Thursday, March 27, 2014

IBM Power Server Capacity Planning

Based in Northeast Ohio with over 1,500 clients, United Computer Group is proud to represent IBM products and services in addition to those of our strategic partners. 

IBM Power Server Capacity Planning

UCG is an authorized +Midrange Performance Group Business Partner. We use MPG's capacity planning software and consulting services to ensure our customers' IBM Power Systems are sized correctly for their current and future workloads. MPG's Navigator Family software has been deployed in thousands of IBM Power Systems capacity planning and problem determination engagements worldwide over a period of more than 12 years. This significant experience factor is why UCG urges all its clients to deploy the Navigator Family software on your servers. 

Start collecting the data today to let us together make an informed decision tomorrow. Download the MPG Performance Navigator free of charge.

For more information on UCG's product and service offerings, click here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

You're Invited: UCG Spring Fever 2014!

Please Join Us!

Friday, May 16, 2014
8:00 am - 3:00 pm

You must register to be a part 
of this exciting event.


Sponsored by 
United Computer Group, IBM, and Arrow

Event Location

Acacia Reservation, Lyndhurst, Ohio
(fka Acacia Country Club) Driving Directions

Note: If you are located ​90 minutes or more from event, UCG will provide a complimentary hotel room for Thursday, May 15 if desired. Check box on registration form to reserve your room.

UCG Spring Fever 2014

8:00 am
Registration and Breakfast
Barbara Belovics, UCG
8:30 am
Welcome and Introductions
Michael Powall, VP UCG
8:45 am
Virtual Tour and Capabilities of UCG Data Center Partner BlueBridge Networks LLC
Petar Bojovic, Manager Technical Operations, BlueBridge Networks, LLC
9:15 amData Backup and Disaster Recovery for iSeries and Intel (vSphere and Hyper-v) 10GB to >100TBJames Kandrac, President, UCG; Timothy Prostor, Sr. Engineer, UCG
9:45 am
Data Intelligence and Warehouse Management
Gina Parry, Account Manager, VAI
10:30 am
What is Flash? When and Why Might It Be Considered?
Tracey Halama, IBM
11:00 am
IBM Power 8 Update: Speeds, Feeds and Upgrade Paths. 4-core & V3700 SAN
James Kandrac, President, UCG
11:30 am
IMS-21 Enterprise Document Management and Workflow
Bill Wilson, VP of Strategic Alliances, Vanguard Systems, Inc.
12:00 pm
Lunch, Summary, and Discussion
1:30 pm
Golf or Acacia Reservation Walking Tour
Note preference on registration form

Breakfast and lunch by Dino's Catering

Call 800.211.8798 for more information.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Grow Your Managed Service Business

IBM Power Cloud Briefing for MSP’s Sponsored by IBM and Arrow

On behalf of United Computer Group, Inc., I was honored to be one of 25 IBM Business Partners invited to attend the IBM Q114 Power Cloud Briefing for MSP's. The event took place at the IBM Executive Briefing Center in Austin, TX on March 18-19.

To meet future client demands, MSP's must be able to expand infrastructure and service delivery capabilities while minimizing cost and increasing client value. The event focused on helping MSP's capitalize on new market opportunities and enable us to provide the right mix of services, products, and programs to clients.

Outstanding sessions and an honor to meet "Watson" and Ravi Arimilli, IBM Fellow, Analytics, Big Data and Cloud Platforms, who presented "Power: Journey and the Road Ahead."

Jim Kandrac with Watson

A fascinating article by +Matthew Herper was published this week in Forbes about Watson’s role in cancer research:

“This morning, IBM and the New York Genome Center announced a partnership to test whether Watson, the computer that won on Jeopardy, can sift through the genomes of cancer patients and help doctors pick drugs. This effort could hold the key to making DNA sequencing for cancer affordable, but there is a vast amount of work to do that will take years at a minimum.” Read article. 

As an interesting aside, Watson is engaged with a client (unnamed) and is working to ingest data to reduce their call center staffing from 3,000 to 100 people. You won't know you are NOT talking with a human. 

Many thanks to John Hardy, Senior Briefing Consultant, IBM Austin, TX; Jim Pinto, IBM Business Unit Executive, Power Systems Service Providers; and Dave Waddell, Brand Manager, IBM Power Systems, Arrow ECS for hosting this event, and to all who participated.

Jim Kandrac
Founder and President
United Computer Group, Inc.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

UCG Gearing Up for TUG TEC 2014

The Toronto Users Group (TUG) for Power Systems Expo will be held on April 24th and 25th at the York University Keele Street Campus in conjunction with Seneca College in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. TEC, the annual Technical Education Conference, is in it's 21st year.  

This years' TUG TEC2014 agenda will highlight IBM i Performance Management; Web & Mobile Development on IBM i; RPG; IBM i System Management; and Optimizing Your i Data. See the full agenda here

The keynote, "Overdue: A Time to Modernize" will be given by Tim Rowe, IBM Business Architect for Application Development and Systems Management. +iProDeveloper 

Be sure to stop by for a visit with United Computer Group, a proud sponsor of TEC2014; we'll be in Booth #8! We look forward to seeing you there.  

Become a United Computer Group Partner

UCG Partner Center

United Computer Group partners enjoy collaborative, rewarding, and mutually beneficial arrangements to bring industry-leading technology solutions to the mid-market. Our core business philosophies ensure that our clients have an excellent experience. We are focused on delivering solutions to help them solve their most complex technology challenges.

As an IBM Advanced Business Partner, UCG has been actively marketing Power Systems-based enterprise solutions since 1987. We place great value in finding the right partner to provide a high level of sales, marketing, and technological support to our clients.

Interested? Fill out this form and we will contact you within 24 hours. We look forward to working with you.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gateway Technical College: Ensuring a future for IBM i

Gateway Technical College in WI is one of the few colleges in the United States to offer classes on the IBM i. Jim Buck, President of WMCPA and IBM i Programming Instructor, sees a future for the IBM i through the youth of today. He noted that they have a full program on multi-platforms, but many of the students like to focus on the IBM i. For the past 12 years they have been placing students in the marketplace in organizations looking for RPG, PHP, and MySQL programmers. 

End users looking for young IBM talent: contact Jim Buck, President, WMCPA, and IBM i  Programming Instructor, Gateway Technical College

Additionally, the classes focus on real world experience, for example, writing code for flight reservation systems. +Michael Seday spoke to past and current students during the WMCPA conference last week, and they collectively noted that although Mr. Buck makes them work hard, in the end they are ready to take on the challenges and opportunities to gain real world experience in the workplace. 

If you are looking pass the IBM i Administration Certification Exam and are ready to begin your IBM i RPG schooling, be sure to touch base with Jim Buck and Gateway Technical College.

“Gateway prepared me well for my job – I haven’t been faced with anything yet that I am unable to do,” says Ajay.“I really do think this job is recession proof. Business must have computers to work, and they depend on programmers to work every day.
Part of that preparation was hands-on training in the IBM-i power system, using IBM-i operating systems – training that is offered at few colleges in the state. “I’m glad that the instructors at Gateway got me into IBM-i, it was the first time I’d heard about it,” says Ajay. It’s a great environment to work in, and there’s a lot of job security that goes along with it. There are few colleges teaching it, but there are a lot of companies that use it – and there are a lot of professionals over the age of 50 who are eyeing retirement.” - Ajay Gomez, former Gateway Technical College Student

L to R: Chandra Krieg (student), Jim Buck, Michelle Kincaid (student)

Friday, March 14, 2014

WMCPA Spring Technical Conference Highlights

Lake Lawn Resort, Delavan Lake, WI
UCG's +Michael Seday attended the 29th Annual Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association Spring Technical Conference (WMCPA) on March 11 through 13. The event was held at Lake Lawn Resort on the snowy shores of Delavan Lake, WI.  

"Women in IT", a conference highlight, included excellent presentations, an expert round table, and open discussions. 

Get Your Head Into The Cloud

WMCPA's Keynote speaker was Richard Dolewski of iTinuum. Richard is a frequent technical contributor to industry publications, and the author of System i Disaster Recovery Planning. "Get Your Head Into the Cloud" was the title of Richard's Keynote speech. The focus was on transitioning from a traditional data center to a secure private cloud architecture. Richard provided a look into making IT a revenue generator for businesses, explaining that "with today's IT you can own way less and do way more. It is time for IT organizations to evolve and implement new technologies that support virtualization, agility, resiliency and how to manage the costs associated with cloud computing."
Left to right: Michael Seday, UCG; Jim Buck, Gateway Tech College & WMCPA President;  Richard Dolewski, iTinuum President & Keynote Speaker;  Shane Poad, Paragon Software & WMCPA Sponsor Director 

Breakout sessions covered JavaScript, IBM i Security, Intro to Ruby and Ruby on Rails, Processing XML with RPG, and many IBM i hands-on and technical discussions. 
The UCG booth at WMCPA

The show was well attended and included over 20 conference sponsors including United Computer Group. If you missed this event, be sure to keep an eye out for the 30th annual spring conference next year.

Steven Joy and Michael Seday
Steven Joy of E.R. Wagner, was the proud winner of UCG's conference giveaway: a box of Callaway HEX Control golf balls. Steve, enjoy your game! 
An additional box of golf balls was given away at Casino Night to the ecstatic craps, roulette and blackjack players.

The WMCPA has provided over 25 years of quality information to allow their members to expand their knowledge on the ever-evolving mid-range system.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Considering which backup and DR solutions are right for your business?

UCG will deploy the perfect solution to best meet your data protection, DR, and business needs today, and as your business grows.


Plug-n-Protect Appliance is an all-in-one backup and recovery appliance for fast and economical deployment of a complete data protection solution from 3TB to 100TB+. Includes preconfigured hardware and storage, plus a complete suite of VAULT400 software.

Software Capacity Edition manages and controls multiple vaults by licensing the patented award winning technology. Software Capacity Edition is suited for the enterprises both large and small with 250GB to 100TB+ of data.

VAULT400 Backup as a Service (Baas) is a managed secure cloud backup and disaster recovery solution best positioned to protect data <500GB. Data is encrypted and compressed offsite at two of UCG’s secure data centers. Add extra DR protection with optional hardware disaster recovery options of 24-hr, 12-hr DR or 1-hr HA.

Local Express Recovery Appliance (EPA) is a pre-configured storage appliance that’s installed at the client location as a vault, providing a local cache for backup data from 500GB to 2.5TB. A companion product to BaaS, Express Recovery Appliance automatically replicates your data to the secure VAULT400 cloud for offsite disaster recovery protection.

Learn more about each solution by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Power i, IBM i: What Do You Mean by That? A Primer from Joe Hertvik

Great article from +Joe Hertvik on how to differentiate between the terms Power i and IBM i. 

"Since their introduction, there’s always been some confusion about what people mean when they say Power i and IBM i. The terms are not interchangeable.
Here’s my primer on when and how to use the terms Power i and IBM i. These are my own definitions and best suggestions for referring to or writing about the platform and the operating system. If you’d like to suggest modifications or another source for these terms, please post a comment here or email me at"
Read Joe's blog post here. Takeaway: "IBM no longer sells the old products so all you have to do is understand that Power i and IBM i are the new terms and go on evaluating whether what ever products or services people are discussing will work in your environment." 
Thanks, Joe!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

UCG Saves Client IFIC Over $2M During Superstorm Sandy

Jim Kandrac and Tim Prostor of UCG had a great visit with client International Fidelity Insurance Company in Newark, NJ on Thursday, March 6, 2014. UCG provided Maxava H/A software to IFIC several years ago and it proved very useful during the power outage due to Superstorm Sandy. Without its DR solution, IFIC would have lost three full days of operation, equating to around $2 million in revenue.

IFIC also has agreements with UCG for VAULT400 BaaS and IBM i Cloud Test/ Dev. Partition.

From Left to Right:  Bob Marshall, IFI Vice President; Bruno Fonseca, IFI Senior Network Systems Manager; George Rankin, IFI Program Manager;  Barbara Kissner, IFI Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer;  Eric Kong, IFI Senior Programmer Analyst;  Jack Callahan, IFI Senior Programmer Analyst; Jim Kandrac, UCG President; Tim Prostor, UCG Senior Engineer;  Michael Gottlieb, IFI Programmer Analyst

Monday, March 10, 2014

Forbes: The Problem With Corporate Webmail

This article in Forbes last week was another reminder that when it comes to your email, it's critically important to implement two-factor authentication in addition to other security measures. 

As Forbes' +Kashmir Hill reported, the Syrian Electronic Army’s attack last month started with the infiltration of their webmail system. The SEA had been able to track down their Microsoft Outlook web interface and convincingly spoof it. They were then able to trick a few Forbes employees into entering their credentials on a fake Forbes webmail page after they clicked on links in spear phishing emails. Once the three SEA hackers got into their email system, chaos ensued. Read the full article here. 

An image of the Syrian flag that was uploaded to Forbes’ WordPress image server when hackers gained access to a super-administrator account.

In October 2013 we blogged about the topic of two-factor authentication with some tips on how to implement. We think it's worth re-reading. You can find the blog post here.

"The big takeaway for Forbes and others from our hack: we need additional security measures around our email, notably two-factor authentication."  

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The State of Global Disaster Recovery Preparedness

Findings from the the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council show that 73% of respondent organizations worldwide are not taking adequate steps to protect their data and IT systems leading to more than $5M worth of critical applications failure, data center outages and data loss.

If disaster occurred today, is your business prepared? 

Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark 2014 Annual Report

Here are a few highlights from the report. Download the full report here.

The bad news: 3 in 4 companies at risk, failing to prepare for Disaster Recovery

This report presents Disaster Recovery preparedness benchmark trends for a mix of companies from across the globe, large and small, that have taken the groundbreaking Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark Survey this past year. It incorporates a summary of the responses from the DR Preparedness online survey along with recommendations designed to help organizations improve their own DR plans and preparedness.

The good news: we are starting to identify DR best practices

Based on the benchmark survey results, the DR Preparedness Council recommends that organizations consider implementing several steps to help ensure business continuity regardless of industry or evolving threats.
  1. Build a DR plan for everything you need to recover, including applications, networks and document repositories, business services such as the entire order processing system, or even your entire site in the event of an outage or disaster.
  2. Define Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) & Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) for critical applications. Without these important metrics, you cannot set proper expectations and assumptions from management, employees, and customers about your DR capabilities and how to improve them.
  3. Test critical applications frequently to validate they will recover within RTOs/RPOs. For DR preparedness to improve, companies must begin to automate these processes to overcome the high cost in time and money of verifying and testing their DR plans.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Vanguard Systems, Inc. partners with UCG to offer Backup as a Service (BAAS) to clients

Enhanced scan, store, retrieve, protect, and recover capabilities now available to clients worldwide

United Computer Group, Inc. and Vanguard Systems, Inc., a global supplier of Enterprise Document Management Systems, today announced a new partnership agreement. The new agreement enables Vanguard to offer UCG’s VAULT400 Backup as a Service (BAAS) and remote hardware disaster recovery to clients nationwide.

Vanguard Systems partners with VAULT400
For over 25 years, Vanguard Systems, Inc. has supported a diverse client base across the globe including several fortune 100 companies. Vanguard provides a suite of document imaging, forms design, workflow, data extraction, and content management solutions. United Computer Group, Inc., in addition to VAULT400 BAAS, has delivered value-based technology solutions for the IBM midrange market for over 27 years, serving 1,500+ clients worldwide.

David Engberg, President of Vanguard Systems, Inc. said, “This agreement enables Vanguard to offer clients a turnkey solution—scan, store, retrieve, protect and recover. The UCG VAULT400 offering will be available in SAAS, appliances, and software licensing depending on raw data requirements of 10GB to >100TB.”  Vanguard clients’ data will be available 7/24/365 for immediate recovery of granular files or in totality.  Options are available for remote hardware RTO of 72/24/12 or < 1 hour.  

“We are excited and eager to move forward with UCG, a company that has had a noticeable impact on the IBM mid-market with its BAAS and remote hardware DR offerings,” stated Bill Wilson, Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Vanguard Systems. Vanguard’s selection of UCG’s solution was made after a comprehensive evaluation process from a variety of cloud backup and disaster recovery solutions.

“UCG is pleased to have been selected by Vanguard and look forward to being their clients’ provider for a wide range of remote data storage and disaster recovery solutions. Vanguard clients will benefit and can leverage our knowledge to obtain a solution that best suits their requirements”, said Jim Kandrac, UCG’s founder and president.  “With solutions that cover a broad spectrum, we are unbiased and can do what’s best for Vanguard clients.”

Vanguard Systems, Inc. is headquartered outside of Philadelphia, PA, with satellite offices in Ohio and California. Vanguard provides a suite of document imaging, forms design, workflow, data extraction, and content management solutions, making the power of information instantly available anywhere across the enterprise. Vanguard provides their clients with a seamless solution covering the entire document lifecycle.