Author Archives: Pund-IT

Cloudera: Helping Enterprises Address Radical Changes and Emerging Challenges

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  September 23, 2020

Discussions of leading cloud computing often focus on the handful of U.S.-based companies – AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM and Google – that lead the industry in terms of market share. That makes sense on one level but tends to obscure numerous other vendors whose assistance is crucial to enterprises determined to capture the greatest value from their cloud computing and related investments.

One of the key players in this space is Cloudera. Founded in 2008, the company was an early mover in big data platforms and applications. However, Cloudera has also evolved steadily through organic development, acquisitions and strategic partnerships with key enterprise and cloud vendors to become a trusted partner for organizations of every kind.

Last week, the company announced new and upcoming data services based on the Cloudera Data Platform (CDP). Coming a year after the company purchased Arcadia Data, a provider of cloud native, AI-driven business intelligence and analytics solutions, makes that acquisition seem particularly prescient. Let’s consider these new offerings and what they say about Cloudera’s position in the rapidly evolving and growing market for enterprise cloud. Continue reading

IBM Z and Linux Innovation – The First 20 Years

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  September 15, 2020

The phrase “IT modernization” has been around for well over a decade but what does the concept mean? Often, it is simply a sales pitch by IT vendors who hope prospects will swap out aging systems for fresh equipment. But on a more nuanced level, it underscores the pressing need for businesses to invest in technologies powerful enough to meet their current requirements, and flexible enough to address future challenges and opportunities.

In essence, IT modernization is more about adaptability than trading in your old car on a shiny new set of wheels. However, that begs the question of which IT vendors and solutions are best at meeting the demands of modern enterprise computing?

A strong case can be made that IBM and its Z system mainframes stand at the very top of that list, in large part due to the company’s announcement some two decades ago to adopt and substantially invest in Linux on Z. The 20th anniversary of that decision offers a chance to consider why it has been vitally important to IBM, its customers and the IT industry. Continue reading

Lenovo Delivers New/Updated Solutions for HCI and OEMs

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  September 9, 2020

Strategic partnerships are vitally important for a wide variety of enterprise IT vendors. While conventional wisdom once held that enterprises were best served by integrated, single vendor solutions, those offerings tended to increase companies’ reliance on a handful of large suppliers and reduce their access to innovative new technologies.

In contrast, hardware vendors that develop products with ISVs, cloud services providers and other expert strategic partners can quickly develop and deliver new solutions that serve the current and evolving needs of enterprises. The new offerings for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and OEMs announced recently by Lenovo’s Data Center Group (DCG) are excellent examples of this process and the benefits it provides the company’s customers. Continue reading

Dell Names New Global Channel Chief – Rola Dagher Replaces Joyce Mullen

BY Charles King, Pund-IT®  September 2, 2020

Dell’s announcement that Rola Dagher, a former company executive, would return to Dell Technologies as Global Channel Chief and lead global partner strategy, vision, enablement, program design and experience programs, generated well-deserved attention.

Dagher, who most recently served as president of Cisco Systems Canada, is a deeply experienced executive who helped lead the channel organization at Bell Canada for 13 years before spending nearly five years in Dell’s Enterprise segment and Infrastructure Solutions Group.

So, she has proven leadership skills, along with considerable channel experience, both of which will be important for managing Dell’s sizable partner group and programs. But Dagher is also taking over an organization that rose to prominence under Joyce Mullen, who unexpectedly left Dell in July after 21 years of notably successful service.

In other words, Dagher isn’t just taking the reins of an organization that is vitally important to Dell’s current and future success. She is also replacing one of the most notable and successful executives to ever serve at the company.

Let’s consider Dell’s partner organization, its evolution and how Rola Dagher fits in. Continue reading

Dell’s Latitude 9510 – Transforming Working from Home into Working from Anywhere

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  August 19, 2020

Notebook PC sales surpassed desktop sales over a decade ago and unless unlikely shifts occur in user behavior, notebooks, 2-in-1s and other mobile computing devices are likely to remain ascendant. That point is doubly clear this year, as the Covid-19 global pandemic forced tens of thousands of businesses to find ways to support tens of millions of employees Working from Home (WFH) in jury-rigged offices.

But while WFH is likely to remain a fact of life for another year or more, the technologies that workers use are anything but standard. Along with middling or unpredictable performance that can impact workers’ efficiency, companies face numerous variables and challenges in managing, securing and maintaining WFH equipment. As a result, there has probably never been a better time to consider the benefits and value proposition of business-focused notebook solutions, such as Dell’s Latitude portfolio.

The company’s new Latitude 9510 2-in-1 is a prime example of the innovations that customers can expect from a vendor that understands the needs of workers and workplaces as well as Dell. Let’s consider the Latitude 9510 2-in-1 and see how it addresses the needs of both workers and workplaces.

Note: For purposes of this review, Dell provided me a Latitude 9510 2-in-1 with a 15-inch 16.9 FHD (1980X1080 WVA Touch display, 10th gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of DDR3 SRAM and 1TB SSD.

The challenges of WFH/WFA

While WFH problems and solutions have been highlighted by many vendors, Dell is extending the discussion to what it calls Working from Anywhere (WFA). That is, working beyond the walls of a home office to other less structured or formal environments. But what features and capabilities do involved parties, from individual workers to entire organizations, need to make PC solutions maximally effective for these situations?

  • Top end system and battery performance – The last thing employees need to worry about is whether the notebooks they use are up to the tasks they need to complete. That includes having enough battery power to continue working when wall plugs are unavailable or in short supply.
  • Flexible connectivity features – WFH and WFA scenarios often or even usually require wireless connectivity. Support for the latest Wi-Fi technologies is a must but cellular options are valuable for many scenarios.
  • Quality audio/video for call and conference experience – Zoom has become one of the hottest apps of 2020, in large part because of the way it has helped businesses, work groups and individuals stay up and running. But video conferencing requires more than simple connectivity. The most effective solutions offer workers an in-person experience via premium audio and video features.
  • Professional management, maintenance and security options – Keeping end users efficiently occupied is one thing, but successful notebooks and 2-in-1s must offer services designed to do the same for IT staff and managers. Ideally, those should include effective solutions for remote system management and security, and on-site deployment and maintenance options.

Adequately supporting most of these features and functions defines “good” mobile endpoints. But premium notebooks and 2-in-1s take most or all of them to the next level.

Dell’s Latitude 9510 2-in-1 – Outside and in

Like the other solutions in Dell’s Latitude commercial client portfolio, the 9510 2-in-1 is designed to look and feel entirely professional. The stylish brushed aluminum finish is accented with well-defined diamond-cut edges, and the newly designed keyboard and touchpad are as solid as you could want.

Dell’s Infinity Edge technology enables the Latitude 9510 2-in-1 to fit a 15-inch screen into what is essentially a 14-inch frame, making the system feel both slim and capacious. The 2-in-1 weight is a mere 3.3 pounds (the 9510 laptop version is slightly larger at 3.1 pounds), making the Latitude 9510 2-in-1 highly and comfortably portable.

According to Dell, the 9510 2-in-1 can deliver up to 34 hours of battery life (with the optional 6-cell 88 Whr battery). I never pushed my review system to those extremes, but I can say that I never wanted for power during unplugged workdays. What I found more important was Dell’s Express Charge feature which enables the system to be charged to 80 percent within one hour and 100 percent in two hours.

Along with supporting 5G Wi-Fi, the 9510 also features Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) technology which promises up to 3X faster speeds and next gen security features. My review unit also included optional LTE connectivity which worked fine out of the box. It isn’t a feature I’ll use every day but it’s a great option to have in a pinch.

One of the largest departures from previous designs are the system’s top firing speakers (mounted along both sides of the keyboard) that feature Waves Maxx audio technology. These provided great sound quality which made video conferencing more enjoyable and immersive than many laptops. The 9510 2-in-1 is also remarkably quiet and doesn’t suffer the hot spots that are common in many highly portable notebooks.

One of the Latitude 9510 2-in-1’s most interesting features is Dell Optimizer, a new built-in AI function designed to automatically detect and improve application performance, battery life and audio settings. It can be easily enabled/disabled depending on a user’s or organizations preferences. Also intriguing is Dell’s Express Sign-in which senses a user’s presence or absence, and automatically wakes or locks the system. I use this feature daily and it functions seamlessly.

Like other Latitude solutions, the 9510 2-in-1 can be managed with Dell ProSupport services and VMware Workspace ONE. The systems also support Dell and its partners’ security services, including Dell Command Suite, Dell Encryption Enterprise and Personal, Secureworks Threat Detection and Response, and VMware Carbon Black Endpoint.

The 9510 2-in-1 can be ordered with optional security features, such as a touch fingerprint reader and Contracted Smart Card and Control Vault 3 Authentication (an optional mechanical camera privacy shutter is available for the 9510 notebook). The Latitude 9510 has also passed 17 MIL-STD 810G tests for system ruggedness, including tests for extreme temperature, high-pressure, sand and dust resistance, shock and vibration.

The 9510 2-in-1 is available in ten configurations, ranging in cost (priced at dell.com) from $1,849.00 to $2,849.00. Intel processor options start with 4-core Core i5 and rise to 6-core Core i7 solutions that include Intel vPro management features. From 8 to 16GB of DDR3 SRAM memory are available, and SSD storage capacity ranges from 128GB to 1TB.

Final analysis

Does the Latitude 9510 2-in-1 have any shortcomings? Some have dinged Dell for the system’s premium pricing and suggested that there are other 13-inch and 14-inch sub-notebooks and 2-in-1s that offer a similar user experience for a lower cost. While this is a reasonable argument, a more technically accurate comparison would be against 15.6-inch convertibles whose displays are closer to the 9510. In those scenarios, the Latitude is clearly smaller and lighter, and often the more flexible and powerful option.

Others have noted that lacking a premium 1000 nit display or dedicated GPU puts the 9510 2-in-1 at a disadvantage against similarly priced mobile workstations. No pun intended, but such nit-picking ventures some ways from Dell’s primary mobile professional audience. Plus, if customers truly need or value those features, Dell can always steer them toward other solutions, such as its Precision mobile workstations or the XPS line.

From my own experience, I found the 9510 2-in-1 exemplified what I’ve come to expect from Dell’s Latitude solutions—leading edge design points, great build quality and rock-solid performance in business applications and functions. The wide variety of configuration, connectivity and security options supported by the 9510 means that businesses of virtually every size and kind will be able to find solutions.

Those points, along with the seventeen MIL-STD 810G ruggedness tests the system passed means that Dell’s Latitude 9510 2-in-1 truly qualifies as a Working from Anywhere (including Home) solution. Organizations looking for solutions to existing or emerging workplace challenges and scenarios would do well to consider Dell’s new Latitude 9510 2-in-1.

© 2020 Pund-IT®. All rights reserved.

IBM Debuts POWER10 at Hot Chips

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  August 19, 2020

Upcoming products, advances and innovations are part and parcel of every technology conference, from the smallest vendor confab to massive events like CES and MWC. So, it was no surprise that at this week’s Hot Chips 2020, the annual IEEE symposium that focuses on high performance microprocessors, much of the spotlight focused on next generation microprocessors, including IBM’s upcoming POWER10.

Let’s take a look at IBM’s 10th gen POWER processors, the advances the company has achieved since it introduced POWER9 at Hot Chips 2016 and what that means for enterprise customers and partners.

IBM POWER10 from the inside

According to IBM, the development of POWER10 took over five years and resulted in hundreds of new and pending patents. The new solutions will deliver significant novel features and capabilities:

  • POWER10 is IBM’s first commercialized 7nm processor and is expected to deliver up to 3X better capacity and energy efficiency within the same power envelope as POWER9.
  • POWER10-based servers will be co-optimized for Red Hat Open Shift, making those systems ideal for supporting hybrid cloud implementations.
  • IBM developed a new technology – Memory Inception – that enables groups of POWER10-based systems to access and share their memory resources, enabling the creation of multi-Petabyte memory clusters.
  • On the security side, POWER10 will offer more AES encryptions than POWER9, enabling systems to support end-to-end encryption and faster encryption functions. POWER10 is also designed to deliver hardware-enforced container protection and isolation capabilities which can be used to prevent compromised containers in the same VM from being accessed or affected by the same intrusion. IBM also noted that POWER10 will support dynamic execution register control, enabling users to design applications that are more resistant to attacks but minimally impact system performance.
  • POWER10 processors will contain embedded Matrix Math Accelerator, enhancing in-core AI inferencing performance without requiring additional specialized hardware. As a result, POWER10 processors will improve AI inference up to 10X for FP32, 15X for BFloat16 and 20X for INT8 calculations as compared to POWER9. IBM believes these improvements will help infuse AI functions into typical enterprise applications and enable customers to gain greater insights from their data resources.
  • Samsung will manufacture the chips using IBM’s designs. IBM Power Systems solutions based on POWER10 silicon are expected to be available in 2H 2021.

POWER10 – Built for enterprise hybrid cloud

POWER10 will clearly offer significantly improved performance and energy efficiency over POWER9 chips, along with a raft of new capabilities resulting from unique or novel developments from IBM Research. But it is worth noting that the company is also embarking on a notably different go to market strategy with its new CPUs.

POWER9 was designed to deliver massively better compute than prior gen POWER chips. Plus, with the integration of technologies from partners, including NVIDIA and Mellanox, POWER9 could support unique hybrid system designs, including U.S. Department of Energy installations that led the Top500.org list of global supercomputers for two years.

What is so different about POWER10? At Hot Chips 2020, IBM communicated a clear focus on maximally supporting enterprise hybrid cloud, including compute and energy efficiency capabilities that should appeal to cloud platform owners looking to enhance system performance while reducing or stabilizing energy costs.

Plus, the new memory, security and AI capabilities that POWER10 supports could enable cloud owners to implement services and features that provide them a competitive advantage. Finally, IBM’s plan to co-optimize its own POWER10-based Power Systems for Red Hat Open Shift should make those solutions highly intriguing and attractive options for public, private and hybrid cloud owners.

Final analysis

Why are these important points? First, because they highlight why IBM believes the future of innovative enterprise computing resides in hybrid cloud environments that blend the benefits of on premises datacenter infrastructures and public cloud services. In addition, IBM not only believes it has a singular role to play in that future—it is demonstrating that it has the insights, innovations and research capabilities to deliver the solutions and services that enterprises require for success.

In other words, with POWER10 IBM has its head fully in the hybrid cloud. For the company’s tens of thousands of global enterprise customers and partners, that’s a very good thing. But it is also excellent news for the health, welfare and future prospects of IBM.

© 2020 Pund-IT®. All rights reserved.

Dell’s Latitude Chromebook Enterprise – Extending and Enhancing Business Workplaces

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  August 12, 2020

Habits are hard to break in the best of times. Ingrained optimism recommends staying the course, no matter how ineffectual or even painful it might be. That is especially true when it comes to business technologies. Though numerous organizations regularly investigate various new hardware and software offerings, longstanding solutions are often unaccountably bulletproof.

But in the worst of times—say, during a global pandemic causing unfathomable damage to countless businesses and whole economies—thinking the unthinkable becomes considerably easier, even shifting away from deeply embedded business technologies. That point makes the arrival of Dell’s new Latitude Chromebook Enterprise laptops and 2-in-1s especially timely and intriguing.

Let’s take a closer look at what Dell aims to achieve with its new Chromebook solutions. Continue reading

Intel Reorgs/Regroups in the Wake of 7nm Delays

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  July 29, 2020

Reorganizations are a fact of life in business and can reflect any number of issues or events, including financial issues or concerns, decisions to refocus the business and missteps in leadership or execution. But a fundamental reordering of core strategies and the departure of the executive responsible is far less common.

That’s exactly what happened this week at Intel when, in the wake of the less than happy news about 7nm manufacturing processes the company revealed during its recent earnings call. CEO Bob Swan announced the departure of Intel EVP Murthy Renduchintala and the separation of his Technology, Systems Architecture and Client Group (TSCG) into five individual teams.

Let’s consider why this happened and what it means for Intel, its customers and shareholders, and the IT industry. Continue reading

How IBM Is Bringing Confidential Computing to the Mainstream

By Charles King, Pund-IT®  July 22, 2020

It’s often said that “data is the new oil,” and considering the accelerating rate at which organizations are creating and using digital information to further their business efforts, it’s hard to disagree. But its fundamental value has also resulted in data and its owners coming under regular attack by bad actors ranging from kids on a lark to sophisticated cybercriminals to state-sponsored thieves and terrorists.

That requires organizations to be extra vigilant lest their substantial data investments are eroded or syphoned-off. However, vigilance is never enough when the potential attack vectors and access points to corporate information are nearly limitless. As a result, technology vendors such as IBM are actively working on new, muscular technologies to keep customers’ precious data assets secure and confidential.

This week, Rohit Badlaney, VP of IBM Z Hybrid Cloud, and Hillary Hunter, VP and CTO of IBM Cloud published a blog that discussed the company’s efforts in confidential computing – an area they call “the next frontier in security.” Let’s consider what they had to say. Continue reading

IBM Storage – Speeding and Simplifying the AI Journey

By Charles King, Pund-IT Inc.  July 15, 2020

Artificial intelligence (AI) projects can incorporate a wide variety of computing and data storage technologies and services. However, enterprises hoping to use AI to gain or add value to their businesses must be especially vigilant when it comes to planning and enabling these projects. Commercial solutions vary significantly in terms of quality and performance. More importantly, however, decision makers are often uncertain about what is required to ensure the success of AI projects.

The recent announcement by IBM about its new and updated storage solutions optimized for AI underscores this point by citing a recent Forrester survey of global IT, data and line-of-business decision makers which found that over half of the respondents didn’t know what their AI data requirements are. IBM has addressed this challenge by developing an information architecture (IA) that is designed to help customers effectively collect and organize data, gain deeper insights via AI-enabled data analysis and then use those insights to enhance business outcomes.

The company calls the process by which companies leverage the power of AI the “AI journey,” and IBM’s new storage solutions are clearly designed to help customers embark on and complete that journey. Let’s take a closer look at them. Continue reading