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

Issue 33

Publisher:  Jack Burlin                                Editor:  Patti Hammonds

March 3, 2008

Your success story            Monthly featured product            Kevinisms            Trivia         

Articles of Interest:  KVM Switches Simplify Data Center Management                      The Escape from Brazil

Back to ISC Main Page

Your Success Story

Sometimes the ability to deliver is more important than the product.  In this case, a client was out in the field doing a major installation and needed to place an order immediately and get it delivered the next day.  We were very happy to be able to make things work.

     Jack, I really appreciated your speedy response the other day. You helped me with a difficult situation.

     Terry Taylor


Monthly Featured Product

RKP117, RKP1017,  and
RKP7 series keyboard/
monitor drawers





Information Support Concepts (ISC) has discontinued the monthly product special. Since we are now running weekly specials with much deeper discounts, it made sense for the monthly special to be replaced.  We will now have a featured product each month, and direct our customers back to the weekly special for discounted items.

You can click on this link to see the current weekly product special! 

This month we will highlight the value of keyboard/monitor drawers.


The units pictured are some of the RKP series units.  All units can be equipped with built-in KVM switches (see article below), and those switches can be USB, PS/2 or Cat5 capable.  Keyboard/Monitor drawers provide outstanding features while only occupying  1U in a rack or cabinet.  The RKP is the light duty unit while the N series is more solidly built and able to meet many of the standards associated with Mil-Spec.

As always, ISC personnel are ready to answer your questions, and can confirm what product will work for your specific application. If you have a question, just call us at 800-458-6255.


KVM Switches Simplify Data Center Management

January 11, 2008 • Vol.30 Issue 2

As businesses grow and technology requirements expand, IT executives and data center managers face an increasing challenge selecting infrastructure devices to optimize server management, particularly as heterogeneous server installations emerge over time with unique physical management requirements that can create a nightmare mish-mash of switches and cabling within often-limited operational areas.

With more than 20 years as a leading distributor of networking and telecom products, Mansfield, Texas,-based Information Support Concepts (817/649-1788;, aka ISC, has built its reputation within the industry by assisting businesses in deploying innovative solutions to reduce cost and simplify data center operation, including the recent introduction of a line of CAT 5 KVM switches that helps provide improved management of growing facilities.

Reducing the complexity of IT tools is one of the most significant efforts that an IT executive can make to reduce operational complexity, says Bill Hostmann, an analyst with Gartner. “Businesses are getting more and more complicated just in terms of the number of connections and interactions and transactions they must deal with," he notes. “Being able to choose IT tools that reduce inherent complexity is vital to improving operation."

ISC recently began shipping a line of IP CAT 5 KVM switches manufactured by Chinese equipment manufacturer Austin Hughes Electronics that provide IT departments with new options for maximizing the management of server installations, including the ability to mix and match PS/2, USB, and Sun-based servers with a single switch, manage a larger number of ports, increase distances between the switch and servers, and reduce and simplify cable management.

"These switches address any number of headaches that businesses are increasingly facing in trying to improve the management of their server installations, improve efficiency, and reduce cost," says Jack Burlin, product manager for ISC. “We spend a lot of time talking to people inside our customer operations about the problems they are having to deal with on a regular basis, and the size of cable bundles and just having enough room near the servers and switches to stack everything needed has become a real challenge which these CAT 5 KVM switches can readily address."

Multiple User Benefits

The four primary benefits of the CAT 5 KVM switches are the high-density capability to address either 16 or 32 ports with a single 1U switch, the ability to increase the distance between the server and KVM switch to more than 100 feet, enhanced rear cable management using CAT 5 cords, and the ability to work within a multiplatform data center environment to provide improved performance that also simplifies overall infrastructure management.

In the past, managers have typically had to use separate switches for management of a hybrid mix of PS/2 or USB-based systems in their environments or pay a high premium for switches that could handle both types of equipment, Burlin notes. Competitive products using CAT 5 cable technology are two to four times the price of the Austin Hughes devices ISC offers, Burlin says, allowing businesses that previously felt they could not afford the CAT 5 technology to now consider an upgrade.

“These switches will work with any computers they have, and if they are involved in a hybrid environment or migrating from one platform to another, this single switch will accept the mix and eliminate the need to purchase and manage multiple switches," Burlin says. “It also allows you to distribute the computers more widely, which can aid in cooling, and still connect them to the same switch. Businesses can do more in the cabinet space they already have without having to look at costly new enclosures."

Gain Control Of Cabling

The switches reduce the size and number of cables used in a data center by replacing proprietary KVM cables (usually three-for-one for PS/2 and two-for-one for USB) with a CAT 5 patch cable, Burlin says. A single CAT 5 KVM switch can handle servers in the same cabinet, in adjacent cabinets, in contiguous rows of cabinets, or even in cabinets that are located in separate rooms up to 130 feet away.

The reduction in cabling can allow IT departments to configure their servers to their best advantage, notes Burlin, improving airflow for better cooling of equipment, enhancing distribution of power requirements, and creating improved distribution of workloads throughout the data center.

Users of the CAT 5 KVM devices can add additional switches in a cascade that allows for the control of up to 128 servers with as few as four 1U switches, Burlin says. The switches in most environments would be placed within the same cabinet, while the servers can be placed at various distances within the data center.

The new switches also provide IT departments with flexibility in management, allowing for control from a local console only, from a console and a remote console up to 500 feet away, or from a local console and from a remote console anywhere in the world that is connected by the Internet, says Burlin.

A user can work securely on the Web using 128-bit secure IP access. This plug-and-play capability requires no software to be installed on the servers or remote PCs but provides secure access over IP using a Web browser with server control to the BIOS level of the infrastructure.

More Enhancements Planned

The switch family also has a roadmap for even greater management capability this year, Burlin says. At present, only one user can be working with the computers at any one time, with as many as eight people observing. Later this year, however, ISC plans to introduce “matrix" versions of the switches that will allow for multiple users at the same time.

The high-density 16- and 32-port switches can use either a PS/2 or USB dongle at the server end of the installation to allow the user to cost-effectively specify the switch to match the exact server configurations and allow older or redundant servers to be migrated over to servers with new USB interfaces without replacing switch hardware.

“These switches really make it easy to upgrade," Burlin notes. “You don’t have to do any rewiring; just take the old wire out and attach to the new dongle and slide in the newer server where the old was installed."

The new switches also have an enhanced user interface for administration and user management, such as allowing for “super users" to create custom user profiles and access rights for specific KVM ports. A hotkey can also be configured using different key combinations, and the multilingual interface allows users to select from many different languages.

by Darrell Dunn

Don't put your hardware in danger!
Call the Rackmount Ranger!


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, The Washington Redskins, and Dr. Pepper (not necessarily in that order).  He is not a big fan of Chinese food, seafood, or other types of "dead" stuff.

Over the last two months we have been going over Kevin's theories on why the Redskins did not win more frequently.  Last month, the Super Bowl was won by the Giants, bringing a very successful season to a close.  If you paid any attention to football this past season, it would be difficult to conclude that football died on January 9, 2008.

Kevin calls this "The Day Football Died."  This is the day Joe Gibbs resigned his position as head coach of the Washington Redskins.  That morning Kevin came to my office to give me the bad news.

                       Joe Gibbs (before contact lenses)

Not taking anything away from Joe Gibbs, who is a great coach and already enshrined in the hall of fame, Kevin laid it on pretty thick.  To hear Kevin tell it, it was the end of the greatest era the NFL had ever seen.  Kevin extolled the virtues of Joe Gibbs and made him sound like the savior of football as we know it.  Kevin was quite sure there would be a huge tribute to Joe Gibbs at the half-time ceremonies of the Super Bowl.  Who needs Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers when you could have Joe Gibbs?

I am not going to bore you with all the great things Kevin said about Joe Gibbs.  Let's just say he laid it on pretty thick.  I needed waders to get out of my office once he was finished.

All the time Kevin was talking, I was just smiling, and thinking to myself, "If Joe Gibbs is the greatest coach who ever lived, and is so superior to anyone else who ever held that position, what does it say about the Redskins if he could not make winners out of them?"

Mentioning this to Kevin brought the usual responses, which have already been de-bunked in the last two issues of the newsletter.  Kevin says the Redskins want to lose to make other teams feel good.  Failing that, then the Redskins lose because Jerry Jones is responsible.

Of course neither of these ideas make any sense.  Even if they did, you would think having a coach of Joe Gibbs caliber would get a team further than the first round of the playoffs.

I am looking forward to the new pack of excuses Kevin comes up with next year.  I hope he drops the tired old ones he used this year.  They are just getting annoying.

              Joe Gibbs calling in a pass play!  

             Joe Gibbs' reaction to a bad call.

         Joe Gibbs leading prayers in the Vatican.


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Trivia Question

Q:  All of the Pueblos which dot the mountainous landscapes in the Southwestern US have a particular trait in common.  They are all carved into cliffs that face South.  Why do they all face South?

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 VTF2 rackmount vented panel, 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 a Coryphée?

A:  A Coryphée is the second lowest rank in female ballet.  It ranks above chorus members (corps de ballet) and below soloist.  Coryphées typically perform in small ensembles.

The winner was Antoine Durr.  Congratulations!





The Escape from Brazil


My wife and I recently celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary and it made me think back to our experiences the first month.  Most of my acquaintances know that my wife Monica is Brazilian, and we were married twice.  The date we celebrate is December 27 and the other date is January 22.  The reason for the two ceremonies is that the first one was the big Church wedding in Brazil, while the second one was the US legal wedding in Mesa, Arizona.  The second wedding was required because of Monica’s immigration status.  She could only enter the US on a special visa, which is one reserved for people who will be getting married to a US citizen once they arrive in the country.  My boss Kevin likes to confuse me with the 6 Million Dollar Man and tells people I smuggled Monica in by stowing her in the nose of the T-38.  The truth is even stranger.

Getting the visa and immigration paperwork was not that difficult a process.  I had everything lined up before going to Brazil, and once arriving in Recife, we both went to the US Consulate so we could get her passport stamped.

After that, we thought everything would go forward without a hitch.  We had the wedding (see photos below), we flew down to Rio for the honeymoon, we checked out of the hotel on New Year’s Eve, took our bags to the airport and stowed them in a locker, then spent the afternoon and evening enjoying the city and getting a nice dinner.  Then we went back to the airport to check in for the Midnight flight back to Los Angeles on PanAm (does anyone remember PanAm (Pan American Airlines)?).  PanAm used to have a direct flight from Rio to Los Angeles on a Boeing 747.  But it only flew once a week.

Everything went great until we got to the ticket counter to check in.  I got my boarding pass, and then the ticket agent turned to Monica and said, “Where is your exit visa?"

Exit Visa!  What the hell is that!?  It turns out that during a very narrow period of time (about 1973 to 1975) Brazil required any citizens traveling abroad to get an exit visa.  This was not related to immigration as much as it was related to crime control.  You obtained the exit visa at your local police station, and all they wanted to check on was that you did not have a criminal record and were not wanted by the police.  The exit visa was actually pretty easy to get, but not so easy once you left your home town, as we were soon to find out.

Since the option of me getting on the airplane and leaving Monica stranded at the airport in Rio did not look very viable, I decided to stay behind and help her get things fixed up so we could leave.  We took our bags back from PanAm, took a taxi back to Copacabana, and checked back in to the Hotel Apa.

The next day was New Years Day 1975.  The entire country was shut down and there was not much to do.  We spent the day walking around downtown.  The streets were covered in paper, since the tradition is to throw all of the past year’s calendar pages, appointment book pages, agendas, and similar business paperwork out the window of your office on New Years Eve.

We had already made arrangements to get on next week’s flight back to LA, and I had called the Marine Corps guards at the US Embassy to ask them to contact my squadron back in Arizona and let them know I needed another week of leave to handle the emergency.

The next day was January 2, and we went down to the governmental buildings in Rio to see how we might get an exit visa for Monica.  After being passed from office to office for most of the day, we finally had an interview with a person who could help.  He explained that he could get an exit visa by contacting the local police in Recife, and getting verification that Monica was not in any trouble with the police.  This would be done by fax, but he thought it would take more than just a few days and wanted to know if we were willing to stay in Rio until he could issue the exit visa.  Not knowing how long it would take, it seemed like a better idea to go back to Recife.  So we checked out of the hotel again, went to the airport, and got tickets back to Recife.

Needless to say, everyone in Monica’s family was quite surprised to see us back in town.  We had fun telling the story of our stay in Rio, and the next day Monica went off with her father to the local police station to get the exit visa.  That being accomplished, we flew back to Rio, connected with the PanAm flight to LA, and were back in the states the next morning.  When I got to my parents’ house there was a message from my squadron.  It seems I was in a bit of trouble for not showing up on time, but they told me to take the time I needed to get back safely, and then report in to the squadron commander.  What happened when I got back to base will be the subject of a subsequent story.

To wrap things up, once we got to the US, I had to get the immigration people to approve Monica’s status and it took them a couple of weeks before they let us know it was OK to get married.

We drove to the Justice of the Peace office in Mesa.  I had one friend with me and the JP’s secretary was the second witness.  We had a nice discussion with the JP and told him the story of the first wedding, and that he really could make this one as short as he liked.  Based on our story, we now hold the record for the shortest wedding in the State of Arizona.  It went like this:

JP:  Jack, do you take Monica to be your lawful, wedded wife?

Jack:  I do

JP:  Monica, do you take Jack to be your lawful, wedded husband?

Monica:  I do

JP:  By the power vested in me by the State of Arizona, I now pronounce you man and wife.

The whole thing took about 15 seconds, and we have been married for 33 years, and counting.

 Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter. 
Please direct your comments to Jack Burlin.




                          First photo after the wedding. (above)

           Taking Marriage Vows  (left)

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Information Support Concepts, Inc.

Mansfield, Texas
ISC   Information Support Concepts, Inc