The impact of sequestration on IT

I chose not to blog about sequestration until now because, like most people, I never really thought it was going to happen. Much like January’s fiscal cliff, the prevailing sentiment was that the “D.C.” in Washington would stand for “Don’t Cut” and that an 11th hour deal would be made.

But now that the deadline has passed and the only thing delaying the start of sequestration is a presidential signature, we must all seriously begin to consider what will happen to those affected by the automatic spending cuts.

As reported by Computerworld this morning, the potential budget cuts are already causing uncertainty within a sector that relies on secure funding to foster growth and innovation: IT. Even though the official OMB report from the White House says that “no amount of planning can mitigate the effects of these cuts,” IT organizations should still start anticipating what those effects will be in order to properly manage them.

If cuts are indeed made, here are some questions IT managers will need to consider. (more…)

5 ways the Dell buyout will (or will not) affect the channel

When word broke about Dell’s decision to go private, it triggered a firestorm of reactions across the industry. Responses ranged from the customer doomsday predictions featured in HP’s official response to Microsoft’s 83-word, $2 billion endorsement. News articles do everything from analyzing the events that led to this strategic move, to identifying the implications of the buyout, and predicting how the deal will ultimately play out in the future.

While I can appreciate the continued dialogue and debate, those of us tasked with supporting IT organizations all day, every day really just want to know: What does the Dell buyout mean to us, right now?

In the days following Dell’s announcement, SHI customers have approached their account teams to learn how the acquisition will (or will not) affect them. Here are the five questions we’ve been asked the most: (more…)

Are your cables causing a disconnect in your data center?

Even though much of today’s business depends on the health of the network and the supporting data center, companies often ignore a crucial component: the cables. You might be laughing, but there’s a reason for the old saying, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” You can have the most up-to-date, biggest, fastest servers around, but if you don’t have the right cable to connect them, they mean nothing.

I’ve spent eight years helping clients put the right cabling in place for their data centers, and I can tell you that cables and cable management are often taken for granted. So today, I want to shed light on the importance of correctly setting up and maintaining your data center’s cables. I’ll start by explaining the two sides to cables: the human and the technical. Let me talk first about the human aspect. (more…)

5 ways to lower your printing costs now

If you asked 1,000 IT directors to name their least favorite subject, printing would easily top the charts. IT generally hates having to think about printing, and I can understand why. Printers have developed a reputation as noisy, unreliable money toilets that can also send faxes. They’re a pain to support, and they distract your attention from supporting the business’s core operations and projects.

But if you take the time to examine what is actually happening in your environment, you can be an IT hero to your company. There’s real money to be saved here, no matter how you estimate it. So when you’re ready to take the plunge and address your printing, here are five key steps to get you pointed in the right direction.

(more…)

A Microsoft Surface user review

I’ve never owned a tablet device. No, really. I’m serious. Twenty-two percent of adults across the U.S. (and counting) own tablets, but I was not one of them.

Until recently, that is. Two weeks ago Pat Hart, SHI’s Director of Software Licensing, determined to bring me out of the dark ages, handed me a newly released Microsoft Surface. His instructions to me: “Try not to break this thing on the first day.”

It was good advice and, for a moment, seemed likely that I would fail this task. Getting the device out of the box was a challenge. It was like the Surface was packed inside a giant Chinese finger trap: The harder I pulled on the black and white interlocked cardboard box, the more the device refused to budge. I dropped the package on my kitchen counter five to six times before my wife finally came to see what was making all that noise. She took the box, flipped it over, and the Surface slid gently out onto the counter.

Surface (and spouse): 1. Ed: 0. (more…)

Is your Microsoft licensing in compliance? A quick reference guide

This is a big week for Microsoft — the Windows 8 launch today, the release of Microsoft Surface tomorrow. Media and techies have been hyping these new products for months, both for their innovation — some are calling Surface the “PC of the future” — and also for the licensing re-haul associated with them.

Caitlin already touched on the licensing changes inherent with Windows 8, so we won’t be going there today. Instead of looking forward, we thought we’d take a quick look back at how Microsoft got here. Below we’ve compiled a handy table recapping the new Microsoft products launched in 2012 and the licensing models associated with each. Let this serve as a quick reference to make sure your software licensing is in compliance. (more…)

Direct2Dell blog tells the SHI and Dell story

Being in this business for 15 or so years has its benefits. I was reminded of a major one when I was interviewed for a blog post now appearing on Direct2Dell.com: being involved in the partnership between SHI and Dell.

“SHI sells hardware?” you might ask. “SHI sells Dell?”

The answers are “yes!” and “yes!” But our 23-year legacy in volume licensing expertise and a company named derived from the words “Software House International” sometimes obfuscates this reality for customers.

SHI interviewed on Direct2Dell blog

PROFITABLE PARTNERSHIP: Ed McNamara tells the SHI and Dell story.

We are particularly proud of our partnership with Dell and how far it has come over the years. I welcomed the chance to interview with Direct2Dell about what makes this relationship so mutually successful and how Dell’s growth, particularly its acquisitions (such as the recent acquisition of Quest Software) can affect companies within the IT channel. (more…)

SAN, NAS, or both: Which is best for your users?

When customers outgrow their current storage environment, or are trying to add new storage to their networks, I’m often asked what type of storage they should buy. The answer is easy. Customers should go with the top storage solutions that have always been available: network attached storage (NAS) and storage area network (SAN). What’s harder is determining which solution is ideal for different scenarios. Today, I’ll be outlining the differences between the two, and going over when customers should combine them.

NETWORK ATTACHED STORAGE: File-level storage used for collaboration

NAS, the first type of storage solution available, is file-level storage, and it’s mainly used for collaboration. So if a customer needs a solution that will accommodate many users all collaborating on a single project simultaneously, NAS is the way to go. It eliminates the confusion of keeping and storing multiple copies of a document as it goes through revisions in local storage, and cluttering up the storage space. NAS also provides data protection, so if you lose your laptop or your hard drive crashes, the files you’re working on are not lost. (more…)