Monday, August 27, 2012

Choose Iowa For The Project Edge Data Center


Back in 2010 I was considering a post to entice Microsoft to build a data center in Iowa.  At that time Iowa was in the running, but the decision had not yet been made. This was the Microsoft and Google build-out era of the mega data centers, similar to the Facebook and Apple story of recent years. As I started to write the 2010 post, Microsoft announced that they had decided on West Des Moines for their latest site.

So.... I am writing today to entice Facebook or Apple (who else has $1.2B to spend) to select Iowa for the site of its next data center. Earlier this year the buzz was out that 'Project Edge' could result in a $1.2 Billion data center campus. The decision was down to either Iowa or Nebraska, and the political battle (i.e.: tax incentives) was on. Although all sources said the mystery company was looking to break ground in May 2012, nothing happened.

I won't spend too much time stating why Iowa is an awesome place to build Project Edge - the facts do that for me   :)

  1. Iowa is #2 in wind energy - installing 647MW of new capacity in 2011, for a total of over 4,300MW available.
  2. Iowa has wonderfully robust technology and innovation support systems.
  3. CNBC's Top States for Business 2011: Cost of doing business - Iowa #1, Nebraska #17
  4. Google and Microsoft constructed data centers in Iowa. Google even expanded another $300 million this year.

An article last week at watchdog.org says that Project Edge is on hold.  The article says that the mystery company is "trying to figure out logistics...". Facebook (FB) has had some stock issues since its IPO, but should still be able to pull the trigger.  The world's most valuable company (AAPL) just won a $1B verdict against Samsung - so they should have no problems executing.

The logistics of site selection is a pretty interesting process. Since this project has been publicized for so long now, I doubt the site is the problem, but figuring out exactly what the company wants to do. If it is Apple, they announced a new data center near Reno in June and perhaps that one was just prioritized over the Iowa site announcement.

In 2007 I wrote about data center site selection - at a macro level. For companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Microsoft the regional data center strategy is to be in close network proximity to its user base and the macro-level decision boils down to some of the evaluation criteria that I have in mind for adding to my site selection white paper.

Two big ones are water and power (strength in renewables, capacity, reserve...). Obviously data centers built to the scale that these companies develop will require a plentiful, reliable water source for years to come. The 2012 drought that has hit many parts of the midwest may have an impact in looking at a site for long term. As I state in my white paper, there really is no area in the country that is completely impervious to some form of natural disaster - there could be drought this year, but a flood the next.  As a visual learner I appreciate maps, and have found a number of useful maps with data at the USGS Water Science School site. Climate change impacts are also a consideration - and the EPA has some nice resources for researching that.

Power is another one of the large areas to research when selecting a site, and there are a number of sources to look at. Iowa and Nebraska are on the same power grid, but some recently published information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration was interesting -- about the regional reserve margin estimates. It is just a short term reliability assessment, but interesting: Iowa is covered in the Midwest region, and has a 27% reserve margin estimate, with a 17% target, and Nebraska is in the Central region, with a 20% estimate and 14% target. Texas, having its own grid ....  well.... is in trouble again for keeping up with demand.

Microgrids are another interesting power topic .... but for another post. Forbes had a really good article recently on Distributed Energy.

Either state would be a good choice for the Project Edge data center, but should the mystery company look at Iowa - I would especially recommend cities that start with a W.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Facebook IPO and What $10B Buys

The headlines have picked up once again for a possible Wednesday filing for Facebook's IPO. Expected in May, the IPO could raise around $10 Billion and place a stock market value on Facebook as high as $100 Billion.

With Facebook already being watched closely for their supposed 800+ million assets (users) and potential value per user, their IPO will be heavily scrutinized. It's hard to believe such a high value placed on a company like Facebook, and to me it just seemed like an opportunity to randomly calculate things that one could do with $10 Billion.

Since this is a data center blog and new facilities typically cost a dollar or two, how much would $10 Billion buy in data centers?  Well, going off of their own $450 million price tag for past Facebook data centers, they could build 22 more data centers around the world to support their (surely) agressive growth plans.  Alternatively they could just acquire Equinix ($5.74B market cap) and Level 3 ($4.04B market cap) and just use those existing facilities and networks to power their growth. $10 Billion would almost equal the total amount of Data Center mergers and acquisitions in 2011 ($12.3B).

Otherwise, here are some fun (and totally irrational) things $10B could buy:

  1. Give $12.50 to all 800 million users
  2. Send 50,000 people on a Virgin Galactic trip into space.
  3. Buy Autonomy from HP
  4. Acquisition possibilities:
    1. RIM ($8.8B)
    2. Zynga ($7.03B)
    3. LinkedIn ($7.39B)
    4. (most of) Dish Network ($12.33B)
    5. Sprint ($6.5B)
    6. Purchase 83,884 shares of Berkshire Hathaway
    7. Twitter (~$8B)
  5. Purchase 845 megawatts of power from the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in northern Oregon.
  6. Supply the one year payroll for the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL
  7. How many hours of 'Eight extra large cluster compute instances' on Amazon's EC2 could they buy?   Let's just say its enough to last the life of the company (and then some)
  8. If you figure $1/Gigabyte of SSD storage - they could buy over 9.3 Exabytes of storage

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

2011 Data Center Statistics


Now that all of the 2011 reviews and 2012 prediction stories are out I am finally getting around to my year-end review. I just didn't quite make it to post by the end of 2011.  Regardless, I have a number of items I wanted to cover as a means of reflecting on the year, data center stories, statistics and other musings.

I don't spend a great deal of time in my Google Analytics for this blog, but when I am sifting through it I am constantly surprised at the number of visits coming for a post I did in early 2009 about 2008 Data Center Statistics.  As much as I would like to think it was possibly an insightful post, it was most likely due to not having turned on comment moderation (yet).   :)

Statistics

Data Center statistics are interesting however, and as data center technologies have evolved and case studies written throughout the past years it is helpful for looking at a more of a macro view of the industry.  Many statistics are of course made possible with the help from a company that is studied for many data center topics; Google. Google's Zeitgeist is always an interesting barometer of what the world searched and how we spent our online lives. Check out the 2011 Zeitgeist video.  Google Trends is also sometimes fun to look at for more specific topics, such as those that frequented 2011 headlines:

Patents

Looking at patents for the data center can always be interesting as well. Google has filed patents over the years under the name Exaflop LLC and they filed around 8 in 2011.   They continue to refine their data center infrastructure and methods to engineer and optimize the environment, through such things as patent 8004831, Orthogonally system arrangements for data center facility.  The physical data center and components within are almost arranged/engineered like the big data programs that are running on them. Lead on patent 8004831, Andrew Carlson  recently had an interesting article in the New York Times  on "Aiming to Learn as We Do, a Machine Teaches itself". 

Just doing a Google Patent search on "data center" or cloud computing can be enlightening.  Another interesting Google patent was 0276686, for a Cloud Computing Assessment Tool.   With the tool, input your data center information and it will spit out how it could look at a number of different data center providers and what efficiency, green-ness, and cost scores/ratings are. Not to be left out, Microsoft's 20110278928 is certainly intriguing, as a Wind-powered data center. 


My 2011

In 2011 I was fortunate enough to take several data center tours that were each memorable in their own way.  In May I toured an almost complete CoreSite facility and the Vantage Data Centers campus in Santa Clara. This was while attending the Uptime Institute Symposium. I also geeked out and toured the corporate campuses for Apple and Google while out there (stalker-mode, not official tours).  While attending Cisco Live 2011 I toured the Vegas SuperNAP facility.   It was very impressive and certainly lived up to all that I had read about it.  

Since it is (kind of) in my back yard, I made several trips to the West Des Moines Microsoft data center in 2011.  They have been pretty quiet about the details on this site, but as an iteration of that "4th Generation" data center vision I am very intrigued about how it is engineered (and how it is operating so far).  It looks close to how they depict the 4th generation infrastructure in this blog post

I also completed a couple of white papers in 2011 at Data Center Knowledge:



Data Center Markets

Finally - the markets for data centers and U.S.-wide site selection are still an interest of mine. In 2007 I wrote a site selection white paper and in 2012 I would like to get a second / updated revision out.  There are a number of angles to consider in the process other than natural disasters and obviously a lot has happened in the industry since 2007.  Last month GigaOm published a post on the Top 5 places to build a data center, but for some reason left out Iowa in that list.  

In 2011 the U.S. broke its record for billion-dollar weather disasters.   I ran across an article over the holidays that adds an interesting angle to earthquakes as a natural disaster. In McDonald Ohio a 4.0 earthquake struck recently. "It was the latest in a series of minor quakes in the area in 2011, though the residents say Saturday's appeared to be stronger than others.  Many have struck near an injection well used to dispose of brine water that's a byproduct of oil and gas drilling."  

2012

2012 predictions?  I'm not a big fan of guessing what the new year will bring ; let's just say - big efficiency, big data (getting bigger), deeper cloud integration and modular data centers continue to proliferate.     ... and that Mayan calendar thing: five 9's chance that it was wrong.



Friday, November 11, 2011

The Power of Eleven

I'm not big into numerology, but I figured it had been a while since I blogged here and what better day to post than on 11.11.11.  The eleven theme started when my St. Louis Cardinals won their 11th World Series Championship, in 11 post season games, in 2011!


To continue the theme, I'll list 11 data center items of interest (and some misc. things):


1. One of the (many) reasons I don't find the time to post here as much any more is because of some white  paper work I have been doing.  Through Data Center Knowledge I completed two papers this past summer/fall and I think they both turned out great.  The first was on data center strategy and is a high level view into the decision processes involved in developing a comprehensive strategy for the data center. The second paper was one I was pretty anxious to dig into, as it has been of particular interest for some time.  The DCK Guide to Modular Data Centers explores the definition of modular vs. container and what the benefits are and what the market looks like for modular.


2. One blog I very much enjoy reading is Irving Wladawsky.  He recently wrote a very interesting post on the emergence of Cognitive Computing. In it he talks about an IBM colloquium that defined the four grand challenges of IT: nano systems, exascale, big data, and cognitive computing.  Exascale and big data are regular topics on my reading list, but cognitive computing is particularly fascinating when thinking about how the potential this field has. Irving references an excellent YouTube video of Dr John E Kelly, Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research called Pioneering the Science of Information.  The post also talks a fair amount about IBM's Watson project and David Ferrucci, IBM Fellow and the principal investigator for Watson and Deep QA. The opportunity for developing cognitive systems like Watson has the potential to impact those three other grand challenges of IT and greatly benefit all.


3. An interesting post on Srinath's blog about a list of known scalable architecture templates. Software architecture and scaling, like data centers is best approached on a case by case basis to design what is best for your particular needs. As Srinath puts it - it's more art than science.


4. I don't know much about Apache's Casandra - but the Netflix Tech Blog had a nice post about achieving a million writes per second - benchmarking Casandra scalability on Amazon Web Service.


5. SC11 is next week in Seattle. My favorite session title that I pretend to understand the meaning of:  "Biology: Parallel Graph Algorithms with Applications to Metagenomics and Metaprotemics.


6. The 7x24 Fall conference is also next week.


7. Cisco just posted a YouTube video of their container solution.


8. Chatsworth blog post covering the first ever KyotoCooling Conference.


9. World's fastest Ethernet Switch?  It looks like Extreme Networks will demonstrate this at the SC11 conference next week. 


10. Cloud security compromised through Google Code search?  Of course - and here is why.


11. Did I mention that the Cardinals won the World Series!!!!




I'll even try to post this at 11:11:11pm on 11.11.2011.  :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Steve Jobs Resigns as Apple CEO

Now that most of the Steve Jobs tributes have been written I thought I would do my own brief homage.

I have been an Apple fan ever since my parents purchased an Apple IIe in the early 1980's. I had AppleWorks, games and over a hundred 5.25" floppy disks.  A short while later my brother bought an Apple IIc and in 1986 I put all of my money together and bought my own Apple IIGS.  The IIGS was absolutely amazing, had really good graphics and sound and I am quite proud to say that mine is a Woz limited edition.  I scraped together some more money to buy a memory expansion card (the IIGS had a lot of expansion slots).  After adding some chips to the card, I went all the way up to ...... wait for it... 768K!!!!  Castle Wolfenstein never looked better. I had hundreds of 3.5" disks, ran my own banner printing business (ok, 10-20 or so total), and got a 300 baud modem to begin exploring the world.

Like many of the articles written recently about Steve Jobs retiring I also admire and respect him immensely.   It's really a "Steve" at Apple thing though, as I think both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are brilliant - for different reasons.  Woz is a technical genius and can have a fair amount of the personal computer revolution attributed to him - from the numerous Apple contributions he has made, and what he continues to be involved in today. Steve Jobs had the vision, the drive and incredible insight to know what products were needed, how to lead his company and how to innovate like no other. In 1988 I read the book about Steve, where the title says it all -- The Journey is the Reward.

On a recent business trip to Santa Clara I went to Cupertino and took my second-ever trip to 1 Infinite Loop.  I didn't have a reason to visit, or go inside any of the buildings - it was just to say I was there. Like the first time there, Apple security chased me off the campus. I do wish I would have bought this shirt though - "I visited the Apple campus. But that's all I'm allowed to say".

Today I use a combination of Mac and Windows, but in my basement I have an original Mac, a Quadra, the Apple IIe, my Apple IIGS and an Imagewriter printer.  As a self-proclaimed packrat, I also - for whatever reason - kept a fair number of magazines I was reading throughout the 1980's and 90's.  I'll post those pictures below -- and after that a nice NY Times video by John Markoff that highlights Steve's legacy.









Saturday, August 06, 2011

Cisco Live! 2011

About a month ago I decided to go to Cisco Live 2011 in Las Vegas. I wasn't sure what to expect going into it, but it was..... an experience! Cisco is an amazing company and their annual user and partner event holds nothing back. Networking geeks abound at the Mandalay Bay and there were live DJ's, an incredible user appreciation event/concert and rock-star style keynotes from CEO John Chambers and CTO Padmasree Warrior.

I attended the event as Press. I love network technologies, but my focus is on the data center.... and most of the deep-dive technical stuff for networking is over my head anyway. I was mostly going as an enthusiast who has used and followed Cisco for a number of years. The Cisco team in charge of press relations did a wonderful job, and I'm only partially saying that because of the open bar that started things off on Monday night. :) It was a well coordinated event and full of news, events and chances to talk with Cisco execs. I had the pleasure of talking with Soni Jiandani, Senior Vice President Server Access and Virtualization Technology Group. Just read her title -- pretty fun group to be in charge of with everything going on in UCS and cloud orchestration lately. She was very passionate about Cisco's abilities and had a lot of case study information to share about how their products were being used to build some very resilient and scalable infrastructures. My only question to Soni concerned the opportunity they had with their recently opened Allen, Texas facility - and she confirmed that it was an excellent case to use all Cisco gear in the data center and that they had seen an approximate 60% savings there.

As I said, I attended as press, so here were my stories about the event:

There was one more post I was pretty happy to do -- and besides the opportunity to see John Chambers and Padmasree Warrior in person -- was the real incentive for going to Vegas. On Wednesday of that week Cisco was gracious enough to take us on a tour of the SuperNAP!! Somewhat needless to say, it was amazing. The Cisco showcase at the facility was for their own equipment that helped run much of the SuperNAP's network, as well as Global Cash Access, who processes most of the ATM transactions in Vegas and other businesses around the world.

Jason from Switch was kind enough to answer the first dozen questions on my endless list, and I would love to share photos, customers they have, or future expansion plans (i.e.: Wisconsin or east coast), but all of these requests were of course denied. Others have written that security was extra tight or too extreme, but I would say it was perfect - given that it is a data center, and that they house several important government contracts that most likely dictate some of the security extremes. If I could fit security Humvee's into my budget, I would.

One of the more interesting sessions I attended was a roundtable hosted by Lew Tucker and included Harris, VCE and Verizon execs on the panel. It was interesting to me because it talked about case studies from their customers moving to an enterprise cloud and how the cloud is a delivery model for an enterprise application strategy. Many of the road blocks I anticipated enterprises would have moving to the cloud were mentioned by panelists, but also addressed to the point that many are investing that technical trust in cloud providers to be an extension of their enterprise. The panelists agreed that the short term objectives for the cloud, in order for more enterprises to trust it are 1) Licensing, 2) application maturity/readiness, and that 3) the barriers to multi-tenancy must be addressed. Verizon (and through their acquisition of Terremark) mentioned that they built their infrastructure to be audited and are used to their multi-national clients showing up at the data center with auditors. The mantra of a cloud provider: 'Safe IT Delivery'.

Unfortunately my flight home was scheduled at such a time that I couldn't make the closing keynote of William Shatner. I certainly enjoyed watching it later though on Ustream.

I took a ton of pictures, but most didn't turn out great -- luckily Cisco had that covered as well: here are some Photo Highlights of the conference. The #CL11 hashtag was going strong during the event and many other blogs and videos were posted. The Cisco TechWiseTV team did a demo of the new Sup2T recently.

A few of my photos

It was Vegas though -- so I used it partially as a vacation. Next year Cisco Live is in San Diego, which I certainly wouldn't mind vacationing to, so.....

Monday, June 06, 2011

TechWise TV Tours Cisco's Allen, Texas Data Center

Last week Cisco released a really nice TechWise TV tour of their new Allen, Texas data center. First of all - Kudos to Cisco for explaining this level of detail about their new designs. Although much of what they showcase as cutting edge design methods are just that - they are things I've seen recently pop up in a number of other presentations about new data centers being built by Colo's, REIT's, etc.
Extra credit to Cisco for making it a 720p video :)

I always notice the brands used within the data center, and as such, here is what I saw in their video:
  • Panduit cabinet infrastructure products
  • Eaton power equipment
  • Omni-ID products used for RFID tracking of equipment
  • Trane Chillers
  • Dolphin Water Care - water treatment
  • EuroDiesel
They have created this interactive tour as well to walk through the various components of the data center.


Sunday, June 05, 2011

Smarter Cities, Sustainable Buildings and Other Green Things

Last week I attended the 2011 Heartland GreenUp, and for the sake of reporting it, and for those unable to attend I thought I would share some of the insights I took away.

Harris M. Warsaw from IBM was the keynote and had several interesting statistics and notes about the Smarter Planet - The Green Message:
  • $40 billion lost to inefficient supply chains
  • The Port of Jersey has 100,000 empty ISO shipping containers. Maybe Google is ramping up for their floating data centers in the Atlantic. :)
  • In the Smarter Cities initiative, IBM defines smarter as instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent.
  • 80% of CEO's view sustainability as impacting brand value
  • 82% of executives expect some form of climate change regulations in the next 5 years.
  • Dubuque, Iowa is a pilot city for applying all of the IBM Smarter City initiatives. Last month IBM had a press release about how they combined analytics, cloud computing and community engagement for the City of Dubuque.
  • Talking to the increase in monitoring and measurement devices around energy - Harris stated that people that have data are 8 times more likely to take action on problems that are uncovered.
  • 24 Iowa companies are partnering with IBM to build software and integration around the Dubuque smarter cities project.
If it wasn't for my passion for technology, I think I would have been an architect. So - one of the sessions I highlighted before attending the conference was with Kevin Nordmeyer, who is the Director of the Iowa Energy Center - formerly with RDG Architects. Kevin had some very insightful comments about IEC projects and overall building design and sustainability. Here are some notes/links from his talk:
  • Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) - Flowchart of Energy Use in the U.S.
  • The Iowa Energy Resource Station - doing work for LLNL and researching energy performance in buildings with real-time, real-life systems.
  • BECON - a focal point for developing value-add products from Iowa's biomass resources. BECON stands for Biomass Energy CONversion facility.
  • Numerous software and tools at the Department of Energy web site.
Jurij Paraszczak - Leader of the Research Smarter Cities program at IBM. Jurij talked a lot about the case studies they have been a part of in the smarter cities projects. With the massive amounts of data collected during these projects, analytics plays a major role in making sense of the data being researched. Speaking to smarter analytics, he described them as either prescriptive, predictive, or descriptive.

Andrew Winston was the final talk and presented a nice summary of his research, case studies and echoed many of the themes of the day.
  • GoodGuide.com - find green and socially responsible products - or see how the ones you use regularly rate.
  • An interesting case on how 'culture matters' in sustainability -- BestBuy ranks 1000 stores for efficiency; this engages individual store managers to compete so their store isn't listed as #1000.
  • Waste Management now produces more energy than solar.
  • Reduced environmental impact meets cleaning - Minnesota company Tennant and their floor cleaner that uses just water (no chemicals)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Energy Links and The Heartland GreenUp

As I prepare to attend The Heartland GreenUp this Thursday I have read a number of articles around power lately that I thought were interesting.

Tech Companies becoming Power Companies?
Last week Fast Company had a nice article titled The Race for the Most Efficient Server is Turning Tech Companies Into Power Companies. The first item they bring up is that the big 'information factories' like Google, FaceBook, Amazon and Apple will be storing a few zettabytes here and there of our data, and as such have a rather voracious appetite for power. With the power consumption for the Apple data center in Maiden North Carolina guestimated to be 100 megawatts it is no doubt that their supplier, Duke Energy will be scrutinized for how that power is being generated. CO2K anyone?

Their second item, server efficiency is no small thing either: it is something that all of the manufacturers and chip producers have been doing their best to tout. SeaMicro CEO Andrew Feldman was interviewed by Robert Scoble recently and explains their amazing technology that can deliver 512 servers in 1/4 the space, for 1/4 the power utilization of a typical server.

New IEA Publication
Osha Gray Davidson on Forbes pointed out that the International Energy Agency published a 90-page book - Climate and Electricity Annual 2011. It seems like the data center industry is always cited for how much energy they are using - but look at electrical generation in general and how, for example it emitted 11 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2008. The report presents the challenge for decarbonisation, but also says that despite actions to reduce CO2 emissions and "despite very rapid growth in renewable energy generation, significant technology and policy challenges remain if this unprecedented essential transition is to be achieved."

Politics
On the political front there was some interesting commentary on H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act, around slowing the military's march to clean energy. SmartGrid News reported on the Electric Consumer Right to Know Act (e-Know) bill that would give customers the option of getting real-time electricity use information, as well as giving them the right to authorize access to their usage data to companies that provide home energy efficiency products. I just happened to run across a HP article around the same time that talked about their Home Energy Manager software that looks pretty impressive.

IBM - the keynote at Heartland GreenUp, has a ton of initiatives and projects surrounding the smartgrid and the Smarter Planet effort. A branch off of that I have been reading lately is the site: Generating Insights - Accelerating into a new era in energy.

Speaking of digital information about our energy - It looks like a South Carolina nuclear plant reactor will be the first in the U.S. to go digital. Managed by Duke Energy, they said they "made sure its engineers can manually take over all digital processes in case there are any problems."

Finally -- I am a sucker for infographics. The Infrarati blog had a nice one recently to create awareness about the energy consumption behind all of these digital services and clouds we use.

I would highly recommend attending the Heartland GreenUp. If you are not able to attend in person (June 2nd in Des Moines) they have a virtual world setup to attend the conference online!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Many IT Conferences Next Week

It seems like every week I am perusing the tech news and can practically guarantee that there are at least a couple of IT conferences or events going on. Next week there are several that make me wish I could be two places at once.

I'll start with the best one, since it is the one I will be attending!! The Uptime Institute Symposium 2011 will be in Santa Clara and is focused on The Disrupted Data Center: Cloud, Cost, Capacity and Carbon. Besides the all-star lineup of people presenting at the conference, the case studies will be discussed by the winners of the Green Enterprise IT awards. Since the original hashtag was hijacked I'll post updates to the new #uisymp11. It should be an amazing event. I don't get out to the bay area much, so I will probably also be checking into Foursquare about every 10 feet! :)

Here are just some of the other conferences going on at/around the same time:


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cisco To Showcase Allen Texas Data Center

In June 2009 I wrote about a new data center being built in Allen, Texas for Cisco. On Friday, April 15th they will showcase this new facility, including a live broadcast on Ustream.

See this site for a nice chronicle of the facility. The project won the Dallas Business Journal's Best Real Estate Deal award.

Cisco IT at work has a piece on the specifications for the facility and how they are using all of the latest Cisco gear as well as well as ecosystem partners EMC, VMware and NetApp.

Some interesting facts about the Allen, TX site:
  • 162,000 square foot
  • 10MW
  • It will run Cisco's IT Elastic Infrastructure Services - their own internal enterprise cloud
  • 10 Cisco UCS Seed clusters, or over 400 servers total
  • Will run as a 'metro virtual data center' - applications running simultaneously with those in their neighboring Richardson, Texas facility.
  • Diesel Rotary UPS System (DRUPS) presumably from Euro Diesel

It is a pretty interesting case in applying lessons learned and really gearing a data center for massive scalability and with as much 'future-proofing' as possible.

Finally - not that any IT work in this facility should have any long wait times -- but just in case, it looks like there are 'just a few' outlet stores nearby.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Hey Verizon - Build Your Data Center In Iowa!

Recently a series of events prompted Verizon to pull out of plans to build a 900,000 square foot data center near Buffalo, New York. In the spirit of a few years back when people were cheerleading to have Google or Microsoft build a mega data center in their city or state, I would like to make the offer to Verizon -- Iowa would LOVE to have you build your data center here!!

There are a number of reasons why Iowa is the perfect place to build your data center. Here are a few highlights:
  1. Tax incentives: Talk to Microsoft and Google first - they can explain the wonderfully accommodating business environment they encountered when building data centers here.
  2. Inexpensive power - one of the best states for power costs. EAI - Average Price of Electricity.
  3. Cost of doing business is a major consideration for a company when selecting a state -- I submit to you the #1 pick for 2010 -- Iowa.
  4. The Iowa Department of Economic Development has a wonderful site to assist with any and all needs in locating here. There is even an online tool you can use to build a report comparing Iowa against any other state in a number of categories.
  5. All nine of Iowa's largest communities ranked on the Forbes Best Places for Business list.
  6. Iowa has a very low risk for natural disasters.
  7. Iowa is a very progressive state for a variety of renewable energy types.
  8. Iowa has a nationally recognized education program.
  9. Did I mention incredibly inexpensive power?!
  10. If you were considering New York or Wyoming, Iowa is the perfect compromise:
For my final plea - I would like to offer my complete consulting services (for free) on site selection within the state. I have a number of ideas on where the perfect location will be and can help you get in touch with city and state government officials to talk about incentives and power companies to discuss requirements.

If it's not too late -- Please consider Iowa as the perfect place to build your new data center.
Thanks!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Server Fires and Data Loss

There are just certain things in IT or the data center industry you don't want to hear - and fire and 'data loss' are two of them. There were a couple of lessons learned from fire and data loss stories recently and I post them here for just that reason - to learn from them.

The University of North Carolina Greensboro had one heck of a Friday last week. In a little under two hours they experienced two fires in the McNutt data center. After the first fire they were unable to determine the cause and staff investigating a short while later witnessed a server burst into flames, starting the alerts and emergency procedures all over again.
The root cause of the events was traced to a single server that overheated and likely burned up a wiring harness first (which produced the first event) and then continued to run until it blew up its power supply (which produced the second event). This was a new server that was not under load, and we believe this was caused by a manufacturer’s defect.
See their site for complete details of the event.

Managed Healthcare services provider Health Net notified their insurer earlier this week that 9 server drives were "missing" from their data center in Rancho Cordova, California. A California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) statement later confirmed that nearly 845,000 Health Net customers in California were impacted by the breach.... and that they will be investigating it. A statement from Health Net said:
"After a forensic analysis, Health Net has determined that personal information of some former and current Health Net members, employees and health care providers is on the drives, and may include names, addresses, health information, Social Security numbers and/or financial information."
There are certainly many case studies to learn from involving data breaches and in my opinion it builds the case for following ITIL guidelines and making sure your data center provider or IT staff are acutely tuned to their processes and operational excellence. The Ponemon Institute released a report recently on the U.S Cost of a data breach and stated that the cost "reached $214 per compromised record and averaged $7.2 million per data breach event."

Then there is the Cloud and security and data protection. As Alton Brown says - that's another show.

However - this article from ShareFile.com CEO Jesse Lipson on Forbes is very nice and discusses how safe your data is in the cloud and some key questions to ask vendors to ensure protection.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Found the Cloud - It's Over Here

I don't usually like to go on rants - but I watched a video tonight from a local news station that simply pushed me over the edge as far as what the general public thinks this magical, mystery "cloud" thing is. I know I am a techie, and live and breathe this stuff, but come on......


KXAS reports on an AT&T data center that is referred to as this newfangled thing people call "the cloud". You get on those "computer screen thingy's" and what you see on your screen 'somehow' comes from this "cloud".

Further observations:

Title of the article: "Take a peek inside the AT&T data center that's home to a big chunk of the web".
Whoa.... slow down there.... what's this 'web' thing, I thought it was about a cloud? How much exactly is a 'big chunk'?

"It's the electronic brain behind things like....."

I thought Google was our third brain? So it must be like the Wizard, behind the curtain.

"without it millions of businesses would grind to a halt. Millions of customers would be cut-off from services they can't live without"
... as they show nothing but 3 different ways to check your Facebook page.

"We wanted to show you the James Bond style door we passed through - no chance."
A prox-card to get in a cage? Man, here I've always wanted to be like James Bond and I HAVE been every day at work. I even have biometrics that I have to pass through!

From the article: ".... so secret, we can't even tell you where it is. We can say it is somewhere in North Texas"
Ok -- it's just a guess, but.... 900 Venture Dr., in Allen, Texas. Using the information from the video -- 8 generators and 5 chillers I go to this cloud thing and a map web site and type in "AT&T texas". I come upon a site in Allen Texas, turn on the satellite view and get this:


View Larger Map

8 generators, 5 chillers.



Enjoy

View more videos at: http://www.nbcdfw.com.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Skanska Data Center Construction Simulation

I ran across the video below recently -- I enjoy a 3D walk-through that show the various aspects of a conceptual data center. I'll have to admit though that I had not heard of (or maybe just forgot) Skanska. They are a large, global company, with a Mission Critical practice for data center construction and similar projects.

After a quick search, I do somewhat recall their name from the story last December where eBay awarded EDI with a contract, but Skanska was noted as putting forth a design called eHive that Dean Nelson described as “a very compelling ultra dense product.”

Here is the YouTube video of their data center construction simulation: