Monthly Archives: July 2015

“Mars Is Going To Need A Global Communications System”

muskobama8 “Mars Is Going To Need A Global Communications System”

In the latest excellent Sue Halpern NYRB piece, this one about Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk bio, the critic characterizes the technologist as equal parts Iron Man and Tin Man, a person of otherworldly accomplishment who lacks a heart, his globe-saving goals having seemingly liberated him from a sense of empathy.

As Halpern notes, even Steve Jobs, given to auto-hagiography of stunning proportion, had ambitions dwarfed by Musk’s, who aims to not just save the planet but to also take us to a new one, engaging in a Space Race to Mars with NASA (while simultaneously doing business with the agency). The founder of Space X, Tesla, etc., may be parasitic on existing technologies, but he’s intent on revitalizing, not damaging, his hosts, doing so by bending giant corporations, entire industries and even governments to meet his will. An excerpt:

Two years after the creation of SpaceX, President George W. Bush announced an ambitious plan for manned space exploration called the Vision for Space Exploration. Three years later, NASA chief Michael Griffin suggested that the space agency could have a Mars mission off the ground in thirty years. (Just a few weeks ago, six NASA scientists emerged from an eight-month stint in a thirty-six-foot isolation dome on the side of Mauna Loa meant to mimic conditions on Mars.) Musk, ever the competitor, says he will get people to Mars by 2026. The race is on.

How are those Mars colonizers going to communicate with friends and family back on earth? Musk is working on that. He has applied to the Federal Communications Commission for permission to test a satellite-beamed Internet service that, he says, “would be like rebuilding the Internet in space.” The system would consist of four thousand small, low-orbiting satellites that would ring the earth, handing off services as they traveled through space. Though satellite Internet has been tried before, Musk thinks that his system, relying as it does on SpaceX’s own rockets and relatively inexpensive and small satellites, might actually work. Google and Fidelity apparently think so too. They recently invested $ 1 billion in SpaceX, in part, according to The Washington Post, to support Musk’s satellite Internet project.

While SpaceX’s four thousand circling satellites have the potential to create a whole new meaning for the World Wide Web, since they will beam down the Internet to every corner of the earth, the system holds additional interest for Musk. “Mars is going to need a global communications system, too,” he apparently told a group of engineers he was hoping to recruit at an event last January in Redmond, Washington. “A lot of what we do developing Earth-based communications can be leveraged for Mars as well, as crazy as that may sound.”

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CRM Watchlist 2015 Winners: The reviews march on to Blackbaud and Gigya

NOTE: CRM Watchlist 2016 registration is still open. Scroll to end of this article for more information.

Once again, my apologies for making this year’s Watchlist reviews a longer and more drawn out effort than in the past. Normally I’m done end of March. This time its going to be not end of July as I thought but probably closer to middle of September. While it takes out some of the drama and momentum, I hope the reviews give both you as readers and the companies being reviewed, who are winners of the Watchlist after all, some value. If they don’t, my bad.

All that said, I’ve reached the stage in the reviews where the rest of them are not really companies I can group. Each kind of stands on its own. So please then, understand, that Blackbaud and Gigya have little in common other than they are software/services technology and they both won the Watchlist. But each is pretty damned singular in their respective fields – and exceptionally good at what they do.

Dive, Greenberg, dive!

Blackbaud

This is not just an 800-pound gorilla but is King Kong, though so far has had a much better life with no ending on the Empire State Building in sight. They are a dominant company in the world of non-profit technology. While I don’t know what their market share is relative to others in their space other than “BIG; VERY BIG”, I can give you some anecdotal idea of what I’m talking about. Several years ago, while doing a review of one of the CRM Idol companies who happen to be in the non-profit tech sector, I asked them who their target market was. Their answer “anyone that Blackbaud doesn’t want.” True story. I do know that their revenue for the 1st quarter of 2015 was a 15.2% increase from last year at that time to $ 147 million, meaning a run rate of $ 588 million and the year is just starting. That is, according to Blackbaud, one eighth of their addressable market and maybe 5% of the total market.

Here are a few more numbers:

8 Tools to Stop Procrastinating

“The best part about procrastination is that you are never bored, because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing.”

~Anonymous

Secret Confession: I’m writing this with two hours to go until my vacation starts.  Could I have done it sooner? Sure.  But see, I started, and then I decided to Google “procrastination quotes” for my opener, and that led me to tons of hilarious procrastination memes, and several other articles written by others – and before I knew it, I had to head to a meeting and then it was lunchtime and now here I am, with two hours to go, frantically writing.

Procrastination? You could say I’m an expert.

No matter how passionate you are about your small business dreams, I’m willing to bet that you occasionally (always?) fall prey to the evils of procrastination.

After all, the evil vortex of social media exerts a powerful pull, and despite that eight-hour Netflix binge you’ve not yet caught up on Game of Thrones and did you see that latest cute cat video that Mike shared?  

Not to mention the stack of dishes that needs to be done and the three hours of vital research on the best brand of new coffee maker (after all, you have to take care of your team). 

Really, it’s a wonder anyone gets anything done. 

Even the most driven and focused among us are not immune to the seductive power of that urgent pull to do…well…. anything other than the thing we should definitely be doing.   

Before you know it – three hours have passed   and you still haven’t finished that email campaign you started to build hours ago.

Oops.

stop procrastinating 1 8 Tools to Stop Procrastinating

Now it’s late afternoon and the pressure is building and you have to do all the things.  At the same time.  Right now.

GAH!

If procrastination causes so much stress  – why do we do it?

It’s biology baby.

Not only does the short-term pleasure of binge watching Netflix release a surge of almost irresistible dopamine, but this actually changes the neural structure of your brain, making that behavior more likely to recur.  Add to that the fact that scientists have discovered that some people (no, we aren’t pointing fingers) are predisposed to impulsive acts AND procrastination.

All of which gives you the perfect excuse to say ”My brain made me do it!”

stop procrasinating 2 8 Tools to Stop Procrastinating

So – it’s perfectly justifiable and biologically based – but that doesn’t help when you have abusiness to run, clients to serve and a team of employees or contractors depending on you. 

Some things actually have to get done. On time. Every time.

What’s a procrastinator to do?

Start by identifying your procrastination triggers. 

Read the following list of common reasons compiled by AmEx Open Forum for putting off important tasks.  Do any (or all) of these resonate?

1.    Fear – Whether it is of failure or success, fear can immobilize even the most determined entrepreneur, making your Facebook feed way more enticing than looking at your business finances.

2.    Exhaustion – Burnout is common among small biz owners.  You’ve got a lot on your plate, and sometimes the length of your to-do list makes you want to run and hide.

3.    Lack of Confidence – =If the project at hand falls outside your zone of genius you may be putting off those tough but important tasks.

4.    Squirrel! – We could call this one shiny object syndrome.  Distractions are impossible to avoid, and it can be difficult to keep your blinders on. 

5.    Competition – When it’s time to get down to business, sometimes all the rest of what needs to be done can flood your brain and steal your focus. Unlike the shiny objects above, these items do demand your attention – just not right now.

6.    Multi-step chaos – Complex projects with countless tasks and subtasks can quickly feel too big to ever complete  – which is right about when Netflix starts her siren song.  

7.    Discomfort – When a task involves a difficult or uncomfortable memory or emotion it can be easy to come up with reasons to stall.

stop procrastinating 3 8 Tools to Stop Procrastinating

One or two of those hit home?  Okay, so you’re human.  Now lets figure out what to do about it. 

Check out this list of eight of our most popular productivity related blog posts below and find the right solution for you.

1. Find the right tool, system or method to help you kick procrastination to the curb

Perhaps you’re actually a super productive person, deep, deep down – all you need is the correct tool and you’ll be unstoppable.  Find one here and get cracking!

2. Plan Ahead

You know that old saying “fail to plan and plan to fail”? Perhaps they actually meant plan to procrastinate. In this post, Jenny Shih explains how planning can put an end to avoidance tactics and get you moving.

3 .Procrastinate by learning about procrastination so you’ll quit procrastinating

Instead of cat videos, plan your next procrastination period to include these six TED talks filled with unique ideas for helping you be more productive.  Bonus – this is one time your procrastination might actually pay off!

4. Start dreaming to start doing

This is one blog that won’t tell you to get your head out of the clouds. In this post, Infusionsoft Dream Manager Dan Ralphs discusses how dreaming can actually make you more productive.

5. Begin with the big goal, not the task at hand

Sam Bennett is one of our favorite people in the history of ever. In this video, Sam shares her procrastination-beating secret – and it’s all about finding a way that works for you. 

6. Simplify, simplify

Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) procrastination can be a response to an overly cluttered and complicated life.  Read to find out five tips from Master Life Coach Anna Kunnecke.

7. Delegate, dahling!

Guess what?  You don’t have to do it all!  Once you get over the sheer relief of that, head over and catch up on five great sites to help you get the help you need.  Not only will this help with your procrastination, but you’ll free up time to focus on the things that matter.

8. Write a Killer To-Do List

In order to stick to your to-do list, you’ve got to make sure you’re creating one. Check out this post for a system that will have you mastering your to-do list for good.

stop procrastinating 4 8 Tools to Stop Procrastinating

Now – if you still want to procrastinate (without feeling like you’re losing focus on your business) I highly suggest taking our entrepreneur quiz. It’s like Buzzfeed, except with a cool customized playlist, your entrepreneurial spirit animal and a ton of useful small business education, tailored just for you. Now that is way cooler than finding out which Disney Princess you are, if we do say so ourselves.

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Procurement: Art Or Science? [VIDEO]

275705 l srgb s gl1 300x200 Procurement: Art Or Science? [VIDEO]Is the procurement job more of an art or science? That’s the question I asked procurement professionals for the first episode of our new “Talking Shop with Procurement” video series. As you’ll see in the one-minute vignette (below), the answers are somewhat divided.

Here are some insights inspired by the “science” camp:

Procurement is a science: You do an experiment, see what works and then learn from it. This response reminded me of Isaac Newton chasing down the laws of the universe by running controlled experiments (including once sticking pins into his eyes). What is the optimal number of suppliers to invite to an RFP? Should a start price be included in an auction? The feeling of this delegate was that procurement runs according to observable rules. Discipline, repeatability, and learning from your mistakes are the order of the day.

It’s all about data. Getting good usage data for hard-to-manage categories is crucial. Sometimes procurement professionals need to be sleuths at tracking down actual usage metrics from obscure systems. For example, when putting together an RFP for security services, just how many call-outs a month is typical? What is the square footage of the buildings in scope? The better the data we can give suppliers, the better they can respond to us.

It’s like Einstein, breaking all the rules. Sometimes in procurement we need to go against accepted thinking. What worked in the past isn’t a reliable indicator of the future in a world of changing demographics, technology, geopolitics, and even climate. That’s why evergreen contracts are so dangerous. Maybe, like Einstein, you need to say that although the existing framework has worked for a long, long time, it’s time to change it. Let’s not buy this, let’s outsource it, buy it on consignment, eliminate the distributor. Do we even need it at all anymore?

Then there’s the uncertainty principle. Just as Heisenberg proclaimed that some aspects of a particle are unknowable, one procurement professional characterised her buying efforts as often incorporating “known uncertainty.” There is a temptation to overdo the research and delay, sometimes acknowledging that you can not know everything is a viable approach. Just press “launch” on that RFP!

And here are some thoughts about the art of procurement:

Procurement is all about people. The outcome of a procurement process might well be a change in supplier. How will you communicate that, and deal with leakage? How will people react? Will there be cultural issues to overcome? Science won’t solve these problems.

We have to learn to cook together. As one procurement professional put it, “You have to know your suppliers’ businesses, how they make money.  Get into their kitchen and learn to cook together.” The key insight here is that only by understanding how the supplier’s business actually works can you come up with a win-win for you both.

Sometimes it just feels like finger painting. Great art takes many forms. The photographic likenesses of Florentine portraiture are very different from the seemingly random drips and spills of a Jackson Pollock, or the breathless enthusiasm of your four-year-old presenting you with a card with stuck-on pasta shapes. Not all procurement activities are going to go through the same process, and there is a danger of “over-templating” and ending up with a process that doesn’t fit; or over-complicating when the correct approach is to just get the quote off your desk.

It’s all about the power of persuasion. Procurement is about change, and persuading people to adopt change. Whether that is done through incentives, threats, eloquence or passion: What could me more artistic than that? As one person we talked to said, “Negotiating is an art.”

For more of our favorite answers on this topic—including one guy that claims “Hey, shopping is an art!”—be sure to watch “Procurement: Art or Science?” on YouTube. And please be sure to leave a comment with your take on the subject.

James Marland is vice president of Network Growth for Ariba and writes about procurement, networks, and cloud but “always with an English accent.” For more stories like this, follow James on Twitter @JamesMarland.

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Monitoring your SQL Sentry data with Power BI

We’re excited to announce that this week’s update to Power BI now offers database performance tracking with the SQL Sentry content pack. This content pack includes a dashboard and reports that help you monitor the SQL Server deployments you track using the SQL Sentry Cloud. It makes it really easy to share insights throughout your organization.

5810.sqsentry Monitoring your SQL Sentry data with Power BI

This post details how the Power BI content pack helps you explore your SQL Sentry data. For additional details on how to get started, please see the SQL Sentry content pack for Power BI help page.

 5807.dashboard Monitoring your SQL Sentry data with Power BI

The content pack brings in data about the current state of the servers you monitor in SQL Sentry. You can monitor server health, memory usage, and downtime. The content pack makes it easy to track which sites and servers are working well and which need your attention. The content pack also helps database administrators communicate deployment health information with their managers. To get started, just connect to your SQL Sentry Cloud account.

 4774.report Monitoring your SQL Sentry data with Power BI

The content pack includes a report that lets you drill into the details.  You can use the tree map to quickly see a view of all the events generated by servers and the distribution across the severity levels of events.  You can highlight on category to see which servers are affected the most by each type of event.

 6560.report2 Monitoring your SQL Sentry data with Power BI

The Server Health Events page lets you see the conditions that most affect server health and break them down by Alert Level.  You can see the severity of the events for each server.

 7288.report3 Monitoring your SQL Sentry data with Power BI

The Server Availability page shows uptime and downtime for servers in your environment. You can also use the Slicer: Uptime so you can focus on those servers that have the worst availability to rectify issues affecting your users.

 0882.report4 Monitoring your SQL Sentry data with Power BI 

The Server Health – Memory & CPU page helps you understand the relationship between the number of CPUs and events.  You can again look across the Alert Level. The reports can be customized to ensure each page include metrics and content that is important to you.

You can also use the question box above the dashboard to explore the data.  A good question to ask is “what is my uptime % by date”.  The result can be pinned or explored further using Power BI’s tools. 

 8468.Q 2600 A Monitoring your SQL Sentry data with Power BI

After the initial import, the dashboard and the reports continue to update daily. You can control the refresh schedule on the dataset.

You can read more about this release on the SQL Sentry blog:http://blogs.sqlsentry.com/rickpittser/analyze-this/

We’re always interested in hearing your feedback – please contact us at http://support.powerbi.com to let the team know how your experience was and if there’s anything we can do better. We look forward to your feedback!

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Old Print Article: “Walking on Water,” New York Times (1886)

falls 1 Old Print Article: “Walking on Water,” New York Times (1886)

The year before “Professor” Alphonse King, whose academic credentials were questionable, reportedly crossed the Niagara River on a water bicycle, he tried to traverse its channel with tin shoes of his own invention. Each weighed 30 pounds, and the results were unsurprisingly mixed. From the December 12, 1886 New York Times:

Buffalo–An attempt was made to-day to outrival the feats of Donovan, Graham, Hanslitt, Potts and Allen in braving the terrors of Niagara, which though a failure in one way, was a success in another. Mr. Alphonse King, who is the inventor of a water shoe, gave exhibitions some years ago in this country and Mexico and not long ago in Europe. He gave one in the Crystal Palace in London, and while there attracted the attention of Harry Webb, an old-time manager, who made him an offer of a year’s engagement to come to this country. While here some time ago Mr. King had looked over Niagara River below the Falls and believed that he could walk across the channel on the patent shoes. He came to this country four weeks ago and has since that time been in New-York City practicing for the trip. While there, Thomas Bowe, hearing of King’s determination to attempt the trip, made a wager of $ 1,500 with Webb that King could not walk 100 feet in the current. The money was deposited with a New-York newspaper, and on Friday afternoon Messrs. King and Webb, accompanied by A.C. Poole, of Poole’s Eighth Street Theatre, reached the Falls.

The trip to-day gave King two cold water baths, and demonstrated that while he could walk with or against the current all right it was impossible to walk across the river because of the eddies, which twice upset them. He retired confident that what he set out to do could not be done. King’s ‘shoes’ are of tin, 32 inches long, 8 inches wide, sloping at the top, and 9 inches deep. Each weighs 30 pounds. They are air-tight and have in the middle an opening large enough to admit the feet of the wearer. At the bottom are a series of paddles, which operate automatically as fins.•

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Tech stories making the rounds – Week 31, 2015

Tech Digest week 31 Tech stories making the rounds – Week 31, 2015

Alibaba will invest $ 1bn in Cloud Computing

Alibaba is upping its cloud game with a $ 1bn investment in this space. The move is aimed at emulating the growth of Amazon in the cloud computing sector. The Chinese e-commerce group is the leading cloud computing provider at home with its Aliyun enjoying a 30% market share. Alibaba has been aggressively pushing its cloud service outside China as well. The company has also built its first data centre in Silicon Valley to support its clients in the region.
Read more: http://goo.gl/0k73hZ

First steps towards Big Data Analytics

One of the common misconceptions about Big Data is that you need to start big. People think that you need to establish a very big data warehouse and get hold of tools and talent to work with huge volumes of data. However, the correct way to approach a Big Data problem is to split it into smaller data problems. Identify one simple, well-defined issue, then explore it and demonstrate value. Repeat these steps, over and over again.
Read more: http://goo.gl/klAApv

Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite poised to become a $ 1bn business

An year after Microsoft released its Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), it has become the ‘hottest’ product offered by the company. Kevin Turner, Microsoft COO, announced that EMS is poised to become the next big $ 1bn product for the company. EMS is a cloud-based offering which consists of Azure Active Directory, Azure Rights Management and Intune.

Read more: https://goo.gl/hoJkdI

How Social Collaboration can benefit HR?

Social Collaboration offers many benefits such as enabling effective and streamlined communications and well connected team members. For many businesses, social collaboration initiatives begin with the internal communications department. Typically, organizations want to overhaul their traditional intranet or unify the disconnected siloes within an organization. But social collaboration offers significant benefits to the HR function by way of increased employee engagement and sharing of knowledge and skills across the organization.

Read more: http://goo.gl/4NGZHS

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Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Easily Adapts to Support Specific Business Needs

AKA Enterprise Solutions’ media team recently finished a project where we moved a publisher of specialized industry news and information – mostly insurance and legal works – off of Salesforce.com and onto Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Online. The publisher’s three main divisions were all using Salesforce.com with mixed reviews. The system was not geared toward the media industry, resulting in low levels of adoption across departments making reporting needed by management inaccurate. Each division was using separate, expensive Salesforce.com instances making it impossible to share data and collaborate.

AKA implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Online with Microsoft Outlook integration for the sales and marketing teams along with our DynamicsADvantage CRM solution for media companies offering added functionality to handle media campaigns, ad sales automation and approval workflows, also fully integrated with Microsoft Outlook.

The company is now live with a single sales environment for all divisions, enabling data sharing and user collaboration. Because Dynamics CRM is part of the Microsoft stack, it fully integrates with Outlook, which is what the company was already using, so the new system was widely and quickly adopted across all divisions. Management is enjoying detailed levels of reporting because of the uptick in user adoption and the industry relevant data capture. Finally, with Dynamics CRM Online’s low cost of ownership compared to their previous system, they are saving 54% each year.

by AKA Enterprise Solutions

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Workbooks explodes onto GetApps ‘Top 25 CRM ranking’

Reading, England (29th July 2015) – GetApp owned by Nubera (a Gartner company) run a network of business App sites reaching 2 million users a month.

GetApp – The leading business app discovery platform creates quarterly lists of CRM applications; which are scored using five separate criterias (Reviews, Integrations, Mobile, Media & Security).

This quarter Workbooks has been selected to appear in the list.

Showing above mainstream CRM systems (such as Sage & Microsoft Dynamics). Workbooks proves small CRM systems with unique selling points can still outmaneuver well known (CRM) brands.

“We continue to be confident that we provide our customers with the highest level of service and support. We feel this has been reflected in our recent inclusion on GetApps top CRM list” writes Sam Jefferies (Digital Marketing Executive at Workbooks.com). Continuing with “We hope to continue to work together to serve both our audiences as successfully as possible”.

Recent GetApp reviews include:

2015 07 29 1420 001 Workbooks explodes onto GetApps ‘Top 25 CRM ranking’

2015 07 29 1420 0 Workbooks explodes onto GetApps ‘Top 25 CRM ranking’

How GetApp calculate their scoring

GetApp use an algorthym called GetRank to determine quartley ranking. GetApp write:

‘Each app is scored using five criteria, each worth 20 points, for a total possible score out of 100: User Reviews, Integrations, Mobile Apps, Media Presence, and Security. Each app’s GetRank score is completely independent of commercial interests and existing relationships that GetApp has with app vendors.’ – Source GetApp.

By continuing to grow and support their user base, Workbooks will remain an ever strengthing brand within GetApps ranking sphere. 

About Workbooks.com

Workbooks (formed in 2007) offer a user friendly CRM designed to increase businesses profits.

About GetApp

GetApp is a software marketplace that helps businesses discover business apps. It serves as an online lead generation channel for SaaS. (Source – Techcrunch)

top 25 content marketing 0 Workbooks explodes onto GetApps ‘Top 25 CRM ranking’

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What’s Trending for Mainframes?

You probably don’t think many thoughts that have both the word ‘trend’ and the word ‘mainframe’ in there. But, believe it or not,  Big Iron still has some things up the old sleeves. Mainframes aren’t going anywhere.

In fact, a recent study concluded that over 90 percent of IT professionals saw the mainframe as a long term business strategy, even in light of the dawn of cloud computing. Almost half of those IT pros believe that the mainframe will still be attracting new workloads, not handing off workloads to other alternatives. More than 61 percent expect that MIPS will grow over the next couple of years.

So, what’s trending in the world of mainframes?

Mainframes are Still a Viable Long-Term Strategy

bigstock Businessman Holding Roi With U 77090189 What’s Trending for Mainframes?

Mainframes generate a solid ROI, especially compared to the cloud, which only delivers value for the length of time you contract the services.

The majority of mainframe users aren’t planning to migrate off anytime soon. Many mainframe legacy modernization plans include hosting their own cloud environments via the new System z13, while others are supplementing the mainframe workload with cloud applications, Hadoop clusters, and other alternatives. Still, the mainframe stays, handling somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of all the world’s transactions each day.

Mainframes Skills are Heavily Sought by Businesses

There are two concerns among today’s business mainframers: finding new mainframe professionals to replace those retiring, and acquiring additional training for their current mainframers who plan to stick around for a while longer. Until colleges and universities catch up with the times by offering more courses and programs to train new mainframe professionals, a critical shortage of these skilled workers can be expected. Pay your mainframe folks well and keep them. It’s too hard to find replacements.

A Primary Concern is Reducing Costs

bigstock Conceptual Check For Too Much 5080593 What’s Trending for Mainframes?

A good ROI doesn’t mean the mainframe is cheap. Operational costs tend to climb upwards over time as the business’ needs for memory and power increase.

Now for some less glowing news: mainframe operational costs still have a tendency to creep upwards over time as businesses have to add memory, processing power, etc. This is nothing new. IBM began shipping the first z13 systems earlier this year, and was able to maintain steady sales of additional memory throughout the spring and summer, with no signs of slowing as fall rolls around. This means that you can’t expect to get a break on costs from the manufacturer, so you’ll need to work out ways in house to keep those mainframe operational costs at bay.

Mainframe tools such as Syncsort’s ZPSaver™ Suite can help lower your mainframe operational costs by offloading up to 90% of all your copy & SMS compression CPU cycles to zIIP.  Find out quickly how much money ZPSaver Suite can save you with a free ROI assessment.

 What’s Trending for Mainframes?

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