope dangerous scenes like burning buildings or forest fires.

But as you consider how drones can help your own business, there are a number of issues and regulations around commercial drones to know and address before your first flight. Here are the most important ones to consider to ensure your drone launch lifts off successfully. (more…)

You asked, we answered: Explaining 6 questions about warranties

warrantyWarranties get a bad rap. The common – and often incorrect – refrains we hear are that warranties are too expensive, too weak, and just ineffective. Warranties, relegated to a subsection of a larger contract, are glossed over in many transactions.

But warranties are more than fine print. Organizations buying hardware – everything from laptops to networking components to servers – should pay close attention to standard and expanded warranty options. Are they always necessary? Maybe not. But warranties are akin to hardware insurance, protecting investments for organizations of all sizes.

Still, many IT professionals are unsure of what their warranties entail. We’ve assembled six questions we’re often asked about warranties below to strip the terminology down to the basics so you can easily decide what you need and what you don’t. (more…)

Keeping IT equipment safe from power outages

CyberPower on uninterruptible power suppliesSummer is power season, as demand for electric power spikes. Air conditioning and other power demands strain utilities, making brownouts (temporary drops in voltage) and blackouts as common as mosquito bites. Not to mention severe weather events like thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes that can knock out electricity.

For many, these outages are mere inconveniences. But organizations risk losing sensitive data when a sudden power outage knocks computers and servers offline, especially if the power remains out for hours. A surge protector won’t save you from these outages, no matter the time of year.

The first line of defense against brownouts and blackouts is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which provides continuous power during an outage. But different organizations and different hardware will need different power protections. By understanding power requirements and the types of UPS that are available, you can give your organization the protection it deserves. (more…)

What do you do when a virtual machine becomes a noisy neighbor?

Virtualized application performanceThe #1 pain point in the data center is poor performance. That’s what we found from our study of 1,000 data center professionals, who every day watch virtual machines (VM) conflict with databases, slow each other down, and eat up hours spent fine-tuning storage and tackling trouble tickets.

A huge contributor to this performance pain is what’s called “the noisy neighbor problem” — a VM consuming too many resources at the expense of others.

The problem stems from LUNs, the conventional storage groups made up of dozens or even hundreds of VMs. When one of them gets noisy, demanding more than its share of performance reserves, it slows down its neighbors and throws the entire LUN into chaos.

Because they’re built on that LUN architecture, most storage environments running VMs face this challenge. Stopping these rogue VMs is difficult because they’re nearly invisible to scrutiny and correction.

Here’s how you put the issue to rest and guarantee every VM’s performance: isolation. By eliminating the LUN and giving every VM its own neighborhood through VM-aware storage, you can more precisely control the resources apps can demand. (more…)

Video and police body cameras: Answers to 6 common questions

NetApp on police body camerasThere are roughly 18,000 police agencies in the United States and they’re all trying to solve the same case: How to deal with the storage requirements of video taken with body cameras.

As adoption of police body cameras rises, small agencies (less than 100 officers) and large metropolitan and state-wide departments (more than 250 sworn officers) all struggle with uploading, categorizing, managing, and storing video evidence. From an on-the-street encounter to a drunk driver arrest, the video evidence taken with these body cameras is generating plenty of data.

This storage conundrum elicits many questions from police agencies nationwide. Here are six common questions we get from police chiefs about video storage and evidence collection, and how to solve the challenges of this new ocean of digital evidence. (more…)

Is your school building the classroom of the future today?

Classroom of the futureYou probably learned every organ in the body from a textbook, and your grade depended on recalling what the pancreas does and the difference between the large and small intestines. It’s fair to say that times have changed.

In classrooms across America, teachers are presenting subjects in new ways and students are immersing themselves in individually crafted lessons due to the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets and the introduction of virtual reality (VR) and other technologies. Thanks to the advent of these technologies, teachers have changed the classroom environment to accommodate their students’ learning preferences.

What some might think of as “the classroom of the future” is already here. Here are three tech trends many schools are adopting that will shape the classroom of the not-too-distant future: (more…)

How the Internet of Things is driving cost-saving efficiencies for manufacturers

Cisco Internet of Things for ManufacturingIf there’s one industry that demands efficiency, it’s manufacturing. Lined with robots and skilled workers side by side, modern assembly lines pump out millions of goods every year at record speeds. But nearly every line will experience maintenance shutdowns, can improve flow, and can correct designs and oversights.

Manufacturers are now combating those challenges with Internet of Things (IoT) devices that can bring about big results through data collection. In fact, 61 percent of North American manufacturing executives said they’d be willing to use IoT devices to monitor equipment for predictive maintenance services.

This is the next step in the evolution of industry, which has come a long way from the steam-powered 18th century. The mass production of the 20th century and the advent of robots in the 1970s sped production lines, and now those tools are getting smart. The digitization of manufacturing means smart devices and technological progress that’s opening new opportunities.

Welcome to Manufacturing 2.0, where IoT devices are boosting productivity, improving efficiency, and putting money into manufacturers’ pockets. (more…)

Everything you think you know about VDI is wrong. Let’s set the record straight.

Dell VDIA virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is expensive, right? And, of course, it’s way too complex for most organizations. And a VDI user experience surely folds under the weight of power users running intense processes.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

VDI has come a long way in the past decade – it supports the most extreme demands of power users and can drive down an organization’s operating costs. But VDI misperceptions still linger, to the detriment of many organizations.

Part of the issue is the lack of exposure to new VDI solutions, which have become much more refined in the last 10 years. It’s 2016, and VDI is a realistic option for organizations of all sizes, including school districts and governments. So let’s pull back the curtain on those misperceptions, and see why VDI in 2016 is different than what you remember from 2006. (more…)

Earth Day review: Here’s how much pollution we prevented in 2015 through asset recovery

Earth Day review of asset recoveryIf you read our blog post highlighting the 5 hallmarks of successful asset recovery, you might remember why asset recovery – the proper disposal or recycling of hardware devices – is so important: It’s a versatile, economical solution that protects your organization and simplifies IT asset management.

One of the biggest advantages to asset recovery is the environmental benefits. Adopting an asset recovery program guarantees devices are responsibly disassembled and recycled, and the precious metals, toxic materials, and extra components aren’t dumped in a landfill. If you throw those same devices in a standard garbage can, they end up feeding the growing global environmental issue of e-waste.

E-waste contains various hazardous metals that can harm the human immune, nervous, and reproductive systems, as well as pollute the air, water, and soil. By handing off end-of-life devices to an asset recovery provider, you are not only protecting the environment but the rest of humanity as well. (more…)

The IT superhero that saves money, energy, and time: Here’s hyperconverged infrastructure

Lenovo hyperconverged infrastructureWhy is your morning commute frustrating? Rubbernecking, erratic drivers, and faulty stop lights might contribute to your irritation, but the real reason morning commutes drive us mad is volume – there are a lot of cars on the road at the same time.

Something similar happened when organizations first adopted virtualization. When IT departments moved their computing into virtualized environments, they also moved data into shared storage. All the applications connected to the same storage array at the same time, slowing data retrieval, creating bottlenecks, and missing the target of increased efficiency.

Solving those bottlenecks isn’t always easy – it can be costly to upgrade to the newest technology and the underlying problem of too many applications accessing the same storage arrays doesn’t change. So what can IT do to eliminate these bottlenecks?

The answer might be hyperconverged infrastructure. Though many still see it as a buzzword, hyperconverged infrastructure is helping organizations, including many state and local governments, reduce costs, free up IT resources, and boost employee productivity. There are many advantages to hyperconverged infrastructures, which are significantly simpler to operate, use less energy and space, and offer a quick return on investment. (more…)