Why China’s Biggest E-Commerce Site, Alibaba, Is About to Go Public in the US (and Why You Should Care)

alibaba, ipo, tech, business, stock exchange, billion, facebook, amazon, ebay, yahoo, planit hardware, marketplace, china, jack ma, taobao

All work and no play makes Jack a happy boy, apparently.

On Tuesday, Alibaba filed for a $1 billion IPO in what’s being predicted as the largest tech offering the US stock exchange has ever seen (and yes, that includes Facebook).

We at planIT HARDWARE are frequent users of Alibaba, but perhaps you’re only just hearing about it lately amidst all this buzz. No worries, I’m here to hopefully explain the significance of this event so you’re not left scratching your head while all of your tech/business-savvy friends nerd-out around you.

Think of Alibaba as the eBay of China. Add to this the fact that it is also kind of the Amazon of China. Then add to that the fact that it makes sales figures higher than both of those e-commerce behemoths combined. Alibaba is smart, because it has a corner on just about every aspect of online shopping; like a truly digital mall. The Alibaba Group has so many subsets, it’s hard to keep track, but one thing’s for certain: they’re all wildly lucrative and successful.

Jack Ma is the CEO of the Alibaba Group, and responsible for what some call the first Chinese internet company, China Pages. In a truly ‘90s-thriller-fashion, this entrepreneur came to the US in 1995, was held hostage at gunpoint in an L.A. mansion for two days, saw the Internet and flew back home to start forming companies and dot-coms. Inviting friends and media over, he showed off the power of the Internet over an extremely slow dial-up connection, waiting hours on a single page to load. Now, he has Yahoo as a major investor of his multi-billion dollar company and is ready to take it public in the US at an unprecedented amount.

Listing on the US market has the benefit of offering a larger pool of potential investors in addition to giving a brand/business more credibility and trustworthiness. The offering is expected to hit the market this summer, and don’t be fooled by that $1 billion figure—that’s simply a ‘placeholder’ of sorts that’s intended to balloon well past the $15 billion mark and make history.

The Main Methods of IT Hardware Disposal

Sometimes it’s tough to say goodbye.it asset. it disposal, networking equipment, gear, recycle, e-waste, computer equipment

There are many ways to get rid of your networking equipment, but they’re all kind of a pain. You can stack up your useless hardware until it collects a pile of dust the size and consistency of an itchy Christmas sweater, but there are other options out there. Here are just a few:

Throwing It Out:

Actually, this is not an option. There are federal regulations in place to protect the environment from e-waste. You could get in a good deal of trouble and it could end up costing you the big bucks. Not the way to go. Moving on…

S.I.Y.:

Sell It Yourself. Are you able to provide satisfaction guarantees and warranties? Repairs and support? If the answer to these is a resounding “No.” and you’re trying to go on eBay in the hopes of scoring big, be prepared to be let down—most folks will not pay top-dollar for hardware that is unprotected and could be DOA (dead on arrival).

Hardware Disposal Service:

Of course, you’d have to pay for this service, but there are a few companies out there that will get the job done on your behalf, making sure all data is destroyed and then properly disposing of your e-waste. Again, though: $$$

Third-Party Reseller:

You probably figured we were going in this direction. But seriously, an IT reseller is the safest and most cost-effective way to go. When you find a trusted reseller, there is little risk involved and a greater return to be made on your assets. Consider how much money they were initially purchased with and then consider the needs for new future purchases; you’re going to want to cash these in for as much as you can. A trusted third-party reseller will also wipe all of your data thoroughly, so there’s no need to worry about data leaks from old assets. If they can’t sell it themselves, they’ll responsibly dispose of your gear—except this time, you’re making the money instead of spending it on a service.

Whichever way you choose, consider that you can reduce e-waste and make money at the same time.

Contact Us For a Quote

The Top Reasons Why You’d Want Cisco Switches

used cisco, switches, 3750x, IT servers, deployment, implementation, buying guide

There’s plenty of good networking equipment out there…but not all of it is exceptional. Cisco switches? They’re on a whole ‘nother level. Here’re four very good reasons to deploy these bad boys in your own infrastructure:

Security

The ability of a Cisco switch to deliver maximum network uptime means that there is a lesser chance of malicious infiltration and data leaking due to the decrease in downtime. It’s well-known that their units run a tight ship and lay the smackdown when it comes to integrating firewalls, intrusion prevention and VLANs.

Scalability

As technology progresses rapidly and your business’ needs change, so too will the roles your IT hardware plays. Cisco’s switches, in particular, are so flexible that they can work for a network of nearly any size and are modularly upgradeable, allowing you to save the time and money it would take to implement new solutions or overhaul your switching gear.

Mobility

The workspace is quickly evolving to become more than just the cubicle. As IT mobility becomes ubiquitous, users are working more from home, cafés and remote offices. Employees and visitors are bringing their own devices (BYOD), and along with those devices comes the issue of bringing their own unsecure network (BYON) into and out of the office. Cisco has what they call “converged wired-wireless access” incorporated into their last few models of switches; this technology allows for things like secure access, guest access and seamless roaming for users accessing the network via mobile device.

Efficiency

Slash the power bills and waste less. A stackable Cisco switch will outperform and outlive many similar units in its class. The units themselves are energy efficient and are cost effective to deploy and keep running.

Cisco’s got a great goal for all IT professionals to remember through all of this:

“Deliver an uncompromised user experience on any workspace.”

We can help with that delivery. So, if you have any IT hardware needs, we are the used Cisco reseller to go to. Contact us today for a quote and let’s see if we can’t provide you with a first-rate switch with first-rate savings.

Farewell, Windows XP: 7 Reasons to Love Windows 7

windows 7, windows xp, planit hardware, used cisco reseller, it hardware, network

As of today, April 8, 2014, Windows XP, the loveable, highly-obedient and loyal OS we’ve come to know and love over the last 13 years, will be taken out back Old Yeller style by its owner, Microsoft. End-users will no longer receive support such as drivers, security updates and various fixes; this could cause compliance issues and sub-par performance, leaving many businesses vulnerable (and that includes their customers!). Let me frame that for you: about 95% of ATMs in the US are running on Windows XP right now. To those of you who have not upgraded yet, I say this: Yikes.

So, in honor of Windows XP’s execution tomorrow, I thought it’d be an appropriate time to highlight some of the best aspects of Windows 7, its immediate successor (can you tell I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones?). I’m not even going to mention that other Microsoft OS.

7 THINGS THAT ARE GREAT ABOUT WINDOWS 7:

1.)    Windows Taskbar

This was the first feature that really jumped out to me when I made the switch in 2011. Replete with goodies, the taskbar is now a powerful workstation that contains all your major running programs, represented by a single icon. Hover over a program and *bam* you’ve got a live thumbnail that shows you exactly what’s going on in that window as its happening, which means your Jennifer Lawrence and cat .gifs are still looping for you to peek at.  You can even pause and skip tracks on media players from here.

windows 7, taskbar, live thumbnail preview, XP

2.)    Jump Lists

Another aspect of the redesigned taskbar, the jump list is super convenient. This new addition allows you to perform actions and tasks for another program without having to actually navigate through it. Simply right click on a program and get a list of unique actions, recent documents (which you can individually ‘pin’ into place to always be there), and time-saving controls. It’s the Leatherman of Windows 7.

windows 7, jump list, XP, taskbar

3.)    Better USB Detection

This is a pretty noticeable performance upgrade. Improving on XP’s plug-and-play system, W7 is much better at detecting external devices quickly and loading/locating the proper drivers. For example, when you plug your iPhone in, it doesn’t take much time at all to start charging and letting you open applications via Autoplay.

windows 7, performance, XP, USB detection, drivers, plug and play

4.)    Windows Search

Windows search works in two ways now: in the Start menu and in any Explorer window. In a manner similar to Google Instant, once you begin typing in the search bar of W7, you’ll start seeing relevant results. Pretty cool how smart technology is getting, huh? This is how Skynet started, folks.

windows 7, search, XP, explorer, instant, predictive

5.)    Snap

Believe it or not, when I’m at home, I sometimes find myself missing my desk at my office. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of owning dual monitors, so when I’m doing some serious work on my little HP laptop, it’s kind of a pain to jump between MS Word and whatever I’m researching on Chrome. One thing that makes it far more bearable is W7’s smooth UI adjustment, Snap. Snap allows you to drag a window and bring it to one side of your screen, causing it to ‘snap’ into a formation where it takes up only half the screen. Do this with another window, and you’ve got a nice side-by-side view of whatever it is that you’re viewing.

windows 7, snap, dual display, side by sidewindows 7, snap, dual display, side by side

6.)    Peek

Peek’s pretty cool. Tired of clutter? Me too. Hover over the bottom right corner of your taskbar, and W7 will make all of your windows transparent, so you can take a good look at your desktop widgets or admire your desktop wallpaper of Connie Britton.
If you want a quick glance at, say, your music player to check the name of a song, just hover over the thumbnail preview of any window, and Peek will make everything but that one window transparent, so you can hone in your attention.

windows 7, feature, peek, transparent, XP

7.)    Shake

I’m saving the best for last here. Okay, maybe it’s not the best in many regards, but it’s pretty ‘neato,’ to quote the ‘60s. Shake is the one feature I only just found out about while working on this list, but when I did find it, I instantly knew it had a place in listicle famedom. Simply grab the top of a window with your mouse and shake the window from side to side like it’s a can of soda and someone is rounding the corner. After doing this, all other windows will suddenly get sucked into a vacuum of space and time, so that you can focus on getting that one thing done. When it’s time to get the band back together, just do the same little trick and everything will be as it once was.

Windows 7, features, shake, tricks, easter eggsImage

Here at planIT HARDWARE, we have Windows 7 on all of our computers. This allows us to work efficiently as a small team that performs many different roles. Whether we’re checking inventory in IQ Reseller, evaluating the marketplace online or drafting up a blog post, Windows 7 keeps things flowing here. At least on the level of an average consumer, I don’t lament the loss of XP at all. Do you?

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If you’re in IT, let us know why you’re more inclined to stick with XP, and whether you’d eventually make the switch to W7 or not…we’d love to hear another perspective!

For any network hardware needs, contact us for a quote.

The Dirty Secret of E-Waste: Are You Part of the Problem?

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via Treehugger.com

I remember when I was a kid, we used to go up to the barn attic. We rented our home, and our garage was an old fire dept. barn that had its own upper level; the landlords used this attic for their storage. There was a lot of it. When you’re five, six years old, climbing a large pile of what is essentially junk is kind of a dream come true in a weird way. Maybe it’s because you feel rich or self-sufficient in a time when you exclusively rely on your parents to provide you with all of your needs (but not necessarily all of your wants).

When you’re that young, anything can become a toy, and for the kids of my generation, we’d find out that any toy could (and would) eventually become electronic. Speak & Spell educated us, Gameboys let us catch Pokémon, and MS-DOS forced us to become mini-programmers in order to get a simple game to start on our computers.

How many of us still own all of these toys? More than likely, the majority of them got thrown out over the years. Even as adults, our insatiable appetite for new ‘toys’ has created quite the conundrum: electronic waste.

E-waste is a massive, global problem of today. Before it, plastics were the big problem—they don’t biodegrade (meaning there’s a doll from the ‘50s probably just sitting around somewhere out there, eternally smiling as Blinky the Fish swims by).  I’ve gotten older and realized that pile of junk isn’t so majestic anymore:

planit hardware, e-waste, landfill, wasteland, it consignment, it asset, it disposal, used cisco reseller

(image via Transitionconsciousness)

There are many villages and cities around the world that have become dumping grounds for the e-waste of the world, most of them in developing nations. Our very own country is just as guilty for dumping our e-waste overseas, and while it might seem like only a big, inconvenient heap, there are plenty of toxins being dispersed here (lead and mercury, for example). Computer monitors and old TVs are the biggest offenders. Once the screen cracks, the toxins become airborne or bleed into the water supply. This is all in addition to the fact that there is a massive amount of plastics from these devices that has to be incinerated, too.

One of the main principals of our business here at planIT Hardware is that we are giving second life to many still-useful electronic products and components. We help keep the secondary market alive, because there are hundreds of thousands of units out there that don’t need to be trashed. Save the planet, save money: it’s a winning combination every time. We live in a culture where we are being programmed to believe we must need the newest and latest in electronics. As folks in data centers and server rooms know, the benefits of refurbishing units and buying from the secondary market far outweigh the cost of buying new, more often than not. In addition, we do consignment deals so that a bankrupt business, for example, doesn’t need to dispose of their defunct hardware—we can sell it for them, putting money back in their pocket and these products back on the market.

So, business owners, network engineers and electronics consumers (i.e., everyone else), make sure you’re disposing of your IT assets properly, and while you’re at it, you might as well see if you can make some money off of them!

 

 

For a more in-depth look at the effects of e-waste, check out this Dateline expose:

Net Neutrality: What It Is and Why You Should Care

planit hardware, net neutrality, isp, court of appeals, FCC, federal communications commission, broadband service, network equipment, IT hardware, used Cisco reseller, secondary IT hardwareThe term net neutrality has been popping up a lot over the last few years. It’s seemingly become everyone’s favorite buzzword, sure to light a controversial spark wherever it’s mentioned and rouse the ire of millennials everywhere. With the World Wide Web having just celebrated its 25th birthday, it seems appropriate to start by reviewing what it is that makes the internet so powerful and innovative, even all these years later.

What has always made the Internet fascinating and appealing from the start, I think, is the ability for the end-user to explore and journey. Imagine adventuring through a daunting terrain such as a massive forest or desert; the only thing hindering you being natural law, the physical limitations of this planet and your body. Suddenly, we were introduced to a world where those limitations weren’t really much of a factor, especially as the technology fueling that world continued to advance and mature exponentially. Sure, we were left to experience things differently, with nothing tangible but buttons, keys, screens and the mouse; if we got tired in this realm, it was only from staring at the screen for too long.

The main tenet behind all this is simple: ISP’s (internet service providers—e.g., Comcast, AT&T, etc.) and the government do not get to discriminate amongst websites, content providers, end-users and the like, as to who gets any sort of preferential treatment in the delivery of data; all content is delivered neutrally and with the same preference. The current battle is whether this neutrality should be required by law, so as to protect status quo.

Back in 2006, Jon Stewart made a big show of the net neutrality debate, long before most were aware its now-looming existence. He made jokes that if ISPs could give preferential treatment to pages by sending their data faster to the end-user, then sites like “ihate(nameofISP).com” would take forever to load. As the debate waged on for another four years, the FCC decided to finally take some action to protect the fairness of the internet. In 2010, they enforced the Open Internet Order, which made sure that ISPs couldn’t interrupt the flow of certain kinds of traffic (streaming video or downloading files, for example) simply because it wasn’t in the immediate interest of their business to do so.

As of January of this year, however, that Open Internet Order was nullified and declared unenforceable in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, the race is on between the FCC and the giants of broadband service; both will try and quickly make the case for legislation that favors their side of the fence. If the ISPs get their way, they could, for example, slow down streaming services to push users toward their own digital media service. The FCC is in the middle of tightening up its legal approach to the matter while the public is becoming increasingly vocal about which side they are on.

Our business here at planIT HARDWARE is to provide the best deals on the secondary IT hardware market. The biggest part of what we do is enabling both individual end-users and corporations as a whole to have smoother, faster and safer web experiences. We feel it’s important to protect the integrity of the internet and hope that a resolution is reached soon.

BONUS: Here’s Stephen Colbert breaking down Net Neutrality like a boss.

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In Anticipation of Final Month of Obamacare Enrollment, Gov’t Makes a Dramatic Move

planIT Hardware, healthcare exchange, obamacare, healthcare.gov, cisco, used cisco reseller, CMS, HHS, network equipmentBig money was dropped recently in the world of network equipment.

The HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) is anticipating plenty of traffic in the last month of open enrollment for Obamacare (the deadline is March 31st). After the now-infamous debut snafu of Healthcare.gov, the government is taking preventative measures to ensure a smooth registration process for those still holding out until the deadline. As a result, the HHS has recently ordered $2.5 million worth of IT hardware to bolster the anticipated bandwidth.

Surprisingly, only $56,782 of this large order was spent on Cisco devices; these were purchased for a firewall upgrade.

Unfortunately, the agency within the HHS that’s responsible for the purchasing, CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), was not legally able to partake in the competitive bidding process that’s typical of most large IT infrastructure buildouts. According to a quote on freebeacon.com, “‘CMS is not in a position to take the time to compete the added capacity requirements and successfully implement the exchange program as mandated by law.'” Basically, they’re spending a fortune for the sake of time.

If only they’d gone through us! (Oh well…there’s always the next government buildout)

planIT HARDWARE has both new and refurbished network hardware at 60-90% off list prices. Contact us for a quote on whatever parts you need.

Speaking of urgency, looks like the POTUS is eager to get the news out about the deadline by whatever unconventional means necessary: