Mad Men: Technology & Nostalgia

mad men, mad men season 6, mad men premiere, mad men nostalgia, cisco, cisco asa, adaptive security appliance, asa, technological innovation, IT news, IT marketingMad Men is finally back. After a year or so of patiently enduring many bourbon-less nights filled with smoke-free air, our favorite vicarious vices return, along with the seemingly elegant yet despicable characters who perform them. This season, number six, we’re poised to get to know Don Draper even better, after sitting through several recent episodes that lacked flashbacks or insight into the past of the man behind the Madison Ave machine. There are few things we can be sure of when it comes to Mr. Draper, but one thing we’re certain of is this: the man can make one hell of a pitch. So, in today’s even faster-paced world of marketing and more rapidly-changing consumer culture, what would Don do with routers and switches? How would he market such items in the concise, poetic manner we, along with the show’s clients, so often wait with bated breath to hear?

It can be tricky to speak eloquently and nostalgically of something as dry and technical as IT hardware (believe me, it’s one of my daily hurdles). How would Don present a Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance in a way that emotionally resonates with its intended audience? Better yet, how would he promote the modern secondary market and companies like planIT HARDWARE?

I remember the episode with the slide projector—the Kodak Carousel—where Draper gives his presentation on what is supposed to be called “The Wheel.” This is a new piece of technology at the time, and while a large advancement, its function is quite simple—much like the IT hardware of today. He’s having the damndest time generating ideas for the pitch he’s to give on it, too busy focusing on the very real, difficult things going on all around him to be concerned with a piece of gadgetry. At the very end of the episode, the first season’s finale, he delivers his presentation along with what are the most powerful 3 minutes of probably the entire series to-date, and some of the best television ever:

Technology can connect us, or separate us. Don seems to think, at least in this episode, that the technological innovation of that time, the Carousel slide projector, is best marketed with a hefty dash of nostalgia: we seem to make technology with the express purpose of moving forward, but we often end up utilizing it the most to go backward, to save endless files and photos and songs so that we may willfully and flawlessly recall them to memory—and not only to remember them, but to experience them all over again.

The same can be said for the innovations of today. Despite its sophisticated abilities, the most-used hardware feature of an iPhone is its camera; its most-utilized and accessed app would likely be Instagram. No matter how complicatedly or complexly a Cisco switch may be constructed, no matter how many intricacies occur within those tiny modules inside, the functions are always very simple. These beefy pieces of machinery are all so that we can connect with each other faster and more efficiently…an entire room of server chassis and all we’re doing is emailing, making calls using VoIP, sharing documents, and trying to save it all. We save it all so that we can look back and remind ourselves of our accomplishments, build further upon what has already been built, hope that the past will inspire our future. It’s like Don said in the clip above: “This device isn’t a spaceship…it’s a time machine.”

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The Masters of IT Hardware

 c3750, cisco systems, dell, dell poweredge, hewlett-packard, hp, it hardware, masters, poweredge, startup, tech startup, technological innovation, the mastersWith the world’s greatest golfers taking the stage at Augusta National this week, I thought it was perfect timing to compare some of IT hardware’s biggest players side-by-side and give a little history on these companies. Just like Tiger woods, Phil Mickleson and young-gun Rory McIlroy are in a constant battle to hold the grandest of golf titles, the same goes for Cisco, Dell and HP. Some of these companies, just like these golfers, have bigger budgets and resources than others. Sure, they are all on the same playing field, but Cisco is the most recognizable name in the industry, just like Tiger Woods has been called the “world’s most marketable athlete” and has endorsement deals in the 100 million dollar range. I’m going to compare Dell and HP to Rory Mclrory and Phil Mickleson as Dell is the youngest of the three just like Rory and HP being the oldest like Mickelson who is five years Woods’ senior. Now, after doing a little research, I’ve found in fact that HP has the highest revenues of the three, followed by Dell, with Cisco coming in 3rd. I was surprised by these results, but then again we are not here to discuss how these companies have handled mergers and acquisitions, but more so to give a little history of how they came about in the IT hardware industry.

Fun Fact: Cisco Systems, Inc.’s  sole industry is networking equipment, whereas  Dell and HP focus on computer hardware, software, IT consulting and IT services.

Cisco Systems, Inc.  was founded in 1984 by a married couple who worked at Stanford University.

Move forward to March of 2000: the company is now public, the married couple has been gone for years, and Cisco is the most valuable company in the world. Meanwhile, Tiger has won all 4 of the different majors tournaments in a row from 2000-2001 with a world ranking of #1 as well. He is still the only player to have accomplished this. Today, just like Tiger, Cisco has dropped down in world rankings over the years but has fought its way back. One of Cisco’s 3 market segments consists of small businesses. Products that are needed for small businesses include: switches, routers, voice, conferencing, wireless access points and network storage systems.

Dell was formed in 1984 by Michael Dell while he was a student at the University of Texas.

By 1985, Dell had dropped out of school and his company grossed more than 73 million in its first year of operation. In 1992, Michael Dell becomes the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Rory McIIroy wasn’t even born until 1989 in Northern Ireland and by the age of 22 had claimed the #1 world ranking.  Dell also has different market segments and their small business products include PowerEdge Serves and PowerConnect Switches.

From humble beginnings in a garage in Palo Atlo, CA, Hewlett-Packard (HP) was officially founded in 1939 by two Stanford alumni with an initial capital investment of $538 dollars.

HP is another company that, like Cisco, began with the creative minds of people from Stanford University. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard flipped a coin to see whose name would come first, and by 1957, the company had gone public. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that HP came out with a business computing server. Moving right along into 2009, HP acquired 3Comm and made a move into the networking gear market that had been dominated by Cisco. HP’s networking business unit, ProCurve, is responsible for the family of network switches, wireless access points, and routers. Much like HP, Phil Mickelson has come up under the radar; despite winning many PGA events, he was often described as “the best golfer to never win a major.” He had many 2nd and 3rd place finishes in major events but could never seem to break away as the victor. Finally, in 2004, he won at the Augusta National after sinking an 18-foot putt, marking his first Major Championship. He has since gone on to win a number of Major Championships despite never holding the #1 world ranking.


All in all, these golfers have shaped the game, just as these companies have shaped and changed the IT hardware industry forever. Some are front-runners that focus simply on networking equipment like Cisco, but Dell and HP are staying relevant by turning their attention to other areas of the so-called IT world. They are in a constant battle to compete with each other and provide the best to the consumer. The same goes for us here at planIT HARDWARE: we are dedicated to providing our customers with the most diverse selection of new and used networking equipment out there. From buying new Cisco equipment, like a WS-C3750-24FS-S, all the way down the line to a refurbished POWEREDGE M1000E from Dell, we offer 60-90% discounts and can in most cases provide same-day shipping. In the end, all of our products come with a warranty and can suit every customer depending on what their needs are. As the PGA says about its players, the same can be said for us: “These Guys are Good.”