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March 23, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Technology & Innovation: OneNeck IT Services

  |   Video
  • The CEO of OneNeck IT Services recently received the Governor's Celebration of Innovation Award. Find out more about OneNeck's innovative IT solutions from Chuck Vermillion, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of OneNeck IT Services Corporation.
  • Chuck Vermillion - Chief Executive Officer and Founder, OneNeck IT Services Corporation
Category: Science

View Transcript
Ted Simons: In tonight's edition of "Horizon"'s ongoing series Arizona technology and innovation, we take a look at a Scottsdale-based I.T. company, OneNeck I.T. Looks to build and expands on a variety of I.T. and hosting services. Here to talk about his company is Chuck Vermillion, the founder and CEO. He received the governor's Celebration of Innovation CEO of the year award. Thank you for joining us tonight on "Horizon."

Chuck Vermillion: You are welcome. Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: I got to get a little slow. This is stuff beyond my pay grade but what exactly does your company do?

Chuck Vermillion: In a nut shell, one neck hosts and manages companies enterprise systems for them.

Ted Simons: What does that mean?

Chuck Vermillion: So the enterprise systems are E.R.P. systems often timed referred to are very large computer systems that run the entirety of large organizations. So it would run the financial systems, their accounts payable systems, their shipping and receiving systems, warehouse management systems, order entry systems. It's all combined in a single package. And those packages are quite complex. Are very difficult to manage and we find that companies like to consider having someone who is professionally experienced managing those kind of systems move them from their facilities to our facilities, our data centers here in town will host them and manage them and all they do is use them.

Ted Simons: Is that, we hear about cloud computing a lot. Is that what you are talking about?

Chuck Vermillion: Cloud computing is one of our new primary technology enablers. Many cases our customers own their own servers and have individual servers for individual applications. Cloud computing is providing what they refer to as virtue servers. So they can partition a cluster of physical servers, and create a number of virtual servers that look and feel for all purposes like a standalone physical server. What it allows you to do is become much more efficient. Instead of using 10% of the capacity on a single server, you could use 100% of capacity by having all of those servers virtualized.

Ted Simons: OK. So I have got my finance, my accounting, my manufacturing, my sales, my service, all going to you, all going to a cloud? Where is it all going?

Chuck Vermillion: Well, in our case, we have a couple of clouds. One is in our data center in Tempe and one is in Gilbert and a third is in New Jersey. So there we have clustered servers. We have disks, disk and backup that we also serve to store information and then back that information up. So we have three separate clouds. And depending on the customer and the desire of the data center that would be where that cloud actually physically exists. But for the users it appears to be right there at their desktop.

Ted Simons: And obviously that image is there and it feels like it's there. But it's over there. How do I know that it's secure? If I got a business and I have got proprietary interests and such I want to make sure no one is poking around. How do you know? What kind of security is involved?

Chuck Vermillion: That's a great question. We employ about 20 security experts, network security experts whose full time job it is to help ensure we have the appropriate fire walls and technologies in place to ensure that only our customers can come into our facilities and those customers can only see their environments versus other customers' environments. And it's worked well. We have never had a security breach in our company. We are pleased to say. And obviously there's lots of people that are real interested in doing that. Maybe I just tempt they wanted to try. Hopefully not.

Ted Simons: Hopefully not. I know what your company does in providing these kind of services but let's say me as someone who wants to listen to music, look at movies, read books, is that the future of those kinds of things? It seems like cloud computing, everything will be out there somewhere for me to go get. That seems like that is the wave of the future.

Chuck Vermillion: Oh, I think it is absolutely the wave of the future. On an individual basis, you can back your home computers up right in the cloud. So that as an example, if you store your, take photos and you store those photos in a photo bucket or one of those shutter fly web sites you are storing your photos on the cloud and the good news is if something happens to your computer or to your house, unfortunately, the photos still exist.

Ted Simons: Now, if my business wants to have a certain look, a consistent look, a consistent feel to everything, or even at home, whatever, is that possible? Or do things have to kind of go on their own alleys to the clouds?

Chuck Vermillion: There's multiple paths, same paths to many clouds. Depends on which type of cloud you are trying to access and who's providing that. From your home computer over your internet you could get the Amazon's cloud. If you are a OneNeck customers you could get to our cloud but you could get to multiple clouds via that internet path.

Ted Simons: Talk to us about why you started this company or how this company got started, your involvement with it and what you are looking back when this thing got started and what you are looking at now.

Chuck Vermillion: Well, we started back in 1996, had an idea of -- we were working for a company that had was a standalone entity, spun out of a much larger apparent company. We didn't have our own enterprise systems. We are using our parent's system. We had to host and build our own data center and as their director of I.T. I had absolutely no idea of building a data source center was so we looked to outsource that to provide that to other parties. With we did a nationwide search and came up with a company no town which was ultimately called SEV computer systems. And we chose them to host and manage our servers. Right? This is a precursor to the cloud. We had individual servers. And into that implementation of that system for us, our parent company got sold and we decided that working for a much larger entity wasn't our thing. We approached the outsourcer and said why don't we build a business for you? We will bring the application competency to you and they said sure. And with the blessings of our parent company, we did leave, and built a business providing application services on top of this data center hosted server capability.

Ted Simons: With that in mind and with the history and what you are doing now and what you see in the future, pretty exciting time to be in the high-tech field.

Chuck Vermillion: Oh, absolutely. You know, going back to cloud, cloud is really enabled companies to get into much more complicated environments, much more redundancy at a fraction of the cost of doing it for yourself. And ides transforming the way people look at I.T. as opposed to providing your own I.T. or having your own I.T. staff you can realistically and reliably engage with parties such as OneNeck to take that pain away to know you have professional people managing for you.

Ted Simons: Congratulations on your success and continued success and it just seems like every year something new is popping up. Now it's all cloud computing and sounds like you are there. So congratulations.

Chuck Vermillion: Thanks very much.

Cancer Ancestor

  |   Video
  • ASU researcher Paul Davies shares his theory about cancer being our evolutionary ancestor.
  • Paul Davies - ASU researcher
Category: Science

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Ted Simons: There's a controversial new theory about cancer. It suggests that cancer cellars living fossils that the remnants of an evolutionary stage where animals started learning control of cellular reproduction. Arizona State astrobiologist Paul Davies is one of two researchers proposing the theory. He joins us to tell us more about it.

Paul Davies: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Cancer could be our oldest ancestors? Explain, please.

Paul Davies: Well, I think everybody is familiar with the fact that life on earth began very simple, just single cells. And this went on for a long time. But then about 600 million years ago suddenly there was a great flowering of multicellular life. It's often called the Cambrian explosion but it didn't happen overnight. There was a period of maybe a billion years preceding that where cells began to get together and cooperate into rudimentary colonies. These rudimentary colonies were like the earliest tumors. These tumors represent a throw back to that time about 1 billion years ago where that first experimentation.

Ted Simons: This is when these cells kind of get some control over reproduction? You mentioned -- just some sort of what cooperation?

Paul Davies: Cooperation is the word. You see, because single cells have just one imperative -- replicate, replicate, replicate. But when cells began to get together to form colonies and cooperative arrangements, they had to relinquish some of their rights and one of these rights is the right to replicate when you want to. And so now, in our bodies, all this is very tightly controlled. Skin cell, for example, it can't just decide to replicate. It has to wait for a message to tell it to do so. The same with liver cell, lung cells and so on. If that cooperative arrangements breaks downs, cancer results. What we are saying is not that this is just cells gone wrong. It's cells reverting to the way they used to be a billion years ago.

Ted Simons: So would this be, the cancer cells of today, distant relatives of these earlier cells? Is this a stable genetic makeup, same as then? Same as now?

Paul Davies: What we are saying is there is a set of Gene, a tool kit if you like of Gene, very ancient genes that know how to build these rudimentary cancerous colonies and these are overlaid by more sophisticated ones that represent life as we now see it with the very many different cell types, and different organs and so on. And when something goes wrong, it springs its ancient tool kit of genes and comes that earlier wave doing things. It's like you mention a painting that is painted over with something else. And something begins to erase the surface painting and exposes the one that lies underneath, the more ancient one. That's what we are saying that something is exposing that tool kit of ancient genes which is why cancer seems to be such a formidable foe. It doesn't seem like something just going wrong. It seems like something is going right, a preprogrammed response.

Ted Simons: An interested way to look at it and yet something so destructive. For this long a period of time, wouldn't that have phased itself out? I mean, why does this particular dynamic survive?

Paul Davies: That's because the genes that we are talking about are not used. It's not that they no longer needed. They are needed, for example, during embryo development. When an embryo develops it goes all through the stages life has gone through over evolutionary history. For example, the human embryo goes to a stage where there are gills, web feet and tails and they get sort of suppressed later on. Although occasionally people will be born with a tail, for example. That’s called an atavism. We are saying that cancer is a type of ATAVISM where these ancient genes still have uses but in the adult form are all suppressed. Spring out again.

Ted Simons: You mentioned spring out. A lot of folks think of cancer, they think of cancer cells just going crazy as attacking the body in ways that don't make any sense, no form, no fashion. They are all over the place. How does that work with the idea they cooperate? And they know what they are doing.

Paul Davies: They do. And there's some very striking examples. One of these is called the soil and seed hypothesis. It's been around for about 100 years. The idea when cancer spreads around the body it doesn't do so randomly. That they are certainly organs that the cancer cells are directed to, and they make a home in them. And there's now very good evidence that a primary tumor will send out chemical signals to prepare the ground, prepare the soil. It's almost like sending out bags of fertilizer ahead of the cancer cells. So this is a cooperative response. This is not just cells going hay wire.

Ted Simons: So let me get this straight. If they are ancestors, going back that kind of time, the genetic makeup should be somewhat stable. If it is somewhat stable, shouldn't there be a way to target? Shouldn't there be less --

Paul Davies: That’s the good news. The good news is that when cancer breaks out in somebody's body, it's not evolving randomly. It's not just trying all the tricks available. There is, of course, some random change. But this is a preprogrammed response of a set of very ancient genes which are already there which have come out and then the reason the cancer cells can deploy so many wonderful tricks, wonderful for them, terrible for the patient but so many amazing survival properties because these are tried and tested survival strategies for a long time ago. But there's a limited number. This isn't just random. This is a targeted type of response. So we can target those genes if we begin to understand how this tool kit works. We can target that and it means that there's far more chance that we can bring this under control than you would believe from the conventional theory.

Ted Simons: So basically if I understand you correctly what you are saying is figure out, go back to your painting, figure out what causes the scratch. Figure out what triggers the scratch.

Paul Davies: Right.

Ted Simons: You have cancer pretty much figured snout.

Paul Davies: Well, that's a way of preventing cancer. What we are saying if you understand the painting underneath then we are the chance of being able to control it. My feeling about cancer is that we should forget about cures. We should just think in terms of controlling. Because these are your body's own cells. It's just they are not behaving in a way that is good for the individual. And so rather than thinking, well, we have to exterminate or eliminate them, these are genes that are deeply embedded in our genome and if we know what they are and we can understand them better, we can come to understand them better by studying other organisms. We have to study the history of life on earth. Every multicellular organism gets cancer. How ancient are these genes? How did they evolve? And then when we got that broader picture, we are in a much better chance of controlling it.

Ted Simons: What's your reaction, what kind of reaction, I should say, are you getting from this idea?

Paul Davies: Oh, mixture of good and bad. Some people have been studying the evolution of cancer cells in the body, and they have just taken sort of straight forward Darwinian approach, random and hope for the best. And those people are actually quite receptive to these ideas because it builds off their own ideas. And some people think who are these guys? I came to the subject wearing my astrobiology hat so we are interested in life in the universe, the history of life on earth. This is not a one O-way street. Astrobiology can inform cancer biology but cancer biology can inform astrobiology. It tells us something about the nature of life itself.

Ted Simons: Real quickly what's the next evolution for this kind of thinking, this theory and thought?

Paul Davies: What I am going to do is bring together embryologists who people who understand early embryo development and lend their insights into what's going on in the various early stages of the embryo and see if we can put that together with the astrobiology and with the cancer biology and come up with a way of, after all, at the end of the day, we want therapeutic outcomes is what we want.

Ted Simons: Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

Paul Davies My pleasure.

Legislative Update

  |   Video
  • A weekly update of legislative news with a reporter from the Arizona Capitol Times.
  • Luige del Puerto - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The Glendale school district today confirms that the writer of a controversial letter read on the Senate floor did indeed teach at Glendale schools. That letter is getting a lot of attention at the state capitol. Also making news, the governor's response to the Senate's budget which calls for heavy cuts to education. Here with the latest from the statehouse is Luige del Puerto of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Good to see you again. Thanks for being here. Let's start with this letter read aloud on the floor by senator Laurie Klein of anthem. Give us a brief synopsis. What did this letter say?

Luige del Puerto: Basically it painted a very unflattering, grim picture of Hispanic students. This teacher said in this letter they refused to say the pledge, they refused to do their homework, they were disruptive and basically they think that Americans are, what Americans are racist. And that they're here to basically reconquer, if you will, the United States for Mexico.

Ted Simons: Do we know the exact content? She read the letter on the floor so we kind of know what he said but all the students? One student? A couple? What -- eighth graders? A social kind of social studies and literature class?

Luige del Puerto: It was a social studies and literature class and you are right, this is one class. It's a grade 8 class but the way the letter basically depicted what happened, he kind of painted a broad brush of Hispanic students and I think that's what's causing so much uproar. In addition to that the fact the that the state senator Laurie Klein actually read it on the Senate floor and by doing so she's in effect taking sort of ownership and is an associating herself with the contents of this letter. We did speak to her again this afternoon. She said she disagreed with parts of the letter. For example, she disagreed with description that Hispanic students all they want to do is grow up and be members of gangs and she disagreed with that. But by reading it out loud on the Senate floor, during a discussion of immigration bills, it was to some quite offensive.

Ted Simons: I know initially there was some concern that it might be a hoax, that the teacher didn't exist. They did find the teacher, though, didn't they?

Luige del Puerto: Yes, in fact, originally some people questioned whether the letter was authentic in the first place. We found out it was indeed written by a substitute teacher. Some people speculated, well, who was this substitute teacher? Does he really exist? And turns out that he does exist. And people questioned did he actually teach in this school here in the valley? He did actually teach in a school here in the valley. So that's basically Mr. Pierce's point this afternoon. All this allegations, all this questioning, well, it turn out that most of them, very least we know the teacher, that the substitute teacher, in fact, wrote this letter and that he, in fact, taught at a Glendale high school. Grade 8 school.

Ted Simons: Exactly. An eighth grade class there. But we are also learning there was an exit interview with this teacher. Was any of this mentioned in the exit interview?

Luige del Puerto: The short answer is no. The exit interview basically described the students as poor, that they did not do their assignments, but there was never any mention of inappropriate behavior or that they were being disruptive or they refused to say the pledge. There was none of that in the exit interview. And that's one of the points of the critics of Laurie Klein and the president. They are basically saying, well, you read the letter without verifying its contents, without fact checking it and you know, reading it it did happen.

Ted Simons: How often is something like that done? How often does any senator from any side of the aisle or the house go ahead and read an inflammatory letter or a letter that may not be fully vetted?

Luige del Puerto: Well, lawmakers get letters all the time. And I think they are very deliberate in how they view this -- meaning to say they consciously decide whether to make these letters public or not. How often has it happened? Not quite. Especially with this magnitude, especially with the contents of this letter. You don't always see something like this being read on the Senate floor. A very public place during a very public debate about a very emotional issue like immigration.

Ted Simons: All right. Let's keep it moving here. By the way, is that story pretty much over here? What's next for this story?

Luige del Puerto: I don't think the story is over. Members of the -- I mean Democratic members who are also Hispanics are very upset about it and have publicly called on president Pearce and Laurie Klein to apologize for first of all reading the letter, and for not fact checking before, you know, all this controversy erupted. Pearce has said, well, people have a right -- well, I mean, everyone has his first amendment rights and the teacher expresses his mind. To Pierce's mind a very real experience. And it was heartfelt. It wasn't hateful or anything like that. And so -- and Pearce said, people cannot handle the truth. Basically that's their problem.

Ted Simons: Well, I guess the story will go on then if that's the response.

Luige del Puerto: The story will go on.

Ted Simons: Real quickly before you go now the governor responded to the Senate's budget proposal, the OP-Ed piece is and basically saying she's not pleased with what she's seeing there as far as these cuts and they are much more than her proposal. Talk to us about this dynamic.

Luige del Puerto: Last week, I had said that the Senate's budget proposal is basically, at the core of the Senate's budget plan is the message that we don't like the governor's budget proposal which she released earlier this year so the governor came back with this OP-Ed and basically said, well, I don't like your budget plan either. I don't like it because to her mind it devastates core services and she said, I am willing to do cuts but there has to be certain guidelines. I think she mentioned, for example, that the cuts should be targeted, for example. That they should not devastate core services like education. That they should avoid cost shifts, and that they should be realistic. I guess what we are seeing is I wouldn't say hardening of her position but basically the Senate has said this is what we want to do and the governor has responded. I guess they will settle it during their budget negotiations which I understand are ongoing at this point.

Ted Simons: But there does seem to be a bit of a disconnect here between house, Senate, and governor. Correct?

Luige del Puerto: Well, there's always that friction, if you will. I would say it's a natural tendency of these two bodies. One does offer a budget plan. Government implements the budget plan. There's a difference of constituency. We have to understand the governor's constituency is the entire state. Legislature or individual lawmaker v. their own districts that they have to satisfy. The governor feels that she needs to take a broader view of things and I guess that's always been the source of tension in the capitol.

Ted Simons: All right. Good stuff. Thanks for joining us.

Luige del Puerto: Thank you.