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New Hope : Innovation + Job News

5 New Hope Articles | Page:

AssetVUE changing game in data center inventory management

When Comcast is your first customer, you know you're doing something right. It helps that Gary Aron has ties with the media giant, but as vice president of business development for AssetVUE, he has a lot more to offer than just some friendly advice.

Aron and company president Sean Cotter explain that AssetVUE has adapted RFID technology to rapidly read and inventory assets in massive data centers. AssetVUE works within the Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) framework, cutting inventory time by up to 90 percent.

Aron and Cotter had worked together previously, when Cotter was CIO for the DVL Group and Aron was an executive running data centers for Verizon, JP Morgan Chase and Comcast. "We talked for a period of time about things that didn't exist," says Aron. "I said, 'Let's go after those holes in the products.'" The biggest one, says Aron, is keeping information up to date. "Building a data repository is time consuming. People purchase products that can take years to implement, and they don't take full advantage of the tools they purchase."

The second piece is validation, which takes a considerable amount of time as well, working out where physical assets sit, as well as validating information pertinent to specific clients. This maintenance level information is kept in massive databases.

Before RFID technology, the client would go in, open up the doors to a rack, count information and compare. Now, with RFID, the same data gathering happens instantly, and it's also possible to get advanced views of a rack. "With these tools, you can get a top down, or elevation view," says Cotter. "When you click on a rack, it brings up every device in that rack within a minute's time."

Asset VUE now employs three full-timers as well as two contractors, with a recent $200,000 investment from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania slated for marketing and staff development.

"We have just two clients installed right now and we've engaged in a handful of proof of concepts that have gone well, so we expect that half dozen more companies will come on board," says Aron.

Source: Sean Cotter, Gary Aron, AssetVUE
Writer: Sue Spolan

Farm to freezer: New CSA aims to provide region with sustainably grown produce in winter

Buying and eating local is easy during the summer months, when produce is literally falling off the back of farm trucks. It's a different story after the ground freezes over, but a new company has launched to address that seasonal shortfall and provide sustainably grown fruit and vegetables -- from farm to freezer.

"It's not easy to eat food grown closer to home year round," says Winter Sun Farms Greater Philadelphia co-founder Sara Gordon. Sure, there are storage crops, like apples, winter squash and root vegetables, "But for things like green beans and corn, unless you are putting them up, those items are coming from California and South America."

Winter Sun  is selling a total of 250 CSA monthly shares that provide a five month regional produce subscription that's available in two sizes, costing $175 and $315. Each share is made up primarily of flash frozen produce with some fresh items in the mix. Husband and wife team Sara and Adam Gordon started the business three months ago.

Originally from Connecticut, Adam Gordon landed a job in the Philadelphia area two years ago and the couple relocated to Bucks County. They immediately got involved in the strong local food movement here, joining a CSA and becoming part of a buying club that's grown into the Doylestown Food Coop.

Adam's job came to an end this year, and the timing was perfect, says Sara, for the launch of a new business. While future plans are to run the entire operation out of the Philadelphia area, this first year Winter Sun is getting everything from its Hudson Valley counterpart, which is already set up with a processing facility with an IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) machine that uses nitrogen to flash freeze individual peas and corn so the home cook can open a bag and use just a portion.

This year, the couple hopes to break even, and is marketing the new service at area farm markets and on social media. Right now, about half of its 250 total shares are spoken for. Interested customers can register online.

Source: Sara Gordon, Winter Sun Farms Greater Philadelphia
Writer: Sue Spolan

NJ farm-to-table distributor Zone 7 doubles sales, hiring

There's a whole lot of hiring going on in Zone 7. Lest you think you've slipped into a science fiction world, Fresh From Zone 7 is the name of a fast growing company that's, well, all about growing. Founded in 2008 by Mikey Azzara, the Cranbury, N.J.-based farm-to-table distributor serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey has doubled in sales every year.

Right now, there are five job openings for energetic people who are committed to providing local food to local eaters: sales, warehouse crew, warehouse crew leader, drivers (multiple) and a sales team intern. While the positions are primarily part time, the right candidate could combine several to create a full time gig. Currently there are 9 people on staff, and the new hires would represent about a fifty percent increase. The company began with just two employees in 2008.

Azzara reports that each week of the 2011 season, Zone 7 has been adding deliveries at an almost explosive rate and at this point is maxed out in terms of staffing.

"On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all three of our trucks are out," says Azzara of the fleet that picks up from all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania, delivering to over 80 establishments, including The Farm and Fisherman, Southwark, Garces Trading Company, Weaver's Way, Greensgrow and the Fair Food Farmstand in Philadelphia. The New Jersey territory stretches from Atlantic City to West New York, NJ.

The 40 farms that supply Zone 7 include Blooming Glen, Jah's Creation Organic, Griggstown Farm Market, and Branch Creek, where the original seed for Zone 7 was planted.

Azzara had been working for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey for five years when he sat down at the table of Mark and Judy Dornstreich, pioneers of the local food movement and founders of Branch Creek Farm, which has been growing and delivering organic produce to Philadelphia restaurants since the 1970s. "They supplied me with the truck, the name and the idea," says Azzara.

Zone 7, named for the USDA Hardiness Zone in which we live, is a 52-week-a-year operation, says Azzara, and its busiest months, surprisingly, are November and December. "Our time to catch our breath is January, February and March." Starting in April, asparagus and swiss chard are the first crops to harvest.

Source: Mikey Azzara, Zone 7
Writer: Sue Spolan

Green data center at former Bucks County steel mill could create up to 1,100 jobs

On the banks of the Delaware River, a green data center is set to rise from the remains of an old steel mill. David Crocker, CEO of Steel Orca LLC, says that while demand for data centers is growing at about 18 percent per year, supply is growing at only 5 percent every year. With many older data centers becoming obsolete in the face of new technology and increased power requirements, Steel Orca's goal is to build the greenest data center in the world, powered entirely by renewable energy sources. "Three to five percent of all energy generated in the United States goes into data centers. You can appreciate that data centers have a responsibility to be as efficient as possible," says Crocker.

As power density increases, so do cooling requirements. Steel Orca's planned center near Fairless Hills in Bucks County will require 100 megawatts of power, with an ultimate goal of 300,000 square feet of 'white space,' the term coined to describe the area where the servers are located, with a total footprint of 730,000 square feet.

The data center is in now the planning stage. HP has signed on to lead the design and construction team, with help from GE, Gilbane Construction and Villanova University Professor Alphonso Ortega. Ideas in the works include a triple failsafe power system, river water as a cooling mechanism, solar panels and and wind turbine generation.

Crocker terms the future center "a source of technological renaissance in the Delaware Valley," eventually creating 1,100 jobs in Bucks County. Steel Orca has completed a first round of funding with more than 50 investors, and Crocker projects that the first phase of the center, with at least 50,000 square feet of white space, will go online in the second quarter of 2012.

Source: David Crocker, Steel Orca
Writer: Sue Spolan

Interactive mapping platform launched to connect Philadelphians to their local communities

It's one of life's great mysteries: you can travel to a thousand cities and eat at a hundred fancy restaurants and drink a dozen craft beers at each of the bars along the way. But a meal never tastes as good as one at your favorite neighborhood haunt. And according to Philadelphia's sustainability leaders, this phenomenon is not just good for your appetite, it can be good for your neighborhood and your city as well.

Based on a concept created by the William Penn Foundation, partners from the Sustainable Business Network, Azavea and NPower created Common Space, a new mapping platform that creates a network of neighborhood establishments within a certain walkable, bikeable or busable distance to help residents support local business.

"The really cool thing is, I can map my friend's common space as well as my own," says SBN Executive Director Leanne Krueger-Braneky. "So if I am leaving from my office in Center City and meeting my husband who is coming from our house in West Philadelphia, he could say he is going to bike for 15 minutes and I could say I was going to walk for 20 minutes and Common Space will map the area where we would be able to meet up and map local culture events and businesses in that field."

Partnering with tastemakers like UWISHUNU and Yelp, Common Space shows you the best spots in your transit area, allowing you the most sustainable way possible to hit your next favorite haunt. After their trial run, organizers hope to partner with citywide festivals and cultural events like LiveArts and Philly Beer Week.

"Sustainability was one of the values William Penn outlined, which is why they wanted to partner with us," Krueger-Braneky says. "Because the application does encourage walking, biking, and public transit, it's a way of showing what's going on in the city while encouraging alternative transit."

Source: Leanne Krueger-Braneky, SBN
Writer: John Steele

5 New Hope Articles | Page:
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