Wednesday, January 31, 2007

HP's Data Center Consolidation

Baseline Magazine has a nice article with some of the statistics around HP's consolidation from 85 global data centers to 6 super-centers. It has a lot of facts surrounding the 5 year transformation plan. It's basically apps, servers and staff down, processing and virtualization up!

Check out the article here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Build vs. Buy

Late last year I was going to comment on a Rich Miller post about a ComputerWorld interview with Ken Brill, but I just didn't get around to it. Ken Brill is founder and executive director of The Uptime Institute Inc. The quote I liked from Ken was:

"The business question becomes, Will IT get more money so the increasing portion of the budget that facilities represents doesn’t crowd out other IT initiatives? Or will the increasing facilities [costs] result in curtailing other things? That’s the economic truncation of Moore’s Law."

What reminded me of this older story is one I ran across recently about a Baltimore Technology Park study that examines the costs for SMBs to build their own data center vs. rent colocation space. The study summary, posted here, shows the cost savings of colocating IT infrastructure instead of attempting to build your own facility.

To me it has always been kind of a simple equation that it is cheaper and easier to colocate instead of attempting to go it alone, but as they point out, each organization's situation is different.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Location and Mother Nature

While surfing around lately I have seen more discussion on data center location. With data centers going up just about everywhere it seems like a popular topic. Check out this discussion at on a Royal Pingdom map for dealing with mother nature. The discussion points out the obvious that the Pingdom map did not account for all natural disasters and things that could potentially harm a data center. Basically, there is not a square foot in the U.S. that is not affected by one of the things mentioned in this discussion.

Microsoft apparently had 31 variables it looked at when selecting San Antonio for its new data center (BTW: what do snowfall and humidity have to do with it!?)

A little bit to the west and we run into the tier 4 Phoenix I/O Data Center. Their site proclaims

"The Phoenix geography and climate provide a stable environment without the risks present in many other cities with collocation facilities. Phoenix/Scottsdale does not experience the same tornado, earthquake, coastal flooding, hurricane nor "mega city" political risks"

They go on to say that Scottsdale is low risk for terrorist activity. Now obviously everyone is going to spin the location angle to their benefit. I'm sure Phoenix falls under a few different categories for mother nature. BTW -- what in the world are people doing still building new facilities with raised floor!!!???? (i/o doing 86k sq.ft of it!) Am I missing something here?

These articles along with the Boyd studies being done and tax incentives being offered by cities make it a topic of discussion for exactly where the 'best' place to locate is. I'm just interested/obsessed enough with the topic that I think I'll attempt a comprehensive list of location selection criteria and see what you think.

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Slow Light" Optics

I recently read an article at the Washington Post that was absolutely fascinating! It discusses methods that researchers have used recently to slow light waves.

"Even the best fiber-optical systems today rely on intervening electrical signal processors, because no one has figured out a practical means of putting the brakes on light at critical junctions."

"Once the slowed light exits, it naturally resumes it normal velocity -- 300 million meters per second, or fast enough to circle the Earth seven times in one second."

It is a long article, but extremely interesting. Check it out here.
Thanks to Jeff Nolan for the find!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

CW article on DC Energy Costs

I wanted to link to a very good Opinion article over at Computer World. Steve Duplessie, from ESG writes about about power, cooling, air flow, standards and other Data Center related topics. Although everyone is writing on cooling and 'green' computing now days, I really liked his article. Here is the paragraph that stood out for me (not sure what I think about it, but here it is):

"Fellow ESG employee Brian Garrett spent time in a double secret co-location facility in Canada a while back, which was one of the first I’d heard of to charge clients based exclusively on power consumption, with no regard to footprint. As a matter of fact, they encouraged their clients to spread out; leave open rack space, etc., so that they could best manage the cooling of the facility. That’s when I knew this stuff really mattered. "

Here is the link to the Computer World article:
Opinion: Take an ax to your energy costs

Friday, January 19, 2007

Energy & Fiber (and tax abatements)

Just a quick link to a nice (reality) story on site selection. Check out this post at Dig Deeper Texas.

$600M Google DC in North Carolina!

The news of the North Carolina Google Data Center is everywhere, and I don't have too much to add, so I'll just link to the various stories. I sure would like to see a list of what $600M buys. :)

Data Center Knowledge

Raleigh News & Observer


Internation Herald Tribune

Red Herring

Google Map of Lenoir, North Carolina

Saturday, January 13, 2007

McKinsey Survey

I recently ran across an article titled What's on CIO's Agendas in 2007 : A McKinsey Survey. It caught my eye because the second of the two trends mentioned: the introduction of lean manufacturing principles to data center operations. The article can be found here (note: free registration required).

The interesting / silly thing I found about the survey results is that they didn't once mention ITIL! I have followed ITIL for some time now and have actually obtained my foundation certificate in it. The article even mentions ITIL components:

....commitment of resources to processes such as incident response, problem management, and change management.

It is an article worth checking out however, and the predictions seem on track, if not obvious for for the new year.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sun Microsystems

A few years back I would have probably written off Sun Microsystems for dead in the water. The company I worked for in 1997 was a big Sun shop and I was fortunate enough to see Scott McNealy speak at the 1997 Netscape Developers Conference. Over the years though, I think the company just didn't keep up with the rest of the world and they went down hill. With Jonathan Schwartz now at the helm I think they may just turn it around.

First it was environment friendly servers, then open source Java, Blade Servers, Black Boxes and now the Sun Refresh Service. It is basically insurance to make sure you can do upgrades in the near future that will hopefully let you keep up on the efficiencies they offer while upgrading performance as well. Everyone else is doing a subscription-based service, why not hardware vendors? Anyway, it's an interesting thing to check out.

Here is the link directly to Sun and here is an article that the Data Center Journal has on the Blade Server speed record and Refresh service.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

N.Y. Supercomputer Center

Just a quick link to a story I enjoyed reading. It covered two of my favorite topics: Data Centers and Grid Computing. It is about the Center for Computational Research (CCR) at the State University of New York’s University at Buffalo. It is No. 87 on the list of the top 100 supercomputing centers in the world, according to supercomputing site tracker I also really like this article because it spells out the details on what is installed at the site.

A New Boyd Site Selection Study!

Similar to the site selection study from last year, The Boyd Company has now released a new study on the cheapest places to build a data center. has the study details here.

I found two equally surprising things about this study. First, that more midwest cities weren't in the top 10 list, and second that Florida took 6 of the top 10! I'm too tired tonight to argue either point, but I would sure love to see the complete report!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

APC's White Box

A while back I made some posts on the new Sun Black Box project. Someone commented, asking about my thoughts on the APC trucks that have been around a while. APC beet Sun to the punch as far as mobile, on-demand data centers go. Besides being early to the game, the APC advantage was that their solution was on wheels!

Now, in this Cnet article APC responds to the Sun Black Box. While the "one" InfraStruXure Express on-demand Mobile Data Center is on sale for $1.5 million, APC has said that they are not particularly interested in building more.

It is almost as if the two companies are building them just to see who buys them (and why). I'm still uncertain on Phil Windley's comment that the 'reasons' to use them are to get around latency and net neutrality issues. Once again not once was the topic of Disaster Recover mentioned in the Cnet article! Mobile solutions like the ones from Sun and APC are not and have not been the only solutions around. There are plenty of vendors and perhaps the option to rent is just more attractive than buying a container or truck.

Sungard has a lot on their site about their mobile solutions, but it took a Google image search to find a picture of their truck.

A Forrester report (if only I had $379 burning a hole in my pocket) states that Agility leads the industry in mobile DR solutions. Here is a link to their solutions page.

Disaster Recovery Journal also lists Network Services and Rentsys under the Mobile Data Centers category.

I haven't written off the Black box yet, but am really having a hard time understanding the purpose. I was hoping APC would come back with their mobile solution and keep it going. Although they would obviously corner the power and cooling aspects with their products, at least you would have the option to put what you want in the truck for server hardware.

We'll just have to wait to see what the new year will bring for new solutions and technologies.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Company Comparisons

Rich Miller's post on 2006 Data Center stocks made me think. I have played around with a Google Labs tool that is pretty fun, but perhaps not incredibly useful. It is a trending tool that shows you who is searching for what terms in comparison with others (i.e.: Bill Gates vs. Linus Torvalds).

I took 5 of the stocks that Rich mentioned and put it into the trend comparison and here is the result. I think Savvis just has more press releases maybe. Again, this is just what people are searching Google for, and it is only a portion of their searches that are measured.

An equally interesting part of the results is below where it shows the same comparisons by cities. It could be a useful tool for targeted marketing or to see what people are searching for from the big cities.

Top Cities For Disaster Recovery

A primary purpose of many data centers tends to be disaster recovery. A factor in picking a DR site may very well be how prepared the city is. A Federal report rates only 6 out of 75 cities with top grades according to this AP release at USA Today.

"In the study, communities were judged in three categories: operating procedures in place, use of communications systems and how effectively local governments have coordinated in preparation for a disaster."

Check out the full article (and cities) here.

Location, Location, Location

No -- John isn't going on another rant about Data Center location selection. Andreas Antonopoulos over at Network World has a nice article on Data Centers and real estate. I could make a number of comments, but the article does a nice job on the topic. Check it out here.

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 - 2 Good Articles To Ponder

I have run across two very good articles lately that I highly recommend checking out.

The first one is from Sun's Greg Matter, titled The World Only Needs Five Computers. I had to laugh though at a sentence where he states "...hyperscale, pan-global broadband computing services giants". While I understand where he is going with the description, it just reminded me of the Web Economy Bullshit Generator. Anyway -- I really found it to be an interesting read and it actually made me think twice about my previous stance on the Sun Black Box product. For some reason I still just think of trailer-park like locations around the globe where people park their Black Box up to power and bandwidth.

The second article was Isabel Wang's There's a World Market for Maybe 5 Hosting Providers. I actually think 5 might be pushing it! :) Again....a very good article with some nice insight to the market. I've been around some good size hosting providers and the very small ones and it's very easy to see how the small ones will continue to be assimilated or go out of business.

The HUGE data centers being built now days by Google, Microsoft, HP and others make you wonder if a smaller data center has much place in this continued consolidation of real estate. I liked the analogy to Sam Walton and Walmart made by TW Gardner in Isabel's post. The only thing is that since this is technology-related, the pace of change will inevitably be much faster.

Google - Data Center Technician - Atlanta

Just a quick, interesting link to a Yahoo HotJobs position for a Data Center Technician. This one is for Atlanta and is to help "build and maintain its Linux cluster". Now I just need to find that six figure salary with Google that allows me to work from home. :)