Sunday, July 25, 2010

Zenith Releases Smart Style Computing!

Well, it's here at last. The long-awaited cloud offering from Zenith Infotech is REAL. Beginning Monday, July 26th, Zenith Partners will be able to order the Smart Style Computing systems!

This news was announced live on the Cloud Services Roundtable podcast last week by Ron Hogue and Maurice Saluan. Ron is a Technical Trainer and Maurice is the VP of Sales. We had a great chat - in fact the call went over by 1/4 hour.

You can listen to the details at If you are not currently a Zenith partner, you can sign up by sending an email to mailto:[email protected]?subject=Karl said I should look into being a partner.

So what happens Monday is that you can place orders. They're not shipping same-day. There is already a backlog of orders. So there will be a small delay in receiving units.

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Alright Then: What is Smart-Style Computing?

Smart Style systems consist of Nodes that can be CPU/RAM Nodes, or Storage Nodes, or Combination Nodes. If you're in the SMB space,you will probably be worked almost exclusively with Combo Nodes.

As a Zenith partner, you can order an Evaluation Kit, which includes three combo nodes. It is designed to house about two virtual servers and ten workstations. Your mileage may vary, of course.

I can't discuss pricing on a public blog, but if you listen to the podcast you'll find out how to download the pricing info. And of course you can become a Zenith Partner (free) and just view the pricing online.

What we can say is that you'll pay less then the cost of a small server to get your hands on the Eval Kit. You will be able to use it for 90 days. If you decide to keep it, your deposit is used to make payments toward the unit itself and the monthly fees for virtual machines. You might get a an entire year's service out of that. And if you deploy it at a client site . . . so much the better!

So what exactly do you do with these "nodes?" Well, you build virtual machines. They don't have to be Windows machines, although the system was obviously tested extensively with Windows.

The Smart Style system is designed to be an on-premise cloud. In other words, it lives at the client office and houses all of their I.T. It is totally modular and redundant. So you might start by virtualizing SBS. All the machines in the office can connect to it just as if the SBS box were physical. Then you might gradually start replacing desktop PCs with virtual machines on the Smart Style Server.

The big question that is always asked about such systems is capacity. How many servers and workstations can I virtualize on this system? Remember that the system is totally expandable, But basically you need to calculate the capacity based on RAM.

All of he nodes are optimized with a combination of RAM, CPU, and Storage so that chokepoints are minimized. Ron says to estimate the number of machines based on total RAM, but servers are a little different from workstations.

Each Combo Node consists of:
- Six Core CPU 2.8GHz
- 16GB RAM (14GB usable)
- 64GB Solid State Drive
- 6 x 1 TB HDD (700GB per disk usable)
- 2U Form Factor
- Dual Gigabit LAN

The above configuration can run approximately:
- 10-12 desktops or
- 2 servers or
- 1 server + 3-4 desktops
- Key constraint is memory

So back to capacity . . . How do you figure out what you can do? Ron says that servers need the same RAM in this virtual system as they have in the physical world. So if you have an SBS2003 box with 4 GB RAM, you'll need 4 GB here. If you have an SBS2008 box with 8 GB RAM, you'll need 8 GB here.

With workstations they've found that a lot less RAM is required to run in the Smart Style system than in the physical world. So a basic Windows 7 desktop might only need 1 GB RAM. Of course you can give it more until you feel comfortable.

Remember that the basic Starter Kit comes with two combo nodes and the Eval Kit has three combo nodes. The O.S. that runs Smart Style takes 2GB of RAM, so you might allocate an office line this:

Node1 = 14 GB usable
- 8 GB allocated to SBS2008
- 6 GB allocated to four Windows desktops

Node2 = 14 GB usable
- 8 GB allocated to SQL Server
- 6 GB allocated to four Windows desktops

Node 3 = 14 GB Usable
- 14 GB allocated to ten Windows desktops

Obviously we can't go into every possible configuration, but you can see that this system will be very flexible.

And don't forget that all of this comes with Zenith Management available. Because the machines don't know they're virtual, you could also use other RMM tools, such as Kaseya. Zenith puts no restrictions on this.

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Many people have been waiting a loooooooooooooong time for this release. And it is finally here. We will have some great stories to tell by the time SMB Nation rolls around.

Want a quick and easy way to step into cloud computing? Give Zenith Smart Style a look-see.

1 comment:

  1. So, are you unboxing the pre-release units for another week? Just curious, were you notified you couldn't order today? Took me multiple contacts to get that info.


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