Tag : hardware

Items You Shouldn’t Buy Refurbished

CNET has published a short list of items NOT to buy refurbished:  http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33153_7-57509549-10391733/three-tech-items-you-should-never-buy-refurbished/

Hard drives are listed as #1, and I would tend to agree. Data integrity is never something to gamble on.

Depending on the warranty offered with the refurb product, often the cost savings makes it worth the risk of “inheriting someone else’s problems”.  I recently purchased a Dell XPS 15z laptop from Dell’s outlet (http://www.dell.com/outlet) at significant savings off retail price. The unit was sold as “scratch & dent” return.  So far, I haven’t found any such cosmetic blemishes.  I did have an issue with the display out of the box, but it was fully covered under warranty, and resolved in a reasonable amount of time. Other than that, it’s been a nice purchase and I’ve had no other issues (knock wood).

Not Even NASA’s data is safe!

For those of us who think we are pretty good at keeping our information safe, I would highly suggest you think again. Most leading government organizations have issues on keeping their data secure. Take for instance NASA. According to a recent article in Popular Science, NASA was targeted some 47 times last year by cyber criminals and they were successful 13 times giving hackers full control of critical NASA networks. They even lost the codes to control the International Space Station at one point.

NASA is often a target for cybercriminals and often NASA hardware is stolen. Between 2009 and 2011, 48 mobile computing devices were lifted from NASA or NASA employees. One of which containted those control codes for the ISS. Believe it or not, the device in question was not encrypted, and it appears that a lot of NASA devices are like this.

One would think that NASA, a pioneering government organization would have this type of stuff under wraps considering they have a 1.5 billion dollar a year IT security budget. It gives you the sense that if somebody really wanted to, they could easily get into your computer and get your personal information.

Furthermore, think of all of the companies and business that are not NASA, with much smaller IT budgets, that are targets all the time. Hackers could easily can access to these networks without anyone even knowing it and that often happens. A good recommendation is that you be very cautious with your personal information and where you put it. Doing research into security standards and checking to see if companies have had previous IT breaches.

You can also encrypt your hard drive with Windows BIT Locker or 3rd party software if you would like. You can use software such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), TrueCrypt, or CyberAngel.

You can never be too safe with your personal information!

New/Best Ultrabook for Business

bva is always looking for good products that will work well in businesses and the new trend today is Ultrabook’s.  I get asked quite frequently what is the best for the business world and there are many but I really like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga.  Having a smaller computer that is light-weight and easy to move around is a huge benefit.  bva comes in contact with many different units of hardware and we have become very picky with what we recommend but this particular unit that we viewed really hits on all the metrics.  This ultrabook is running Windows 8 and featuring a flipping, folding touch screen. It’s not just the first touch-enabled ultrabook we’ve seen, it’s also equipped with Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors and running Microsoft‘s touch-friendly Windows 8 operating system.The IdeaPad YOGA is first and foremost an ultrabook, with a thin 0.67-inch chassis that weighs in at 3.1 pounds. Its 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) and an estimated 8-hour battery are par for the course among ultrabooks, but the YOGA brings plenty of new features as well, like an Intel Ivy Bridge processor and a whopping 8GB of RAM.The 13.3-inch screen of the IdeaPad YOGA offers ten-point capacitive touch, and Lenovo’s unique double-hinge design lets you fold the screen back around the laptop to become a 13-inch tablet. The IdeaPad YOGA will have the yet-to-be released Windows 8 operating system, which includes the touch-friendly Metro interface.But it’s not all new processors and software. Lenovo is also upping the ante in the hands-on department, covering the bottom of the laptop with soft-touch rubber paint for a luxurious texture and secure grip, while bringing back the leather covered palmrest found on the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 ($1,049.99 direct, 3.5 stars) and retaining the scalloped keys and large clickpad found on the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s ($1,495 list, 4 stars).The convertible ultrabook is designed to switch between four different form-factors with a flip of the screen. It can change from a conventional laptop to a tablet, easel mode with the screen standing at an angle, or tent mode with the YOGA setting upright on the edges of the screen and chassis. Buttons on the sides of the chassis maintain full functionality even when the keyboard isn’t in use, and with Lenovo’s 360-degree hinges.

The Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA convertible ultrabook is coming in the summer of 2012 and we were fortunate to view this at the CES show this past week in Las Vegas.  The estimated starting price is around $1,199.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure-VDI-Pro’s and Con’s

In the past 6 months BVA has seen a tremendous push towards (VDI) Virtual Desktop Infrastructure which is unique in my eyes, for the most part it is because we have come full circle.  About 10 years ago there was a tremendous push toward thin-clients and dumb terminals which had a lot of success back then.  After a few years of this, organizations decided to move back to heavy client models mostly due to workstations lowering their cost.  Regardless of how we got to this point, VDI is back and more popular than ever.  BVA has deployed over four VDI solutions in the past three months with minimal hurdles and we are getting great reviews from the client via user experience.

Lets talk about VDI and what it is and is not.  Basically Virtualization technology can provide virtual desktops to your users which, over time, will save you on hardware cost as well as administration. All of us are familiar with the concept of virtual platforms/servers and using this technology to virtualize server applications (like SQL server, print servers, or other dedicated servers). VDI takes this a step farther.

Here are the steps to using VDI:

  1. Create a virtual machine
  2. Install a VDI Connection Broker – this Connection Broker is what determines which Remote Desktop Host a user is assigned or should be connected to. Here are some of the connection brokers available today:
    • ChipPC Virtual Desktop Center
    • Citrix Desktop Broker for Presentation Server
    • Dunes Virtual Desktop Orchestrator (VD-O) and Virtual Service Orchestrator (VS-O)
    • LeoStream Virtual Desktop Connection Broker
    • Propero workSpace
    • Provision Networks Virtual Access Suite (VAS)
  3. Install a desktop operating system on that VM, such as Windows XP or Windows Vista
  4. Install desktop applications on the VM
  5. Allow remote access to that virtual desktop system over the network using any number of possible remote control options

VDI is basically thin-client computing (such as Citrix/Terminal Services). With VDI, you are taking the processing off of the end user’s device and bringing it onto a server. The difference with VDI, unlike thin-client, the virtual desktop is dedicated to a single end user or mapped to provide the desktop OS & applications to a single client viewing device.  Many VDI packaged solutions, of course, uses VMware or Microsoft’s virtual platforms as the underlying virtualization product.

Why should an organization use VDI?

  • SecurityDesktops are more secure
  • Rollback – Can use VMware’s snapshot and revert technology on desktop machines
  • Centralized Apps – Applications upgrades are easier because systems are all in a centralized location
  • Speed Deployment – You can quickly clone existing machines and roll out new systems because machines are all in a single central repository
  • Provide a full desktop PC – You are providing full access to a virtual machine and each virtual desktop is mapped to a single user or a single client device.
  • Reliability – If you could quickly restore any PC OS to a usable state, free from viruses or corruption, how reliable could your desktop systems be?

Here are some key points about the solution for your reference:

  1. You could use older or existing PC’s but that doesn’t provide you all the benefits you could get from VDI. You could also use thin-client devices running RDP. Ideally, you might consider something like the new Wyse Thins OS-VDI, made just for thin clients that will be connected to VDI servers. More information can be found at: http://www.wyse.com/about/news/pr/2006/0802_VMwareVDI.asp and http://www.wyse.com/products/software/os
  2. With regards to remote control application, you can choose from RDP, VNC, or others
  3. For Legacy hardware you can use RDP, for example, which supports USB devices on the client and if you could put a parallel or serial device on the server, you could also access it from the client.
  4. You will have to do your own cost comparison, keeping in mind, the soft numbers related to the increased security and management functionality.  There are several case studies that outline a 5 year ROI that shows the cost comparison where you come out appropriately.