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China denies that it banned the purchase of Apple hardware

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August 11, 2014

Chinese officials are reportedly denying news stories that the country has banned the purchase of Apple hardware for government IT projects for all of 2014 and 2015.

Reuters is suggesting that Apple computers and devices are not on its list of approved products, but not because the Communist nation blacklisted Apple over security concerns.

Instead, the government claims, Apple had not applied to be on its list of approved hardware vendors. However, companies and suppliers that have been approved for the list include Lenovo, Dell and HP.

But even without the approval, state officials are still allowed to acquire and run Apple products, according to the report.

If the report is true, the statements are at odds with earlier claims that Apple was struck from an official procurement list and, as such, employees of state-controlled agencies would no longer be allowed to purchase and use iPads or MacBook hardware for official business.

Even if these latest reports prove accurate, all is not well between China and Apple. The iPhone and iPad maker has had a rough time so far with Chinese officials as of late, facing criticism in China for security concerns posed by the iPhone and the firm has been tied up in legal wrangling with the country's patent office over its Siri service.

To be sure, Apple isn't the only American technology company at odds with the communist country. Microsoft also faces antitrust proceedings as investigators are looking into whether the company illegally bundled its products with copies of Windows.

In other IT news

These days, it can sometimes seem that almost everyone is a true expert when it comes to network certification processes, and Cisco wants to change that. After all, Cisco has already help design and build about 80 percent of the internet's infrastructure.

Cisco has created a new method for people to prove their expertise in the form of a new Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist (INS) certification.

The new certification is for information technology and operational technology professionals in the manufacturing, process control, and oil and gas industries who install, maintain, and troubleshoot industrial network systems.

Cisco says the new certification is needed because IoT networks and the various devices on them aren't your grandfather's networks or devices, so the new designation is needed.

“There are literally hundreds of different protocols used by these devices,” Cisco says. “They may have very specific needs in terms of speed and frequency of connectivity. Many of them are very susceptible to changes in delay and latency, some of them connect intermittently, while others just come in range from time to time. Many operate 24x7 under the harshest conditions, and a lot of them where designed to operate in hierarchical and closed loop networks,” Cisco said.

All of which adds up to the need for a new certification. To score the cert, applicants will need to take a course called “Managing Industrial Networks with Cisco Networking Technologies”.

No such course appears on Cisco's Global Learning Locator at the time of writing, so this is a new entry on what some say could be a new trend at the networking giant.

Once the course is completed, applicants will be tested on knowledge of the OSI layers of IP networks, as well as networking devices like routers and switches, and cabling approaches. Specific industrial devices such as drives, PLCs, sensors, and substation equipment will also be covered, as well as relevant industrial standards and models such as TIA, the Purdue model, and environmental standards.

Also covered will be various safety protocols important in an industrial zone, Cisco said.

In other IT news

The long-awaited HTTP 2.0 standard has inched a step further towards completion, with the IETF issuing a last call on the two key documents of the new specification.

The comments are to end on September 1st, and time is rapidly running out. The project is advancing, but at a snail's pace.

The two drafts in question are the core HTTP 2.0 document, and the HPACK header compression format.

It's been a very long road, and full of obstacles to get to HTTP 2.0. Last year, we reported on the various plans for interoperability testing, and that was followed in November by a more vigorous debate over the proposal that the new internet specification make encryption mandatory.

The latter proposal ultimately survived, even though it could pose some issues for some system operators.

As F5's Lori MacVittie writes, the new protocol will pose challenges for data centre operators. By mandating SSL or TLS, a lot of traffic traversing data centres will become much harder to see, and therefore to monitor and analyse.

And of course, there's also been the usual complaints that big interests have inhibited the development of a standard.

In May, FreeBSD developer Poul-Henning Kamp complained that Google's SPDY protocol (for accelerating Web traffic) was disrupting HTTP 2.0 so much that the project should be abandoned.

Mark Nottingham, the project chair, criticized Kamp and asked him as well as his working group to either indicate their support, cease and desist.

In other IT news

IBM said this morning that it has upgraded its FlashSystem array capacity to an effective 1.6 PB by integrating some SVC/Storwize features, including real-time data compression.

Overall, IBM's new FlashSystem V-840 release 1.2 is designed from three 2U rackmount units, an AE-1 storage enclosure and two active AC-1 control enclosures.

The new storage system can hold 12 SSDs with 1 TB, 2 TB or 4 TB capacity, bringing raw storage up to 48 TB and configurable capacity to 40 TB.

There can be up to 8 of these in a FlashSystem configuration, making maximum configurable capacity to 320 TB, which is lifted to 1.6 PB by achieving 80 percent compression of data stored in the new implementation.

A single FlashSystem V-840 building block has two control enclosures and four of these can be grouped together using dedicated internal 8 Gbit/s Fibre Channel switching, providing 160 TB of configurable capacity.

The overall system can have an additional four storage enclosures, giving us the 320 TB configurable capacity number.

A single V840 can have up to 5 storage enclosures, providing 200 TB of configurable capacity. A group of four V840s can have, effectively, two storage enclosures each for a maximum of eight (40 TB) storage servers and the 320 TB capacity limit.

According to IBM's guidelines, you cannot have 4 maximally configured V-840s, each with five 40 TB storage enclosures, 200 TB per V840, thus providing a theoretical 800 TB of configurable capacity and 4 PB of after-compression capacity using IBM's 5X multiplier.

Perhaps a future that the V-840 development program might use later is InfiniBand and higher speed processors to go beyond the overall 320 TB configurable capacity limit.

Real-time compression is an optional software feature. The AC-1 Control Enclosure, fitted with a Xeon E5 v2 8-core processor, carries out its real-time compression work using a second Xeon 8-core E5 with 32 GB of memory and up to two optional compression accelerator cards for hardware-assisted compression.

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The compression accelerator cards double the compression IOPs and provide a 3.5X compression speed boost.

It's obviously very intensive in processor usage terms. Encryption is also optionally available.

Big Blue is calling the FlashSystem's SVC/Storwize code "software-defined storage", but you can only buy the system on IBM's hardware platform, so don't go thinking you can buy the software and run it on your own sourced server controllers and flash JBOD enclosure-- it simply won't work that way.

The software already supports three tiers of storage and IBM's Easy Tier data placement software, so at lower access rate needs, it can be moved to nearline disk storage and then to some form of longer-term store.

Other data management features include replication, FlashCopy data protection, remote mirroring, thin provisioning and the virtualization of attached third-party arrays.

That makes them act as quasi-FlashSystem arrays and takes the overall usable capacity limit to an immense 32 PB.

Accessing servers connect to the V-840 via Fibre Channel cables. The FlashSystem V840 plays nicely with VMware, there being a vCentre plug-in, VAAI support and SRA for Site Recovery Manager.

And yes, VVOL support is coming soon, we are told. The FlashSystems are fast-selling arrays, according to Gartner, a bright spot in IBM's storage portfolio, and this new converged system will probably be accretive to Big Blue's business.

As with other all-flash arrays (from EMC, Pure Systems and Solidfire for example) we can reasonably look forward to a capacity increase in the next 6 to eighteen months as denser flash chips become available. There's no pricing available yet.

Source: Reuters.

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