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Dave Cartwright

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Dave Cartwright has worked in most aspects of IT in his 20-year-or-so career, though the things he claims to be quite good at are strategy, architecture, integration and making broken stuff become unbroken. His main pastime is shouting at people who try to install technology without considering whether it actually fits the business or the requirement. Dave is a Chartered Engineer, Chartered IT Professional and Fellow of the BCS, and lives with his family on a small rock in the English Channel.
The Art of Social Media

Be quick or be silent: Social media as a business tool

As many readers know I live in the Channel Islands. A while back someone started a very popular Facebook group called “Bad or Good Jersey Businesses”, and the locals are not backward in coming forward with both bouquets and brickbats for businesses they've recently dealt with. Unsurprisingly, more and more business people I …
Dave Cartwright, 03 Aug 2015
Rolling shelves at the National Archive

You must remember: An archive isn't a thing, it's a strategy

The biggest asset your organisation has is its data. And since IT is a world of compromises and paradoxes, the thing you have to work hardest to manage is...your organisation's data. The task of data management is a big one. First you have to purchase or rent somewhere to put it – buy storage or run up a cloud repository. Then …
Dave Cartwright, 02 Aug 2015
Security guard, picture via Shutterstock

Don't want Windows 10 FILTH on the company network? Step this way

Windows 10 is here. Now, while I have Windows Upgrade Fatigue and I'm in no rush to make the change, plenty of people out there received the upgrade when it arrived. There will certainly going to be a mighty spike in net traffic that day – not least because the upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8 is a free one. If you're a …
Dave Cartwright, 31 Jul 2015

IT as a profit centre: Could we? Should we?

Let us agree that technology is or should be a big differentiator for business. Let us also agree also that particularly in very large companies, the IT department may be more cost effective, reliable, agile and so on than external service providers. And of course, getting IT to think and act as a services organisation where …
Dave Cartwright, 21 Jul 2015
Conrad Schnitzler

El Reg hosts the IBM Bluemix Programming Competition 2015

Competition So, what do I have to do? We'll go into more detail, but the basics are: Sign up for a trial account with IBM Bluemix, actually do this now and have a go, so you're ready when the questions are published. Enter our competition and learn about the Ts & Cs here. Implement your three solutions using the Bluemix environment ( …
Dave Cartwright, 21 Jul 2015
yellow measuring tape - black writing

Make sure your storage can grow with your business

The average SME has a modest infrastructure which has grown organically: a file server of some sort, probably an email server, then a handful of application servers hosting things like finance systems or the database back-ends to business applications. In most cases server A is pushing the limits of its storage capacity while …
Dave Cartwright, 16 Jul 2015
Giant burger

My top three IT SNAFUs - and how I fixed them

Everyone's had experiences where something just inexplicably didn't work. Or apparently inexplicably, anyhow. Here are three of mine. What’s yours? Please share in the comments below. Why is our application so slow? Giant burger We're going to need a bigger table A funky new application (HTML GUI with a SQL Server back …
Dave Cartwright, 14 Jul 2015
Shounting man in suit image via Shutterstock

Want to spoil your favourite storage vendor's day? Buy cloud

Organisations continue to buy storage. In fact, I was talking to a storage salesman not so long ago who was telling me that one of his customers regularly calls asking for a quote for “a couple more petabytes." However, on-premises storage is not the end of the story. Yes, you need to have storage electronically close (with …
Dave Cartwright, 01 Jul 2015
server room

How do we train the next generation of data centre wranglers?

There's a world of difference between what the average IT person does today and what they'd have done ten or fifteen years ago. So where's it going? What will we need to teach the next generation of data centre staff? The shifting focus The big difference between yesteryear and now is the growth in managed hosted services. “The …
Dave Cartwright, 30 Jun 2015

Does your company really need all that storage?

I was chatting not long ago to a sales guy from one of the big storage vendors. The market he serves is one of those where some of his customers buy a petabyte at a time – which I am sure he is happy about when it comes to hitting his sales quotas. The thing is, though, most companies have much more modest requirements. These “ …
Dave Cartwright, 30 Jun 2015
Baby in t-shirt - with logo "I'm recording everything"

10 things you need to avoid SNAFUs in your data centre

Despite my apparently youthful good looks, I've been in the IT industry since 1989. Which means I've been around the block a bit, and have learned rather a lot of lessons – some of them the hard way. To avoid you having to find them out yourself, here are ten to be going on with. 1. Always carry a torch in your laptop bag …
Dave Cartwright, 24 Jun 2015
Agricultural silos in Paraguay

Three things you need to break down those company silos

If you’re the guy tasked with breaking down silos, should you be breaking down the people who police those silos first? We explore how to de-mine your team ahead of your brownfield project. I've worked with a number of companies, as both an employee and a contractor, since I started working in IT in the late 1980s. And of course …
Dave Cartwright, 18 Jun 2015
Monks at their laptops

Shine a light on the rogue IT that hides in the company shadows

The rapid development of technology over the years has brought us a culture where people use technology wherever they are and whatever they are doing. Only 20 years ago a portable PC or Mac that you could use to work on the move was very expensive, and if you wanted to do serious work on a spreadsheet then you had to drive into …
Dave Cartwright, 10 Jun 2015
The Seeing Eye by Valerie Everett, Flickr, CC2.0

Hyperconvergence: Just where is the technology going?

When I started in business IT back in 1989, the machine room housed an IBM System/38 and an IBM PC-AT. The latter was the Novell NetWare 2.0a server. The S/38 had its proprietary connections, and the PCs were connected by traditional Token Ring. In fact a couple of PCs had IBM 5250 adaptor cards and terminal emulators so they …
Dave Cartwright, 09 Jun 2015
A humpback whale shows its open mouth as it breaches the surface of the sea.

Fire, flood and vomit: Defeating the Great White Whale of Fail

I've met a lot of IT people over the years who have a problem comprehending what Business Continuity (BC) actually is. On one hand this is fairly understandable, since to the average IT person “continuity” means making their systems robust and resilient so they can live with a power cut or the loss of one of their sites. Real IT …
Dave Cartwright, 05 Jun 2015
Mist and condensation, image via Shutterstock

Hybrid cloud: Define what it is, then decide what you want

First, there was software as a service, infrastructure and then platform as a service, then public and private cloud, and today hybrid cloud — but is the latter vendor-driven cloud washing or something more? Lending credence to the latter is the fact EMC last week spent a juicy $1.2bn buying Virtustream to increase its presence …
Dave Cartwright, 03 Jun 2015
Legoland Windsor Knight's Kingdom

Spoiling staff with toys could turn against your business

Many companies put staff engagement high on the agenda: they reason that if you keep staff happy they are likely to be productive and stick with you through difficult times as well as when it is all going swimmingly. It is a perfectly sensible thing to do – so long as you involve the IT department in the process. My first IT …
Dave Cartwright, 02 Jun 2015
management mobile

Where’s the best place for your infrastructure bottleneck?

As technology evolves, bottlenecks in the infrastructure move around. The switch speed leapfrogs the server speed, then the servers are upgraded with faster LAN cards and the spinning disks in the SAN become the weak link, so you upgrade and find that the SAN fabric is holding you back. How does everything interact? And as the …
Dave Cartwright, 01 Jun 2015
Our happy travellers surrounded by armed police at LAX

Governance the key if you don't want mobile workers escaping your control

Mobile computing is great. No longer are we chained to our desks when using technology and doing proper work. Not only are laptops getting smaller, lighter and cheaper, it is also possible to do real, productive stuff even more freely using phones and tablets. As is always the case in computing, though, the positives of …
Dave Cartwright, 21 May 2015
Empty racks awaiting customer kit at HP's Aurora data centre

Why carrier neutrality matters for 'proper hosting'

When you sign up for data centre services, it's easy to focus on the core stuff like uptime, cooling and cabinet availability, while forgetting that getting wide-area (private circuit or internet) links can sometimes be tricky. If you forget to examine how carrier-neutral your provider is, though, then you risk delays in moving …
Dave Cartwright, 08 May 2015
Power generators, Holborn, photo: Gavin Clarke

Give me POWER: How to keep working when the lights go out

In the summer of 2001, I began consulting for a travel company in North Yorkshire. A very innovative company, but nothing all that unusual about it in a mechanical sense: a 70-or-so-seat call centre, finance department, sales and marketing people, and the IT department hidden nicely away where people couldn't just casually drop …
Dave Cartwright, 29 Apr 2015
Ice cores stored in a snow trough at the Bruce Plateau camp. Credit: Ellen Mosley-Thompson, OSU

The data centre design that lets you cool down – and save electrons

I started my commercial data centre experience in London in the late 1990s. Even back then, most of the service providers were parroting the same mantra: “Your power provision is limited, and we'll charge you through the nose for anything over the basic consumption figure you've signed up to.” The logic most of them gave was the …
Dave Cartwright, 20 Apr 2015
Planet Earth in all its glory

Green your data centre – without ending up in the Job Centre

Going Green: Tactics (Part 2) Data centres are big, noisy places that seem to have an emphasis on generating heat and making lots of bright lights flash. The first time you visit one, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the service provider's emphasis was on anything but the green credentials. And of course you'd occasionally be quite right: there are DCs …
Dave Cartwright, 20 Apr 2015

What type of storage does your application really need?

When you are doing the spec for some new server hardware, what do you consider? Well, first you decide whether you will go for a physical server infrastructure or a virtual one. For the former you buy several modest-sized servers, and for the latter you look at a small number of socking great machines or perhaps a blade-based …
Dave Cartwright, 09 Apr 2015
Leonidas, king of Sparta, as portrayed by Gerard Butler in the film 300. Pic copyright: Warner Bros

Data centre doesn't like your face? That's a good thing

Your company has decided, quite sensibly, that it wants to move its application infrastructure to a data centre rather than living with the risk of an on-premise approach. So how do you choose the data centre you should move to? Location Location is a compromise of locality versus suitability, but in my mind you should lean …
Dave Cartwright, 09 Apr 2015
The Tanami Desert en route to Willowara

Going strictly hands-off: Managing your data centre from afar

If your core servers – and hence your core applications – live in a data centre, then by definition they're not on your premises. In many cases they may be hundreds of miles away – in fact, in a previous life, my employer's most distant data centre was six time zones away in the US Midwest. This means that you don't have the …
Dave Cartwright, 30 Mar 2015
Digital Voice Recorders

Ten things you always wanted to know about IP Voice

When I was a contractor building IT architectures, it was common to find that people had a rather old phone system and were looking to move to something newer. The question they asked was always: what shall we do to get something stable but future-proof? Phone lines or IP trunks? Even in 2015 you seldom see an organisation that …
Dave Cartwright, 23 Mar 2015
sign post pointing to trail in two different directions

MOVE IT! 10 top tips for shifting your data centre

The scenario's a hauntingly familiar one. You're the IT person who's just been told by the boss: “We're moving the kit to <insert name of whatever data centre he's signed up with in a panic>, now get on and do it.” I've done more than my fair share of migrations from on-premise systems to data centres – and more often than not …
Dave Cartwright, 18 Mar 2015
GEC PABX 3 switchboard and operator

Sit back and let someone else manage your telephony

If you are a small company, it takes a certain amount of time and effort to maintain a phone system. This is not a huge problem as the system sits in the corner and gets on with its job most of the time; you have to fiddle with it only to set up new extensions or change the names on items when people leave or join. For a medium …
Dave Cartwright, 18 Mar 2015
Moshi Moshi 03 Handset

Look, no handsets: How to do telephony without a phone

As I sit at my desk, I have two phones in front of me. One is a cordless Panasonic that talks to a base station via the DECT protocol, and thence to the public phone network via a knackered old piece of copper that broke the other day. The other is a snazzy mobile number with a picture of a piece of fruit on it and the ability …
Dave Cartwright, 12 Mar 2015

Out with the old: the end of Microsoft support can be your storage opportunity

Anyone who has not been locked in a cupboard for the past couple of years will be aware that two of Microsoft's core products will reach the end of their supported lives in the next few months. The most imminent demise is that of Windows Server 2003, whose support comes to an abrupt but entirely expected end in July 2015. Not …
Dave Cartwright, 11 Mar 2015
connections_global_internet

How does a global corporation switch to IP Voice?

Not so long ago I worked with a company that had more than a dozen offices around the world. Each had its own phone system – a total of five different makes – of which only two could handle IP telephony. As a colleague once put it, we used to “spend a lot of time phoning ourselves”. International calls to our own staff, …
Dave Cartwright, 04 Mar 2015
money notes lifted up

Why IP telephony is about more than just saving money

In the last few years IP-based voice communication has increasingly come to the attention of business managers. Internet-based voice communication has been around for years in a number of forms, some hideously cranky and others very effective. My personal watershed in the credibility of long-distance IP voice comms was …
Dave Cartwright, 23 Feb 2015
GEC PABX 3 switchboard and operator

Are you ready to ditch the switchboard and move to IP telephony?

When I was growing up it was something of a novelty to have a phone in the house. And when I started working in IT in 1989 my company was still encouraging staff to wait to make calls until after 1pm, when peak time ended. There was something unusual about the new phone system we deployed that year: the Philips Sopho-S was a …
Dave Cartwright, 17 Feb 2015

Banish the fear of Big Brother when you bring in BYOD

As I have said before, bring your own device (BYOD) can be a difficult concept to sell. After all, you are basically saying to users: “We want you to supply your own IT equipment but we want to be able to control the corporate data and applications that go on it.” Yes, you can sweeten the pill by offering a financial incentive …
Dave Cartwright, 18 Dec 2014
Smartphone user on Tube

BYOD: How to keep your data safe on their mobile devices

This article was produced in association with JAMF Software Bring your own device (BYOD) is a novel concept that perturbs cynics. And in some ways I can't really blame them. You appear to be saying to your users: “We are not going to give you a computer to work with. Instead we expect you to bring your own, and we will give you …
Dave Cartwright, 14 Dec 2014
Sun Broomfield Data Center

Are we ready to let software run the data centre?

Software defined networking (SDN) gets a mixed press. Proponents declare it has given them more flexibility than ever before and that the time from inception of an idea to system implementation is vastly reduced. When the opponents have their say, the story is that the way you make a network work properly is to have a network …
Dave Cartwright, 14 Dec 2014
A fake iPhone with electric shock capabilities

Get comfortable with mobile device management

This article was produced in association with JAMF Software Mobile device management (MDM) is very much the thing at the moment. And frankly it's about time. Get comfortable with mobile device management Until quite recently if you wanted users to have mobile devices connected BlackBerry-style to the corporate network – …
Dave Cartwright, 11 Dec 2014
management BYOD5

Should you call on comms suppliers when you go for a BYOD setup?

BYOD (bring your own device) has its ups and its downs but it is becoming more and more popular and those of us in IT management need to learn to live with it. So assuming we have bitten the bullet and decided to go with BYOD, is it something we can do all on our own or should we be getting third parties involved? Are we …
Dave Cartwright, 03 Dec 2014
Dingo Gap

Get your staff working on the move: Develop that app for mobile

Working on the move has become most people's normal way of operating. We are used to having our world in our pocket and being able to read and write emails, produce simple documents and generally stay in the corporate loop whether we are in the office, in the pub, on a train or (sadly) sitting on a beach trying to be on holiday …
Dave Cartwright, 01 Dec 2014
BioLite CampStove

Cutting the cord without losing touch with your office

If you're a member of the backroom staff at a big company, you probably spend a lot of time sitting at a desk bashing at a computer. Indeed, in my day job as IT ops manager for a telco I'm delighted to have probably the only truly comfy chair on the premises and my huge desktop screen for the Excel-wrangling that forms part of …
Dave Cartwright, 28 Nov 2014
Angry woman on mobile

Everything your users ever need to know about BYOD

Back in the old days providing your employees with corporate computer equipment was an expensive business. When I was 19 I was the university holidays PC guy in an office full of RPG III developers; the fact that they thought their System/38 with its 5250 terminals was a pretty neat piece of kit was the only reason they didn't …
Dave Cartwright, 23 Nov 2014

Giving mobile users the applications they want is child's play

Working on the move has become most people's normal way of operating. We are used to having our world in our pocket and being able to read and write emails, produce simple documents and generally stay in the corporate loop whether we are in the office, in the pub, on a train or (sadly) sitting on a beach trying to be on holiday …
Dave Cartwright, 20 Nov 2014

How to keep everything fluffy in your hybrid cloud world

Cloud computing is a big deal these days. Old farts like me can debate ad nauseam whether cloud is just a new word for what we use to call managed or hosted services and whether it is barking to call an on-premise virtualised infrastructure a private cloud. The fact remains that whatever you call it there is a vast amount of it …
Dave Cartwright, 17 Nov 2014

Can you choose your carrier when a carrier owns the data centre?

Twenty years ago when I began using hosted data centre services, the choice was straightforward. You picked either a co-location service where you rented rack space and installed your own servers, or a hosted option where your data sat on the service provider's equipment. You could then decide on the amount of internet bandwidth …
Dave Cartwright, 12 Nov 2014
Nokia Lumia 930

Can you really run your business on a smartphone?

We have all seen them: people who wander around with a phone glued to their ear as if their entire world depended on it. And we have all worked with people for whom eye contact means sitting with head stooped peering at texts, emails or, occasionally, videos of real people. This got us wondering: can normal people actually run …
Dave Cartwright, 05 Nov 2014
Flash Gordon

Life after server-side flash: What comes next?

Flash suffers from a steadily shorter working life, slower access speed and shorter working life the smaller the actual cells the NAND become. It’s generally reckoned that the scaling wall will be hit attempting to shrink cell size beyond 16nm. At that point, to continue increasing non-volatile memory capacity without increasing …
Dave Cartwright, 26 Sep 2014
Flash Gordon

On integrating flash arrays with server-side flash

If you're buying flash storage today, you're doing it for speed. After all, you're not doing it to save money and you're definitely not rich enough to be doing it because you want to be green and save a few kilowatt-hours on your power bill. With spinning disk, the disks themselves were probably the bottleneck in your SAN-based …
Dave Cartwright, 25 Sep 2014
IMFT 25nm Flash die

Will multi-tier flash arrays come to a data centre near you?

Multi-tier storage is a familiar concept in data centres and large server installations. In the old days, this was often a simple case of having a single-access bus type with different-speed disks, for example SCSI-based disk arrays with 15,000rpm disks in the “fast” set and 7,200rpm or 5,400rpm in the “slow” set. Commonly, …
Dave Cartwright, 17 Sep 2014

Convergence as a new new thing

Feature Nearly 20 years ago I was technical editor of a weekly networking and telecoms newspaper. In those days the big word was “convergence” – at that time in the context of telephony and data coming together into a single network infrastructure and protocol set. Here we are in 2014, and that word is once again being bandied about – …
Dave Cartwright, 15 May 2014