10 things you shouldn’t do when running network cable


Improperly installed cabling can cripple network performance, create maintenance headaches, and lead to hidden costs. Here’s where things can go wrong.

Network cabling can be a finicky thing. There was a day when people without appropriate knowledge and training were tasked with running cable by virtue of their other responsibilities. For example, telephone techs and electricians used to be tapped because they were cabling people. However, while telephones cables can sometimes tolerate quite a lot of error, data cabling is less forgiving. I’m focusing here on twisted pair cabling, not fiber. Here are 10 mistakes to avoid when you’re installing network cable.

Mistake 1: Not planning for the future

Perhaps your organization has provisioned 100 Mbps network connections to the desktop for now, even though 1 Gbps has become pretty standard. But suppose your organization is going to move to a new location and you need to install new cabling. Are you going to go with yesterday’s best cabling technology or are you going to install something that will meet today’s needs and your needs for the next few years? Remember, the labor is the most expensive part of your project. While top-of-the-line cable won’t be the least expensive option, you should consider reasonably high-end cable for your installation. Maybe you don’t go with the absolute best — after all, many organizations won’t need 10 Gbps to the desktop for quite some time — but don’t go for cheap, either.

Mistake 2: Using different cabling for voice and data

Twisted pair cabling used to be expensive, so companies used to install different cabling for voice and data needs. Since voice was a less picky service and required only a single pair of wires, less expensive cabling was used for voice while data enjoyed the bulk of the budget.

Today, a complete installation can still be pricey but the bulk of the cost is generally labor; cabling itself really isn’t a massive cost. Further, with the rise of services such as VoIP, voice in many places has transitioned to being a data need and requires data-level cabling. In fact, with the right VoIP equipment, you can often get away with using an existing data cable and then making use of the VoIP device’s built-in Ethernet switch to save on the cost of running multiple cables, if that becomes absolutely necessary.

The point here: Don’t simply assume that you can or should use old style category 3 cabling for voice. If you’re going to run a separate cable for a phone, match the data cable type.

Mistake 3: Not using cable management

Adding cable management is often seen as a “would be nice if” type of scenario. Adding ladder rack, rack-based cable management, and the like does add cost. But it also makes ongoing maintenance much, much easier. Bear in mind that the cabling work won’t stop with the initial installation. More cables will be added, and things will be changed. Make sure that you label appropriate cables, color-code cables, or implement some other kind of process to make it easier to identify cables later on.

Mistake 4: Running cable in parallel with electrical cables

Data cabling used “UTP” — unshielded twisted pairs — to achieve its goals. The magnetic field generated by the low voltage running through the cable is a critical component of the communications chain. When you run this unshielded cabling in parallel with electrical cables, that magnetic field is disrupted and the communication becomes noisy and garbled. In many cases, transmissions will simply not make it from Point A to Point B. In other cases, transmission rates will slow to a crawl as communications are constantly retried.

If you have to go near electrical power lines, cross them in perpendicular instead.

And now for a story: Way back in the late 90s, I was asked to look into why a newly installed coaxial cable wasn’t working. It was a building-to-building connection between two buildings that were very close to one another. Upon arriving at the site, I looked up and saw that the coaxial cable was twisted around the overhead electrical cabling that ran between the two buildings. Needless to say, it was easy to identify the cause of the problem.

Mistake 5: Running cable near “noisy” devices and fixtures

Noise can be introduced onto data cabling by more than just electrical wires. Fluorescent lighting, motors, and similar items that shed electrical or magnetic interference will wreak havoc on your cabling infrastructure as well. Make sure that in your planning, you leave a data cable pathway that avoids these kinds of hazards.

Mistake 6: Not minding distance limitations… to a point

If you’ve run any cabling at all, you know that the typical distance limitation for UTP cabling with typical Ethernet — up to 1 Gbps anyway — is 100 meters. However, if you’re running cabling for some other purposes, such as 10 Gbps or 40 Gbps, be mindful of the distance limitations associated with the type of cabling you intend to use. For example, if you intend to run 10 Gbps for up to 100 meters over twisted pair cabling, you need to use Category 6A or better cabling.

Mistake 7: Not following laws/codes/ordinances

This is really important for many reasons. First of all, failure to adhere to local codes can create dangerous issues for safety personnel. For example, in most places, use of PVC-jacketed cabling is prohibited in air handling spaces. When PVC burns, it creates a toxic stew that can be harmful to firefighters and other personnel that might have to navigate the area in the event of an emergency.

If you fail to follow local codes related to low voltage cabling, you risk fines and may even have to rip and replace your cabling. So make sure you verify your responsibilities before you get started and make sure that any contractors you have working with you are aware of local ordinances as well.

Mistake 8: Not testing your cabling infrastructure

Once the cabling is installed, you should test every cable using appropriate tools to make sure that it will be suitable for its intended use. This includes verifying length and cable specifications matched to needs. If you need 1 Gbps transmission speeds, verify that the cable’s properties will support that need.

Mistake 9: Not following standards

You know, there are only eight individual wires inside a cabling jacket. So why not just terminate them at random, as long as you use the same scheme at both ends and you’re consistent between cables? Well… that’s a bad idea. There are standards in place for a reason. The cabling standards take into consideration just how the cables are twisted and placed in the jacket. If you deviate from those standards, you risk introducing noise and inefficiency into your cable plant that can have a negative impact on overall network performance. The standards I speak of are known as EAI/TIA-568-A and B and dictate the method by which data cables should be terminated.

Mistake 10: Not running a cable when you need one

Recently, my colleague wrote about the dangers of using an Ethernet switch when a new cable run is really what’s needed. When you start adding Ethernet switches willy-nilly, you risk introducing unknown elements and instability into an otherwise well-designed network. In general, people use mini-switches when they just need to add a port or two, so there is very little traffic planning undertaken. Depending on the reason behind the need for the additional ports, this can be problematic. If the new services require a lot of network resources, you can create bottlenecks where you didn’t intend to. The lesson: Unless you have a really good reason not to, just run another cable (actually, run two; the cabling is cheap but the labor is similar).


Network Premise Cabling & Premise Wiring Solution

Premise cabling or premise wiring, simply refers to the network cabling system (cable wiring, cabling connectors and accessories) that is utilized in business, government, academic and in some cases domestic applications.

With premise cabling, data terminals, computers and phone equipment systems can be interconnected using copper or fiber optic cabling components designed to meet and exceed ANSI, TIA/EIA and ISO standards for maximum product performance levels and proper design layout.

Premise Cabling Standards

Premise cabling standards ensure that product manufacturers and premise wiring installers are “on the same page” regardless if your cabling infrastructure is designed and installed from the ground up or is a retrofit for an existing facility. Premise cabling and wiring standards also ensure that future upgrading or expansion of the premise wiring system may be possible.

What’s covered under Premise Wiring

  • Voice and Data Cabling Category 5, 5e & 6, Proposed Cat 7
  • Fiber optic wiring for horizontal, backbone & outside plant
  • Coaxial cabling for CATV and CCTV
  • Cable Management
  • Testing and troubleshooting UPS systems
  • Consulting/Estimating/Design/Engineering
  • Adds, moves and changes
  • Wifi Networks



Business Continuity Planning

Business Continuity Planning is the way an organization can prepare for and aid in disaster recovery. It is an arrangement agreed upon in advance by management and key personnel of the steps that will be taken to help the organization recover should any type of disaster occur. These programs prepare for multiple problems. Detailed plans are created that clearly outline the actions that an organization or particular members of an organization will take to help recover/restore any of its critical operations that may have been either completely or partially interrupted during or after (occurring within a specified period of time) a disaster or other extended disruption in accessibility to operational functions. In order to be fully effective at disaster recovery, these plans are recommended to be regularly practiced as well as outlined.

In layman’s terms, a Business Continuity Plan or BCP is how an organization guards against future disasters that could endanger its long-term health or the accomplishment of its primary mission. BCPs take into account disasters that can occur on multiple geographic levels-local, regional, and national-disasters like fires, earthquakes, or pandemic illness. BCPs should be live and evolving strategies that are adjusted for any potential disasters that would require recovery; it should include everything from technological viruses to terrorist attacks. The ultimate goal is to help expedite the recovery of an organization’s critical functions and manpower following these types of disasters. This sort of advanced planning can help an organization minimize the amount of loss and downtime it will sustain while simultaneously creating its best and fastest chance to recover after a disaster.

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery (DR) is the process an organization uses to recover access to their software, data, and/or hardware that are needed to resume the performance of normal, critical business functions after the event of either a natural disaster or a disaster caused by humans. While Disaster Recovery plans, or DRPs, often focus on bridging the gap where data, software, or hardware have been damaged or lost, one cannot forget the vital element of manpower that composes much of any organization. A building fire might predominantly affect vital data storage; whereas an epidemic illness is more likely to have an effect on staffing. Both types of disaster need to be considered when creating a DR Plan. Thus, organizations should include in their DRPs contingencies for how they will cope with the sudden and/or unexpected loss of key personnel as well as how to recover their data.

Disaster Recovery Plans are generally part of a larger, more extensive practice known as Business Continuity Planning. DR plans should be well practiced so that the key players are familiar with the specific actions they will need to take should a disaster occur. DR plans must also be adaptable and routinely updated, e.g. if new people, a new branch office, or new hardware or software are added to an organization they should promptly be incorporated into the organization’s disaster recovery plan. Companies must consider all these facets of their organization as well as update and practice their plan if they want to maximize their recovery after a disaster.

BC / DR Plan Steps

Business continuity / Disaster Recovery Plans come in various forms, each reflecting the corporation’s particular set of circumstances. The following are some of the general step required to develop and implement a plan.

Policy Statement (Goal of plan, reasons and resources Business Impact Analysis (how does a shutdown impact the business financially and otherwise) Identify Preventive Steps (can disaster be avoided by taking prudent steps) Recovery Strategies (how and what you will need to recover) Plan Development (Write plan and implement plan elements) Plan buy-in and testing (very important so that everyone knows the plan and knows what to do) Maintenance (continuous changes to reflect current situation)

3 Reasons to Move to VOIP

The 1990s saw the early days of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), when carrying on a conversation over the Internet offered all the excitement – and quality – of a CB radio. LOL

Now, VoIP has matured. With reduced broadband prices and increased bandwidth available to corporate and institutional consumers, VoIP is in widespread use by both small and large companies, supporting business-grade connections and delivering the benefits of rich features and high-quality service.

VoIP — A Brief Overview

VoIP is no longer bleeding-edge technology; it’s now a robust category of products and services. VoIP phone service effectively uses the Internet, rather than a traditional telephone line, to transmit telephone calls. Carriers who offer VoIP service leverage both the public Internet and their private backbone networks. VoIP can be deployed in various methods and may or may not include end-user handsets and other customer premise equipment. Initially offered only by niche-market providers and delivered via the public Internet, VoIP service has become a monopoly breaker. Often called “digital telephone service,” VoIP connections are replacing traditional, analog circuits but work with most standard phone systems. Most industries have now implemented some form of VoIP service.

The high adoption rate of broadband services — small businesses at 90% and residential customers at 74% – has positioned US consumers to take advantage of all this bandwidth to carry voice traffic and to replace, or at least supplement, their more traditional analog circuits. Advances in IP telephony and delivery methods mean VoIP providers can now leverage private IP networks and provide high-quality voice connections. VoIP has proven itself so effective and reliable that most major telecom providers have added it to their service offerings.

Why Use VoIP?

Technological advances and consumer trends are interesting, but they don’t answer the question: why you should use VoIP for your business communications.

 1. Same Quality as Always, More Benefits than Ever

VoIP services can be deployed to retain the same, if not better, quality and reliability that you expect from traditional phone lines. Earlier, phone lines were usually more reliable than Internet connections, but this is no longer the case.

With VoIP, calls to destinations around the globe can be made with no difference in quality from traditional phone lines. When a professional phone company implements VoIP service, dropped calls, crackling, echoes or other problems are concerns of the past. Voice clarity using VoIP is excellent.

With assurance of high-quality in place, business customers are finally realizing how many advantages are found in VoIP that were never available from traditional phone lines. Many small and midsized businesses use the flexibility that VoIP and IP phone systems offer to thrive in this challenging economy.

One major benefit is that employers can reduce overhead and at the same time allow their remote and work-from-home employees to expand scope of their contribution. According to a study3 examining national trends related to small business broadband deployment, half of small business employers currently allow telecommuting in order to reduce demand on office space and to accommodate employee schedules. This trend seems to be gaining in popularity as over 25% of these employers are interested in having even more employees telecommute.

Although studies to quantify these additional economic benefits of VoIP are underway, data already shows the overall benefits of broadband – and its related services – to be in the neighborhood of $32 billion per year for US households. A portion of this financial benefit has come in the form of savings passed on from firms that use broadband to improve efficiency and productivity, both internal and in interactions with their customers.

2. Monthly Savings

Why pay more for a service that offers less? When you’re running your own business or focused on the financial needs of your company, the bottom line is a priority equal to securing reliable service from a trusted provider. Since VoIP services and devices now utilize widely deployed IP and broadband technologies, they are available to business customers at a price that’s several times cheaper than services relying on more costly network infrastructures.

Where traditional telephone companies offer complex plans with expensive local and long-distance rates, VoIP providers are able to offer cheaper, simpler plans that include both local and nationwide long-distance calling.

International long distance rates are now offered at a fraction of the former cost.

This translates to a cost savings on your local and long-distance voice monthly service. Are you tired of paying a fortune for long-distance calls? When you’re conducting business, you never know where you’ll need to call, and depending on your call habits, rates with usage-based plans can flatten your wallet with their long-distance fees. And while business and residential customers alike leverage local and long-distance plans offered on VoIP platforms, they’re now making further shifts and welcoming the benefits of feature-rich IP telephone sets. These IP phones are available either in the form of a desk phone or a softphone – a phone icon that is used on a laptop or PDA and offers all the utilities of a typical office desk phone.

3. Reduce Capital Expense and Total Cost of Ownership for Your Office Phone System

VoIP clearly helps businesses realize savings on their monthly voice services, and it also can help reduce capital expenditures. Depending on a company’s growth patterns and communications needs, the life cycle of an office key telephone system or Private Branch Exchange ranges anywhere from 5 to 10+ years. For businesses in the market for a new office phone system, VoIP service strongly supports consideration of IP PBX or Hosted IP PBX — two options that can significantly reduce capital investment:

Businesses purchasing IP PBXs can save on the cost of not only the central processing unit but also the IP handsets, since both typically cost less than their traditional PBX counterparts. VoIP with IP phones provide great flexibility for employees who spend much of their time away from the office. In those cases, the cost of a desk phone can be eliminated completely by using a softphone in its place. Further, softphones often include usage plans that are tailored to meet the needs of field-based employees who spend most of their time, with their laptop, away from the office.

Business customers can also use VoIP to completely eliminate the major capital expense of purchasing a PBX, by choosing Hosted IP PBX, a solution that has in some cases produced a 60% decrease in operations and administration expenses over a five-year period.5 Hosted IP PBX vendors typically provide tools that empower administrators and end users to manage their own line and desk phone/softphone feature changes, via easy-to-use websites. This trend of self-managed services allows the business customer to eliminate the costly expense of a vendor or on-site technician to handle moves, adds and changes.

 Why Wait?

To sum up, the reasons for many companies – both large and small – to switch to VoIP have multiplied exponentially. Are you leveraging the technology for all it’s worth? If you’re not ready to migrate all of your lines or hardware to VoIP, start with just a few. You’ll find you have a better solution and you’ll enjoy immediate benefits and savings.

Want more details?

Windows 8 Hidden Secrets

Microsoft has made lots of changes in Windows 8. Microsoft has completely removed Start Menu and Start button from Windows 8 and all known registry tricks or other methods to get them back are not working in final version.

Removal of Start button and Start Menu also makes performing power operations a bit difficult. Now you don’t get a direct option to restart, shut down your PC. All these options have been moved to Settings charm which can be accessed by moving your mouse cursor to top-right corner of screen and selecting Settings charm from Charms bar.

You can check out our exclusive Windows 8 FAQ topic which contains solutions for all such problems such as adding Start Menu, Start button in Windows 8, accessing power options in Windows 8, etc:

Although Microsoft has removed a few essential features and functionality from Windows 8 but on the other hand they have also introduced many new useful features in Windows 8.

After using Windows 8 for a few days, we have came across a few interesting features, some of which are not directly visible on screen. The most strange part is that Microsoft has not talked about a few of these features yet in any official blog post.

Anyway for your convenience, today in this topic we are going to share a few hidden secret features which we have found in Windows 8.

So without wasting time, lets share the hidden gems in Windows 8:

1. Hidden Quick Access Menu (Win+X Menu)

Although Microsoft has removed Start button and Start Menu from Windows 8 Taskbar but they have added a hidden Quick Access Menu (QAM) or Win+X Menu which provides easier access to many useful system tools such as:

  • Programs and Features
  • Power Options
  • System Settings
  • Device Manager
  • Command Prompt
  • Task Manager
  • Control Panel
  • Search
  • Run
  • and a few more

To access this menu, move your mouse cursor to extreme bottom-left corner of screen and right-click and you’ll get the hidden system menu as shown in following screenshot:


You can also access it using “Win+X” hotkey.

You can also check out following exclusive tutorial to customize this new menu in Windows 8:

[EXCLUSIVE] Customize New Quick Access Menu (Win+X Menu) in Windows 8

If you are still using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, you can get a similar system menu in Desktop context menu or My Computer context menu using following tutorials:

UPDATE: In Windows 8.1, Microsoft has added new options such as Shut down, Restart, Hibernate, Sleep and Sign out to Win+X menu as shown in following screenshot:


Windows 8.1 also allows you to replace Command Prompt shortcut with PowerShell in Win+X Menu:

How to Replace PowerShell with Command Prompt in “Win+X” Menu of Windows 8.1?

2. Auto-Save Screenshots

That’s an awesome addition to Windows 8. In previous Windows versions, whenever you needed to take a screenshot of your screen, you had to press “PrntScr” key or if you wanted to take screenshot of a specific program window, you needed to click on it to make it active and press “Alt+PrntScr” keys. After doing this, the screenshot was captured by clipboard and you had to paste and save it using an image editing software like built-in MS Paint, Adobe Photoshop, etc.

Windows 8 makes the whole process a lot easier. You can just press “Win+PrntScr” keys together and Windows 8 will automatically save the screenshot in your “Pictures” library folder. The screenshot is saved with the name “Screenshot.png“. If you take more screenshots, they are saved with an added number such as “Screenshot (2).png“, “Screenshot (3).png” and so on.


I wonder why they didn’t add hotkey “Win+Alt+PrntScr” to automatically save screenshot of a specific window. I hope they’ll add it in final build of Windows 8.

3. New Hotkey to Access Safe Mode

In previous Windows versions, if the user wanted to boot into Safe Mode, he needed to press “F8” key at system startup but this good old and well know hotkey no longer works in Windows 8. Microsoft has replaced it with a new hotkey.

The new hotkey is “Shift+F8“. So now you need to press “Shift+F8” keys together to access Safe Mode option in Windows 8. I can’t understand the reason behind this move. May be they’ll use “F8” hotkey for some new stuff? Who knows?

4. New Hot Corners in Screen

Windows 8 comes with hot corner feature which allows you to access some built-in options when you move your mouse cursor in a corner of your monitor screen.

When you move your mouse cursor to bottom-left corner of screen, it shows small Start Screen thumbnail which lets you go to Start Screen.


When you move your mouse cursor to top-left corner of screen, it shows a list of all running Metro apps so that you can switch between apps or close an app.


When you move your mouse cursor to top-right or bottom-right corner of screen, it shows new Charms Bar where you can access Settings, Search, Share, Devices and Start Screen charm.


If you don’t like Charms Bar to automatically appear on screen as soon as you move the cursor to top-right or bottom-right corners, you can disable it using following tutorial:

How to Disable “Charms Bar” Hint Feature in Windows 8?

If you want to disable all hot corners in Windows 8, check out following article:

How to Disable Hot Corners (Charms Bar, Start Screen Thumbnail, App Switch List) in Windows 8?

UPDATE: In Windows 8.1, Microsoft has added built-in options to disable hot corners (Charms Bar and App Switcher):

How to Disable Hot Corners (Charms Bar and App Switch List) in Windows 8.1?

5. Hidden “Applications” Folder to Launch Metro Apps Directly from Desktop

Did you know you can access a hidden folder “Applications” in Windows 8 by using following command:

explorer shell:::{4234d49b-0245-4df3-b780-3893943456e1}

You can execute the above mentioned command in RUN dialog box, in Command Prompt or from anywhere else. It’ll open a secret “Applications” folder containing shortcuts of all installed apps as shown in following screenshot:


This way you can directly launch Metro apps without going to Start Screen.

You can create a shortcut for this command using a simple method given here and then pin the shortcut to Taskbar, Start Screen or put it on Desktop for quick and easy access.

6. Hidden “Slide to Shutdown” Feature in Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 comes with a hidden “Slide to Shutdown” feature which allows you to quickly shut down your PC using a simple slide down mechanism.


Check out following tutorial to learn more about it:

How to Shutdown Windows 8.1 PC Using Hidden Secret “Slide to Shutdown” Feature?

7. Use Camera on Windows 8.1 Lock Screen

Windows 8.1 allows you to access your computer or tablet Camera directly from Lock Screen without log into your user account. You can take photos or create videos by using this hidden Camera app at Lock Screen.


Check out following tutorial to learn how to use this hidden feature:

How to Enable or Disable Use of Camera App on Windows 8.1 Lock Screen?

Also check:

How to Enable Image Slide Show Feature on Windows 8.1 Lock Screen?

8. Hidden Trick to Close Metro Apps Permanently in Windows 8.1

Microsoft has changed the mechanism to permanently close Metro apps in Windows 8.1. Now if you simply drag-n-drop an app to bottom as you used to do in Windows 8, the app won’t close permanently in Windows 8.1. Instead the app will enter into suspend mode and will continue to run in background.


If you want to close the running app permanently, you can use following hidden secret trick:

[Guide] How to Close Metro Apps Permanently in Windows 8.1?

9. Hidden Way to Access “Advanced Startup Screen” in Windows 8 and 8.1

Windows 8 and 8.1 comes with a hidden secret method to directly access “Advanced Startup Screen” without restarting your PC. You can access various options such as restart your PC into another installed operating system, restart in Safe Mode or choose several advanced system recovery options from this screen.


Check out “Method 3” mentioned in following tutorial to learn more about this hidden feature:

[Tip] 5 Easy Ways to Switch from Windows 8 to Other Installed OS in Dual Boot Environment

10. New Useful Hotkeys (Keyboard Shortcuts)

There are a few useful hotkeys (keyboard shortcuts) introduced in Windows 8 which can make your Windows 8 experience better. Some of them are given below:

  • Win key – Toggles between Start Screen and Windows Desktop
  • Win+X – Opens Quick Access Menu as mentioned in point 1
  • Win+PrntScr – Automatically saves screenshot in Pictures folder as mentioned in point 2
  • Win+C – Shows Charms Bar
  • Win+I – Shows Settings panel
  • Win+K – Launches Devices charm
  • Win+H – Launches Share charm
  • Win+Q – Launches Search charm
  • Win+W – Launches Settings search page
  • Win+F – Launches Files search page
  • Win+Tab – Shows Metro apps switcher as mentioned in point 4
  • Win+Z – Shows / hides App bar at Start Screen to show all apps
  • Win+Spacebar – Toggles between input languages and keyboard layout
  • Win+, – From Start Screen peeks at the Desktop
  • Win+Enter – Launches Narrator
  • Ctrl+F1 – Minimizes / maximizes ribbon in Windows Explorer
  • Ctrl+Tab – Launches All Apps list on Start Screen

Virtualization, Green IT, Whats all the hype?

Save energy, go green
Maybe you aren’t a “save the whales” or “tree hugging” type of person. That’s cool. I don’t wear the T-shirts either. But seriously, who isn’t interested in saving energy in 2014? Migrating physical servers over to virtual machines and consolidating them onto far fewer physical servers means lowering monthly power and cooling costs in the data center. This was an early victory chant for server virtualization vendors back in the early part of 2000, and it still holds true today.

Reduce the data center footprint
This one goes hand in hand with the previous benefit. In addition to saving more of your company’s green with a smaller energy footprint, server consolidation with virtualization will also reduce the overall footprint of your entire data center. That means far fewer servers, less networking gear, a smaller number of racks needed — all of which translates into less data center floor space required. That can further save you money if you don’t happen to own your own data center and instead make use of a co-location facility.

QA/lab environments
After completing a server consolidation exercise in the data center, why not donate that hardware to a QA group or build out a lab environment? Virtualization allows you to easily build out a self-contained lab or test environment, operating on its own isolated network. If you don’t think this is useful or powerful, just look to VMware‘s own trade show, VMworld. This event creates one of the largest public virtual labs I’ve ever experienced, and it truly shows off what you can do with a virtual lab environment. While this is probably way more lab than you’d ever actually need in your own environment, you can see how building something like this would be cost prohibitive with purely physical servers, and in many cases, technologically improbable.

Faster server provisioning
As a data center administrator, imagine being able to provide your business units with near instant-on capacity when a request comes down the chain. Server virtualization enables elastic capacity to provide system provisioning and deployment at a moment’s notice. You can quickly clone a gold image, master template, or existing virtual machine to get a server up and running within minutes. Remember that the next time you have to fill out purchase orders, wait for shipping and receiving, and then rack, stack, and cable a physical machine only to spend additional hours waiting for the operating system and applications to complete their installations. I’ve almost completely forgotten what it’s like to click Next > Next > Next.

Reduce hardware vendor lock-in
While not always a bad thing, sometimes being tied down to one particular server vendor or even one particular server model can prove quite frustrating. But because server virtualization abstracts away the underlying hardware and replaces it with virtual hardware, data center managers and owners gain a lot more flexibility when it comes to the server equipment they can choose from. This can also be a handy negotiating tool with the hardware vendors when the time comes to renew or purchase more equipment.

Increase uptime
Most server virtualization platforms now offer a number of advanced features that just aren’t found on physical servers, which helps with business continuity and increased uptime. Though the vendor feature names may be different, they usually offer capabilities such as live migration, storage migration, fault tolerance, high availability, and distributed resource scheduling. These technologies keep virtual machines chugging along or give them the ability to quickly recover from unplanned outages. The ability to quickly and easily move a virtual machine from one server to another is perhaps one of the greatest single benefits of virtualization with far-reaching uses. As the technology continues to mature to the point where it can do long-distance migrations, such as being able to move a virtual machine from one data center to another no matter the network latency involved, the virtual world will become that much more in demand.

Improve disaster recovery
Virtualization offers an organization three important components when it comes to building out a disaster recovery solution. The first is its hardware abstraction capability. By removing the dependency on a particular hardware vendor or server model, a disaster recovery site no longer needs to keep identical hardware on hand to match the production environment, and IT can save money by buying cheaper hardware in the DR site since it rarely gets used. Second, by consolidating servers down to fewer physical machines in production, an organization can more easily create an affordable replication site. And third, most enterprise server virtualization platforms have software that can help automate the failover when a disaster does strike. The same software usually provides a way to test a disaster recovery failover as well. Imagine being able to actually test and see your failover plan work in reality, rather than hoping and praying that it will work if and when the time comes.

Isolate applications
In the physical world, data centers typically moved to a “one app/one server” model in order to isolate applications. But this caused physical server sprawl, increased costs, and underutilized servers. Server virtualization provides application isolation and removes application compatibility issues by consolidating many of these virtual machines across far fewer physical servers. This also cuts down on server waste by more fully utilizing the physical server resources and by provisioning virtual machines with the exact amount of CPU, memory, and storage resources that it needs.

Extend the life of older applications
Let’s be honest — you probably have old legacy applications still running in your environment. These applications probably fit into one or more of these categories: It doesn’t run on a modern operating system, it may not run on newer hardware, your IT team is afraid to touch it, and chances are good that the person or company who created it is no longer around to update it. By virtualizing and encapsulating the application and its environment, you can extend its life, maintain uptime, and finally get rid of that old Pentium machine hidden in the corner of the data center. You know the one, it’s all covered in dust with fingerprints from administrators long gone and names forgotten.

How do I pay for all this?

Relax, Its actually easier math than you might think. Today’s processors alone require much less power to run as do storage appliance. In fact by purchasing some of today’s newer servers and hardware you will save hundreds and maybe even thousands in power and cooling alone.  Here is how, older servers which ran xeon processors and older as high as 200+ watts per processor, ran us hundreds of dollars to run per month. In fact the average server that is 3-6 years old is costing you on average between $180-$240 per month in comparison to today’s newer faster servers which use less than 60 to 80 watts per processor or less than half on average. They are so much more efficient, that they can muster most of all your applications at the lower end of their draw cycle. Add a few more servers to that equation and you have real money. For those with more than 2-3 servers tack on similar saving in cooling!

Now lets look at software license models from yesterday. A full license of the OS per chassis to sit idle verses the newer models which require one license for a chassis capable of many server instances for one price. Reduced cost of storage and stability, Reduced cost and time for backups. See the picture? Add all this up with the time saved and the flexibility of your newer infrastructure and your on your way! What are you waiting for? Be part of the do more with less attitude.

IT as a Service

IT as a Service (ITaaS) is a technology-delivery method that treats IT (information technology) as a commodity, providing an enterprise with exactly the amount of hardware, software, and support that it needs for an agreed-on monthly fee. In this context, IT encompasses all of the technologies for creating, storing, exchanging, and using business data.

According to its proponents, ITaaS has numerous and diverse benefits including:

  • Minimal upfront IT investment
  • Regular, predictable expenses
  • Financial transparency
  • Tax advantages
  • Continuous monitoring of services
  • Expert technical support
  • Scalability
  • Regular software upgrades and patches
  • Guarantee of up-to-date hardware

OS 10.9 Tips

Mac OS 10.9 Tips

OS X Mavericks adds hundreds of new features, big and small, for you to tinker with. In fact, so many are there that’s it’s easy to miss the gems hidden in bits you rarely look at. Our guide picks out some of the best.

1. Notification Centre Settings
Another new feature of OS X Mavericks is the option to view notifications on your Lock Screen, similar to the way you can on your iOS 7 device. However, you may not want everyone who’s able to have access to your computer reading said notifications.

2. iCloud Keychain Password Suggestions
Using the new iCloud Keychain you can encrypt and save your website usernames and passwords to use across all your Apple devices. OS X Mavericks pre-fills all theentries for you as well, and it’s particularly useful on the iPhone 5S where inputting passwords is more of a pain because of the small touchscreen keyboard.

3. Do Not Disturb on your Mac

Like with iOS devices you can turn off pesky alerts and notification pop-ups when you want some quiet time on your Mac. If you scroll down, you’ll see a ‘Do Not Disturb’ option that will turn off all alerts until tomorrow.
4. Customise your Time Machine back-ups
Apple has introduced customisation options within your Time Machine back-ups that will allow you to leave out specific content. This is especially useful for temporary content that’s merely having a little holiday in your hard drive rather than setting up a permanent camp.
5. Get Emoji Quickly
If you’re addicted to the wide range of Emoji (or smiley faces) available on your iOS device, you’ll be pleased to hear you can now get Emoji on OS X Mavericks via a quick shortcut. You’ll be able to bombard your contacts with Emoji in your emails, iMessages and other text stuff by hitting the Command + Control + Space buttons at once to bring up the Emoji keyboard.

Green IT

What is Green IT or IT Sustainability

Some people are of the opinion Green IT is a fad…A short lived fancy…Something here today but gone tomorrow….

The reality is Green IT or IT Sustainability refers to the study and practice of using computers and IT resources in a more efficient and environmentally responsible way. Computers and computing eat up a lot of natural resources, from the raw materials needed to manufacture them, the power used to run them, and the problems of disposing them at end of life.

In a nutshell, Green IT or IT Sustainability is composed of two things:

1. Minimising the negative impact of information technology use on the environment

2. Using information technology to help solve environmental issues

As you can see these are almost two areas at opposite poles. In our lives technology helps us to do everything from send a funny joke to our friends, to make sure the trains run on time, to allowing us to warn cities of tsunamis and earthquakes. We need it and it isn’t going away any time soon. On the other hand a typical computer is made up of thousands of chemicals and if we put all the computers in the world together, they use massive amounts of electricity.

How can technology help?

Apart from technology causing some environmental issues, it is also one of the best tools we have available to the human race to help us understand how we can fix environmental issues.

For example, technology can help us achieve things such as climate change modelling. Climate change modelling requires massive computer processing capability. Super-fast computers are sitting in labs across the world calculating scenarios for our future – how much will the sea rise? Which countries would be wiped out? How long will it take?

Another example of technology helping to solve environmental issues is carbon sequestration. But what is carbon sequestration? Well without getting into a science class discussion, it’s really about storing excess carbon. At the moment you probably know that trees store carbon but we simply don’t have enough trees to store all the carbon we produce. So we need to look for other places to store carbon. There are numerous proposals from scientists on how we do this, including storing it underground or in the sea. However before we go drilling places around the world and disturbing the flora and fauna, computers can help identify suitable storage areas – without the unnecessary drilling.