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Straight Talk

NEC Corporation of America recently announced the general availability in North America of the InfoFrame Elastic Relational Store, a high-performance database built for high availability and flexible scalability.  IERS is a key value store  that provides high-speed transaction processing and SQL (structured query language) capabilities through a JDBC/ODBC interface.  This means that IERS combines a SQL interface with advantages of the  NoSQL databases.

How important is SQL? The Relational DBMS market is built on SQL, with Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL Server being by far the most implemented RDBMSs. Every computer science major learns SQL; in fact, just about anyone who has anything to do with data learns SQL.  Since the 1980s, SQL has been the standard for manipulating data.

In recent years, we’ve seen the growth in popularity of NoSQL databases.  In many ways, the Internet drove the need for non-relational databases as content management systems outgrew their RDBMS roots and required unprecedented scalability.  NoSQL databases provide virtually infinite scalability as they can grow without bringing the entire cluster down or pushing a complete re-partitioning across all nodes.  They provide fault tolerance and high availability by partitioning and replicating data across nodes and dynamically repairing these nodes as necessary.

This is all well and good, but many NoSQL databases fall short of their RDBMS cousins in that they aren’t built to rapidly process transactions, perform error checking, and maintain data integrity.  Many don’t support SQL, the language on which the vast majority of database architects and users rely.

Even though NoSQL databases are a new development, the envelope is being pushed further by NewSQL databases, including IERS.  NewSQL databases combine the scaling capabilities of NoSQL with the strong transactional and consistency advantages of an RDBMS.  NewSQL databases also use SQL as their primary interface.  The best NewSQL databases preserve the traditional ACID properties of an RDBMS in a high performance and highly scalable manner.  In contrast to NoSQL databases, NewSQL databases are being rapidly adopted by enterprises that need high performance and transactional consistency in a horizontally scaling environment that supports SQL.

IERS is designed to meet the transactional needs of mission critical databases.  IERS uses a three-layer architecture where each layer can scale outor independently without downtime and also runs in-memory processing and replication for high performanceand high availability. IERS contains powerful security functions such as user authentication and access privileges comparable to those found in RDBMSs.  The system can be accessed via a SQL interface which makes application development and data migration easier for enterprises than NoSQL systems.

  

There are many advantages to using IERS.  Look for future blog postings on NECtoday.com and TopTechDog.com for discussions on  the technical advantages of IERS, different use cases for IERS, case studies about IERS and more information about how NewSQL can best be put to use in your environment.

    *Matt Sarrel is a leading tech analyst and writer providing guest content for NEC.


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The primary objective of any healthcare provider is to focus on the patient. Whether it's a private practice or a large medical conglomeration, the healthcare system needs improved patient communication in order to ensure positive patient experiences. It was this idea of innovating patient communication that inspired JPS Health Network to evaluate its communication infrastructure and consider a move toward more advanced methods.

The network’s flagship facility is JPS Hospital (JPS) in Fort Worth, the only Level-I trauma facility in the county. JPS provides a comprehensive range of treatment for all aspects of injury, making reliable communication critical.

"We are required to have specialized teams, facilities, and equipment available 24/7 to treat life-threatening injuries,” said David Mendenhall, chief technology officer of the JPS Health Network. “Unreliable communications technology means surgeons don’t have lab reports, test results, and other information they need. We simply cannot risk our patients’ health that way."

TRAUMA CENTERS REQUIRE RAPID COMMUNICATION TOOLS

JPS already had a platform in place, but wanted to update to a new, IP-based platform to accommodate the constant movement of teams and people. Having IP telephony would provide that mobile flexibility as well as accommodate improved communications with remote clinics. In addition, a new platform would reduce costs by reducing the number of T-1 lines required, a significant savings for the hospital.

With approximately 70 different contact-center queues across the entire JPS healthcare system, achieving rapid patient access was an important goal. These teams cover multiple functions, including appointment scheduling, pharmacy, and billing. Ensuring patients had better access would improve existing service levels and the overall patient experience.

However, as a county facility, making changes and getting approval for budget and implementation are not easy tasks. Plus, the logistics of this type of installation create concerns. JPS is the only Level-I Trauma Center east of Lubbock, a span of 325 miles. This hospital cannot afford to have hiccups in communication or excessive downtime for technology implementation.

JPS also had to ensure that internal hospital communications were not impacted. One of the hospital’s key responsibilities is to get laboratory and cardiac reports to the emergency room. On the other hand are simpler functions, such as ensuring patients can contact family members as desired.

THE RIGHT PLATFORM EQUALS POSITIVE BENEFITS FOR ALL

JPS already had a relationship with NEC, so looking to the newer, IP-based systems offered was a logical step. After review, JPS chose the NEC UNIVERGE SV8500, an IP-based communications platform that supports the latest voice, unified communications, and mobility applications.

"Our decision to go with NEC was a very easy one,” said Mendenhall. “NEC’s platform offers a robust set of features at a price point that county hospitals like JPS can afford."

The benefits went beyond affordability. The migration was very smooth, and the installation only took 46 minutes without disruption to end-users. The new platform provides redundancy, so, in the event of a T-1 failure, there is an automatic shift to the SV8500, ensuring constant communication for patients.

The benefit of innovation can be seen across the hospital. Licensing, upgrades, and maintenance are easier. People can be moved, work remotely, and access information much more quickly. Call routing is much more advanced, making more efficient use of call centers, and help desk staff can work remotely just as efficiently as onsite. By allowing them to work from home, JPS can now use valuable real estate within hospitals and clinics more effectively to provide patient care while keeping high levels of support via the help desk.

"JPS was very forward thinking to consider the value of its communications infrastructure in the workflow of a business. Oftentimes, new technologies are perceived as an expense, and hospitals, particularly public hospitals, do not typically have extra money to spend," said Larry Levenberg, vice president of sales and marketing for NEC Corporation of America. "However, JPS showcases how value can be received by using innovation to improve communication and still utilize existing infrastructure when possible."

WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING?

In today’s healthcare environment, text reminders can be sent to smart devices, voicemails left as requested, and even heart monitoring is now available via tablets. The patient experience has been significantly improved by ensuring consistent and constant communication.

Having the IP-based platform means JPS will be able to communicate with patients through their preferred methods. In addition, the ability to more effectively manage remote clinics and staff has made a significant impact on the efficiency of the healthcare group.

"One of the statistics we just reported to our board was that we’ve taken the average speed of answer from nine minutes down to one minute after we got the NEC platform in place in all our community centers,” said Mendenhall.

"This is just the beginning. What is most exciting about this is that moving forward, JPS has laid the groundwork to add new solutions to help improve the patient experience and drive better outcomes.  Without this new communications solution, that would not be possible," said Levenberg.

The migration moves the hospital closer to its long-term goal of becoming 100% IP within the next five years. "Before our upgrade, we were maybe only 5% IP," added Mendenhall. "Right now, we’re about 20%, which is a big jump from where we were." The hospital also has plans to move all its community health centers to the SV8500 platform over the next three years.

As patients become more technologically savvy and focused on mobile device use, healthcare organizations will be expected to continually improve communications and access to critical information. Patients will expect to have more information delivered rapidly to their preferred devices. The days of using just a telephone have passed, but the future holds exciting innovation for healthcare. NEC is proud to be a part of that innovation and has technology that can improve patient experience available today. You can learn more here.


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In case you missed it, NEC announced on October 7 the general availability of their integrated compute and network orchestration solution for Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager customers. The streamlined infrastructure solution, with a REST-based northbound interface to applications from the ProgrammableFlow Software-defined Network and the integration with Virtual Machine Manager, enables application-aware networking and unprecedented levels of control and flexibility.

Mike Schutz, General Manager of Microsoft Product Marketing for the Server and Tools Group, talks about the collaboration between these strategic partners and the benefits customers can expect in a new video entitled NEC and Microsoft: Delivering Open, Standards-based SDN for Cloud. NEC is looking forward to demonstrating the technology at Microsoft TechEd May 12-15 in Houston, TX.

As a re-cap, here are key benefits customers can expect from this award-winning SDN solution:

  • Radically speeds network provisioning and configuration
  • Control data center traffic flow on a granular level, including dynamic, supplication-centric security policy for reduced OpEx and CapEx
  • Apply business policy consistently and automatically across the compute and network infrastructure for greater responsiveness to the business
  • Increase network visibility for greater manageability and accelerated troubleshooting
  • Enable isolated, secure multi-tenant networks for private clouds to meet compliance and service level goals
  • Improve throughput with the server and across the network fabric
  • Reduce power and footprint over traditional networks, with savings up to 80%
  • Scales to thousands of virtual networks, and hundreds of thousands of VMs
  • Provide an open, standards-based architecture for investment protection
  • Add, move or change virtual and physical networks in seconds from Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager, shaving days or weeks from traditional deployment models

For more information, go to necam.com/sdn, or customers can contact either NEC or their Microsoft reseller for further information.


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Joey Hudy has been described as many things, including one of the 10 most brilliant kids in the world. He is a self-described “Maker” or someone who designs and builds things on his own time. Joey’s infamous “extreme marshmallow canon” made news when he launched a marshmallow across the East Room during the 2012 White House Science Fair. Another milestone for Joey is being appointed the youngest intern at Intel. At 16 years old, he has already achieved multiple accomplishments, including a solar-powered computer he submitted at another science fair. It’s that type of innovative thinking that helped Intel CEO Brian Krzanich hire Joey when they met at the Rome Maker Faire. Joey even has a personal credo that he has on business cards he passes out - “Don’t be bored, make something.” We couldn’t agree more, Joey.

Much like Joey, NEC also believes in “building something,” and we are also joined Intel recently when it released the new Intel® Xeon® processor E7 v2 product family. It’s the innovation of those chips that supports NEC’s latest enterprise server – the Express5800/A2000 (A2000) series server – providing a new class of server that manages big data projects, among others. In fact, the A2000 series server offers RISC-class availability, and is at least twice as fast as previous enterprise servers, making it ideally suited for enterprise mission-critical use.

Build with Innovation in Mind

When the NEC team makes a decision to “build something,” our standard is to empower it with innovation. The reality is that developing a new line of servers is certainly important to helping our clients’ growth, but it is even more powerful if we can help them reach new heights by combining technology for rapid transformation of their data centers, including virtualization. This is certainly the case when you combine the A2000 series server and software-defined networking (SDN).

With the advent of cloud technology and the continued need to process larger amounts of mission- critical data, it became time to rethink networking. NEC’s SDN offerings leverage the OpenFlow protocol in the ProgrammableFlow® networking suite. Combining SDN and the A2000 series server provides both server and networking virtualization that addresses the inherent challenge of inflexibility found in many IT data centers today.

Now, it is feasible to virtualize tier 1 applications with confidence. With its enhanced featured set, the A2000 series server provides excellent uptime and predictive failure analysis tools so that thresholds are continually monitored and SLAs are met.

It is this combination that intrigued NEC customer Edgenet, Inc., which collects, optimizes, and distributes data used by online retailers, search engines and consumers. Its systems process data for millions of products. Mike Steineke, VP of IT at Edgenet, had this to say:

“When you run applications that are mission critical and have high SLAs, it’s essential that hardware used in the infrastructure design mitigates the risk of downtime. NEC’s server architecture and engineering design were the biggest influence on our decision,” said Steineke. “The A2000 series server is engineered to offer advanced RAS features, such as redundant service processors or increased number of enhanced I/O slots, which Edgenet needs to provide continuous operation and performance. We are looking forward to combining the A2000 series server and ProgrammableFlow technology integrated with Microsoft’s SCVMM and Hyper-V to deliver improved management, reporting, quality-of-service, and dedicated resources for customer facing applications. It is this type of comprehensive solution offering that puts NEC at a level ahead of the competition.”

From Marshmallow Canons to Big Data

The A2000 series server offers up to 4TB of memory, making it an ideal platform for running in-memory databases. This capability supports rapid decision-making and large-scale analysis of complex data. The ability to analyze complex, robust data in minutes, rather than hours, provides opportunities for businesses to maximize profitability through greater access to important information.

There are other benefits as well, including having a smaller footprint and custom configuration options for performance requirements. In fact, there are exceptional levels of availability with this server for mission-critical applications, providing a better option over RISC. Some of the interesting technology benefits include:

  • 2 times* more powerful than NEC’s previous generation servers, with up to four CPUs using the Intel Xeon processor E7 v2 product family
  • Supports twice the memory capacity of current generation servers to support in-memory databases processing data at high speed using large-capacity memory
  • Highly efficient 80 PLUS® Platinum certified power supply significantly reduces power utilization when compared to current generation servers EXPRESSSCOPE ENGINE SP3 availability and serviceability framework delivers enhanced monitoring and autonomous operations
  • Improves efficiency through dynamic CPU core online additions when workloads increase, without suspending the system**
  • Responds to CPU and memory failures to ensure the system continues operating; memory can be added without a server reboot through a memory module hot-add feature
  • Includes up to 16 PCI-Express 3.0 slots (8x and 4x), delivering real-time analysis infrastructure that simultaneously supports network, storage and flash storage
  • Includes additional consolidation benefits (when compared to legacy two-way servers), such as: using nearly 78 percent less rack space; enabling nine-to-one conversion rate under standard test conditions, and delivering 124 percent more performance per watt.***

While the A2000 series won’t be launching marshmallows inside the White House, it will launch your business to new levels of reliability, flexibility, and cost savings. You can find more information on the A2000 series at www.necam.com/ExpressServer.


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Gartner, in their research note, Ending the Confusion about Software-Defined Networking: A Taxonomy, published in March of 2013, states that “SDN is a new approach to designing, building and operating networks that support business agility. SDN brings a similar degree of agility to networks that abstraction, virtualization and orchestration have brought to server infrastructure.” If your company or organization is seeking agility, if competitors are nipping at your heels and the management team is constantly trying to move faster, more efficiently and innovatively, you will want to explore the benefits provided by this transformational technology: Software-defined Networking.

Hear first-hand SDN thought leaders from NEC, IBM and featured analyst firm Gartner Research, talk about the business benefits of software-defined networking.

In a new interactive video, available from NEC and featuring SDN thought leaders from NEC, IBM, and Featured Analyst Firm Gartner, key questions are explored:

  • What is SDN and what are the key characteristics?
  • What business issues are propelling this technology?
  • What is the role of OpenFlow in SDN?
  • What are key SDN Use Cases?
  • How can a customer get started with SDN?

NEC has seen real benefits unfold for customers operating with ProgrammableFlow SDN in production today – some customers now with the PF6800 controller and OpenFlow-based switches have been functioning effectively for 2 years (including NEC’s own software development organization)! Examples of these key benefits have included:

  • Elimination of outsourced network engineers no longer necessary for network configuration assignments, saving one company over $70K annually
  • Reduction of resource usage, including power and square footage, by as much as 80% for another global Supply Chain leader
  • Indefinite delay of server purchases saving capital expenses at NEC itself
  • Operating expense savings at yet another customer in the area of 80% annually.
  • And at a service provider implemented in 2013, the new virtual hosting design and configuration enables the company to establish new customers on the day the order is placed, rather than 2-3 days later
  • This same customer has experienced decreases of 40% in the time spent on network maintenance, and a reduction of 90%+ in the time it takes to troubleshoot network issues, enabling the company to meet and exceed their Service Level Agreements

Learn more about the transformative benefits you can expect with this break-through technology. Watch the video today, and contact NEC to arrange your SDN pilot in 2014.


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