Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


university

NY colleges to share video resources via the cloud

A consortium of six colleges plans to build a cloud-based streaming video infrastructure that it will share across its campuses.

Through the New York Six MediaShare Project, consortium members will share media collections and technologies, allowing them to tap common resources and enhance services. The New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium is a cooperative venture of six upstate New York liberal arts institutions: Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, St. Lawrence University, Skidmore College and Union College.

The consortium has chosen the Ensemble Video platform to provide the core video streaming technology for its six member campuses and for the MediaShare Project. The content will be housed in a private cloud, and Wowza Media Cache servers will be deployed to the campuses, maximizing streaming efficiency.

Ensemble Video will give the schools secure access to content; rich publishing options for course lectures, campus events and guest speakers; and sharing of media collections and technologies, the company said in a release. Users will be able to embed single videos and video playlists in a variety of learning management systems, HTML pages, blogs, portals, and other content management systems.

“The Ensemble Video infrastructure is an important step for the consortium in advancing our library and IT collaborations,” said Amy Doonan Cronin, executive director of the New York Six. “Not only will it enhance our MediaShare project, it will provide a framework for a wide range of multi-campus activities in the coming years.”

“This is a growing trend we’re seeing in higher ed,” said Ensemble Video founder and CEO Andy Covell. “Institutions are coming together to share media resources and technology infrastructure. Ensemble Video’s powerful sharing features allow content to flow freely between campuses, while our flexible, decentralized administration structure lets each school or department remain autonomous.”

In July, Ensemble Video announced an agreement with the State University of New York and its 64 member campuses. The SUNY Information Technology Exchange Center (ITEC) will host and support Ensemble Video, the company said, and individual institutions will have the option of hosting their own local media cache, to further increase efficiency.

Posted on Sep 04, 2013 at 11:44 AM0 comments


XP support available with custom support

Support for XP will extend past April 2014 -- for a price

It’s no secret that Windows XP’s days are numbered, but agencies that cannot or will not upgrade by Microsoft’s April 8, 2014 end-of-support deadline won’t have to work entirely without a net, though it will cost them.

Microsoft will continue to issue patches for high-level vulnerabilities through “Custom Support,” a program designed for large organizations. The service will issue patches for critical vulnerabilities and some rated as important, but not for vulnerabilities rated moderate or low, Computerworld reported.  It will cost about $200 per device per year, plus extra charges for some of the important patches.

Organizations looking to continue with XP beyond the deadline can sign up for Custom Support through Microsoft’s Premier Support Services program. Alternatively, IT managers can use migration tools like Zinstall to help move their users’ programs and files off XP. 

For some time Microsoft has been banging the drum about support ending  for the 12-year-old XP and for Office 2003. And while many agencies, organizations and individuals have moved on to Windows 7, or even Windows 8, there are still plenty of XP users worldwide. According to data from Net Applications, as of July, XP still held 37.19 percent of the operating system market, second only to Windows 7’s 44.49. (Windows 8 was third, at 5.4 percent.) In fact, as the deadline gets closer, the rate of people giving up XP has slowed.

Some analysts have speculated that organizations may be trying to stare down Microsoft, hoping that the sheer number of XP users will force the company to extend regular support past the deadline. Gary Schare, president and CEO of Browsium, told Redmond Magazine in April that, "Right now this group has the numbers to back their position, with 600 million Windows XP systems still in use and only a 1 percent drop in the last six months after 5 percent in the prior six months."

Microsoft’s preference, of course, is that users upgrade. The company makes its case for agencies making the move on its Microsoft in Government blog, arguing that agencies will save money in the long run, increase efficiencies and improve security.

Custom Support may extend life for organizations that still have some or all of their systems running XP next April, but it doesn’t seem like a bargain. Depending on the size of an organization, $200 per device could add up to millions, and that’s only for partial support.

Agencies that haven’t completed a transition to Windows 7 or 8 — or, like a growing list of agencies, to the cloud with Office 365 or Google Apps for Government — may have to consider Custom Support as a temporary, if potentially expensive, contingency. The only other option would be to join the ranks of the stubborn 37.19 percent and do nothing and hope it works out.

Posted on Sep 03, 2013 at 12:42 PM9 comments


data center robot

Next role for robots: data center diagnosticians

The U.S. Department of Energy last month opened the Energy Systems Integration Facility, a $135 million research center designed to test how power grids, data centers and other IT systems can be made more energy-efficient. In fact, the center itself, located in Golden, Colo., might be the most energy-efficient data center in the world.

One of the systems on its research plan might include the use of robots for energy management and conservation. Recently IBM and EMC developed robots designed to rove data centers and collect temperature, power usage and other data that could affect the performance of data center IT systems.

Cooling alone can account for more than 60 to 70 percent of data center power costs, according to EMC officials, liabilities that can mount up as organizations buy more capacity than needed and overcool their systems. Around 85 percent of data centers also mismanage the provisioning of infrastructure, which increases energy consumption, according to EMC officials

The EMC Data Center Robot helps combat these problems by patrolling for temperature fluctuations, humidity and system vibrations and locating sources of cooling leaks and other vulnerabilities.

EMC’s DC Robot collects data via digital sensors and sends it through a Wi-Fi connection for processing. An algorithm converts the temperature data into a thermal map, which can be used to identify anomalous hot and cold spots in data center aisles.

Most data centers use a set of fixed sensors to manage temperatures and other energy consumption indicators, an expense that can run into the millions of dollars – “low hanging fruit” that helped justify their investment in the DC Robot, say EMC officials.

While the DC Robot was one of the first data center energy-focused robots, IBM has developed a similar model, which it offers as part of an energy management troubleshooting service.

The firm's Measurement and Management Technologies unit will use the robo-tool to create a "robotic cooling assessment," a three-dimensional temperature and humidity maps to help organizations identify energy sinks and other problem spots in their data centers. The assessment determines a data center’s baseline and high-level cooling capacity.

A third energy diagnostics tool, from Purkay Labs, is a simple portable unit that checks energy-environment data for short or long term intervals. The unit consists of an adjustable carbon fiber rod that measures the air quality at three different heights.

While not mobile and so technically not a robot, “It’s a product that we’ve developed so you can get the temp across the entire aisle,” said CEO Indra Purkayastha.


Posted on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:31 AM0 comments


transport

Navy's Expedia-style software 'revolutionary' for logistics

The U.S. Navy operates one of the world’s largest business enterprises, a floating office park whose equipment and personnel must be available to be shipped anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice. Recently it developed a Web-based tool that helps logistics planners tighten Navy supply lines by identifying unused space on the thousands of military and commercial flights, and ships travelling the globe any given day.

The Transportation Exploitation Tool (TET), whose development was sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, is a cloud-based software tool that helps speed the delivery of spare parts, personnel and other supplies via the quickest available route. ONR provides science and technology support to the Navy and Marine Corps.

“This system is truly revolutionary,” ONR program manager Bob Smith told Armed with Science, a Defense Department blog. “TET uses advances in technology to provide outstanding optimization of available flights and ship routes, saving our logisticians enormous amounts of time — and that can literally mean saving lives.”

The tool, developed at the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP), has saved the Navy more than $30 million in transportation costs to date, an amount the service estimates will grow to $200 million over 10 years, the blog reported.

The search software enables a planner to enter a description of the cargo that needs to be shipped and where it’s going. Then, “Expedia-like,” it shows all the potential routes where space is available and offers recommendations on the most efficient options. 

Without the tool, managers had to search multiple databases via multiple interfaces. This often resulted in the need for additional flights to be booked and long delays, according to the blog post.

The TET tool was developed by several ONR teams, led by NAVSUP and including the Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department, SwampWorks and Technology Insertion Program for Savings.

Vice Adm. Philip Cullom, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, said the tool addresses a critical need for the Navy. Last month, Cullom presented Greg Butler, who led the development of the tool at NAVSUP, with the 2012 Adm. Stan Arthur Award, which recognizes excellence in logistics planning.

“There has been a real need to get things to the fleet faster and more efficiently,” Butler said, “and without breaking the bank in this austere fiscal environment. The naval services continue to work on ways to save money and give our sailors and Marines every advantage we can.” 

Posted on Aug 23, 2013 at 1:39 PM0 comments


Buffalo out west with clouds in background

Interior accelerates its drive to the cloud

The Interior Department has awarded a set of 10 individual indefinite delivery indefinite quantity contracts to accelerate its move to the cloud.

The first project is for SAP application hosting, according to the agency.  Additional services will include virtual machines, storage, database hosting, secure file transfers and Web hosting, as well as development and test environments. These contracts will not only move these apps to the cloud but move them in a well-planned, methodical way, said Andrew Jackson, deputy assistant secretary for technology, information and business services at Interior.

The individual projects will be awarded via task orders, one for each project, following a one-off competition for the project between the 10 selected vendors:  Aquilent, AT&T, Autonomic Resources, CGI, GTRI, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Smartronix, Unisys and Verizon.

An early cloud adopter, Interior experimented with adopting the application service provider model for managing its Freedom of Information Act requests in 2001 and in May 2012 the agency consolidated all its email services into a single cloud-based system using Google Apps for Government.

The new cloud hosting services will allow the agency to begin closing or consolidating hundreds of DOI data centers, Jackson said. The current hosting environment, which focuses on managing servers in-house, will be able to "transition to a modern cloud-based environment, supporting the 25-point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative and the Cloud-First Policy outlined by the federal chief information officer," he added.

Posted on Aug 19, 2013 at 1:06 PM0 comments