Sesame Street, Captain Kirk and the Post-PC Era

Whether we like it or not, we are living in the Post-PC Era.   Evidence abounds everywhere.  This past week, Cisco announced their new Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI).  You might have read about this release on your iPhone as you waited in line for the newest model.  Perhaps you read it on your tablet that is VDI ready by VMware

In light of the recent passing of Steve Jobs, I have found myself looking both forward and backward at technology.  New advances in video technology, collaboration and mobile computing demonstrate that the future is now, and that future means moving away from the restrictions of the PC Era.   At the same time, I find myself looking back at where we have come from.

I found two great examples below to give perspective in where we have advanced in the last thirty years.   Good bye PC Era.  It’s been a good ride.


TBL CEO in Top 40 Under 40

Alan Sears named to prestigious list of leaders in Richmond

Richmond, VA, October 19, 2011 – TBL Networks today announced that Style Weekly has named Alan Sears to their 2011 Top 40 Under 40.  The Style Weekly Top 40 Under 40 is an annual list of men and women under the age of 40 who seek to make change and serve the community of Richmond, Virginia.

“On behalf of TBL Networks, I am honored to be named to the Top 40 Under 40,” said Alan Sears, President and CEO of TBL Networks, Inc.  “This distinction reflects TBL’s commitment to bring the best information technology solutions to small and medium businesses, while never forgetting the importance of customer service and community.”

In naming Alan Sears to the 2011 class, Style Weekly discussed his professional successes at TBL Networks, including earning a spot the on 2011 Inc. 500 list and being named to CRN magazine’s Next-Gen 250. In addition, the magazine mentioned his pursuit of techumanity, the positive synergy between technology and humanity.  TBL lives this this ideal by working with the international World Community Grid for cancer research and local charity CJ’s Thumbs Up Foundation , which supports families with children facing chronic and life threatening illness.

TBL Networks is the only technology integrator in the Commonwealth of Virginia with five Cisco Voice CCIEs, employs the Central Virginia’s only VMware VCDX, and has two engineers recognized as 2011 VMware vExperts.

“In a city that sometimes seems obsessed with trading business cards and sidling up to the right crowd, or organizing new events for more trading and sidling, the talking can overshadow the action,” said Style Weekly editor Jason Roop.  “Some of them are used to making headlines, while others’ efforts are quietly rendered. But they all offer stories that inspire — and perhaps serve as a call to action.”

The Style Weekly Top 40 Under 40 list is comprised of men and women who lead inspire and serve Richmond.  You can view the entire list in their October 19, 2011 issue or online at

About Style Weekly
Style Weekly is Richmond Virginia’s alternative for news, arts culture and opinion. For nearly 30 years, Style Weekly has been a significant part of the Greater Richmond community through its journalism, community involvement and business presence.  Learn more at

About TBL Networks, Inc.
TBL Networks is about moving forward with innovative technology. With over 60 years of combined technical expertise, we empower clients’ collaboration, virtualization and data centers to do more with less. TBL delivers these advanced solutions directly where it counts the most – the desktop. Building secure and reliable solutions that introduce efficiencies in human interaction is how we see the future. Let us take you there at

January 22, 1984

Sunday, January 22, 1984 is known to Washington Redskins’ fans as “Black Sunday.”  Following their 1983 Super Bowl triumph over the Miami Dolphins, the Redskins were heavily favored in their match up with the Black and Gray.   However, the Raiders, powered by RB Marcus Allen’s legs and QB Jim Plunkett’s beautiful face, handily defeated the Redskins by a score of 38-9.   (I personally blame Barry Manilow, who performed the National Anthem that night, for the loss; however, I blame Barry Manilow for a lot of things.)

Sunday, January 22, 1984 is also known for a commercial aired during the 3rd quarter of that game.   On the night of the Redskins’ defeat, a company ran an advertisement which introduced their new product – a personal computer called the Macintosh.

To be cliché, the advent of the personal computer was a game changer.  The Macs’ innovations raised the bar of what we could expect from personal computers, and helped to distinguish Apple’s product from IBM and the PC clones.

At TBL, we use the phrase “techumanity” to describe the way technology allows people to connect in ways that are more human.  Steve Jobs understood that ideal, and it was embedded in his company and products.  In the coming weeks and months, Steve Jobs’ life and influence will be overanalyzed ad nauseam.   To be brief, in Jobs’ passing I see the story of a man who did not accept things as they were, but saw them as they could be.  And we are all better off because of it.

RIP  Steven P. Jobs  1955-2011

What Fantasy Football Can Teach You About Your Data Center

The return of football means different things to different people.  For some, they strap on their shoulder pads, place a helmet on their head, and don their jersey before heading to the gridiron.  For others, they load up a bowl with corn chips, turn on their laptop and television, and put on a jersey before sitting on a couch and wondering if their kicker is going to receive 7.1 points instead of his projected 6.9 points so they can beat the guy who sits in the cube across from him at work.

Yes, the arrival of autumn heralds the return of the world’s greatest fake sport – Fantasy Football .  During this season, over 19 million people will “play” this “sport.”  And, yes, I am one of those people who will manage their team, while not registering the irony of putting on athletic clothing so I can more effectively sit on my backside and stare at a various glowing rectangles all Sunday afternoon. 

As I have found with other avenues of entertainment, I see how Fantasy Football provides us lessons regarding information technology solutions.  In this case, I would like to point out some lessons that Fantasy Football can teach us about your Data Center.

Disaster Recovery/Have a back up plan

My number one draft pick this season was Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs.  Charles was ranked as a top five running back, and projected to have a great season … until I drafted him.  (Yes, I take credit for his injury).  After his unfortunate collision with the Detroit Lions mascot, Charles received a torn ACL, and his season was ended. 

With Charles’ injury, my season could easily end in disaster.  However, I was fortunate enough to plan ahead by drafting other Running Backs in case of injury, including the Buffalo Bills’ RB Fred Jackson.  By having a back up plan, I still have a chance to contend for a pretend trophy.

With your data center, you too must have a disaster recovery plan.  Unlike Fantasy Football, your data center actually means something in real life.  In business, it is paramount for leaders to find ways to mitigate the risks to their businesses, protecting their employees, customers and investments. Extended down time or lost data equals lost productivity and lost profits.

In Fantasy Football, it is crucial to have a back up plan.  Just like in disaster recovery, it is not a matter of if, but of when you will need to use it.

Value of planning ahead

When managing your Fantasy Football team, you have to factor in that your players will experience bye weeks.  Every NFL team is assigned an off, or bye, week when they do not play.  Accordingly, you must account for the weeks in which your players take off.  You might have the best team in your league; however, if you have not planned ahead for when key positions are empty, you can put your season in jeopardy.

With your data center, it is not enough to focus on right now.  You need to plan ahead to scale and grow your data center for future needs. At TBL, our data center engineers can assist you by planning for future growth, and testing to see that your current infrastructure is optimized.

In both Fantasy Football and Data Center, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

The power of defense

While it is not as exciting as drafting the best QB, or picking up the unknown Running Back who becomes a dominant player, picking a good Defense is key to your Fantasy Football success.   In my first week matchup, my imaginary team squeaked out a 3.08 point victory.  I need every point that I could muster that week.  Fortunately for me, I had chosen San Francisco 49er’s Defense, which generated the highest points of Week 1. Without a strong defense, I would have lost.

Even if your data center is not large, defense is crucial for your success.  During a recent interview with Work It Richmond, Bryan Miller of Syrinx Technologies, who partners with TBL Networks on system security, said that smaller organizations often think “that the bad guys don’t want the resources they own. They feel because they are small that whatever they own isn’t worth the trouble” and that hackers often go after “low-hanging fruit. If you present yourself an easy target, the bad guys will take advantage of it.” A strong defense is key to success in both Fantasy Football and Data Center.

While managing your Data Center might not involve keeping track of which Cincinnati Bengals are currently in jail, you can still find lessons from Fantasy Football to ensure victory in your systems management.

TBL Achieves VCE Vblock Qualified Partner Status

Leading Technology Integrator becomes 58th company in U.S. to attain VCE qualification

TBL Networks, Inc. announced today that the company has achieved Vblock Qualified Partner Status.  TBL Networks becomes just the 58th company in the U.S. to receive this qualification from VCE.

“TBL Networks is very honored to receive the title of Vblock Qualified Partner,” said Alan Sears, President and CEO of TBL Networks, Inc.  “With this certification, TBL will continue to provide its clients with the most advanced solutions in Unified Communications, Virtualization and Storage.”

TBL Networks is now qualified to sell the VCE Vblock, the world’s first completely integrated converged infrastructure offering for rapid virtualization deployment. To be considered for the status of Vblock Qualified Partner, a company must receive the highest designations and certifications for the Cisco, EMC, and VMware products that comprise the Vblock Infrastructure Platform. TBL’s accolades include Cisco Gold Certified Partner, VMware Enterprise Level Solutions Provider Partner, and EMC Premier Tier Velocity² Services Partner.

TBL Networks is a major source of expertise for the technology sector in Central Virginia. Recently, TBL was included on CRN’s Next-Gen 250 channel partner list. In addition, TBL was ranked 406 on the 2011 Inc. 500 list, becoming the only firm in Central Virginia to make the list, and ranked 34th overall in IT services.

TBL Networks is the only technology integrator in the Commonwealth of Virginia with five Cisco Voice CCIEs, employs the state’s only VMware VCDX, and had two engineers recognized as 2011 VMware vExperts.

TBL’s partner status can be found on the VCE website at

About VCE

VCE, the Virtual Computing Environment Company formed by Cisco and EMC with investments from VMware and Intel, accelerates the adoption of converged infrastructure and cloud-based computing models that dramatically reduce the cost of IT while improving time to market for our customers. VCE, through the Vblock platform, delivers the industry’s first completely integrated IT offering with end-to-end vendor accountability. Learn more at

About TBL Networks, Inc.
TBL Networks is about moving forward with innovative technology. With over 60 years of combined technical expertise, we empower clients’ collaboration, virtualization and data centers to do more with less. TBL delivers these advanced solutions directly where it counts the most – the desktop. Building secure and reliable solutions that introduce efficiencies in human interaction is how we see the future. Let us take you there at

Revving Up the Data Center

Every fall, Richmond International Raceway hosts a demonstration showcasing the power of advanced engineering and cutting edge technology.  When NASCAR’s “One Last Race to Make The Chase” comes to town, race fans get a chance to see (and hear) the power of converged technology in person.  On the eve of the Wonderful Pistachios 400, TBL Networks used this back drop to announce our latest advancement in the use of converged technology in the data center – the Vblock.

TBL Networks’ President Alan Sears announced that TBL Networks has achieved Vblock Qualified Partner Status, becoming just the 58th company in the world to receive this certification from VCE. With this announcement, TBL Networks can now provide it’s clients with the VCE Vblock, the world’s first completely integrated converged infrastructure offering for rapid virtualization deployment. 


Using the combined resources of four technology stalwarts – VMware, Cisco, EMC and Intel, the Vblock brings together the best of the best to create a simple yet powerful data center.  The Vblock’s converged infrastructure places virtualization, server, storage, networking, security and management in a single, prebuilt solution.  Whereas most data centers are constructed from individual components, the Vblock arrives fully integrated and test, providing users unmatched operational simplicity.

In addition, the Vblock brings together simple yet powerful customer service and support.  VCE’s partnership allows client’s access to cross-company, cross product-trained support experts.  If you need support, you will not have to ponder which vendor to contact;  VCE allows you to receive a single customer service experience.


Following the Vblock presentation, participants got a chance to view live NASCAR Nationwide action, exploring the pit area and watching as Kyle Busch won the Virginia 529 College Savings 250.

Revving up the data center might not be as loud as revving up a NASCAR engine, but with Vblock, it can be just as powerful.

Security in a Virtualized World

For our August Lunch & Learn presentation “Security in a Virtualized World,”  TBL’s virtualization expert Harley Stagner was joined by Bryan Miller of Syrinx Technologies.    The speakers each brought their own unique perspectives to the subject matter, as Harley’s job is to help clients  to build virtual infrastructures, and Bryan’s job is to see if he can break into them (with his clients’ permission, of course).

Harley and Bryan discussed the challenges of managing a virtualized infrastructure while maintaining system security.  Focus areas included patching issues and best practices for auditing and hardening your system.  In addition, Harley and Bryan covered  vulnerabilities that are germane to virtualized environments, while also reviewing the newest compliance guidelines.

To conclude, Harley and Bryan provided a live demonstration of vMotion, and explained how it can be infiltrated.  Bryan demonstrated how during a typical vMotion session information could be easily exposed without taking security measures.

A big TBL “Thank You” to all those who attended for sessions in Virginia Beach and Richmond in August.  In September, TBL Networks is participating in two very exciting events.  On Wednesday, September 14, TBL is hosting an exclusive Lunch & Learn in Virginia Beach entitled “Cisco Collaboration Meets Virtualization.”  This presentation will be lead by TBL Networks’ CCIE and Collaboration Practice Lead Engineer Patrick Tredway.  For our Richmond readers, please join us at RichTech’s Annual TechLinks Golf Tournament on Monday, September 12th.   TBL Network is serving as a Reception Sponsor for this event, and we look forward to meeting everyone in the technology field in Central Virginia for a great day of golf and socializing.


For more information on Bryan Miller and Syrinx Technologies, please to

September TBL Lunch & Learn – Cisco Collaboration Meets Virtualization

Join us for lunch to learn more about how how Cisco Collaboration suite integrates with your virtualized infrastructure.  TBL’s Patrick Tredway will lead the discussion and allow you the chance to ask questions.  PLUS, NO POWERPOINT PRESENTATION!


Virginia Beach, VA – September 14th- Ruth’s Chris

Click here to attend our August Lunch & Learn

11:30 AM – Registration
11:35 AM – Order Lunch
12:00 PM – Discussion with Patrick
  1:30 PM – Event Close


  • Migration Path to Virtualized Voice
  • Requirements to Virtualize
  • QoS in a Virtualized Environment
  • Benefits of Virtualized Voice
  • Breaking the Pizza Box Server Model

Who should attend:
Anyone interested in collaboration and how it affects your virtualized IT infrastructure.

Maximum four attendees per organization.

About Patrick

Patrick Tredway is TBL’s Collaboration Practice Lead and Account Engineer.  He is a CCIE Voice certified engineer and has been working with Cisco Unified Communications since 2002. In addition, Patrick is co-owner of TBL Networks and a fully licensed pilot.

About TBL

TBL Networks, Cisco Gold Certified Partner and certified VMware Enterprise Solutions Provider partner, provides our customers a wide range of advanced technology solutions, with a focus on Unified Communications, Virtualization and Storage.

Five Reasons to Attend the RichTech Golf Tournament

On Monday, September 12th, RichTech will host its annual TechLinks Golf Tournament. TBL Networks is honored to serve as a Reception Sponsor for this event. Despite the fact that golf is not one of my strengths, I am very excited about the chance to participate and spend time with fellow members of the technology community.

Here are five reasons you should attend the RichTech TechLinks Golf Tournament

1) The course

TheTechLinks tournament is hosted at the Hermitage Country Club Founded in 1900, Hermitage is the second oldest club in the Commonwealth of Virginia. At my skill level, I am planning on spending a good deal of time searching for my ball in the woods. On the plus side, I have the opportunity to find the second oldest golf ball in Virginia.

2) Goodie Bags for all participants

Enough said.

3) Play golf on a Monday

In this contentious age, there are few things upon which we can universally agree. However, one truth is indisputable – Mondays stink.

Instead of dragging yourself into work for coffee and listening to THIS co-worker, you can enjoy the late summer weather on a beautiful private course while playing golf. At TechLinks Golf Tournament, you will have best of Monday of your year.

4) Make Caddyshack References

Making Caddyshack references is not always appropriate in the workplace, but it is always acceptable at the golf course. Have you signed up yet? Well …

5) Meet your peers

Serving over 300 companies and more than 3,000 people, RichTech today is the premier technology association in the Greater Richmond and Central Virginia area. The TechLinks Golf Tournament provides the chance for you to meet your peers in technology field while playing golf at a great course. What more could you ask for?

To learn more about RichTech and to become a contributing member of Central Virginia’s technology community, go to

To purchase your tickets for RichTech’s Annual TechLinks Golf Tournament, click on this link.

TBL Sponsors RichTech’s Annual TechLinks Golf Tournament

TBL Networks, Inc. announced today that they will serve as a Reception Sponsor for RichTech’s Annual TechLinks Golf Tournament . This event is held on Monday, September 12 at the Hermitage Country Club in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia.

“TBL Networks is very happy to serve as sponsor for this great event,” said Alan Sears, President and CEO of TBL Networks, Inc. “RichTech is a vigorous advocate and outstanding facilitator for the technology community in Central Virginia, and the TechLinks Golf Tournament provides another chance for members of this community to get to know each other.”

RichTech is the premier technology association in Central Virginia and serves over 300 companies and 3,000 people from all sectors of technology. RichTech’s mission is to be a catalyst and a resource to connect these talented individuals within business, industry, government and education who work daily to provide growth and sustainability of the Virginia economy.

To learn more about RichTech and to become a contributing member of Central Virginia’s technology community, go to

To purchase your tickets for RichTech’s Annual TechLinks Golf Tournament, click on this link.