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Virtualized IT environments — and the tools used to manage them — can provide unmatched flexibility and scalability, but they can also require skills that SMB IT staffs sometimes lack, says Cliff Grossner of IHS Markit.

To help smooth the learning curve, companies should ask these questions:

  • How much automation is built into the platform; that is, how much can the user do by simply dragging and dropping on a user-friendly interface?
  • How much of our work can the user do by setting up simple policies?
  • What capabilities does the tool or platform have without requiring new code or scripts?

Finally, organizations need to devote the time and resources necessary to train their IT staffs for this new environment, Grossner advises. “Building the skill set in the team is critical to managing virtualized resources,” he says. “Humans need to modify their processes and skills to use technology well.”

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Until recently, Trimont Real Estate Advisors operated its own data center onsite. With a new headquarters in the company’s future, Raquel Brown, managing director of IT and security, was on the hunt to find a new infrastructure solution. At the same time, she had to increase redundancy and ensure performance wouldn’t suffer. Ultimately, she decided to work with a colocation provider.

“Trimont is an international company, so the ability to easily expand our data center footprint internationally as needed was important,” Brown explains. “Moving our data center had various benefits, but redundancy, in all aspects — connectivity, power, as well as physical ­security — was at the top of our list.”

The company’s disaster recovery plan evolved at the same time, and the cloud played a big part of it, she says.

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Google says that a recently disclosed vulnerability to Android devices, known as QuadRooter, is not as dangerous as first thought. According to Google, a feature built into the Android operating itself blocks 90 percent of the potentially exposed devices from the vulnerability. 

According to ZDNet, researchers at security firm Check Point disclosed "four previously undisclosed security vulnerabilities found in Android phones and tablets that ship with Qualcomm chips could let a hacker take full control of an affected device." The vulnerability was said to affect more than 900 million devices. 

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Form factor: Enterprises can choose from several types of cellular routers, including an embedded interface that's located inside an enterprise-grade router, an external add-on to an existing router and various types of stand-alone USB routers. Deciding which type to use depends on the application.

Speed: Buying a 4G LTE-compatible cellular router doesn't guarantee high-speed data rates. In many rural areas, users must settle for 3G or even slower service. In many remote locations, such as across vast areas of Southwestern deserts and Northern forests, cellular data service is simply unavailable.

Wi-Fi compatibility: Router models are often designed to work with both cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Besides saving space and reducing network complexity, many of these devices provide automatic failover/failback capabilities to support business continuity in the event of a wired service failure.

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  1. Pinpoint pressing business problems: Retailers must identify specific pain points that can benefit from a predictive analysis, such as sagging sales or soaring shipping costs. Next, they should determine the exact questions that need to be answered, such as, “How will lowering the price of a widget by $5 affect sales in regions A, B and C?” or “How will adding $1 to a widget's shipping price affect sales during the next holiday season?”

  2. Manage the data: As the number of data sources multiplies, so does the challenge of effective data management. Retailers can gain control over data resources by understanding the types of data being acquired, as well as its format, ownership, location, accessibility and value in achieving complete predictive insights.

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Microsoft is planning to buy professional social networking firm LinkedIn in a deal valued at $26.2 billion.

The transaction, which the companies expect to close in 2016, will give Microsoft access to a trove of professional information, and could help it develop more services for enterprises and small businesses, as TechCrunch notes.

Additionally, the deal will greatly enhance Microsoft’s presence in social media. LinkedIn has 433 million members worldwide, and 105 million unique members visit the site on a monthly basis.

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When a business converges its infrastructure, the power and cooling needs typically change dramatically. With a dense, highly utilized environment, an organization will experience a larger power draw and increased heat output.

To minimize the risk of downtime and protect your systems in the event of a disruption, you need to:

1. Keep Power Stable

Power being drawn by equipment needs to be stable and free from surges. Plus, it must be distributed efficiently so no equipment becomes strained. Unstable and unprotected power distribution can create slowed server response and, worse, irreversible damage.

2. Maintain Proper Cooling

You need to provide enough cooling to your servers to maintain performance levels while trying to keep cooling costs low. Failure to properly cool your servers can cause them to overheat and crash, resulting in devastating downtime.

3. Maximize Visibility

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“What’s that echo?” “Can you hear me over that buzz?” “What’s that humming?”

Who hasn’t been part of one of those scenarios during a video conference. The right technology is critical, and so is the room, says Jeff Loether, president of Electro-Media Design.

To ensure a great experience for meeting participants, focus on perfecting the audio first, says Loether, whose company consults with architects and businesses on rooms for meetings and events.

The reason has a lot to do with human evolution.

“When we were living in caves, our survival was far more dependent on our hearing, on our listening and on our aural sense than our visual sense. Why? Because if a saber-toothed tiger stepped on a twig and broke it, we needed to hear that even if we were sleeping,” Loether explains. “So, our ears never sleep, and we don’t have ear lids. Our ears are always listening.”

Snap, Crackle, Pop

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Kaizen, a Japanese term that refers to the practice of continuous improvement, is a core DevOps principle. Often people think continuous improvement simply means to improve at something over time. At its most basic, this might be true, but real DevOps masters know there’s much more to kaizen than simply “getting better.”

Made popular by Toyota, kaizen adheres to a few different philosophies about work and producing high-quality products.

According to the Kaizen Institute, kaizen is composed of seven core principles:

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