ISC   Information Support Concepts, Inc
A Certified Woman Owned Business Enterprise (WBE)

Issue 21

Publisher:  Jack Burlin                                Editor:  Patti Hammonds

March 2, 2007

IN THIS ISSUE
"Our" success story            Monthly product special            Kevinisms            Trivia         

Articles of Interest:  Understanding the Power Needs of SMEs            The Burlin Wall

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"Our" Success Story
 

In this space we normally report on "Your Success Story" (what our clients are doing with the products they purchase from us).  However, on March 2, Information Support Concepts, Inc. (ISC) celebrates 20 years in business.  Over the years many different types of products have come and gone.  Does anyone still remember tape reels and racks?  This was a top seller back in our early days.  We have been through many transitions and many vendors, but have always strived to offer high quality products that have real value for clients.  This column is normally where we share some feedback from happy clients.

Helping clients is what we are all about.  As such, the role we have fulfilled over the last eight or nine years is as an internet vendor specializing in all matters relating to rackmount equipment.  Our introduction of the Rackmount Ranger serves to emphasize this point.

When clients need help organizing and protecting their high dollar equipment, they can call on the Rackmount Ranger.

We look forward to the next 20 years, and appreciate those of you who have been loyal customers over the years.  As a special thank you, we will be including a free 20 year ISC anniversary calculator with all orders over $500, while supplies last.  Thanks for helping make ISC a success.

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Monthly Product Special


                                 SPF064-10

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Information Support Concepts (ISC) is a top tier distributor for Geist Manufacturing.  Any power strip or PDU available on the Geist website (see the feature article this month for more information) can be purchased directly from ISC at a discount off the Geist list price.

Each power strip or PDU is built to order.  Non-surge protected products have a lifetime product warranty.  Surge suppressed models have warranties that vary between one and three years depending on the series.

Models with current meters, remote reboot/control, and auto switching have a three year warranty.

Click here to see what is available on the ISC website.

Call 800-458-6255 for more information. 
Mention the March newsletter article for 5% off*!

*The 5% discount  will be applied to retail customers only, and cannot
be combined with other offers. 
 Valid through March 31, 2007. 

Understanding the Power Needs of SMEs
Geist Brings PDUs To The SME
by John Brandon of

A power distribution unit, or PDU, is perhaps the most important device in a data center. Without one, all of
the other equipmentservers, storage devices, optical drives, and monitorswould not run effectively. One company that understands the power needs of small and medium-sized enterprises is Geist Manufacturing (www.geistmfg.com), located in Lincoln, Neb. Since 1948 (when the company was known as Winders &
Geist), the company has developed many configurations of PDUs to meet the needs of data centers. In fact, there are more than 1,000 variations with various wattage and outlet configurations.

“There is no single solution for either new data centers or those upgrading," says Tom Kennedy, the director of sales and marketing at Geist. “The important aspect with a manufacturer of power distribution, such as Geist, is to adapt or customize units to meet the requirements of a particular installation, such as combination PDUs that provide power receptacles, power monitors, and environmental monitors all in one unit, and units that provide both onsite and remote monitoring and do not require specific client software."

The company has had several key milestones over the years. For data centers, one
was the release of rack-mountable power strips in 1998 used for data storage. Recent innovations include custom-built PDUs and products that use power more efficiently and allow admins to monitor power usage. Newer, three-phase PDUs offer several combinations of NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) and IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) receptacles, helping Geist stay on pace with data centers.

“The power requirements have continually changed over the past five to six years from 15 amp to 20 amp and now to 30A and 60A," says Kennedy. “With the trend toward blade servers and increased density, heat dissipation, cooling requirements, and environmental monitoring are an increasingly important aspect of data center planning."

Upcoming Innovations

In the next few years, Kennedy notes, the PDU market will start to seek higher power outputs and more
cooling, a challenge for suppliers and data centers alike.

“[One innovation will be] cabinets that provide a flue effect to better utilize the available cooling and concentrate airflow to the required ‘U’ spaces," says Kennedy. “This will also drive high-tech manufacturers to provide economical monitoring equipment. Equipment that previously cost thousands will become available at a much lower cost, making it feasible to use every cabinet or rack more efficiently. Admins will use temperature and cooling controls to manage and monitor hot spots and control fan operation. Liquid cooling may become viable
if it avoids the dreaded combination of water and electricity. Again, environmental monitorsand especially the temperature, water levels (flooding), and humiditywill become increasingly important."

Unique Offerings

Geist differentiates itself from other PDU manufacturers in that it provides excellent guidance to data centers that don’t have the time or resources to investigate all of the options available. There’s a Web configuration utility online that uses a simple interface to help admins generate a photo, spec sheet, and product recommendation based on specific power requirements. The Power Distribution Product Wizard goes beyond just the simple process of matching a product to current needs and can help admins forecast future expansion needs, as well.
On the Web site, admins can determine which specific product number will work in their environment.

A second key differentiator is that Geist has a knowledgeable customer service staff that will investigate a solution for a data center and provide a more detailed quote than just one that lists the recommended products -serving as a power design team that can discuss UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approval ratings and explain design specifications in detail.

The company also publishes installation manuals as PDFs on its Web site, providing a handy means for admins
to understand how products must be installed.

Product Lines

Geist products fall into several main categories. PDUs generally come in either horizontal or vertical sizes. For office environments, the company also makes multioutlet power strips, surge suppressors, and wall-mount surge suppressors. A mainstay of the company is the Flexiduct cord management units, available in nine different sizes in bulk quantities, for running power lines through a data center. Electrical tubing and phone/fax extension receptacles are also available.

The RacSense product (www.racsense.com) consists of a PDU with a Web interface that helps admins monitor data center power consumption and any related power risks. The system can be configured to send alarmseven to a PDAand feed real-time graphical data for PDU access in the data center. RacSense Master is a remote environmental and power monitoring device; RacSense Satellite uses RSM (RacSense Master) and
RSE (RacSense Environmental) capabilities for remote monitoring.

The number of products and the extensive Web and customer service support point to one of the challenges in the PDU market: helping admins understand power requirements and wade through specification and product sheets to find what will work for their data centers. Making the wrong decision can lead to business-crippling downtime for all connected systems. “[The challenge is] to provide power distribution units that meet the many local facilities’ requirements," says Kennedy. “There’s a need to ensure end users, contractors, and consultants that we are knowledgeable about the many configurations and solutions available. In short, that we understand the most efficient power solutions available before the project starts."

Geist seems poised to provide the right products and configurations for those looking for a PDU, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, and without the hassles of trying to understand current PDU requirements and future plans autonomously.
    
Call us at 800-458-6255 for more information on what ISC can do to meet your needs for surge suppression, power strips, PDUs, UPSs, and remote power.

Trivia Question
 

     Q:  Babieca (real) and Rosinante (fictional) are famous horses.  Who were the famous characters (real and fictional respectively) who rode them?

All correct answers will be placed into a pool for a random drawing at the end of the    month.  The winner will receive a free 25 foot reel of reusable velcro cable ties (part
number MD88-25RLBK), plus free ground shipping.  Send your answers to:   
Jack Burlin

See next month's newsletter for the winner and the correct answer.

Answer from February's Newsletter.
    

      Q: What is the difference between a tetrahedron and a pyramid?

     A:  A tetrahedron has four sides, all of which are triangular.  A pyramid has five (or more) sides, one of which is square (the base) and the others must be triangular.

The winner was Roger Eastman.  Congratulations!

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Kevinisms

A Kevinism is a funny or intriguing statement or idea from our Vice President of Sales, Kevin Hunt.  Kevin is a big fan of Sandra Bullock, Pizza Inn black olive pizza, and Dr. Pepper (not necessarily in that order).  He is not a big fan of Chinese food, seafood, or other types of "dead" stuff.

One of Kevin's many stories is about his prowess as a horseman.  We have Lisa in the office who owns and regularly rides her three horses, and Robin who grew up on a ranch in Oklahoma, so she used to ride every summer.  We also have the Fort Worth Stock Show every year, so whenever the show rolls around, or Lisa joins us for lunch, Kevin has plenty of opportunity to talk about all the things he has done while on horseback. 

Kevin has stories about being able to stand up in the saddle.  He has stories about being able to lean over in the saddle far enough to pick up a handkerchief on the ground with his teeth.  He has stories of jumping into the saddle by vaulting over the rear of the horse.  About the only thing Kevin does not claim as a talent is the ability to ride a horse while singing and playing the guitar.

When it is Stock Show season (January and February) Kevin has stories about "ridin' and ropin' in the rodeo" and always talks about how his technique is so different from all the other cowboys.  In bull riding, Kevin says he would never use the rope because if you secured it too tightly to your hand, you might not be able to get off the bull. Kevin prefers to just hang on with leg power.  The one time Kevin tried the rope method, his hand got caught and he could not get off the bull for ten or fifteen minutes.  Never mind that most bull riders have to be exceptional to make the required eight second ride.

Kevin's story about "bronc" riding in the rodeo is equally impressive.  Kevin would not use the rope while riding the broncs (horses) for the same reason as the bulls.  You just don't want to get your hand stuck.  This year, while Lisa was at lunch with us, Kevin was saying how no matter what the horse did, he could not be bucked off, and would ride for a minimum of 30 minutes. Try as it might, the horse just could not make Kevin lose his seat.  Kevin went on and on about his staying power, and than no one had ever seen anyone stay in the saddle as long as he could.  Kevin was really getting into it by now, and was saying how the crowd was in awe, and how they were speculating as to just how long Kevin was going to ride that horse.

At this point in the story, Robin jumped in and said Kevin was able to ride only until her supply of quarters was exhausted.

Kevin was speechless at this point, which was quite an accomplishment by Robin, and something that we all really appreciated.

Come back for next month's story about Kevin having high praise for Chinese food, and actually going to "enjoy" lunch on two consecutive Fridays.

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The Burlin Wall
 

     You have probably heard of the famous Berlin Wall.  Please don't get confused.  The Burlin Wall is not nearly as famous.  Since the original Berlin Wall came down in 1989 fragments of it have wound up in diverse places around the world.  Two sections of the concrete wall, measuring about 4' wide x 9' tall are in the outdoor atrium of the Wyndham Anatole Hotel in Dallas.  The graffiti on the wall sections, as well as the historical significance, make it an interesting view.  The Burlin Wall is not nearly as exciting, but it does have its charm.
 

     The Burlin Wall is actually in my home.  It is located between the mantle over our fireplace and our built-in book shelves.  Being part of the same wall the fireplace is in, it is made of brick and painted white.  Since moving into our house in 2002, we have struggled with finding ways to decorate the wall.  We have relatively limited wall space as the house is a very open-concept design.  For a time, we hung paintings or prints on the wall.  For a six month period, there was a large aquarium in front of the wall.  What to do with the wall was always a question until the fateful day I visited the Neiman-Marcus at Willow Bend.

     This particular Neiman-Marcus store has original artwork all over the store.  In particular, there are two areas on the first floor that are very impressive.  The artist, Jim Bowman,  created 54 unique hand-blown glass vases of approximately the same size (about 6" wide x 18" to 24" tall).  No two colors are exactly alike.  Each vase sits on its own individual shelf and the shelves are arranged in rows, with the shelves offset from row to row.  There are two walls covered with these vases, with 27 vases on each wall.  I hope the photos do it justice.

                       
I was very impressed with what the artist had done.  My wife and I have always liked glassware, stoneware, and porcelain.  After seeing these vases and how they were mounted on the walls, I felt like I could create a smaller scale version in our home.  And so the project began.

     My wife and I started looking for vases or other types of glassware that would go with our decor, and could be adapted to fit on the wall.  During April 2006, we had to go to Houston to visit two different consulates for visa and passport work.  While we were there, we happened to stop into a great little store that had all kinds of original art and hand-blown glass.  We had been looking for blue glassware to complement the prints and ceramics (Wedgwood Blue) we planned for the mantle, and found a really great vase in dark blue and turquoise.  Then we selected six hand-blown candlesticks, in sets of two.  We brought these back home, but put them aside for a while.

     After the aquarium finally made it to my son's house, the wall was freed up and I could start the project.  I purchased some patching material for brickwork, and some matching paint.  I filled all the other holes that had been in the wall, and painted over the patches to provide a nice white background.  Then I purchased some 1/4" threaded rod, some steel inserts, and a length of MDF (medium density fiberboard) that was 4" wide and 3/4" high.  I then cut 4" squares out of the MDF.  After measuring and marking where I wanted the seven shelves to be, I drilled holes in the MDF and the wall.  I secured the inserts into the wall and the MDF board, and then cut the 1/4" rod to the correct lengths.  I painted the shelves and screwed the 1/4" rod into the shelves until they were secure.  This left each shelf with a 3/4" length of threaded rod sticking out of it.  I then screwed the exposed rod into the inserts in place in the wall.  This worked well, but I found the shelves did not want to stay level, as there was nothing preventing the threads from turning in the inserts that were in the wall.  To solve this problem I cut some short lengths of plastic tubing.  The lengths were about 1/2" or less.  I placed the tubing over the threaded rod and re-installed the shelves on the wall.  As the shelves got closer to the wall with each turn, this started to compress the tubing.  This additional pressure kept the shelves from being able to move laterally.  I could still position the shelves if they strayed from level, but they did not move very much on their own. 

    The last step was to place the glassware on the little shelves and see if they held up.  The large heavy vase did fine, although is does seem to tilt very slightly away from the wall at the top.  The candlesticks were comparatively light, and were no problem at all.  The last touches were the lighting and the two square cushions on the brick "bench" below the wall.

    This last October, we came across some glass ornament holders.  We had seen these before and thought they were nice.  But at that time we did not really have an incentive to buy any.  Once the wall was up, when we saw them again we immediately knew they would look great on the wall during Christmas.  We bought a set of six in November (from Neiman's of course) and went in search of ornaments.  We have many glass ornaments for the tree, but felt we wanted something in the right size and color scheme for the wall.  We wanted to stay with a blue theme, but the ornament holders were gold and burgundy.  So after looking for about 10 days, we found three large glass ornaments that were dark blue and gold (from TJ Max), and two sets of burgundy and gold ornaments (sold in pairs at Dillard's).  The fourth (extra) burgundy and gold ornament is on the tree.  The "holiday" wall now sports three each of the two types of ornaments.  In the future, we plan to use the ornaments during the holidays and the candlesticks the rest of the year.

     I have been back to Neiman-Marcus a few times to look at the artwork that inspired the project.  On closer examination, I can see the artist created a fake wall that is about 2 to 3 inches deep.  This fake wall (facade?) mounts in front of the real wall in the store.  The fake wall ensures the shelves are properly supported and remain perpendicular to the wall.

     If I had to do this again, I think I might go with the fake wall.  The most difficult thing about drilling into brick and using inserts is that the brick does not hold the insert as securely as wood does.  So the shelves are not all perpendicular.  Some slope slightly down, while others slope slightly up.  If you look at each individual shelf you can see this.  However, it is negligible when looking at the entire display.

     That's the story of the famous Burlin Wall.  Please feel free to email me your comments, and thanks for reading!

     Jack Burlin

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Standard format with blown glass candlesticks.

          "Holiday" format with ornaments and ornament stands.

 

Fireplace, mantle, cushions and portion of adjoining shelves.

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Copyright iscdfw2.com, 1998-2006
Information Support Concepts, Inc.
Mansfield, Texas

ISC, Information Support Concepts, Inc. offers an Extensive Selection of Quality 19

ISC, Information Support Concepts, Inc. offers an Extensive Selection of Quality 19" and 23" Rackmount Enclosure Computer Racks, Server Cabinets, Server Racks, 2-Post and 4-Post Racks, LAN Racks, Portable Racks, Power, Rackmount LCD TFT Monitor Keyboards, Accessories and Much More for IT-Network-Telecom Professionals.