Wednesday, April 30, 2014

TUG TEC2014 Conference Highlights

Toronto Users Group Conference, TUG TEC2014, took place on April 24-25 at Seneca College at York University. The two day conference spotlighted the IBM i mid-range systems.

Léo Lefebvre, TUG president stated, “I am very happy to see such a great turnout for our 21st event. Providing a vendor showcase among the many technical sessions has proven a success year after year. TUG is glad to provide this forum to connect the IBM community for this exchange of ideas."

Sessions focused on a few main themes this year: Performance Management, Modernizing IBM i Applications, and IBM i and RPG Application Development. A trending topic on the use of mobile development on the IBM i was also a highlight of the conference. 

L to R: TUG members Jay Burford, Secretary; Bob Lesiw, VP; Vaughn Dragland, Admin & TUG Newsletter Editor; Russell Pangborn, TUG VP & Seneca College Liaison; +Michael Seday, Sr. Consultant, United Computer Group, Inc.

Tim Rowe, IBM Business Architect, provided the keynote speech. Tim noted that organizations can make IBM i applications look and feel new. It can be done either through a web interface or even a mobile device.
The UCG Booth at TUG TEC2014

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Breaking News: IBM Announces Power8

IBM Tackles Big Data Challenges with Open Server Innovation Model

New Systems Deliver Data Insights 50 Times Faster than Latest x86-based Systems

ARMONK, N.Y. - 23 Apr 2014: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today debuted new Power Systems servers that allow data centers to manage staggering data requirements with unprecedented speed, all built on an open server platform. In a move that sharply contrasts other chip and server manufacturers' proprietary business models, IBM through the OpenPOWER Foundation, released detailed technical specifications for its POWER8 processor, inviting collaborators and competitors alike to innovate on the processor and server platform, providing a catalyst for new innovation. Read full press release.

View Power8 slideshow from IBM STG External Relations.

IBM Systems Magazine: POWER8 Represents a Sea Change for IBM
by Evelyn Hoover

IBM announced its first processor designed for data workloads. The POWER8 chip represents a sea change for IBM. It’s the first chip that’s optimized for big data and analytics, designed for better cloud economics and delivered on the world’s first open server ecosystem.Today’s announcement is the culmination of several months of planning, according to Power Systems GM Doug Balog. Last year IBM announced Linux on Power technology, including porting centers and a $1 billion investment in the OS. The OpenPOWER Foundation was also announced as a way to reach new buyers and new markets with Power technology. In addition, earlier this year IBM announced Power technology was moving to SoftLayer—at first as part of Watson as a service and then under BlueMix software as a service. Read full article in IBM Systems Magazine.

IT Jungle: IBM i Runs On Two Of Five New Power8 Machine by Timothy Prickett Morgan

Big Blue was widely expected to trot out the new entry Power Systems machines based on its Power8 processors next week, but it looks like the company wanted to make sure that the machines had a day of their own rather than being a part of the broader discussion about big data and cloud at the Impact2014 shindig that IBM is hosting next week. The interesting bit of news for IBM i shops is that there are five new Power8 systems, but only two of them are certified to run IBM i.
This was a bit unexpected, but once the pricing for the new machines is divulged, very likely next week, all will be made clear. Read full article here. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Optimize Your Business Performance with S2K Enterprise Management Software

The Future of Enterprise Management Software Has Arrived.

Regardless of industry, organizations that recognize and use information technology to help their businesses react to competition and quickly respond to change will be tomorrow’s industry leaders. S2K Enterprise Management Software harnesses the power of technology and enables businesses to better anticipate consumer needs and enhance productivity. 

Find out how your business can benefit. Schedule a demo today!

"Since our purchase of the S2K Enterprise Management Software package from UCG, we have added several warehouses and grown significantly. This system has allowed us the ability to better manage our business on an IBM Power Systems platform, which is ideal for growth."   - Keith Price, VP of Information Services, Seneca Medical, Inc., Tiffin, OH
"Selecting UCG to provide our IBM Power System and S2K Enterprise Management Software was an outstanding choice. From technical support and disaster recovery, to generating new ideas and resources for growth, UCG is a trusted business partner. This is a critical component for any progressive company."  - Berk Enterprises, Inc., Warren, OH

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Client Spotlight: F. Christiana and Company, Marrero, LA

We are pleased to introduce UCG's longtime VAULT400 client, F. Christiana and Company, a family run food distribution business located in Marrero, Louisiana. This thriving company was founded in 1934 by Nick Christiana Sr., who started the business as an egg packer and wholesale poultry dealer. In 1963, Nick's son Frank purchased the company from his father and renamed it F. Christiana & Company. 

Today, the company employs over 125 people, operates 36 delivery trucks, and the product line has expanded to over 2,000 different items including canned and dry goods, condiments, cheese, paper, and cleaning products, along with a long list of fresh and frozen meat items. 

View F. Christiana's brief overview video
As one of the first companies to open their doors after Hurricane Katrina, they are all too familiar with the devastation that can occur in the event of disaster. In order to protect their business critical data, F. Christiana and Company selected UCG's VAULT400 as their backup solution. 

Recently, F. Christiana added VAULT400 <24-Hour Hardware Disaster Recovery Services. In the event of a disaster, VAULT400 <24-Hour DR Services will provide systems for 30-days while working closely with F. Christiana to ensure business continuity and conduct planning and testing. All DR services are managed by UCG so the client can concentrate on other immediate needs as systems are brought back online.The result is a smooth transition that is transparent to F. Christiana customers, allowing them to continue operating their business as usual. 

Learn more about UCG's VAULT400 Hardware Disaster Recovery options by clicking hereWhen a disaster occurs, the clock is ticking!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

IBM Engine of the Week: Colocation Solution Keeps Insurer Online Amid Hurricane Sandy's Wrath

"Though the IT team at Newark, NJ-based International Fidelity Insurance Company (IFIC) had rehearsed its disaster recovery scenario with precision, the team couldn't have anticipated an event that would take out power, roads and communications across a wide swath of the mid-Atlantic coast. When Hurricane Sandy hit in October, 2012, the disaster recovery team had to fail over to a co-location site with the clock ticking on its uninterruptible power supply and no phone service.

Watch this podcast to see how with the guidance from IBM partner United Computer Group, IFIC avoided nearly $2 million in lost revenues and learned valuable lessons to help it prepare for future incidents in this week's Engines of the Week."  +Paul Gillin +Maxava HA 

Read the entire story published in IBM Systems Magazine in November 2013

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Customer Care: Walking the Talk at UCG

Today we received a most sincere and thoughtful note from new VAULT400 client, +EMI Corp. Kay Frieders, Controller and IT Manager for the firm, took the time to let us know that she was exceptionally happy with UCG's customer service, and in particular, our Sr. Technical Engineer, Vladimir Capitanov. Delighting our customers is, without question, a UCG core value. Learn more about UCG Customer Care and Best Practices. For additional UCG customer testimonials, click here.

"Mike, I just wanted to let you know what an outstanding employee United Computer Group, Inc. has in Vladimir Capitanov. The VAULT400 installation on our iSeries was flawless and could not have been better. In addition to the smooth installation,​Vladimir promptly followed up with me on the seeding completion of all the backup jobs that were scheduled to make sure that everything is perfect for EMI Corp. I’ve been working for 30 years with IT people all over and it is refreshing to work with Vladimir. He cares and it shows. It’s that kind of detail to attention that keeps customers coming back.

EMI will need a new iSeries Server this year. Whether we purchase, offsite or cloud, I am definitely interested in doing business with United Computer Group, Inc. because of employees like Vladimir and yourself. Both of you have shown outstanding support to EMI Corp.

         ​- ​ Kay Frieders, Controller / IT Manager, EMI Corp., Jackson Center, OH​

Thank you, Kay and EMI Corp.! Kay's note is a great reminder to us all to always acknowledge exceptional customer service. The impact it has on the business and the individuals involved is priceless. 

Mike Powall
Vice President, United Computer Group, Inc.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

United Computer Group, Inc. Q2 2014 Newsletter

Spring at Last!

Hello and welcome to the UCG Q2 Newsletter! We sincerely hope the Polar vortex of 2014 is now behind us and everything will be in full bloom before we know it.

It was a very busy first quarter as we welcomed new clients and business partners to the UCG family. Thank you for your past and future business and for the friendships we've made along the way.

Our focus remains solidly in place to solve your business issues and pain points; help your business grow through our advanced technologies; and deliver an excellent client experience each and every time.

Please enjoy this edition of the UCG newsletter featuring highlights from Q1 2014 and upcoming events.

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

Click here for agenda and details


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

Sponsored by United Computer Group, IBM, and Arrow

Event Location
Acacia Reservation
(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.

Darice Inc., a premier wholesale distributor in the craft industry, recently selected UCG to implement a system-wide technology refresh.

Darice’s new IBM i Power System features the latest IBM processors, representing a true leap forward to more intelligent systems that reduce complexity, decrease energy consumption, minimize downtime and drive down operational costs.

"UCG's 27+ years of knowledge, experience, and proven ability to execute in the IBM arena was the winning combination Darice required. UCG provided sizing, consulting, and a turnkey IBM Power System running i OS coupled VAULT400 cloud backup and disaster recovery. We could not be more pleased with our decision." - Jim Petkunas, Darice CIO 

IBM Power8: Awaiting mid-2014 Release

Although we haven't yet seen an official release date, indications are that IBM is still planning to release Power8 sometime in the next several months.

Following is a brief excerpt from an article recently published in IT Jungle by Timothy Prickett Morgan

IBM Pushes Performance Up, Energy Down With Power8

"The IEEE hosted its International Solid-State Circuits Conference recently in San Francisco, which is generally loaded with coming out parties for all kinds of server processors. IBM's top techies from the Power Systems division were on hand to show off some more of the feeds and speeds of the forthcoming Power8 chips, expected sometime around the middle of this year.

The bottom line, Tim says, is the new Power8 systems give IBM a chance to rethink how it packages and prices the Power Systems-IBM i stack and try to get its entire base to move forward rather than those who are pushed to the cutting edge by the demands of their applications.

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

Looking for young IBM i Talent?
Gateway Technical College: ensuring a future for IBM i

Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, 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. 
Jim can be reached at 262.564.3158.

Visit Our Resource Libraries

Be sure to take advantage of the valuable information available for download in our VAULT400 and Enterprise Management Software Resource Libraries.
Backup Selector

United Computer Group, Inc.
7100 E. Pleasant Valley Road, Suite #250
Independence, OH 44131-5556
Toll Free: 800.211.8798
Main: 216.520.1333
Email: |

James A. Kandrac, President
Michael D. Powall, Vice President

UCG in the News:
Q1 2014 Highlights

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

“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.” - Bill Wilson, Vice President of Strategic Alliances for Vanguard Systems.

Harbor Footwear, Ltd. Selects United Computer Group’s VAULT400 as Cloud Backup and DR Solution

“VAULT400 is an affordable, reliable, stress-free offsite backup solution." - 
Robert Engler, Operations Manager, Harbor Footwear

"I do not believe that it will negatively affect the IBM Power i business. I view IBM selling off X as a proper strategic move." - Jim Kandrac 

Jim Kandrac with "Watson"
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."

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

Become a UCG Partner

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? Click here to fill out a brief form and we will contact you within 24 hours. We look forward to working with you.

Socially Connected
You can find us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+Facebook, and on our UCG Blog.

We make an effort to connect on social media with our clients, vendors, and business partners, so please reach out and let us know where we can find you.

Speaking of social media, where have you found the most success connecting with other technology companies/ technology-minded individuals? Let us know what you think at

Monday, April 07, 2014

Empowering Women in IT

UCG attended the WMCPA Technical Conference last month and we were so impressed, we covered it in two separate blog posts: WMCPA Spring Technical Conference Highlights and Gateway Technical College: Ensuring a future for IBM i.

This morning, we read an excellent article by Dan Burger in IT Jungle delving into the Women in IT portion of the conference in greater detail. 

"Obstacles and solutions are a large part of the IT professional's career choice. Organizations assemble IT staffs to solve business problems. Traditionally, it's been a man's world, with women in a decidedly minority role. The IBM mid-range community is no different. But last month at the Wisconsin Midrange Computing Professionals Association Technical Conference, a session called Women in IT put the gender topic in a new light."
"The role of women in IT is changing. And it's not changing because we've all sat around and waited for change to happen on its own accord. It's changing because there are people who want it to change and because it's time for change."

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Just for Fun - Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes

An entertaining article from Matt Hamilton at +IBM for Midsize Business. We love this stuff; happy we could help, Matt!

The subject line in the April 1 email from United Computer Group - an IBM Business Partner - caught our attention: Urgent News: IBM Discontinues Support for All Tape Drives Effective Immediately!

We should have looked at the date on the message. It was a playful little April Fools' Day joke that UCG used to remind people that up to 70% of tapes can fail each year.

But the experience did remind us to look up some memorable April Fools' Day pranks. Unquestionably, the best list is "Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time" on Alex Boese has lovingly tended this site since 1997, documenting everything from 19th century circus hucksters to present-day politicians. Museum of Hoaxes isn't one of those slapped-together photo blogs. The site actually originated as a research project for Boese's doctoral dissertation, and the content is thoroughly researched and carefully written.

In Boese's opinion, The greatest April Fools' Day hoax of all time was the 1957 Swiss Spaghetti Harvest (right), which fooled so many people that the respected BBC news show Panorama, which dreamed up the prank, was flooded with calls from people wondering where they could get their own spaghetti tree. There's also The Left-Handed Whopper, The collapse of the Wisconsin State Capitol building, the digital makeover of Big Ben and 96 others.