Plantronics Voyager Focus–Could it be the only headset in your bag?

Over the years, Plantronics has been synonymous with outstanding headsets and communications devices.  Many of us have utilized the different voyager products from Plantronics as our Bluetooth headset for our mobile device; some of us might even have used the voyager as our business headset while using Lync or Skype as our softphone.  In this write up, I will show you the Voyager Focus, a very different member of the Voyager family, but one that takes the UC experience up a notch.


Just to start, the Voyager Focus is a stereo headset.  This is going to be the first change you will notice if you are a veteran Voyager headset user.  I am normally the kind of person that does not like using a stereo headset for voice calls.  I prefer to have a single earbud and microphone.  After using the Focus for a week now, I can say that I am fine with THIS stereo headset.  In the box, you will find everything you need to be able to get maximum use from the headset.


The box contains:

  1. the Voyager Headset
  2. a USB Bluetooth dongle (specifically, the BT600)
  3. a carrying case for the headset
  4. USB cradle for the headset.

Interestingly enough, there is no wall adapter for the headset.  Normally, I would identify this as a negative, but realistically, today’s tech-savvy users have drawers full of adapters for USB devices.  I have tried using a Plantronics adapter that I had for my Calisto 620 Wireless Speakerphone and that is more than adequate.  However, I have found that my laptop adapter from iGo has an accessory charging port and it’s much more convenient.  Keep in mind, you don’t HAVE to use the cradle at all, there is a micro USB port on the bottom of one of the ear cups that can be used for charging when you are away from your desk or on the road.

The headset itself is very versatile.  The obvious function is that of a phone device, however, nobody wants a singular function device these days.  That’s why you see folks walking around with their Beats Headphones making phone calls.  Now Beats headphones are great for sound quality, however, they weren’t designed to be a telephone headset. Suppose you have a telephone headset (supporting wideband HD audio) that could be used for music.  That might be a good combination.  In this case, the Voyager Focus shines.  The device allows for multiple Bluetooth pairing, meaning, I can have this device paired with the BT 600 in my PC, my iPhone 5 as well as my wife’s iPhone 5s (she decided to take the headset out for a walk one night).


Plantronics has always had a good user experience related to their devices.  The Voyager Focus is not any different.  Call control is very simple, when a call comes in, you can put the headset on and lower the microphone and the call will be answered.  If the headset is already on your head, you can simply press the ‘Call’ button located on the ear cup with the microphone and your call will be answered.


During your call, you will need to mute your microphone at some point, which is also very easy.  On the underside of the microphone (this is a very familiar location if you have utilized Plantronics Voyager headsets in the past), there is a red button that controls your mute function and also doubles as a way to allow outside noise to come into your headset when listening to music.    With this button, you can hear someone if they come to speak to you and more importantly, you can hear yourself so you don’t find yourself shouting at someone when your headphones are on clip_image007.  A nice addition to the mute function from the Voyager Focus comes with the Plantronics Hub application add-on.  When installed on your PC or mobile device (I have it on my iPhone) you have the option of activating Mute notification.  Many of us have found ourselves in the situation where we are speaking and nobody can hear you because your phone is muted.  The Focus not only provides you with a visual notification on your PC that your phone is muted, but the headset will provide you with audio feedback if you are speaking while the microphone is muted.  I personally love this feature.


The other ear cup is where you can find you music controls and your volume control for your headset.  At any time, I can have music playing on my PC, or my iphone through the headset and calls will come through.  Music will be automatically paused and your call will be answered.  Once you have completed your call, your music will restart. Something to note, if you are listening to Pandora (or any other web based music service) on your PC or smart device, your headset will NOT be able to send the controls from the headset.  This will only work if you are using a music app (like the Pandora app for iPhone, or iTunes, or whatever).  Volume is controlled, not with a rocker switch, but with a dial.  The ring around the player controls will spin in either direction to control the volume on the headset.


Many people might not be overly comfortable utilizing a headset like this as their only device. Reason is that folks who travel, like to have their noise cancelling headset available for when they are on the plane.  Good news, the Voyager Focus as Active Noise Cancelling technology available.  Like all headsets with noise cancelling, it is available via a switch on the headset.  In this case, the switch is located on the underside of the ear cup with the music controls.


The Plantronics Hub application is where you can configure additional settings for the headset and tailor it for your own preferences.


The main screen of the app lets you select between however many number of Plantronics devices are currently connected.  At a minimum, you will likely have 2, the headset (shown above) and then the BT dongle (in this case the BT600).  Once you have selected the headset, you have the option of making a number of custom selections.  I sample of those are shown here:




As you can see in the pictures, the device has been designed for customers using softphones.  If you are using Lync/Skype then you get some additional options around your presence and how it is affected by various events related to your use of the headset.

Battery Life

Last but not least, how long does it last?  Well, as you can see from my screen shot above, you can see that the Plantronics hub software believes the battery has another 12 hours of talk time available.  I have used the headset all day so far (4-6 hours) without any trouble.  The headset provides you with audio status of the battery when you turn it on and continues to provide audio cues during the use of the headset during the day.  Additionally, if you leave the headset turned on, but take it off, the headset will eventually go to sleep to conserve battery, giving you even more time than before.  Charging it, is not an issue because if you are travelling and don’t have the cradle, a micro USB cable will be sufficient to charge the headset.


The Plantronics Voyager Focus is a very different way of approaching mobile communications.  As someone who has always preferred using a monaural headset when making phone calls, I have found myself carrying this device with me everywhere.  It is very comfortable and I have found that I have put my corded earbuds off to the side.  I don’t even use my Beats phones for calls or even for music or movies on my phone.  I don’t believe that I will pair it with my kindle to use as my ONLY headset.  However, I do expect that I will use this as my go to mobile headset moving forward.  I will tell you, this headset is not inexpensive.  A search on the web has shown me that this device sells from Amazon and other outlets for as much as $250.  Not an inexpensive device.  That said, when you have more and more people utilizing Skype for Business as their business phone, then it could be that the $$ is worth it.  Either way, I find this to be a great device or it should be a great option for road warriors or desk workers alike. It has the features that a call center or desk bound worker would like and it has the features a road warrior would like (in Active Noise Cancelling) making this the only headset to take while travelling and lighten the load.

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Amazon Echo First Look

What is Amazon Echo?

The latest to come out of Amazon is the Echo.   The Echo is a voice command device from Amazon.   It has a number of functions including fact finding, weather, traffic, music (from iHeart Radio, Tunein Radio, Pandora and of course Amazon Prime Music) as well as the ability to hook in to supported home automation solutions (WeMo and Hue right now).  Additionally, Amazon has recently added the ability to do fast ordering of previously purchased items.   It is a cylinder with speakers (woofer and tweeter) as well as a 7 microphone array.  It has support for Bluetooth and can be utilized like a Bluetooth speaker if you insist on playing music from your mobile device (since you don’t like any of the supported music options).  The package also contained a remote control that allows for giving commands from outside of microphone range, as well as music controls.  It is powered by Amazon’s cloud so the potential capabilities are limited to your imagination at this point (that and the available SDK J)


When the Echo originally shipped, it had limited functionality.  As a prime member, I had a chance to order one several months ago and decided to pass on it.  I wasn’t sure what Amazon planned to do with the device and so, I decided to wait.  You have to understand, this is something new to me.  I’ve always been ready to jump on new technology that I believe has potential.  Just to name a few devices that wound up being a complete waste of money for me (not a complete list, but you will get the point):

  1. Iomega Hip Zip, circa 2001
  2. Microsoft Cordless Phone System
  3. Need I even mention the Zune (yes I had 3 of these)
  4. iPAQ
  5. Pocket PC (not iPAQ)
  6. Windows Media Center addition (killed in Windows 10
  7. Microsoft DirecTV receiver (had this too The TV Menu for Windows Media Center and Ultimate TV was (and continues to be ) light years ahead of anything the cable companies or Tivo has been able to come up with.

All of these devices (except for perhaps the Zune) were well before their time.  That said, they were also bombs; so this time, I decided to be more prudent and see where this was going.  In the last couple of months, Amazon has begun to show their hand at what this device was capable of doing.  They added functionality to provide ordering functions for products from Amazon (you had to have previously ordered the item from amazon to do this), Home automation support for WeMo and Hue systems, connections now to Pandora and an agent to work with IFTTT  If you ask Alexa a question, you can have her send the response to your Kindle Fire.  Additionally, Amazon has now published an SDK and is working to encourage application developers do further integrate and expand the lexicon of ‘Alexa’ (the wake word for the echo).  This was now enough for me to buy in and we continue to use it around the house for everything from music, to keeping up with the Padres Score, to setting alarms and planning for the weather when we travel.  Tonight, I will likely let it read my kid a bedtime story, yup, it can do that too.


I’m always wary of voice driven devices.  There was many a time that I wanted to chuck my iPhone across the room because Siri just plain didn’t understand what I was trying to say.  That has been improved quite a bit and I think that competition from Google and Cortana has helped drive that…that and I suppose that technology has improved some too.  That said, Amazon has shown their intent to invest in ‘Alexa’ and give her more capabilities.  The echo has a 7 microphone array so even with the music playing, it can hear your use of the wake word.  Once the wake word is heard, it will lower the music so you can ask your question.  The same can be done from another room if you have the remote.  Finally, there is an app available for iOS, android and Kindle fire.  The app will allow you to direct the Echo as well as review the last commands that were sent to the Echo and indicate whether the echo understood the command correctly or not.  My kids have found her to be a blast to play with, especially considering the list of non-published commands out there.  So, is the device usable, oh yeah, very usable.


I can spend pages going over the different potential uses I can see for this device.  With the home automation integration already built in, that already broadens the capabilities.  My only complaint at this point is that I have to cart her from room to room because there is no point in having her in another room if I can’t hear the music or interact with her.  If I actually HAD home automation, I can see the use for it being remote, but right now, I don’t do that, so I want it with me to interact.  There are a couple of things I would love to see Echo do (so Amazon, hope you are listening):

  • Hook up via BT to a phone and be able to make phone calls on command.
  • Allow some form of remote speaker so I can leave Echo in one room, use the remote to play music or ask a question and have it respond in the room I’m in.
  • Allow daisy chaining of devices. What I mean is this, I can see echo’s all over my house, but I want them to be able to work together as well as independently.  So, ask echo to play music, have music play throughout the house, but when my kid goes in their room, they can order the echo in their room to do something else or play different music.
  • Integrate with FireTV or the Fire Stick so I can pull up movies, rent movies, buy movies, via voice command.
  • Personally, would love to see integration with XBOX Music (I have 2 years of subscriptions to music pass)

There are so many potential applications.

Bottom Line

Bottom line is that I (and my family) love this device.  It’s a winner.  Assuming Amazon continues to invest in its capabilities (and I don’t see why they wouldn’t) this could be the best foray into controlling the living room that I have seen to date.  I’ve done several solutions that were designed to be the “home controller”. None of it has the potential that this device has.  I can’t wait to see what Amazon’s next update will bring us as Echo owners.


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Windows Server 2003 End of Life — Update

As I predicted back in March, Windows Server 2003 has become THE topic of conversation in almost every customer that we speak to. We are now just under 8 months away from the end of life of Windows Server 2003. Some customers have started their migration, but the reality is that many customers still have not. Specifically, in a fairly informal survey that partner AppZero conducted, only 25% of customers have a plan for their Windows 2003 infrastructure. Even scarier was the idea that 38% of these customers have more than 1000 Windows 2003 Servers out there. Redmond Magazine just published an article in September that quoted Microsoft as identifying Windows Server 2003 running on 39% of the Windows Server install base. That translates to 9.4 million servers just in North America. I thought that now would be a good time to step back and share some customer experiences and what you should be doing about your Windows Server 2003 environment. Time is running out and custom support agreements are expensive.

Recap on why it’s important

Just want to take a minute to refresh everyone’s memory here. The consequences of doing nothing can be severe, they include:

  • Security vulnerability
  • System failure without recourse (no hotfixes)
  • Loss of certification of compliance.

That last bullet is interesting. While often a specific system has been certified (so for example, Application A running on Windows Server 2003 with selected hotfixes has been certified by “such and such organization”) in the case of certain financial certifications, customers may find themselves out of compliance because of the lack of security updates to the platform. This goes for just doing nothing or for isolating the system from the network. Isolation is ok, but as Gigaom points out in their article regarding the risks of migrating, isolation doesn’t help you in the event that you require support from Microsoft. You won’t get it. Now, you can go the route of a custom support agreement, but keep in mind a couple of things:

  1. You need a premier support contract to get a customer support agreement
  2. As I mentioned above, customer support agreements are expensive
  3. You are still going to need a plan to migrate because custom support is only available for 2 years.

It is critical that customers understand what the consequences of doing nothing will be to their environment.

So, I have to migrate, now what

At this point, you have decided that you need to migrate and you think have 2000 servers with Windows 2003 in your datacenter and they all have something on them. What’s the first step? The process of planning and executing a migration off of Windows Server 2003 is time consuming and its easy to miss little nuances. Those little nuances are the risks that come back later to haunt you. This is one of the cases when you won’t want to try to take this on yourself; you need professionals to assist you. Everyone on your team already has a day job to accomplish, and you want to work with someone who has done this before. I’m handy putting in light switches and changing electrical outlets, but I wouldn’t install the 220 line in my garage, I’ll hire an electrician for that. This is the same kind of thing. Professionals have the tools, the experience and the methodology to get this process done faster and with a better sense of quality that your business partners will appreciate.

Inventory, Identify and Prioritize

You think you have about 2000 servers out there. Well, you need to be CERTAIN that there are 2000 servers out there. How recent is your inventory? If it wasn’t updated last week, you probably need to do another. If you don’t have a good way to accomplish that, then its time you work with someone who does this for a living so that you can get a good inventory and begin the start of a new CMDB for yourself. You have to be able to account for all of the servers on your network with this OS because (as we have already said) after 7/14/2015 that machine is now a liability on your network.

Next you have to be able to identify all of the applications on those servers. Now, let’s be a little more specific about this. In my experience, I have worked with customers who say they have an inventory and when I look at the applications list, it’s a lot of commercial off the shelf (COTS) applications that generally are part of the server image. I’m going to bet that your new server image has all of those applications already, so we can cross them off the list. What we are talking about here are applications that actually matter to your business. That doesn’t mean all COTS applications are out. Your business may rely on faxing heavily and you have fax software running on the server down the hall and it just happens to be Windows Server 2003. That’s relevant and needs to be accounted for. Can you identify all of the applications (COTS, custom, web, whatever) running on your servers? If the answer to that is ‘no’ then you have a lot of work ahead of you. If the answer is ‘yes’ then the next question is ‘do you have a contact for each of those apps?’. Who from the business is accountable for that application because they need to identify compatibility and understand the migration options.

Grouping & Migration Events

Once you have your list of server, applications, application owners, you can look at tackling the idea of grouping these servers/applications. There are only so many ways to tackle the issue of remediating these environments. The best thing you can do is identify groups of applications that require the same type of remediation. So for example, if you have 200 servers that represent file servers in your environment. Those are all going into one bucket. Print servers, another bucket. When you get to the applications themselves (COTS, custom, web, etc) then you have to figure out what kind of bucket those are going to fall into.


Now that you have your inventory and you have created your buckets, now you can look at planning/scheduling these servers for migration. This must be a separate exercise, do NOT assume you can do this as you go along. I refer back to my favorite slide when I talk to customers about projects.

The reason the green line looks so much better is because more of the risks are identified up front and planning ahead of time has taken care of them. If you wait to accomplish as you go, you will end up realizing the risks during deployment and that’s not where you want to be (follow the red line).


I’ve talked to a number of customers and have engaged in some activities around this Windows Server migration today. Often I am coming across many of the same issues over and over. Hopefully, this will give you a good idea of how to start on your migration, or perhaps it convinces you that perhaps you need to bring in some help that knows how to do this. In either case, you have to get moving on this because the deadline is looming.

In part 2 of this, I will go through the options around the actual remediation and how those can be realized.



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Windows Server 2003 on the March to Retirement

When we look back on 2014 in IT, there are going to be a couple of things that dominate our thinking and my guess is it won’t be BYOD or Big Data. In reality, a much more mundane yet critical event will be at the forefront. That is the end of extended support status for key workhorse applications Windows XP, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003. I’ve written before about the level of effort needed to migrate from Windows XP and the bottom line is, if you haven’t started that migration, you aren’t going to make it. On the other hand, for Windows Server 2003 you have until July 14, 2015 giving you just enough time to put your strategic plan in place for dealing with your server footprint. If you don’t know where to begin or have already started, consider these suggestions on designing a plan so you can “beat the clock” and avoid the pain.

Parallels to Desktop Upgrade Efforts

Upgrading your server portfolio is similar to performing a desktop upgrade. There are fundamental tasks that must be completed as part of the planning process. Not completing those tasks will put your project at risk and time is not your friend in these efforts.

The diagram illustrates one of my guiding principles. You are more likely to run a successful upgrade if you frontload as much of the risk as you can during the first initial phases. More specifically, when you find the risk during discovery, address the risk in your remediation/migration plan design so it doesn’t bite you when you build out your target environment and begin the migration itself.

The alternative is to forgo planning and attempt to find and deal with the risk as you are migrating production. I’m not sure I know anyone who would be willing to sign up for that. Why do that to yourself or your team. Take the time and effort up front. Right now, organizations have almost 18 months left before the day comes. Take advantage of it.

Addressing the Risk – It begins with understanding your footprint

Now that we have agreed that addressing the risk up front makes the most sense, how do we address that risk? In my experience, we start by understanding the problem. You need to migrate off of Windows Server 2003 before July 14, 2015. Therefore, you are going to need a complete inventory of all servers running Windows Server 2003 and ultimately all applications that are running on those servers. This includes any “commercial off the shelf” (COTS) applications you may have (such as antivirus, firewall, management software, printer drivers, etc) as well as any custom applications or more importantly, any BUSINESS CRITICAL applications that are running on that server.

Hopefully, your organization has a management process in place that uses tools and agents to be able to track the servers that are active in your environment. Even if it doesn’t give application inventory information, knowing which servers in your environment are running Windows Server 2003 is better than having nothing to start with. The servers themselves aren’t where the risk is. Being able to understand what applications run on those servers and their relationship to the business is what is important. Another consideration is the compatibility of your applications with Windows Server 2012. There are tools to help with this issue but I don’t have space to address it here. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.

Next, you need to identify the owners of those applications. This could become challenging since if you are running custom applications on Windows Server 2003. What if the developers are not in your organization any longer or the company you bought the app from no longer exists. In any case, someone needs to be responsible for the app or you should consider retiring it. J

Other technical considerations that might be of interest are the architecture of the servers and version of Windows Server installed. Windows Server 2003 is a 32-bit flavor (remember those?) and Windows Server 2012 comes only in 64-bit. Windows Server 2008 was the last 32-bit OS Microsoft produced. Be sure to note the OS flavor and whether it’s a physical server or a virtual server. The more info you can capture, the better your design considerations and ultimately, the smoother the transition.

Now what?

Now that you have your server and application inventory, you will be in a better position to begin determining what you will do with these servers and applications. Will you take them to a public cloud (AWS, Azure), put them in a private cloud or perhaps try to do a like for like migration to other physical hardware. Regardless of which path you choose, there is a lot to consider and whether you have a strategy or not, there are ways for you to do the planning to determine what the best course of action will be for those applications.

Remember, one size may not always fit all your applications so consider your options. If you already have a strategy worked out, perhaps you are taking your entire physical inventory and moving it to a converged infrastructure, then you are ahead of the game. It is worth noting though that since you have applications running on Windows Server 2003, those applications may not be suitable for virtualization on your converged environment.

Remember, when reviewing your application portfolio, it is important to understand what kind of downtime can be accepted as part of the migration effort. If you have production critical business apps, you may have to put a strategy in place to migrate carefully to minimize or eliminate downtime. Working with the applications owners to understand these hot points needs to be a part of your risk mitigation process.

Performing this due-diligence is the Design Phase of our curve and by going through this process, you have put yourself on the green path above to frontloading your risk. As you can see from the curve, if you get the risk taken care of first the rest of the process is downhill.

Getting the rest of the way

Once you are able to the Construction Phase, you are getting to the more mechanical processes of the project. The way you migrate the applications and the servers becomes a more mechanical process that you can leverage tools to complete. Tools such as Flexera’s Admin Studio, AppZero and RiverMeadow are available for assisting in testing compatibility and assisting in the migration of your workloads to the target environment. It would be worth investing in experts in the tool so you aren’t learning as you go, but you may decide that your team can perform the migration of the less critical applications in house and leverage assistance for the more critical applications. Understanding your limitations and ensuring that you have budget for possible assistance, not just for tools, will be important to your planning.


Windows Server 2003 represents a significant install base of servers out in enterprises today. IT shops need to turn their attentions to this looming giant of a task so they can limit risk and ensure success. Take my advice. Following the green path is the secret to sleeping better at night through this process.


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XtremIO changes the game and EMC Global Services is there to show our customers how to win with it!!!


We just completed a major milestone for us at EMC. The launch of XtremIO is a game changer in the IT industry. Realistically, I think that many people haven’t really grasped how significant a change it is and what the impact of XtremIO will be on a number of workloads. I’m going to talk a little about XtremIO and what it is in the scheme of the marketplace. Then I’m specifically going to talk about End User Computing (EUC), how XtremIO changes the game and how EMC Global Services is ready RIGHT NOW to show our customers how to take advantage of this game changer. At the end of this post, I will provide links to relevant reports/downloads and education so you can learn more about XtremIO and what is being brought to market.

All Flash Arrays? So what?

All flash arrays (AFAs) have been around for a few years as the increase of availability of solid state drives and the decrease in price has made the storage option more popular. IDC predicts that by 2015, the all-solid state storage (SSS) market will be $1.2B (see IDC Technology Assessment, All Flash Array Performance Testing Framework, As increases in virtualization (specifically virtualization of workloads that require high disk I/O activity), big data and analytics workloads continue to press enterprises, technology organizations struggle to provide solutions that can address the performance requirements and make the solution a quality experience for the user community. The reality is that despite the increase in traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) speeds, traditional HDD infrastructure simply cannot provide the I/O without massive scale. Enter in flash arrays. Flash has promised the level of performance that these workloads require, however, the price point has been very heavy and the capacity of these arrays hasn’t yet matched that of the traditional HDD infrastructure. The result is that Enterprise IT is taking a more analytical approach to storage. Those applications that are most accessed are being moved to flash storage and less accessed data is staying on the less expensive, but also less performing traditional infrastructure. This leads technology groups to now look beyond the $/GB metric and look at the cost per IOP ($/IOP)or in the case of VDI, the cost per desktop ($/Desktop).


Enter in the X-Brick!

With XtremIO, the foundation is built on the X-Brick. The X-Brick is a cluster scaling unit and is built in such a way that it can scale linearly on its RDMA fabric and thus allow for linear growth of IOPS, linear growth of capacity (in 10 or 20 TB blocks) while latency remains sub-millisecond. Think about that, taking workloads that require massive IOPS (such as VDI, how convenient), being able to scale out a VDI deployment on a single cluster, while maintaining the latency sub-millisecond, so the end user experience remains the same. That would be nirvana, and that is what XtremIO brings to the table.


So What?

You might ask, “ok, this is great, I’ve heard all of this stuff, but let’s get beyond the marketing and get down to brass tacks. How does this really help?” Well, consider the challenges associated with large VDI deployments today. You can do the research yourself, or you can take some of the research I’ve done for you J. Doesn’t matter whether you read guidance from Pure Storage, EMC, Whiptail, Citrix, VMware, its all the same. VDI has a set of workloads, specifically around I/O, that are agreed upon by all vendors. Specifically these workloads include:

· Boot Storms

· Login Storms

· Steady state

· Virus scan

With each of these workloads, come different I/O requirements and the storage backend you select for your VDI implementation must take those I/O requirements into consideration. Otherwise, you will find yourself in the same place as many other VDI implementation, failing. User experience goes in the tank when proper sizing and consideration of I/O requirements are not met. So what kind of I/O are we talking about here? It depends on the specific workload we are talking about, but some of these are your proverbial worst case scenario. In the case of a boot storm (where all of your Virtual Desktops boot up at the same time) you could be talking about a requirement of 100,000s of IOPS (based on a 1000 VDI deployment) to provide reasonable boot time of your desktops. Sure, you could get away with 70 IOPS per VDI, but would your users be ok with their desktop taking ~8min to boot? Where does XtremIO help? Through use of its de-duplication technology not only increases logical capacity, but it reduces the impact of a boot storm. As in, reduces it to a non-issue. Additionally, because the X-Brick scales linearly, you have the flexibility to host more VDI desktops. So consider that a single X-Brick can host 2500 virtual desktops today. As your requirements go up, you simply add X-Bricks in place.

Don’t take my word for it, look at the demonstration video provided by XtremIO for yourself here or listen to one of our customers (E*Trade) talk about their experience with XtremIO here.

But its not just performance

So ok, the performance is amazing. That’s clear, so what else can help make this happen. IT organizations are working harder and harder to find ways to get better performance, take up less floor space and save money. That is what XtremIO delivers as well. A single X-Brick takes up only 6U of server rack space for 10TB of raw capacity. It sips power at only 750W. Putting that in perspective, the power supply in my PC is 750W, for $32.99 you can buy a 400W power inverter for your car from Staples. So 750 Watts, not bad for 10TB of capacity that can provide 250,000 IOPS of random reads. Put together an 8 X-Brick cluster and you get linear scale so we are talking 2,000,000 IOPS for random reads or 1.2M IOPS of 100% random write (assuming a 2:1 deduplication). The performance is staggering.

How Does EMC Global Services fit in

Now that I have given you the background on XtremIO, how long will it take to be able to get rubber to the road and take advantage of the performance that I talk reference. EMC wanted to make sure that customer could take advantage of this technology immediately. So work was done ahead of time with our partners, like Citrix and VMware to provide reference architectures for XenDesktop and for Horizon View, the 2 leading solutions for VDI today. It can’t be taken for granted that customers are up to speed and prepared to deliver these VDI solutions today. That’s where EMC Global Services comes in.


We at EMC know that VDI is at the forefront of our customer’s minds today. IT is being asked to deliver more with less today. Budgets are getting tighter and the ability to support all of the different hardware solutions out there makes it difficult for IT shops to scale. Add in the trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the complications are taken to the next level. VDI provides some solutions to that management headache today and many of our customers have been deploying and almost all have been considering leveraging VDI to take control of that management nightmare. All of our customers should be taking advantage of this technology to improve the VDI environment and the end user experience. As such, we have put together packaged services that are available TODAY to jumpstart your ability to take advantage of this technology.

Proof of Concept or NEW VDI Install

Customers who want to just try out VDI and see if it’s for them, there is NO better way to try out VDI then with the power of XtremIO. If you have already decided on VDI and are open to alternative solutions for your hardware, you can see how XtremIO can deliver virtual desktops with the best user experience available. EMC has put together a service that provides customers with that ability.


The result is a tested and fully capable VDI environment. Working with EMC to ensure that pre-requisites are in place, the engagement will take as little as 4 weeks to complete.

Upgrade Existing VDI Environment with XtremIO

We have a similar offering for customer who already have deployed VDI and:

· Want to expand its footprint

· Improve performance

· BOTH!!!!!

This service offering is about taking that existing environment and upgrading (migrating) to XtremIO infrastructure. This effort will release the storage you previously used and allow you to repurpose for a “less intensive” workload :D. The EMC team will come in after spending some time reviewing your existing environment, will dig in and work to migrate your current offering to XtremIO. Your users will see the difference and the opportunity to expand your VDI footprint will begin!!


What makes this so attractive is that assuming all pre-requisites have been met, this packaged service can be delivered in 3 weeks, start to finish. This is not a multi month migration project.

Additional details on each of these packaged services are available from your EMC Account Team and Client Solutions Director. I encourage you to contact them TODAY and get our guys on the ground working with you to kick your VDI experience into overdrive!!!

Why EMC Services

You may be reading this and saying, “I didn’t even know EMC delivered these types of solutions”. The reality is that EMC has been delivering these solutions (and more) for >10 years now. We have a staff of experts in End User Computing technology, a Center or Excellence to packaging and testing applications for Windows 7 compatibility, and work hand in hand with the entire EMC account team to make it possible to ensure the success of our customers from the start of these transformations, to the finish.


Wrap up

I hope this has given some insight into the tremendous opportunity VDI and XtremIO can bring to your organization. EMC Services is ready today to help you take advantage of the new capabilities of both XtremIO and the expertise of EMC Services to deliver these services. Stay tuned for more postings on the capabilities of EMC Services. See below for downloadable content related to these topics.

If you have any questions and you don’t know how to get answers, send them my way at and I will do my best to help you.

Happy Hunting


The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by EMC and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of EMC.

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Lync 2013 client for Windows 8

Its about time!!!!!!

In the Windows Phone community, the Lync application stands out as an app that generates a lot of excitement and attention.  In this case, the community has been waiting since WP8 for an app that would take advantage of the new capabilities of both Windows Phone as well as Office 2013.  While perusing my Nokia Lumia and specifically the WPCentral app which is critical to my daily management of my windows phone, I came across the article that the Lync 2013 client for WP8 was available.  Being the geek I am, I immediately jumped on it and installed and configured the app and made sure I could log in before unceremoniously uninstalling the Lync 2010 app.  Make no mistake, I could not live without the Lync 2010 client.  I regularly use it to join conference calls and I receive incredulous looks when I have folks at the AT&T store look at my cellphone bill.  They always want to understand how it could be that I only use 200 minutes a month and carry a Lumia 920 smartphone.  The answer is always the same, the Lync client.  Understandably, I have pretty high expectations of the app.  This article is my experience since yesterday morning with the application.  I have used it for customer conference calls and schedule calls as well as video calls.  Others such as Justin Morris have already done a first look as well.  He does a nice job so check his write up out as well.

The Lync team delivers

The app sets up easy enough whether you are using Lync on-premises or Lync Online.  I am using Lync online right now and have not been migrated to the new Office 365 Wave 15 experience.  Since I am using Lync 2013 on my PC against Lync Online now, I had no reason to believe that the Windows Phone app would work any less.  I was not disappointed. 


Initially you are greeted with the Lync app welcome screen. Upon agreeing that you are part of an organization that has Lync for mobile devices set up, you will get the sign in screen.  As I mentioned before, this app will work against Lync 2010 on premises or Lync online.  My organization uses Lync online, so I put in my credentials


Now, under more details, you get into some of the additional nuances that your individual configuration of Lync may require.


With my lync online configuration, I only needed to put in my user name and I selected my sign in status to be Online (of course).  You may need the additional information if you are going to put your discovery information in place.  Autodiscover should work, however, for a good majority of folks and everyone using Lync Online. 


Once signed in, you are prompted for some final configurations that need to be made if you happen to have an account that is enabled for VoIP.  In our case, we are using JaJah with Lync Online and so my Lync account is voice enabled and I am prompted to select the necessary configuration that I would prefer.  These settings control whether you are going to allow VoIP over your data connection and/or Wi-Fi.  I for one prefer Wi-Fi only for this, if I don’t have Wi-Fi, Lync can go ahead and call me back.  I don’t incur any additional charges (all incoming calls are free) and we are on an unlimited VoIP plan so its all good AND it keeps my minutes down Smile.  I also recommend continuing to have video over Wi-fi.  I know some folks try to do facetime and things like that over 4G and while my data connection would support it, I would rather change the setting for a one time exception.


The last screen shot here is to put in the country code and phone number for your mobile device so, if necessary, Lync can call you from a conference bridge.  This is the feature that I can’t live without.  It is what has kept my cell phone costs down for the last several years and really shows the cost savings of Lync. 

Once your number is in place, the final setting is to set up the push notifications (if you want to use them).


Now lets get into how it plays….

Application Usage

The Lync 2013 application interface is consistent with the Lync 2010 version.  That is to say, the look and feel is very similar.  That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some significant enhancements. 

Initially, we are looking at the contacts list, that is not particularly remarkable.  Again, its true to the previous implementation in the Lync 2010 App.


Where things get interesting is when you look at the ‘My Info’ screen.  You get the note at the top and your presence info.  A nice enhancement is that you see your current call forwarding setting right on this screen.  Making a change to that call forwarding setting is as simple as tapping the call forwarding setting and it brings you the call forwarding screen.


From here, I can make the change to go from no call forwarding to Simultaneous Ring (which is my particular favorite).  You can select what number to simultaneously ring and change the application of those rules (as in, do you want it ALL the time or only during working hours).  I for one ALWAYS set mine to Only During Working Hours.


The other critical enhancement to the main screen is the addition of the meetings view.  This view shows you all of the upcoming Lync meetings that you have and gives you the ability to launch the meeting from the Lync client.  It’s a nice addition that I would personally like to see added to the Lync 2013 client as well.


Another nice addition here is that if you don’t see a meeting you know was recently added to your calendar, you can manually refresh by tapping the  ‘…’ and bringing up the actions menu.


What’s the call experience like?

Now that we’ve gone through the niceties of the interface, lets get to the meat of it.  How is audio and video quality?  Well, I can tell you that in my limited experience, VoIP quality is outstanding over Wi-Fi.  When you click ‘Join a Meeting’ you get the familiar screen of joining a meeting and then are brought into the meeting.

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You get a lot of options once you are in the call.  In the upper left, you see the ubiquitous notification of how good your network connection is displayed.  You also see the number of participants that are participating in the conference call.  If the person speaking has a picture in the system, then you will see that picture, otherwise, you will at least see their name.  As you can see, my microphone is currently muted, you can control the mute functions right here, although, I typically have a Plantronics Voyager Legend in my ear and I prefer the handy mute button on the Legend.  You have the ability to put the call on hold and change the audio device you are connected to.


You can change to the phone’s speaker or you can switch to Bluetooth on the fly.  Its nice and easy although that wouldn’t be the case if you were trying to drive, so make sure you get this setup before you start driving.  At the bottom are the controls for sending IMs or turning on Video.  If you are in an IM conference, you can click the Phone icon to start an audio call.

Call a spade, a spade.  The 2 items that Microsoft took the most heat for with OCS and Lync were not having VoIP for mobile devices and Video for mobile devices.  Video is available on the Lync client for Surface and it works quite well.  Now, I just want to be able to unlock the potential of my Lumia 920.  Well, the Lync 2013 app brings it and does so very well.  Video quality is good.  Its as good as I would expect on a mobile phone.  I’ve used Facetime and Skype.  I’ve used Skype on a PC, Surface, iPad, iPhone and my Lumia and the Lync video quality was definitely comparable.


In the bottom right is your thumbnail video.  If you want to switch to the back camera, you tap on the image (just like every other video calling app).


The Lync 2013 app has made major improvements on the notifications front.  In the past, you would get a push type notification that would just show up at the top of the phone screen and then time out and go away.  If you were able to catch the message, then that’s fine.  However, if you were driving or busy and didn’t see the message, you were out of luck.  With the new app, Microsoft has made some changes to the way they display error messages.


As seen here, error messages are displayed in a highlighted yellow.  They sit and have you swipe when you want to dismiss them.  I like that feature a lot because I’m a big ‘fire and forget’ when it comes to setting up applications or joining meetings.  I hit the button and just expect magic to happen and when it doesn’t, I’m left standing there going, ‘whaaaat??’.  This is a nice addition to the app.  Finally, the Live Tile provides the display of any missed contact that you might have from the Lync app.


It’s a little more pronounced then the previous version of the app.  I like the larger notification, although I will admit that I generally don’t pay too much attention to it myself because if I’m driving, I don’t care who is IM’ing me so much.  I will check when I stop though, so I do like seeing the number of missed contacts.  I also like that I can check my voicemails from O365 on here and the Lync App will display notifications on the lock screen.


The reality is that this is a LONG awaited application with very long awaited features.  Specifically, the meetings display, the VoIP and video functions have been long overdue, but Microsoft wanted to make sure they delivered this functionality well.  With more 4G phones and better access to wi-fi, now is a good time and Lync 2013 does a good job of surfacing those features.  I encourage Windows Phone users out there, take advantage and leverage the platform.  You can help save on your monthly phone charges and get a nice experience as well.

The Lync 2013 App for windows phone can be found here.

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Windows Phone–Lumia 920

I have been waiting to write this entry now for a couple of weeks now.  As with many Windows Phone fans, I waited patiently (or not so patiently) for the successor to my Samsung Focus and Windows Phone 7.5.  I will go ahead and just say it, I’m a fan of Windows Phone.  I’ve used Droid, I’ve used iOS and for me, the Windows Phone interface just works for me.  I have my own character and as such, I find the iOS and Droid interfaces to be just well, OLD.  If I’m going to have that many icons on my screen, then they should give me some information aside from the app they represent.  Nevertheless, I digress; I ordered the Red Lumia from my local AT&T store on 11/7.  I can’t tell you how excited I was.  As a 2 year Samsung Focus user, I’ve watched iPhones come and go and my friends running Droid like to wave those around as well.  Especially those running the Galaxy models of the droid.  In my house, iOS reigns supreme, we have iPhones, iPads, iPods, whatever.   I waited patiently like a kid waiting for Santa Claus for the postman to bring my box with my new Lumia in it.  It was just perfect:


Exactly what I hoped for.  I immediately went to get it activated and was ready to go.

Apps, Apps, Apps

A lot has been made about apps for the iOS and Android platforms and the lack of applications that are available for Windows Phone.  I have to say that while I know that there are fewer apps available for the Windows Phone than other devices, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t quality apps.  On the contrary, I would make the case the there are more quality apps.  When I played with my iPad, there were all kinds of apps that I never knew that I ever needed.  Those succeeded in clogging up my iPad and ultimately requiring me to reset it over and over.  In the case of Windows Phone 8, I have found more than enough useful applications:

  • Start Screen – The start screen has provided some significant changes that have been widely written about.  Aside from the increase in applications that utilize Live Tiles, users have some additional controls over the start screen.  The ability to resize the tiles into 3 different sizes: full size, thumbnail and full width tile.


  • Office – Lets start with the easiest.  Being able to review and edit documents and spreadsheets while on the road. Access to documents on SkyDrive and SharePoint makes the office applications that much more valuable.
  • People – the People tile has been enhanced to now include the ability to set up rooms for sharing calendar and picture data with other Windows Phones, iPhones and Android phones.
  • Calendar – the calendar application has been enhanced (when used with the Lync application) to allow a 1-click to join audio conferencing.


  • Facebook – The Facebook application got some terrific upgrades with Windows Phone 8.  The upgrade that I enjoy the most is the new integration with the lock screen.  The lock screen can now utilize pictures that you have uploaded into facebook albums on the lock screen.  You can select the albums that are used for photos.  You still get the benefit of the notifications screens

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  • Photos and Camera – The Photos and Camera app have both been upgraded with some nice additional features.  First, in the Camera App, you now have the additional ability to add the filters and effects as you are taking photos.  Note the Translator Application.  The Bing Translator application makes it possible for you to photograph text and have it translated, nice touch.


  • The Photos application has also gotten some upgrades.    The sharing ability allows you to now share via different applications such as Instacam or WordPress, social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter or Linked in, or now via the new rooms that are available as part of the upgraded People Tile.


  • While the Maps app continues to be effective, owners of the Lumia devices have the opportunity to take advantage of new applications that are available as part of the Nokia collection.  Apps such as the Nokia Maps application and Nokia Drive+ Beta.  Previously, I had been a big fan of the Maps application and the ability to provide turn by turn directions for WP7.  The Drive+ application is a terrific alternative.  The intent was for it to replace the Maps app, however some clever developers have provided an app to restore the Maps application (as I have)
  • Wallet and NFC – The Nokia phones provide Near Field Communications for sharing pictures or to be leveraged for providing payments or other applications.  Right now, I haven’t found any where to attempt to try using the NFC payment system, I don’t have anyone to swap pictures with right now, so ultimately, I don’t have much use for NFC and it’s a heavy drain on the battery, so I’ve disabled it for now.
  • Kids Central – There has been much made about the new kids central access to the phone.  The idea is that you can provide a way for your kids to be able to access their apps, games and music without needing to log into the main section of the phone and risk applications.  You access Kids Central by swiping left from the lock screen.  On my phone, I have given my kids the ability to play their music and play some of their games.


  • Screencaptures – A nice addition for Windows Phone that was missing was the ability to get screen captures.  Sorely missed with Windows Phone 7, it was added in Windows Phone 8.  A combination of the Power button and the Windows button will take a screen capture and put it in the Screenshots album.

Battery Life

There have been some talk and blog posts about battery life on the Lumia 920.  Let me just go ahead and say that with all of these smartphones, there is a learning curve associated with learning what needs to be turned off and what needs to be kept on to maximize battery life while maintaining maximum functionality.  Inside the settings applet, there are a number of items that can be adjusted to impact the battery life of the phone.  By swiping to the left, you can make adjustments to applications and which applications can continue to work in the background.


In addition, there are settings that can be adjusted to minimize the drain on the battery power. 


As I mentioned earlier, turning off NFC is known to have a drain on the battery and since I haven’t found a more practical/everyday use for NFC, I figured it was worth turning off.  I enabled the battery saver option to ensure that I get maximum conservation when my battery gets low.  Finally, I have adjusted my brightness to the minimum.  All of this has allowed me to get through a day with my phone charged.  There have been some additional reports of being able to disconnect the Drive+ application from online updates.  Otherwise, it is constantly updating in the background for the updates, and will quickly drain the battery as well.

Charging the battery

The last thing I wanted to highlight with the Lumia 920 is how to charge it.  In the box is a charger and Micro USB adapter.  The Lumia has a micro USB charging port and that makes it versatile because existing chargers and cables are readily available.  The terrific edition is the wireless shell that was included with the Lumia 920.  AT&T was offering a wireless charger with the purchase of the Lumia 920 and I received my charger.  I am not overly familiar with the different wireless charging standards, but I do understand that the Nokia phones are utilizing the Qi inductive charging standards.  I love the fact that when I go to sleep, I just set the phone down on my nightstand and it begins charging.  It is very forgiving (the phone doesn’t need to be in “that exact spot”) and so far I have been very happy with it.

Wrap Up

I would love to say that my experience has been all wine and roses.  Alas, I’ve had my share of some issues.  The Lumia 920 that I purchased first, was plagued with issues locking up, at one point I even had my music skipping.   I went ahead and returned it to AT&T.  I would like to say that the experience was a pleasant one, but alas, AT&T made me jump through some significant hoops to return a phone that I had for 14 days.  It was very disturbing that AT&T would require me to go to the lengths that I did to exchange a defective phone.  That said, I have since obtained a black 920 and I haven’t had any issue since.  I truly am a fan of this device and I look forward to what’s next from the application developers and the updates from Microsoft.


Sam Cavaliere

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