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In the Zone

Research roundup: cloud infrastructure, contactless payments, publishing tech

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by Peter Krass on 01/21/2021
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IT infrastructure is moving to the cloud. Contactless payments are here to stay. And publishing technology will never be the same.

That’s some of the latest from leading researchers and IT market watchers. And here’s your tech provider’s research roundup.

Cloud infrastructure spending: growing strong

Providers of IT infrastructure gear for the cloud are sitting pretty. Worldwide sales of servers, storage devices and Ethernet switches used for public and private clouds rose more than 9% year-on-year in this year’s third quarter, according to market watcher IDC.

Those total worldwide sales came to $18.36 billion, up from $16.75 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Looking just at infrastructure gear for the public cloud, those sales rose in Q3 by an even higher 13%, IDC says.

By contrast, worldwide sales in the same quarter for infrastructure gear not used for the cloud dropped, and by more than 8%.

Looking ahead, IDC believes the hardware infrastructure market has reached a tipping point. As shown by the chart below (courtesy of IDC), cloud environments will continue to account for the majority of IT infrastructure spending.

IDC cloud infrastructure chart

While Q4:20 sales numbers are not yet available, IDC predicts that cloud IT infrastructure spending for the full year will hit $74.1 billion, a rise of 11%. Non-cloud infrastructure spending for the full year will decline by 11.4%, IDC predicts, dropping to $60.2 billion.

Among the beneficiaries of the rise in cloud IT infrastructure spending are Dell with a Q3 market share of 15%, HPE with an 11% share, and Inspur with a nearly 9% share, IDC says.

Contactless payments: here to stay

One of the many technologies that have gotten a boost from the pandemic is contactless payments. Mainly because, in a retail store setting, the technology lets customers keep a safe, social distance from sales clerks.

To find out how pervasive the technology’s adoption truly is, credit-card provider Visa recently surveyed 250 owners of small and midsize businesses, all with no more than 100 employees, in 9 countries. Visa also surveyed 1,000 adult consumers in 8 countries.

Here are some of the survey’s recently released findings on contactless payments:

> 8 in 10 (82%) SMBs have embraced new forms of technology to meet changing consumer demand. That’s up from 67% as recently as last summer.

> About 4 in 10 SMBs now accept new digital forms of payment. Looking ahead, nearly three-quarters (74%) of SMBs expect consumers will continue to prefer contactless payments, even after a vaccine is widely available.

> Nearly two-thirds (65%) of consumers want to use contactless payments as much, or even more, as they do now. Only 16% expect they will revert to older methods of payment once the pandemic ends. And nearly half (47%) of consumers say they will not shop at a store that doesn’t offer a contactless payment option.

Publishing tech: no return to normal

The pandemic has affected some industries more than others, and among those really feeling the effects is publishing.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism recently conducted a survey to learn more. It questioned more than 50 editors-in-chief, 45 CEOs or managing directors, and nearly 30 heads of digital, all of whom work for either traditional media companies or “born digital” organizations worldwide.

Here’s some of what they uncovered:

> Three-quarters (76%) of the publishing execs say Covid-19 has accelerated their plans for digital transition. These plans include remote working and new, reader-focused business models.

> Three-quarters (76%) of the execs also described driving digital subscriptions as either important or very important to their revenue focus.

> More than two-thirds (69%) of the publishing execs say their companies are investing in artificial intelligence. They expect AI will help them to deliver more personal experiences and improve production efficiency.


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In the Zone

Video: Get ‘In the Zone’ with the latest Intel news

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by Peter Krass on 01/20/2021
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January has been one busy month for Intel. Get in the zone with my latest video discussion with Ed Hannan, senior digital content manager at The Channel Co.

In our latest “In the Zone” video, Ed and I discuss several recent big moves at Intel: the company’s announcement that it has a new CEO, its introduction of the 11th gen Core vPro processors, the debut of the NUC 11 Mini PCs and Compute Element, and the launch of the Intel Partner Alliance.

Get in the zone. Watch our new video now:


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In the Zone

StorONE combines SSD performance, QLC affordability

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by Peter Krass on 01/14/2021
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Imagine storage software that can extract the full performance of Intel Optane SSDs, yet also tier data to lower-cost Intel QLC 3D NAND SSDs, and without a read-performance penalty.

That’s the sweet spot for a startup called StorONE Inc.

Intel itself says the combo of Intel Optane SSDs + QLC (short for Quad-Level Cell) is one of its key differentiators. Yet many data centers lack the software needed to handle multiple SSD types in a single box.

That’s where StorONE comes in. The company’s S1 Enterprise Platform Storage is software that extracts the full performance of Intel Optane SSDs, using them as a storage (rather than cache) layer, while also moving older, less active data to lower-cost QLC drives.

StorONE says this approach makes sense because about 80% of enterprise data hasn’t changed in years, and probably never will. What’s more, the average shop actively access only about 5% of its data.

What this means is that an Intel Optane SSD tier sized at just 5% of an organization’s data can handle most of the write I/O. The other 95% can be handled by a cheaper storage alternative, which in StorONE’s case is QLC SSD.

QLC is a solid-state disk technology that delivers high-density storage at a lower cost/GB than its predecessors. As the name implies, QLC stores 4 bits of data on a single cell.

However, frequent writing to QLC drives can affect their durability. For this reason, QLC drives are especially valued for use with “warm” data — information that gets analyzed frequently, but changed only rarely.

So when StoONE’s S1:Tier technology demotes older data from the Intel Optane SSD tier, it writes that data to QLC in large sequential blocks. Fortunately, the Intel QLC 3D NAND SSD tier can provide read performance at performance levels that approach those of Intel Optane SSD tech. There’s no need to promote data unless it’s modified by an application.

Stack in a box

Taking the concept one step further, StorONE in June introduced the All-Flash (AFAn). It’s a box that combines StorONE’s S1 software with an Intel server using both Optane and QLC storage media.

The AFAn can deliver more than 1 million read IOPS (input/output operations per second) and more than 300,000 sustained write IOPS, according to StoreONE.

StorONE AFAn: an innovative hardware-software combo

All that may sound exotic, yet this storage system is designed for traditional data centers, especially those at midsize companies and divisions of larger enterprises. To that end, the AFAn supports such mainstream workloads as VMware, Hyper-V, Oracle and MS-SQL. StorONE says it also can provide the extreme performance required by applications such as analytics and AI.

StorONE’s setup is also capable of handling data bursts. In most data centers, the intensity and type data traffic can vary moment by moment. A period of substantial write I/O may be followed by a period of heavy read I/O, which may be followed in turn by a period of no I/O. StorOne says its AFAn can take advantage of these moments to move data and prepare itself for the next IO burst.

Get the (TRU) price

How much does StorONE’s storage system cost? That depends, of course. But the company has innovated in this area, too.

It offers a price estimator called TRUprice. You start by selecting a server, the level of capacity, use case, and capacity requirements. Then StorONE will show you how much a turnkey, enterprise storage system will cost you over 3 years.

For example, I tested the TRUprice engine by selecting an Intel-based server … high-availability … a storage capacity of 33TB (3TB Optane, 30TB QLC) … and got a 3-year total cost of ownership (TCO) of just over $78K. It was quick and easy.

If your customers are looking for an innovative storage solution, tell them about StorONE. StorONE is 100% channel driven, so contact the company for your exact price.

Check out StorONE.


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In the Zone

Meet the new Intel NUC 11 products

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by Peter Krass on 01/13/2021
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Intel has just introduced 4 NUC products — 3 Mini PCs and 1 Compute Element — based on the company’s 11th gen Intel Core processors.

If you’re not yet familiar with Intel NUC Mini PCs, they are line of small form factor desktop systems Intel offers in three formats: board, kit, and complete PC. Several Intel NUC models measure less than 4 x 4 inches, making them attractive options wherever physical space is at a premium.

Yet the Intel NUC line of products are also full-powered PCs designed for use by both consumers and businesses. And they’re all protected by Intel’s 3-year warranty.

As for the 11th gen Intel Core processors, they were introduced this past September, and they’re designed to push the limits of thin and small PCs. Codenamed Tiger Lake, the processors are built on Intel’s 10nm SuperFin technology.

The 11th gen Intel Core processors cleverly combine 3 compute engines on a single system-on-chip (SoC): the CPU, Intel Iris Xe graphics processor with 4 display pipes, and Intel Gaussian & Neural Accelerator for AI-based low power noise reduction. For connectivity, the processors feature integrated PCIe Gen 4, Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6.

Meet the new NUCs

Without further ado, here are the 4 new members of the Intel NUC 11 family:

> Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast: Codenamed Phantom Canyon, this mini PC is designed for gaming and content creation. It’s available in both kit and full-system version.

Intel NUC 11 Enthusiast

Either way, under Phantom Canyon’s hood you’ll find an 11th gen Intel Core i7 processor and additional graphics support from the NVIDIA RTX 2060 Max-P laptop GPU. System memory tops out at 64GB, and there are Thunderbolt ports on both front and back.

A quad-mic array includes support for Amazon’s Alexa virtual agent. And knowing the preferences of gamers, Intel has included an RGB top panel can be customized.

> Intel NUC 11 Performance: This Mini PC, codenamed Panther Canyon, is designed for consumers to use at home. They can use this Mini PC to learn, work and play. And the box is small enough to make it easy to move around.

Intel NUC 11 family

Available in both kit and Mini PC formats, this NUC offers a choice of 3 processors: 11th gen Intel Core i3, i5 or i7. The i5 and i7 both include Intel Iris Xe graphics, while the i3 gets you Intel UHD graphics. The system can take up to 64GB of memory, and it offers Thunderbolt ports on both the front and rear.

One cool option is a wireless charging lid. Place a Qi-compatible device on or near the lid, and its battery will be recharged wirelessly. (To learn how, see our recent Tech Explainer blog post, How wireless induction charging works.)

> Intel NUC 11 Pro: This Mini PC is designed for business. It’s meant for edge computing, office use and collaboration. Codenamed Tiger Canyon, the device also supports hi-def displays: either one 8K monitor or up to four 4K units. The Mini PC is available as a kit, board or full system.

Buyers have their choice of processor, whether that’s the 11th gen Intel Core i3, i5 or i7. Select models also support Intel vPro technology for remote management, hardware-based security and platform stability.

One special feature for business users is the system’s optional Dual LAN. As the photo below shows, this gives you 2 ports of Intel i255-LM 2.5 Gbps Ethernet.

Intel NUC 11 Pro - rear view

The Tiger Canyon device supports up to 64GB of memory, and it provides graphics processing via Intel Iris Xe graphics with the i5 and i7 processors, and Intel UHD graphics on the i3.

> Intel NUC 11 Compute Element: Codenamed Elk Bay, this component is designed for sale to system builders. It’s essentially a modular building block that helps you create custom solutions quickly.

It’s tiny, measuring just 65 x 95 mm (approx. 2.6 x 3.7 in.), yet it offers the power of a PC with built-in and accessible I/O for easy customization and integration. This compute element is compatible with the Intel NUC Board Element and Chassis Elements, too.

Intel NUC 11 Compute Element

Processor options for Elk Bay include the 11th gen Intel Core i3, i5, and i7; Celeron models; and vPro i5 and i7. You also get up to 16GB of memory, support for Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, and Intel graphics — Intel Iris Xe for i5 and i7, and Intel UHD for the i3 and Celeron.

> Learn more about the new Intel NUC 11 devices

> And watch this NUC 11 video:



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In the Zone

Meet the new 11th Gen Intel Core Mobile vPro processors

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by Peter Krass on 01/11/2021
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Intel today introduced the 11th Gen Intel Core vPro processors for mobile PCs used by businesses.

Codenamed “Tiger Lake,” these new SKUs use the same processor that Intel introduced this past September for consumer mobile devices. That includes Intel’s 10nm SuperFin technology. But the new parts feature a different chipset that includes Intel vPro technology.

11th Gen Intel vPro Platform

Intel says the new processors offer business users of mobile PCs improvements in 4 key areas:

> Performance: via the Tiger Lake processor, Wi-Fi 6, and Thunderbolt 4. Intel says the new processors offer up to 8x better AI performance and up to 2.3x faster for video editing, compared with the previous generation.

> Security: via Hardware Shield with new TDT and CET (more on this below)

> Manageability: via Intel Endpoint Management Assistant (EMA) and Active Management Technology (AMT).

> Stability: via Intel vPro technology, which is validated across not just PCs, but also multiple devices including digital signage

New security features

With so many people now working from home, security is a growing concern. Intel has addressed this need by adding 2 features to Intel Hardware Shield:

> Threat Detection Technology (TDT): This helps software-based threat-detection agents take full advantage of the advanced telemetry capabilities rooted in Intel hardware. It also augments ISV solutions to improve detection of ransomware & cryptomining, and protects from memory-dump attacks. TDT also reduces the performance impact of security workloads by offloading memory scans to the graphics engine. All that also increases PC battery life.

> Control-flow Enforcement Technology (CET): This feature prevents return-oriented programming (ROP) malware attacks, in which hackers reuse existing code to implement malware algorithms.

Also, an older feature, Remote Secure Erase, has been enhanced to let managers remotely erase not just SSDs, but all drives that support the secure erase standard. It’s designed to be used when an older PC is either re-issued to a new user or retired and disposed.

Carry on

Otherwise, the new Tiger Lake processors include many of the same features introduced with the consumer mobile versions. These include:

> Iris Xe graphics optimized for collaboration, creativity and productivity.

> Wi-Fi 6: The new, wireless way to faster downloads, and more reliable and seamless collaboration.

> Thunderbolt 4 support: Connect everything, dock, and simultaneously support two 4K displays.

> Intel Optane Memory H20 with SSD: This high-capacity storage option provides superior responsiveness.

> Thunderbolt 4 support: Connect everything, dock, and simultaneously support two 4K displays.

> Intel Active Memory Technology (AMT): Included as part of the Intel vPro platform, it offer features to    remotely discover, repair and protect networked devices. This, in turn, helps to reduce maintenance and administrative costs.

> Intel Endpoint Management Assistant (EMA): Provides over-the-cloud endpoint management, remote power control, hardware KVM (keyboard, video, mouse), and support beyond the firewall.

Mobile PCs for business users featuring the new Intel processor are forthcoming from OEM partners including Dell, HP and Lenovo.

Learn more:

> Meet the 11th Gen Intel Core vPro processors

> Explore the 11th Gen Intel vPro platform (product brief PDF)

> Introducing the 11th Gen Intel vPro platform: built for modern business (blog post)

> Intel vPro Platform: How IT heroes get it done (video)

IT security from the ground up with Intel Hardware Shield (video)


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In the Zone

Connect, innovate and grow your business with the new Intel Partner Alliance

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by Peter Krass on 01/11/2021
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Intel has launched the Intel Partner Alliance (IPA), a new program that aims to unify all Intel partners on a single platform to enable both collaboration and innovation.

Intel Partner Alliance’s AI-based website connects partners with new technology, a network of other partners, and a marketplace for collaboration.

As an IPA member, you can gain access to Intel technology and solutions guides; insights and best practices from Intel’s cloud, FPGA and Internet of Things (IoT) communities; marketing and sales tools; and deep training curriculums with specialized paths.

IPA’s new personalization features will deliver pages and content based on factors including your role, tier and job duties.

New program features

Roles: All IPA members will be assigned to 1 of 9 roles: distributor, cloud & communications service provider, OEM, solution provider, manufacturer, service integrator, FPGA design services, independent software vendor (ISV), or guest.

Tiers: Members will also be assigned to 1 of 3 tiers: Titanium, Gold and Member. Tiers will be assigned for a calendar year. You can upgrade through the year if you achieve the next tier’s criteria.

Points: IPA members in any of 5 roles — OEM, solution provider, service integrator, ISV or cloud — will also be automatically opted into a points program. Members can exchange these points for benefits that include vouchers, coupons, boxed components, sample products, travel discounts and gift cards. Points will be awarded on the basis of not only on purchases, but also bundles, training and other activities.

Specialties: Select partners with deep experience in strategic segments will have access to specialized content. These segments are AI, cloud data center, Intel Optane memory and storage technology, HPC data center, and enthusiast PC.

Support smartphone app: It will let customers submit Intel support requests and get access to Intel product specs via their phones. The app uses bar-code scanning to identify a product and confirm whether it’s eligible for warranty protection.

More control: Each member company’s admin will be able to invite others to join the program, update selected company info, assign access to certain benefits to specific users, assign additional partner admins, and edit contacts on their account.

If you’re currently a member of the Intel Technology Provider program, Intel will maintain your current account information and migrate it to the new Partner Alliance. You’ll still need to activate your new account, and create your role, to begin taking advantage of the benefits.

Buy and learn

IPA is also the new umbrella for 2 Intel programs already in operation:

> Intel Partner University: Industry-leading technology training, complete with the ability to earn competency badges.

> Intel Solutions Marketplace: An advanced, digital B2B online platform for partner collaboration and co-creation. Eligible partners can create storefronts, network with industry providers, and discover offerings to meet their business needs.

Are you ready to connect, innovate and grow your business? Check out these IPA resources:

> Explore the Intel Partner Alliance

> Register to join an Intel Partner Alliance webcast on Jan. 12

> Discovever the IPA membership levels and benefits

And watch this short video:


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In the Zone

Check out our top 5 blog posts of 2020

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by Peter Krass on 12/29/2020
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It’s been a challenging year, and we have the blog posts to prove it.

Here are the 5 blog posts on Tech Provider Zone that attracted more readers during 2020 than any others.

1. With back-to-school unclear, tech outlooks is unclear, too

When are kids returning to classrooms? Are they returning, or will they continue learning from home? Either way, what technology will they need?

School kids

The short answer: Nobody knows for sure right now. That’s a big issue for tech providers. How are they supposed to serve a market when nobody knows what tech is needed?

2. Your best choice for hybrid-location working: Intel NUC + Intel Unite

The Intel NUC Mini PC is not only a cool, small-form-factor computing device that’s powered by an Intel Core CPUs and able to handle multiple 4K displays. It can also act as the conference-room hub for popular collaboration systems including Intel Unite.

Intel NUC 8 Pro

3. The 5 hottest tech trends of 2020 (so far)

In a year unlike any other, we pick our short list of the top tech trends. Our list: the novel coronavirus, working from home, insider cybersecurity threats, smart speakers, and digital transformation.

Working from home

4. Develop computer vision & AI prototypes with Intel Neural Compute Stick 2

What’s under 3 inches long … plugs like a thumb drive into the USB port of a Windows 10, Ubuntu/CentOS Linux or MacOS computer … includes the OpenVINO toolkit … makes it easy to develop computer-vision and AI prototypes for IoT and edge devices … and retails for only $70?

Intel Neural Compute Stick 2

5. Dell EMC VxRail: A high-performance system that performs even better with Intel Optane SSD

If your customers are looking to extend a VMware environment, tell them about Dell EMC VxRail, a fully integrated, preconfigured and tested HCI appliance optimized for VMware SAN. To make this great package even better, Dell has added a fast cache layer of Intel Optane SSDs with NVMe.

Dell EMC VxRail

The performance gains are serious. With Intel Optane SSDs, VxRail shows a 60% increase in transactions/minute, over 20% more input-output operations per second (IOPs), and nearly 60% lower latency.

See also:

> Tech Provider Zone’s top 6 blog posts of 2019


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In the Zone

It’s not too late to read these 7 cool tech books of 2020

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by Peter Krass on 12/28/2020
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Goodbye, 2020. Hello, holiday reading.

Spending this week on staycation? Fill out the time with any or all of these 7 technology books, all published during the last 12 months.

Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal and Redemption, by Ben Mezrich (Flatiron Books; Aug. 2020)

Bitcoin Billionaires book cover

Author Mezrich likes billionaires. After all, he wrote a bestselling account of Facebook’s founding, “The Accidental Billionaires,” and it was the basis for Hollywood’s “The Social Network” movie.

In his new book, Mezrich takes us into what he calls the “tiger’s cage,” the offices of the brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, and headquarters for their big bet on crypto-currency. If the names of those brothers sound familiar, you’re right. You could say they were to Facebook what Pete Best was to the Beatles. But unlike that unlucky drummer, the Winklevoss brothers were out for redemption and revenge.

Sample excerpt: “It was a little past three on a Friday afternoon, and Tyler Winklevoss stood by a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking a pincushion of similar office buildings piercing the midday fog. He was trying his best to sip filtered water from a tissue-thin disposable cup without spilling too much onto his tie.”

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir, by Anna Wiener (MCD Books; Jan. 2020)

Uncanny Valley book cover

What’s it really like to work in Silicon Valley? Author Wiener found out. In 2013 she left a low-paying but prestigious job with a New York literary agency and went west, eventually becoming employed by a California startup specializing in data analytics. In this book-length memoir, Wiener tells nearly all.

Sample excerpt: “Because the role had been created specifically for me, the job was a three-month trial run. The scope and responsibilities were nebulous to us all: some curating of in-app titles, some copywriting, various secretarial skills. As a full-time contractor, I would be paid twenty dollars an hour, again with no benefits.”

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, by Sarah Frier (Simon & Schuster; April 2020)

No Filter book cover

If any book is Instagram-worthy, this is it. “No Filter” won the 2020 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, and it was named a Best Book of the Year by no less than Fortune, The Financial Times, The Economist, Inc. magazine and NPR.

Author and Bloomberg News reporter Frier shows how Instagram is a business success — when it still had only 13 employees, Instagram was acquired by Facebook for an amazing $1 billion. But she also shows how Instagram has fundamentally changed the way we show, eat, travel and communicate.

Sample excerpt: “The app has become a celebrity-making machine the likes of which the world has never seen. More than 200 million of Instagram’s users have more than 500,000 followers, the level at which they can make a living wage by posting on behalf of brands.”

If Then: How Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future, by Jill Lepore (Liveright; Sept. 2020)

If Then book cover

Simu-who? Turns out that Simulmatics was a company, launched during the Cold War, that mined data, targeted voters, manipulated consumers, destabilized politics and disordered knowledge. Sound familiar?

Lepore, author of an earlier bestseller, “These Truths,” a history of the United States, hadn’t heard of Simulmatics, either. Then she stumbled across the company’s papers while working in MIT’s archives. What she found was nothing less than a forgotten history, one that she believes explains both the brilliance and arrogance of Silicon Valley.

Sample excerpt: “The future president of Simulmatics Corporation was a Madison Avenue ad man — a ‘mad man’ — and like all ad men, he sold nothing so well as himself.”

No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer (Penguin Press; Sept. 2020)

No Rules Rules book cover

Netflix founder Hastings provides behind-the-scenes details of the company’s culture. Some of the elements include transparency, a focus on high-performing employees and, surprisingly, humility. Busy Hastings gets able writing help from Meyer, a professor at INSEAD and author of “The Culture Map,” a book about global business.

Sample excerpt: “It was not obvious at the time, even to me, but we had one thing that Blockbuster did not: a culture that valued people over process, emphasized innovation over efficiency, and had very few controls….Netflix is different. We have a culture where No Rules Rules.”

Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership when Algorithms and Networks Run the World, by Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani (Harvard Business Review Press; Jan. 2020)

Competing in the Age of AI book cover

The authors argue that the rules by which organizations based around artificial intelligence are run are different from those of regular companies. AI-centric organizations have a new operating architecture, they say, one that redefines how value gets created and captured. The authors further believe AI can remove traditional constraints on scale, scope and learning.

As you might expect from HBR Press, the book’s authors have the academic credentials to back up their argument. Both Iansiti and Lakhani are professors at Harvard Business School.

Sample excerpt: “AI is becoming the universal engine of execution. As digital technology increasingly shapes ‘all of what we do’ and enables a rapidly growing number of tasks and processes, AI is becoming the new operational foundation of business — the core of a company’s operating model, defining how the company drives the execution of tasks. AI is not only displacing human activity, it is changing the very concept of the firm.”

Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live, by Nicholas A. Christakis (Little, Brown Spark; Oct. 2020)

Apollo's Arrow book cover

Okay, technically this is not a tech book. But it is about the pandemic, and what else is anyone talking about these days?

The author, a double threat holding both a medical degree and a doctorate in sociology, runs the Human Nature Lab at Yale University and is also co-director of the Yale Institute for Network Science. In this book, Christakis explores what it means to live in a time of plague by drawing on history, analysis and the latest research.

Sample excerpt: “I found myself thinking again about Apollo and his vengeance as I contemplated our own twenty-first-century barrage more than three thousand years after the events described in The Iliad. It seemed to me that the novel coronavirus was a threat that was both wholly new and deeply ancient. This catastrophe called on us to confront our adversary in a modern way while also relying on wisdom from the past.”


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In the Zone

How PCs powered by 10th Gen Intel Core CPUs can help your SMB customers thrive

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by Peter Krass on 12/22/2020
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Are your small and medium business (SMB) customers trying to meet tomorrow’s challenges with yesterday’s PCs?

If so, suggest they refresh those older PCs. You should also suggest they check out devices powered by 10th Gen Intel Core processors.

SMBs are finding the pandemic especially tough. While Microsoft may have nearly $137 billion in cash on hand to get through the tough times, your SMB customers don’t.

As a result, many SMBs are tightening resources, cutting their IT budgets at the same time they’re supporting suddenly huge remote workforces. These remote workers require fast and reliable connectivity, bulletproof protection against phishing and other hacks, and PCs that are fast, reliable and flexible.

3 key techs

PCs powered by 10th gen Intel Core CPUs can help your SMB customers meet these new business demands, build resiliency, and maintain continuity. These PCs offer SMBs impressive levels of connectivity and productivity, as well as what Intel calls “intelligent performance.”

These CPUs do all this, in part, with help from 3 key technologies:

> Intel Wi-Fi 6: for faster, more reliable wireless speeds

> Intel Optane memory: accelerating PCs with either HDD or SSD storage

> Thunderbolt 3: providing easy connectivity for up to 4 external storage devices, monitors or other peripherals

Big benefits

Here are some of the top gains your SMB customers can enjoy with PCs based on 10th gen Intel Core processors (all figures courtesy of Intel):

> Improved productivity: Up to 44% better overall performance vs. a 3-year-old PC.

> Integrated AI: Up to 2.5x greater AI performance with Intel Deep Learning Boost vs. a PC based on an older 8th Gen Intel Core processor.

> Uninterrupted collaboration: Up to 4x greater bandwidth with Thunderbolt 3, and nearly 3x faster connections with Intel Wi-Fi 6.

> Greater security: Improved cyber defense and detection of sophisticated threats. And without any compromise to either employee productivity or PC-battery life.

> Remote management: Intel’s Endpoint Management Assistant (EMA) lets you remotely access and control unattended devices, regardless of their state or location, to improve incident management.

Under the hood

The 10th gen Intel Core lineup offers flexible performance options tailored to you computing needs: i3, i5, i7 and i9. These processors can support today’s diverse workloads in many form factors, including desktops, notebooks, workstations and mobile workstations.

10th gen Intel Core processors

From an architecture perspective, the 10th gen Intel Core processor family comprises 2 platforms designed to address the different needs of SMBs: Comet Lake (CML) and Ice Lake (ICL).

The CML platform is based on Intel’s 14nm process technology. CML-based PC combine heavy-weight performance with light-weight portability. In desktops, the platform blends high-frequency processors with advanced content-creation capabilities. This suits power users with workloads that include data analysis, visualization, rendering, imaging and video editing.

The other platform, ICL, is built on Intel’s 10nm process technology. Redefining what’s possible in thin and light laptops, it features a new CPU core architecture and new graphics architecture.

The ICL processors also have built-in AI and machine-learning capabilities. This means your SMB customers can take advantage of the AI features in their productivity and business applications without worrying about its impact on office multitasking or battery life. Pretty cool.

Both the ICL and CML platforms also aim to redefine connectivity. They’re doing this with integrated Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt technology. Wi-Fi 6, based on the IEEE 802.11ax standard, is the latest and most advanced generation of the wireless tech widely used by consumers and businesses alike. And Thunderbolt ports connect computers to data, video and power on a single cable, delivering a fast and consistent experience for work and play.

Make sure your SMB customers aren’t grappling with today’s challenges using yesterday’s PCs. Point them to these resources:

> 10th Gen Intel Core processors

> Change your PC, change your business: Intel small-business computers and PCs


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Need faster storage? These 2 technologies are better than 1

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by Peter Krass on 12/17/2020
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Sometimes 2 technologies really are better than 1. Your data-center customers can clear storage bottlenecks, boost I/O performance and increase server utilization by combining Intel Optane SSD storage with Intel Cache Acceleration Software (CAS).
In Intel’s own test with a single-node configuration, the company found that for about $300, a user organization can take advantage of the smart caching of Intel CAS along with the high write endurance and speed of an Intel Optane SSD.
Intel also found that this dynamic duo can boost transactions per minute by an order of magnitude on a hard-disk drive (HDD) system, and by up to 1.8x on a SATA SSD system.
That’s important because storage bottlenecks are a serious problem. They can slow applications and online transactions, hurting the overall user experience. 
The low cost of this solution is important, too. Many companies try to clear storage bottlenecks by adding costly hardware, only to find that with slow storage media such as a HDD or a SATA-based SSD, even the best processor can fall short. By comparison, the combination of Intel Optane SSD and Intel CAS boosts storage performance a whole lot more simply, affordably and quickly. 
Longer life
Using an Intel Optane SSD can also extend the life of your customers’ capacity tier SSDs, in some cases by more than 4 years. It does this by caching data and taking pressure off the SATA SSDs. 
The same approach can also lower your customers’ need for DRAM. Intel Optane SSDs essentially function like a cross between long- and short-term storage. That can bring data closer to the CPU without increasing the DRAM footprint, even in some cases allowing that footprint to shrink.
By contrast, a more traditional setup stores all data, both hot and cold, on the same SATA drive. That’s how bottlenecks form. To avoid this situation, Intel CAS is smartly accelerates storage by shifting hot data to Intel Optane SSD performance storage while retaining the cold data path through the HBA [host bus adapter] controller, and then to SATA (or HDD) capacity storage. 
The result: Better performance than an all-SATA solution, as measured in transactions per minute. And performance approaching the levels of an all-NVMe SSD, but at a considerably lower cost. 
Intel CAS lets you specify what you cache. That might be specific directories, disks or files. Also, several caching modes are supported, including write-back (Intel’s top recommendation), write-through and write-around. 
3 steps to faster storage
Now is a good time to mention that Intel CAS is available to businesses using Intel SSDs at no cost. It’s also easy to install, requiring just 3 steps:
1. Install an Intel Optane SSD DC P4801X storage device into an empty M.2 slot on your server.
2. Download and install Intel CAS. The Linux version is free if you’re using an Intel SSD. The Windows Server version is free, too, if used with an Intel SSD: Intel CAS Entry Edition for Windows (server OS support).
3. Configure Intel CAS.
That’s it!
If that sounds simple, powerful and quick, it is. Tell your customers about a new dynamic duo for their storage: Intel Optane SSD + Intel CAS.

Learn more:

> Intel Optane DC SSD Series

> Intel CAS explained simply (video)

> Intel Technology Provider point promotions



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