ClearCube Lightens Blade Burden

ClearCube hopes to make it easier for IT administrators to manage and secure their PC blade environments with latest version of its Switch Manager.

ClearCube Technology Inc. is making it easier for IT administrators to manage and secure their PC blade environments with the release Tuesday of the latest version of its Switch Manager.

Switch Manager 4.5, a cornerstone of the ClearCube Management Suite of software, is designed to help users as their PC blades extend into their enterprise environments, said Ken Knotts, senior technologist and director of corporate communications at ClearCube, in Austin, Texas.

"Were way past where all of our customers have 100 blades running here and 100 blades running there," Knotts said. "We have some customers with up to 5,000 blades."

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ClearCube builds blade computers that sit in a chassis stored in a central location. The blades are connected to the desktop keyboard, mouse and monitor via Command Ports that sit on the desk. Users get a full Windows environment, while administrators get a more manageable and secure computer infrastructure.

ClearCube was a pioneer in the PC blade space, although Hewlett-Packard Co. in 2003 entered the field with its Consolidated Client Infrastructure.

Key among the upgrades is an enhanced search capability, Knotts said. Previously, users could search for particular blades using three criteria. However, now search has been expanded to 16 criteria, including model number, serial number, user name and software.

Version 4.5, available immediately, also enables administrators to remotely reboot the PC blades if software doesnt automatically reboot them. In addition, ClearCube is integrating Active Directory into Switch Manager 4.5, which enables users to create log-in permissions from the companys existing directory services. That makes it easier for larger businesses that cant create a new user name for every user or application, Knotts said.

Other improvements include support for SQL databases for better scalability of PC blades in enterprises and improved security through HTTPS, which uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layers) security protocol.

Duncan Regional Hospital has been using ClearCube PC blades for about two years, growing the number of blades to about 200, said Roger Neal, director of IT at the Duncan, Okla., facility. He said the HTTPS capabilities as well as the remote reboot and auto-populate features in Switch Manager 4.5 will make getting the blades up and running a lot easier.

Because of the HTTPS capabilities, Neals IT staff can take care of the systems remotely without having to go through the time-consuming VPN (virtual private network) process, he said.

In addition, given the number of blades the hospital is adding on a consistent basis, the ability to auto-populate the blades without having to manually load everything on them saves a lot of time, Neal said.

"Now we just do it on the fly," he said. "Heres the cage, heres the new info. … Its a lot more intuitive."

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