Lenovo’s ThinkSystem SR635 and SR655 – Making the Most of EPYC Technologies

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  August 14, 2019

Surprises are generally frowned upon in business technology, mainly because the unexpected usually portends bad news for IT staff and data center owners. But occasionally surprises are harbingers of positive news or progressive developments that benefit businesses and the vendors they rely on.

AMD’s new 2nd generation EPYC 7002 series processors fit comfortably into that category, as do the new Lenovo ThinkSystem SR635 and ThinkSystem SR655 servers that leverage AMD’s silicon. Let’s take a closer look at Lenovo’s latest data center solutions and how they make the most out of AMD’s new EPYC silicon. Continue reading

IBM and the Past, Present and Future of Supercomputing

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  August 14, 2019

Contrary to the opinions of some commentators, it’s hardly a disaster for IBM that Cray was chosen by the Department of Energy (DOE) to build its next-gen “El Capitan” supercomputer at the agency’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Nor was the DOE’s choosing Cray the develop the “Frontier” system for the Oak Ridge National Lab and the “Shasta” exascale system for the Argonne National Lab.

Disappointing? Sure. It would have been nice for IBM to follow the triumphs of its CORAL-class Summit and Sierra systems with another DOE win. But in supercomputing, as in most things, it’s wiser to look forward and plan for future opportunities than it is to waste time dwelling on minor setbacks. And you should believe that there will be opportunities in the future for IBM to build more world-class supercomputers.

Why do I say that? First and foremost, the journey up to and down from peak supercomputing performance follows a notoriously slippery slope. Once you reach the top be sure to enjoy the view while you can, because it won’t last for long. This is a reality that IBM knows and understands far better than most vendors. In addition, there are technologies under development or on the horizon that are likely to take supercomputers to whole new levels.

Not surprisingly, IBM is working to develop and evolve those new technologies and appears to be well-ahead of much of the competition. Let’s consider these points and what they mean to IBM, its customers and the supercomputing industry. Continue reading

Dell’s Latitude 7400 2-in-1: At the Topline of Enterprise Client PCs

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  August 7, 2019

For many years, durability was the defining point for business notebooks. Products were designed and built for constant use, to stand up to literal knocks and accidental drops, to easily connect to networks and peripheral devices. That situation changed significantly in 2006 and, again, in 2008 when Apple introduced the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. The company’s design aesthetic helped breathe new life into Apple’s Mac business and, for a time, made it look like a serious challenger to mainstream PC vendors.

But that situation shifted at CES 2012 when Dell introduced its XPS 13, a notebook that fundamentally changed the company’s reputation as a maker of solid if unsurprising PCs. Along with stylish good looks, the XPS 13 utilized Dell-developed materials, including a light yet rigid and strong carbon fiber composite. Later XPS 13 iterations introduced other notable features and materials, including Dell’s near bezel-less InfinityEdge display, NASA’s Silicon Aerogel (for heat insulation), Dell Cinema for optimized multimedia performance and continually improving battery life.

Over time, the XPS 13 became Dell’s most successful notebook product so it’s not surprising that many of the XPS line’s features and innovations were seeded into the company’s other notebooks, including the new Latitude 7400 2-in-1 convertible. The company recently sent me a 7400 2-in-1 evaluation unit so let me tell you about my hands-on experience with the product that occupies the high end of Dell’s commercial notebook portfolio. Continue reading

Pivot3’s Virtual SOC: Improving the Security, Performance and Cost of Video Operations

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  July 31, 2019

The high-tech industry has more than its share of products that qualify as “solutions in search of problems.” But there are also hundreds of practical issues and challenges that have inspired vendors to develop powerful, continually evolving technology products and services. Pivot3’s digital video security and surveillance offerings are an excellent example.

How so? Founded in 2003 by veteran executives from VMware, Compaq and Adaptec, the company was an early pioneer in hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions, including digital video offerings. Pivot3’s sophisticated software and its skills at leveraging powerful technologies, including enterprise virtualization, PCIe NVMe flash and scale-out storage systems have enabled it to capture business in other markets, including virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), hybrid cloud, datacenter modernization and Internet of Things (IoT).

Today, Pivot3’s video security and surveillance solutions play vital roles in scores of global “Smart” (Cities, Casinos) and “Safe” (Transit, Campus, Airport) deployments. In fact, Gartner has called Pivot3 a leader in large scale (multi-petabyte) digital video installations. The company recently announced a new offering – the Virtual Security Operations Center (Virtual SOC) – that is designed to significantly enhance video security and surveillance deployments.

Let’s take a look at Virtual SOC and consider how Pivot3 is, yet again, positioned to fundamentally change digital video customers’ lives for the better. Continue reading

IBM’s Chief Data Officer Summit – Making Cognitive Enterprises a Reality

By Charles King, Pund-IT®

Over the past two decades, the Chief Data Officer position has become increasingly commonplace in enterprises and other organizations. Capital One and Yahoo! both appointed CDOs around 2002. A2013 Gartner study found that over 100 companies employed CDOs—more than double the number in 2012, and in a recent update to the study 257 CDOs and other high-level data and analytics leaders shared their thoughts.

Moreover, the critical importance of data analytics to businesses, industries and government agencies of every kind have led organizations to recognize the need to better control and fully leverage the information they create, collect and manage. But what are the best strategies and approaches for achieving those goals? In addition, how can organizations ensure that they are employing the right people and practices?

Answers to those questions can be hard to ascertain due to rapid technological shifts, including massive upticks in the volume of information that businesses create, collect and manage. Not surprisingly, these and other relevant subjects were central to the presentations and discussions at the recent “tenth edition” of IBM’s bi-annual Chief Data Officer (CDO) Summit that the company hosted in San Francisco.

Let’s take a look at the key focal points of IBM’s CDO Summit and how the company plans to help customers deal with these issues. Continue reading

IBM, Red Hat and the Value of Customer Comfort

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  July 17, 2019

In IBM’s recent announcement closing its $34B acquisition of Red Hat, the company said the deal:

  • Positions IBM as a leading hybrid cloud provider, accelerates its high-value business model and extends Red Hat’s open source innovation to a broader range of clients
  • Will preserve Red Hat’s independence and neutrality. Red Hat will operate as a distinct business unit within IBM, its current executive team (including CEO Jim Whitehurst) will lead the organization, and IBM will maintain Red Hat’s headquarters, facilities, brands and practices.
  • Will strengthen Red Hat’s existing partnerships to continue giving customers freedom, choice and flexibility. Those partners include major cloud providers, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Alibaba.
  • Leave unchanged Red Hat’s unwavering commitment to open source.
  • Empower IBM and Red Hat to deliver the next-generation hybrid multicloud platform based on open source technologies, such as Linux and Kubernetes. That will allow businesses to securely deploy, run and manage data and applications on-premises and on private and multiple public clouds.

Do these points make sense given the two companies’ history and relative strengths? If so, are there any challenges or barriers they face in pursuing these goals? Finally, what can customers and partners expect moving forward? Continue reading

Lenovo DCG: “Exascale for Everyone” Meets HPC for All

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  July 2, 2019

In past commentaries on supercomputing and high-performance computing (HPC), including the results of the latest Top500.org lists, I noted the benefits that dynamically flow from high-end systems to smaller businesses. In large part, that is due to the continuing upward evolution of computing technologies that drives costs down across the spectrum of IT solutions. But that process has also been hastened by specific trends, including the rise and performance of supercomputers leveraging industry standard components.

How that impacts commercial markets is evident in Lenovo’s standing in the most recent Top500 list where the company increased its leadership position in the total number of systems listed. But the nature of those listings is equally important, as was a recent blog posted by Matt Ziegler, director of HPC and AI Product Management and Marketing at Lenovo, entitled “Exascale for Everyone.” Let’s take a closer look at Lenovo’s recent Top500 listings, Ziegler’s blog and what they mean for commercial markets and businesses. Continue reading

VMware’s Past, Present and Future in Cloud Computing

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  June 26, 2019

While the term “cloud computing” has been around since the mid-1990s and its underlying concepts for even longer, it is a mistake to think of cloud as something fully formed or entirely mature. Instead, cloud solutions continue to evolve and follow the rapid commercial transformation that began when Amazon relaunched AWS, including the Elastic Compute Cloud service in 2006.

Though VMware isn’t always at the top of cloud computing pioneer lists, its cloud roots and pedigree are as deep as any vendor’s can be. Why so? Because hardware virtualization technologies, like the company’s vSphere offerings, are central to cloud functionality. VMware launched its first formal cloud effort (the vCloud initiative) over a decade ago and since then has steadily delivered solutions and services that address the cloud computing needs of its enterprise clients.

A recent Cloud Analyst Event offered some intriguing insights into the current state and future direction of VMware’s cloud efforts and strategies. Continue reading

IBM Powers its Way to a Top500.org Trifecta

By Charles King. Pund-IT, Inc.  June 19, 2019

There are numerous ways to quantify the performance of supercomputers. In fact, Top500.org, the organization that publishes semi-annual lists ranking the world’s most powerful supercomputing installations, includes data ranging from architectures to processors to accelerators to interconnects. Vendors’ contributions to specific systems are provided, as well as how their solutions fared in terms of overall performance and share of the list. The group also ranks systems by energy efficiency (the Green500) and High Performance Conjugate Gradients (HPCG).

While it is common for specific vendors and systems to enjoy relatively stable positions at the high end of the Top500, the Green500 list tends to be more diverse and fluid. In addition, supercomputers owned by businesses are seldom seen among the 20 or 30 highest ranked Top500 installations. That’s mainly due to high-end supercomputers’ costs and complexities which are far easier to manage in universities and government research facilities than in real world business settings.

These points are worth considering in light of the new Top500 and Green500 lists published this week. IBM announced that it is the only vendor to have multiple supercomputers in the top 10 of both lists – the Summit, Sierra, and Lassen systems deployed at U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) labs. Plus, IBM announced that the new Pangea III supercomputer the company built for Total Exploration, an oil and gas company with operations in 130 countries, was ranked #11 on the Top500 list and #8 on the Green500.

Let’s take a closer look at this trifecta of announcements and consider what IBM’s top ranked systems portend for supercomputing applications and customers. Continue reading

Dell Precision at Computex – How Innovation Enables Business Evolution

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  June 12, 2019

A common view of evolutionary process imagines continual upward motion—graphics of “the ascent of man” depicting the development of early hominids into modern humans is a classic example. But in the IT industry, computational evolution or at least the spark of evolution can be said to move both upward and downward.

That’s due in large part to the ongoing efforts among PC, workstation and server vendors to improve their products with the latest, greatest CPUs, GPUs, memory, storage, networking and display technologies. Those enhancements result in high-end solutions designed for enterprises and other well-funded organizations. But at the same time, they can also be used to develop products suitable for individuals and companies with more modest budgets, enabling them to continue their own evolutionary journeys.

The mobile, desktop and rack-enabled Precision workstations recently introduced by Dell Technologies at Computex offer great examples of this process and its potential benefits. Let’s dig into the details. Continue reading