Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Review

I feel somewhat obligated to do an end of the year post. It's in fashion, it's that reflective time of year, and well....why not. I've been saving up a bunch of items, so here we go.....

First - there have been any number of '2008 review' articles and blog posts, but here are some of my favorite year-end stories:

The big story of the year (for me anyway) was the Iowa floods in June. I witnessed a lot during those few weeks/months and was very fortunate to not be directly affected. I saw both good and bad business continuity plans being executed and came out with a number of very valuable lessons learned.

I am a big picture person. I like to see the 10,000 foot view and then analyze the heck out of it to the associated impacts, outcomes and possibilities. A short while back I ran across a report from the National Intelligence Council titled Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World. Although I didn't read the entire 120 pages, here are some things that stood out to me:
  • Page 33: ".... nine factors can contribute to a modern National Innovation System: fluidity of capital, flexibility of the labor pool, government receptivity to business, information communication technologies, private sector development infrastructure, legal systems to protect intellectual property rights, available scientific and human captial, marketing skills, and cultural propensity to encourage creativity."
  • Page 40 has a an interesting map showing world population by age range, in 2005 and 2025.
  • Page 63 has a chart breaking down likely energy sources (coal, gas, hydro, oil, nuclear, biomass, others) from 1980 to 2025.

In October I started tracking data center stocks a little closer. I created a Google spreadsheet and used the capitalization-weighted method to make an index of the stocks I chose to track. The stocks are all data center industry companies and I post regular updates for what the price is as often as I can. It started in October at $23.13 and closed today at $19.63

I have a few million feeds in my Bloglines account. I removed a couple dozen the other day and need to work on prioritizing what I read in there. My favorite new blogs that I am reading are:

This blog had a pretty good year overall....the biggest problem is just finding the time to sit down and write. Coverage of the Michael Manos speech at the Spring Data Center World conference was by far the most read post of the year. Much of this was due to a link from the popular blog by James Hamilton. I was happy to see that my Data Center Site Selection white paper from 2007 had the second highest number of visits. The top states that visited my blog (in order) were California, Iowa, New York, Texas, Washington, Illinois, Virginia, Massachusetts, Florida, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

As many of you know, I live in Iowa and am a big advocate of the upper Midwest. Iowa had a lot of activity in 2008 with the Google data center in Council Bluffs, the Microsoft West Des Moines announcement and TEAM Companies making several announcements (opening Madison data center and breaking ground in Des Moines).

On to 2009!!

Data Center Containers were a huge story in 2008 and I think that will continue in 2009. I saw the Sun Blackbox again this year, and the Rackable Icecube at Data Center World. I have a number of posts in mind to review and analyze containers, but more on that later...

A few blog posts back I mentioned that video was going to be the killer app. While this is not any big revelation I realize, I think it has been a gradual thing that has many side affects and will continue to grow rapidly in 2009. I've read things about Cisco really attacking the home entertainment market, YouTube , Hulu , Joost , Vimeo and others had great years, and the infrastructure market to support video distribution is growing. The CDN market (I believe) is set to have a great 2009 and we may see some M&A action here. Video podcasts (or what ever you want to call them) are growing in number as well. Some of my regulars include:
Kevin Rose from cut the cord and ditched cable in favor of the Internet, TiVO and Netflix. TiVO recently announced that they will offer the ability to watch YouTube videos on TiVO. I got an iPhone about a month ago and have to is the best cell phone I have ever had. I mention this because I discovered I could use on it and find the application and streaming video ability pretty amazing. The end result though....bandwidth is going to HAVE to get better in 2009!! More on this at the New York Times article about Internet usage growth.

Happy New Year!!!

Inspiration is for amateurs ; the rest of us just show up and get to work.
-Chuck Close

Saturday, December 27, 2008

HP POD Presentation

Just a quick link to a presentation I ran across on the HP POD (Performance-Optimized Data Center). For some reason I always forget that they entered the container market and that it is a decent solution. As it seems to be a blogger reqirement, I am working on an end of the year blog post and you can bet containers are a big part of it.

The PDF is from Eva Beck from EMEA Hewlett Packard. Check it out here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Links

My data center stock index was fairly steady last week, but closed down today, at $19.20. The Dow Jones Internet Composite Index tracked similarly and closed today at $58.83.

Here are some other items of interest I have run across recently:

  • Wachovia initiates coverage on Data Center Space. "We believe the network neutral data center space represents a relatively safe derivative way to play on the continued growth of IP and internet traffic."
  • As some of you know.... I have a pretty strong side interest in data center site selection. So much so I published a white paper on the topic last year. I am a visual learner, so I love having all of the maps of the U.S. for natural disasters and other things. I have started to work on a second version of the paper and recently found another map that is interesting. The International Journal of Health Geographics recently published some new research: Spatial patterns of natural hazards mortality in the United States. The paper "examines the spatial patterns of natural hazard mortality at the county-level for the U.S. from 1970-2004 using a combination of geographical and epidemiological methods". Click through to the PDF to see the various maps.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Data Center Videos

Backing up my statement from the Cisco C-Scape post that Video is indeed THE killer app, here are a few data center favorites:

  • Layered Tech TV - Episode #1. AP - you'll have to tell me about the bet you lost. :)
  • FORTRUST on a local news segment in Colorado. I love it when news anchors have absolutely ZERO idea what a data center is.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dell's Containerized Data Center

Just a quick link to an article at The Register about Dell's recent entry to the container market. I think Dell has really thought this through and not just delivered a basic container, but a solution to the needs expressed by their clients.

The Register has some nice facts about the product, and an additional picture I had not seen before of a cutaway view of the container.
Check out the article here

Cisco C-Scape 2008

As I mentioned last Sunday, the Cisco C-Scape was held (virtually) last week. Due to a few too many things going on at work I couldn't attend in real-time, but I did go back and view a couple of the archived videos. Here are just a few of my thoughts/notes on C-Scape and a press-filled week for Cisco:

  • My favorite C-Scape session was what CEO John Chambers said was his favorite as well -- Closing Q&A. I think John handled the questions quite well, and I can only imagine the pressure of being CEO of such an enormous company and getting bombarded day in and out with share holders, press and analysts. He mentioned that a week or so back he met with approximately 80% of Cisco share holders and said that their expectations for Cisco in the coming year was to be 'dramatically more aggressive (but don't mess it up)', even though the financial markets and overall outlook is set to be somewhat gloomy. He mentioned that their most aggressive investments will be in China and India, while still looking into Mexico and Brazil. John was asked what 'type' of company Cisco will be in 2012. He gave an answer that any good CEO would, but basically said that they have the "architectural play" and that their strength is in "the network is the platform".
  • Bloomberg had an article last Tuesday about how Cisco may be a winner in the Obama plans for Infrastructure plays. Economist James Galbraith, a Democratic adviser, recommends spending more than $900 billion. "Just as the highway program moved the U.S. into a new era in the 1950's, technology companies such as Cisco expect the federal government will now lead the way to an information-based economy." Check out the Bloomberg article here
  • Video IS the killer application. I can attest that watching videos on the computer has increased dramatically for me in the past year. The number of video's linked inside this post alone are a testament to the statement. Cisco is also increasing the use of videos as a basic communications form via informal (in their cubical) short videos, and the TechWiseTV podcast.
  • One of my favorite bloggers and now Cisco employee with a really long title, James Urquhart has an article on Cnet about a Maturity Model for Cloud Computing . His title is "Marketing Manager/Technology Evangelist for Data Center Virtualization at Cisco Systems, Inc." :) I'm starting to agree with Larry Ellison and Christofer Hoff -- just what exactly is "the cloud" again? I think we should just go back to calling it "the Internet". James does have a very good article however and true to my ITIL roots he references a maturity model that actually does do a good job of explaining how a company might mature towards this mythical "cloud" of computing power.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Lego Cloud

Christian Belady and David Gauthier from Microsoft have started a blog on Microsoft data centers. They start off with a bang by building on the Michael Manos blog post about Generation 4 data centers. Christian and David sit down with Adam Bomb from the Edge Technet site and answer a fair amount of questions that came as a result of people reading the Gen4 ideas.

They talk about the fact that it is truely a modular solution for the entire data center, and not just the server containers. David mentioned legos as building blocks, so I couldn't resist the title to my blog post. :)

The only question un-answered that I can think of is about natural disasters. I would have to think that the containers are some how anchored down in order to protect against tornadoes.

The only other comment I'll make on this follow-up information is that David mentioned how much shorter the build time is for Gen4. Instead of 12-18 months for construction, they expect the Gen4 sites to be ready in 3-6 months! Christian then mentioned that they are 'piloting' the modular concepts, and pulling together specs, etc. Then...... earlier today I read a brief article from the Des Moines Register stating that the plans for Des Moines data center were still on track. The article says that construction is due to begin this Spring or Summer. I think that is enough time to really nail down the supply chain process and get those containers rolling into Des Moines! At the August press conference Michael Manos said “We are implementing a very new design that’s just coming out of our research and development department, so we need to get that finalized”. The other clue is that the Register article describes it as a "150,000 sq. ft. facility". I imagine this goes back to changing the entire model for a data center.... if they would have told the press they were building a 42-acre "yard" for containers they probably would have had some puzzled looks.

But.....if San Antonio is 470,000 sq.ft. and Chicago is 441,000 sq.ft - why is the Des Moines site only 150,000?

I'll be in Des Moines in a couple of weeks and see what other clues I can find on-site.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Level3 Cuts 8% of Workforce

As many have said now.... the economy will get worse before it gets better. Level3 announced that they are cutting 450 jobs in North America, about 8% of their work force. Maybe they should apply for a bailout. :)

Tech stocks in general were up today, as my data center stock index showed -- it was up $1.67 from just last Friday, closing at $19.87. The Dow Jones Internet Composite Index was up $2.76 from Friday, closing at $60.35.

As another indicator of tough times -- The Tribune Company, publisher of The Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, filed for bankruptcy. I have to wonder if other major newspaper companies won't be far behind. The sale of the Chicago Tribune could mean the sale of the Cubs would be opened up to new prospective buyers.

In other tech news.... at least now we have a double-wide analogy to apply to containers. :)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Week Ahead

It should be another interesting week for stocks and the market in general as the financial roller coaster continues. My data center stock index was up and closed the week at $18.18. The Dow Jones Internet Composite Index was up $5.22 for the week and closed at $57.59

I think traders should sell any telecom company stock associated with research firm Precursor. They released a report calling Google a bandwidth hog. It was just plain silly and I was glad to see that Google responded appropriately.

There are a few events happening this week, virtually, that I am planning on attending. The first is Cisco's C-Scape 2008. This looks to be pretty interesting and has a lot of the Cisco Senior and Executive VP's speaking. John Chambers will also participate! I saw the funny Nortel commercial today that talks about the Cisco "energy tax". I had not seen this commercial before, except in the parody done (moderately funny) below. Note there are 4 episodes all together on YouTube.

The other event I am looking at if I have time is "bMighty bOptimized: A deep dive on IT Infrastructure for SMBs." More information on it here.

It's also rumored that Microsoft will make some big announcement this week -- perhaps a Zune Phone. This Tuesday is also the last Patch Tuesday of the year and is supposed to be a pretty big one.

With any luck I will also get to the book review of Nicholas Carr's Big Switch. During the Thanksgiving break I was finally able to finish it. I really liked it and will do a quick review for anyone that has not read it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Microsoft Generation 4 Modular Data Centers

Many people have commented and blogged on the recent post from Michael Manos about the Microsoft Generation 4 Modular Data Center strategy. I have watched the video about 5 times now and really like it. I especially like the fact that Microsoft is sharing this and giving so much information to the public about their strategies and countless hours of research.

If you haven't checked it out (are you living under a rock!), then it is VERY much worth the read. The post references a very nice video they produced to demonstrate some of the research and Gen 4 model for their data centers. It is complete with a piano soundtrack titled "Daybreak" (can't have a dramatic video like this without an appropriately named theme song. :) )

I do have just a few observations and questions that I thought I would log about the strategy, video and otherwise.....

  • One of the most intriguing parts of the video, to me, was not mentioned in very much detail in the blog post. I liked the depiction of their distribution system for data centers: Mega data center, Anchor and Edge. I assume that the Mega data center feeds the anchors, and the Anchors then feed the Edge, which was comprised of the 4 basic containers. The Anchors could simply be a communication hub, since a lot of international fiber lines were drawn off of them.
  • I am VERY excited that the Des Moines data center could potentially be the first Gen 4 data center. San Antonio was Gen 2, Chicago was Gen3 , so......
  • I imagine this is just the details, but.... asset management could be simplified and streamlined for them as well. It looked to me like (in the video) that as the trucks were leaving the warehouse, they were scanned. It would be logical then also that they are scanned upon entering the edge or mega data center and the contents are automatically updated to note that the particular compute unit is now at that location.
  • The biggest concern or question may just be a thing that I have to get past as the model for data centers evolves and advances. It may also just be applicable to this particular Microsoft strategy and not for others. Security! Natural Disasters! We see data centers built miles underground, have DoD-trained anti-terrorism staff, and have 3 foot thick re-inforced concrete. Yet, the video showed their mega data center with containers Outside!! I suppose security is established at the perimeter, and since the equipment is all inside the container there is no worry about privacy. As far as natural disaster prevention.....I'm stumped. Maybe they anchor the containers once in place. Maybe there are other measures in place that just weren't discussed.
  • I also noticed that they discussed reducing the dependency on water cooling and overall use of water in the data center. I think this is a trend you will see more of in the coming years. Maybe they could put 3 or 4 windmills on top of each branch spine in the mega data centers.
  • A question I had, and have had ever since containers have really taken off, is about the rest of world (not Google or Microsoft). How can radical design and engineering changes like the Gen 4 strategy apply to other business or the colo industry? The idea I have in my head for applying this to the colo industry, is something like what BastionHost is doing with their DataVille system. It's called HotParking, and is a BYOC (Bring Your Own Container) model. They provide the security and facility hook-ups, you park your container.

A year or two ago I was pretty skeptical about the whole container model and what, if anything, it could offer. Today, I'm fully on board....with questions....but on board.

THANK YOU Michael for publishing the information and to all the Microsoft Research staff for the excellent work.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sun Donates a Blackbox to China's Disaster Reduction Center

Sun Microsystems has donated a Modular Data Center to the China National Disaster Reduction Center to help the Chinese Government.  The WHIR News site has the complete details of the story.

In-House Clouds

Just a quick link to a really good article I read at ZDNet about Cassatt.  Cassatt makes some really cool products and while I have a much longer blog post planned about them and their innovation, it is later.  :)

Check out the article here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

TEAM Companies Des Moines Data Center

Cedar Falls, Iowa based TEAM Companies held a ground breaking ceremony Monday for their new facility in Waukee, a suburb of Des Moines.  Like their Madison facility, the 46,000 sq. ft. data center will be built in 3 phases.  The first phase is scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2009 and will cost $15 million to build.

TEAM will jointly own and operate the facility with Iowa Health System, the state's largest health care provider.  
Iowa Health System President and CEO William B. Leaver said Iowa Health System and TEAM Companies have had a multi-year relationship that has served its employees and patients well.  "When we're dealing with millions of records every year that contain confidential and critical information, it requires the utmost care and expertise," Leaver said.  "Iowa Health System and TEAM Companies thoroughly and completely understand the responsibility associated with maintaining and managing this data.  We don't take that lightly and never will"
TEAM Companies recently ranked 212 in the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies.

Check out the press release here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Data Center Stock Index:11-24-08

It was yet another interesting Monday for data centers and the stock market:

  • My data center stock index closed last Friday at $16.54, an all-time low. Today it was up to $17.92 as most stocks in the index closed up.
  • Even Yahoo has climbed up a little bit since Jerry Yang stepped down. Forbes has a slideshow of names that have been tossed out as the next potential CEO.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SuperComputer 2008 Conference

SC08 (The International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis) has been going on this week and there are a number of interesting links as a result:

  • Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm points out that the conference is really (or has become) a Data Center conference.
  • The Austin American-Statesman previews the conference and points out that Sun will bus people to their Ranger installation at UT, and Dell will bus people to UT's main campus to see Stallion, their advanced computer visualization system.
  • Nortel 100G to carry critical network traffic for SC08 conference.
  • reports that Intel, Cisco and Sun are helping develop a supercomputer for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
  • NVIDIA announces Tesla "personal supercomputer"...... umm...... ok
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory selects DataDirect Network Storage to power one of the largest and fastest file systems in the world. "48 S2a9900 High Performance storage platforms deliver up to 240 Gigabytes per second of performance across 10 Petabytes". Wow!
  • DataDirect Networks also won the HTCWire's Editors' Choice Award for best HPC Storage Product for 2008.
Finally -- I have a YouTube video to share. It's not SC08 related, but you would need a supercomputer to do some of the stuff this guy is talking about. It's the latest Google TechTalk, and even the title of the talk is over my head: The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor: What Fusion Wanted to Be

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's Just Another Manic Monday

Wow.....quite a Monday.....

  • My Data Center Stock Index is $18.20 ; the lowest since I started tracking it.
  • The Dow Jones Internet Composite Index continues to tank
  • I continue to not open my IRA statements.
  • Jerry Yang to step down as CEO of Yahoo!!
  • Google Stock dips below $300 for the first time since 2005
  • DuPont Fabros announces temporary suspension of development plans

Ok....enough of the bad news....let's balance that off a little bit...

  • Level3 raised $400 Million in capital - sending its shares up more than 12%
  • Dell should buy Sun Microsystems?? I really doubted this......until I read Drue Reeves post here.
  • Quantum of Solace breaks Bond Box Office Record
  • I just finished watching a special on Jack Benny on PBS. It was really funny (I'll try to tape it for you Dad). I never knew Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny and many others) was on the Jack Benny show.
  • Albert Pujols names 2008 National League MVP!
  • Complete with cartoon - Engadget notes that the Cray Jaguar failed to beat the IBM Roadrunner for top spot on the Top 500 Supercomputer rankings.
  • The new Star Trek trailer is out

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cray Jaguar - 1 Petaflop!

Next Monday, the Top500 list comes out for the second half of 2008. I am not involved with super computers at all, but the geek in me loves to follow who has the fastest computer in the world. reports that the Cray Jaguar is set to top the IBM Roadrunner in the #1 position. The XT Jaguar now offers a performance of more than 1 quadrillion calculations (1 petaflop) per second.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Level3 CDN Ecosystem

Level3 is an interesting company to watch. Their stock closed under $1 today, but I think there is some real potential for this company to take off. Level3 started out in 2008 with a focus on the CDN Market. You can follow events on the archives at Data Center Knowledge, but since then they have had a change in CEO, acquired IBM's CDN patents, and dramatically increased the capacity of their CDN.

I ran across two things today that put Level3 on my radar. The first was an article at the blog about the Level3 Broadcast Encoding Centers. These encoding centers are a part of their ecosystem offerings that the article discusses.
"The new broadcast centers allows level 3 to provide support for encoding up to 24 simultaneous live events in Windows Media, Flash or Move Networks formats. And with both broadcast centers tied into Level 3's Vyvx offering, the company can also ingest video directly from customer's locations and downlink and uplink video from nearly 95% of the world's satellites"
The second item I found on the Level3 website -- an investor presentation that goes over the usual stock and company performance data.... but the first half of slides in the show really drive home the market they are in, how they plan to attack the opportunity, and really not a bad summary of where things are going in the market.

Kevin Rose, of and Revision3 fame .... I believe..... recently said he stopped all cable and satellite services in favor of watching everything on his computer. Maybe the IPTV movement will be the thing to watch in 2009. I know I am certainly watching a lot more shows/episodes/podcasts/whatever online anyway.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Data Center Stock Index: Week Ending 11-7-08

My data center stock index tumbled, but only a little bit on a week where Obama won, the jobless rate climbed to 6.5% and the Dow dropped big yet again.

The index closed the week at $19.94. I (hopefully) will expand the index like I have talked about this week and see what kind of impact it has.

Iceland - A Green Data Center Hub -- Maybe!

Maybe I spoke too soon in my last post about Iceland. I ran across a few things that might counter some of the arguments made against the country. First, there is news that the economic / banking crisis in Iceland is being resolved. This may take a while, but it at least looks like they will come out of the crisis favorably.

Second -- there are some new stories I've found that may dispell any negatives about connectivity to Iceland. Capacity magazine reports that "subsea cable operator E-Farice has said that the final leg of its Danice cable system is underway." When complete some early next year, it will provide the country with a huge volume of additional capacity and full redundancy.

"The Danice system will comprise a four-fiber pair link between Iceland and Denmark, with initial capacity of 100Gb and full potential capacity of 5.1Tb. Using DWDM, the system will support the transmission of 128 10Gb wavelengths on each pair.

This press release from Tyco Telecommunications explains the venture as well. Some other Iceland-related things I ran across include this article from Mary Jander at Internet Evolution and the Data Centers in Iceland page at Invest in Iceland Agency.

ABC News also has a nice article on Iceland -- Iceland's Path to a Green Future

IBM On Notice For State of Texas Project

IBM Global Services
Nothing ups the priority and urgency of finishing a contract like getting press about missed deadlines and deliverables. According to the Austin American-Statesman, IBM's $863 Million contract is on the line if they don't resolve a data backup issue.

"The governor expects the issue will be resolved to the full satisfaction of the state," said Allison Castle, the governor's spokeswoman, so that termination of the contract will not be necessary"

With 9 pages of comments on the article, it apparently is a sore spot to many. One commenter wrote "The Office TV series has nothing on the State of Texas agencies". :)

Check out the article here.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Data Center Stock Index For Last Week

The data center stock index I have been tracking closed last week at $20.42. It started the week at $17.66 and just kept on climbing. It will be interesting to see if election day/week has any affect on it.

I have several stocks that I would like to add to the list -- I just want to take one more crack at using the Google spreadsheet to get historical data before starting over with the new stock list. has an October review of data center stocks today also. Call it a hunch, but I think Terremark will be one to watch -- they have some pretty cool things going on and I think there is a ton of potential there.

DuPont Fabros will release 3rd quarter results the day after elections -- they were down 59.1% in October.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Iceland - A Green Data Center Hub?

We've heard the stories in recent months about activities in Iceland and the potential for locating data centers there. The geothermal resources and cold climate make it attractive for a power-hungry data center. The 2008 Icelandic Financial crisis may have some of those big companies that were "looking", thinking twice.

An article at Greentech Media is what had me thinking about Iceland again. The CEO of EYP made some comments about Iceland at a recent round table with reporters. According to the CIA World Factbook, Iceland is slightly smaller than Kentucky, has a population similar to Pitsburgh, and lists natural hazards of earthquakes and volcanic activity. The most interesting part of the article was these two lines:
"So in the future, large companies could roll them from center to center around the world and take advantage of low nightime electricity rates. Some HP customers and HP itself is already examining ways of shifting computing loads with the clock"

Not rocket science in terms of the concept, but it does reinforce the #1 site selection factor of cheap power, and #2, renewable energy possibilites in the area. I think in the end Iceland will loose out to Ireland as far as a European hub for data centers. Who knows though...... maybe Microsoft, Cisco, Google or others will build a cheap skeleton of a facility in Iceland where they could deploy containers quickly/easily -- and then pull them out just as easy to another location if economic problems in the country persisted.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Data Center Index 10/27/08

The data center index I created/started a few weeks back continues to plumit. My index is down over $5, but the DJINET index is down $15 for roughly the same time period.

John's Data Center Index as of 10/27/08: $17.66

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cisco's TechWiseTV

I recently upgraded my iPod to an iPod Touch, and ever since have been watching more video podcasts.  I can list off a number of good shows that I have on my downloads list, but thought I would mention the Cisco TechWise TV show for those of you that hadn't heard of it.

Episode 38 is out -- Accelerating Virtual Machines and it has some good information about WAAS (Wide Area Acceleration Services) and VN-Link, which delivers virtual machine-aware network and storage services.  The video is below, but they also have a YouTube channel for previous episodes/videos.

Cisco WAAS technologies are pretty cool and I think you'll see that product line grow pretty fast for them.  A video on this WAAS page at Cisco gives an implementation case for Monsanto.  It's a nice video, but I have two problems:  they mention Iowa twice as if it is connected via 56k modem at best (so VERY not true btw); and the solution pairs WAAS with Microsoft Share Point.  I have never been much of a Share Point fan, but (Ben - don't read this) -- it is growing on me.  It has it's purpose and the product line has certainly evolved since I used it last.

Finally, itWorld Canada has a story on Cisco WAN Optimization and "dramatically shrinking" replication times between company data centers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Microsoft Data Center Experience 2009

The blog reports that Microsoft will hold their second Data Center Experience in Chicago in Spring/Summer 2009!!!  Assuming that this will tour the NorthLake facility, it stands to be a very cool event!

Transformational Technologies On the Horizon

Just a couple of quick links to interesting 100Gig articles I ran across recently and an article about the Father of the Internet....

From PC World --  researchers have created an optical network component that they say can encrypt data travelling at 100 Gbps.  The advantage comes from companies utilizing Wavelength-Division Multiplexing (WDM)  in corporate networks.
"But encryption still is typically done electronically, at a top speed of about 10G bps, Telcordia's Etemad said. Without the high-speed optical encryption, enterprises that wanted to carry 100G bps of traffic couldn't take advantage of the efficiency of putting it all on one wavelength."

TMCnet reports that Huawei Technologies has reportedly deployed a 100 Gigabit Ehternet WDM prototype.  Back in June of this year Cisco and Comcast did a demo of a 100GbE router interface.  

Finally -- in the list of "Tech gods", Vint Cerf is certainly in my top 5.   Network World has a summary of his keynote speech from the Internet Days conference.  IPv6, DNSSEC, and international characters (in DNS) are what he thinks will be a part of the "big changes"  in the coming years.  Check out the article here.  

Data Center and Green Design

I ran across a couple of interesting posts on CleanTechnica recently, and then a newspaper article tonight that prompted this blog post.  The CleanTechnica posts I liked were:
Then - today the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had an article on designing buildings for increased productivity.  The thing that caught my attention was the mention of the new $21 million Monsanto data center.  I imagine/hope I am reading too much into this, but.....
"...Fox aimed to limit human errors by introducing daylight into much of the space.  The firm said studies showed natural light improved the efficiency and mood of employees."
I'm all for this in the office space -- but they seemed to be talking particularly about the data center itself.  Any reader of my blog would know there are any number of security, natural disaster and other concerns with putting windows in the data center!  Anyway...the construction video is below...

Monday, October 20, 2008

John's Data Center Index: Week Ending 10/17/08

My data center index that I started a few weeks ago ended down 2.01  at 19.4.

It was yet another turbulent week for the markets. The other Index I have kept an eye on, the Dow Jones Internet Average, ended up down 6.37, at 64.46

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New Nationwide Data Center in New Albany, OH

I know a couple of people that work at Nationwide in Des Moines, IA.  Des Moines is (I believe) Nationwide's second largest presence of employees next to their headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.  Nationwide will build a new data center approximately 14 miles to the north east of their headquarters -- once again showing that site selection seems to be thrown out the window in favor of building close to where your existing offices / people are.

The 120,000 square feet facility will be constructed on 45 acres in New Albany's Research and Information district.  Apparently there is no rush, as construction is not set to begin until January of 2010.

Check out the article on the announcement here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Storage Networking World

Storage Networking World is going on this week, and (big surprise) there is a lot of press and new product launches going on in the storage industry.  The most interesting ones to me are EMC's FCoE products and the CloudNAS from Nirvanix.  I am really intrigued by Nirvanix and intend to dig a little deeper into their service in the near future.  

Here are the highlights I've seen for storage news this week:

  • This wasn't a news release - but check out the solid state drives (SSD) at Intel!  They come in 80GB and 160GB capacities and the first enterprise class SSD is expected to ship by the end of the year.  I think 2009 will be a big year for SSD.

Social Engineering in the Data Center

I listened to a TWiT podcast recently with the one and only Kevin Mitnick.  If you don't know who Kevin is, follow this link and see his story -- he is a pretty amazing security expert who has been through a lot.  There was an interesting part in the story he was telling on TWiT about HID proximity card spoofing.  The spoofing has been around a while, but he makes it sound pretty easy.  Kevin is widely known for his social engineering.

Via a tweet from @ciscoDC tonight I also read a very interesting paper on data center security.  It covers the physical side of security for a data center and related social engineering that can go on.  I think so much effort is put into digital security and facility security, that the people and process side of the business get ignored.  This paper does a very good job of conveying the importance of people and processes.  
"A terrorist isn't likely to be walking in with guns blazing and take over the building, but rather play a game of invisibility and misdirection, taking advantage of the very nature of "good-willed" or ignorant individuals...these external tests can help identify these weak areas."
Check the paper out here.

Also along the process side of things -- check out an Uptime Institue paper on using ITIL to gain data center efficency.  

Sunday, October 12, 2008

John's Data Center Stock Index

I imagine we are in for another week of Wall Street news and analysis.  As I mentioned last week, I decided (for the heck of it) to create my own Index.  I researched it a little bit and decided to use the capitalization-weighted method.  I wanted to use it just to keep an eye on the market, from a data center perspective.  Many have speculated that the data center industry will continue to boom throughout all of the rest of the turmoil in the financial industry.  Google Spreadsheets has some awesome formula tie-ins to Google Finance that made tracking my Index very easy.

If anyone would like to see the spreadsheet - just let me know and I will share it.  I picked the companies in my index as representatives of colocation providers, infrastructure equipment manufacturers, service providers and REITs.  I wanted to keep the list somewhat managable -- I am open for suggestions if anyone feels there is a company that is missing from my list.  Outside of Cisco, I wanted to keep the Really large companies out of the mix (i.e.: Microsoft, Google).  I felt Cisco contributes SO much to the data center that they were a good candidate.  The companies in my index are:

Cisco, EMC, Digital Realty Trust, Equinix, Terrermark, Savvis, Level 3, DuPont Fabros, Internap, Switch and Data, Akamai, VMWare, Rackable, Schneider Electric (APC).

I started tracking it on Oct. 6th, and it was 23.13.  On Oct. 10th, it was 19.12

I'll post the Index price once a week, or more often if requested.  I'm mainly interested in this acting like any other stock index -- just an aggregate view of the industry.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wednesday Links

Too many stories -- too little time to comment.

Some of these are on the current Wall Street situation (hard to avoid that topic recently).  On a side note to that -- I am building my own stock index for data center companies.  Google Spreadsheet makes this amazingly easy.  I want to get a full week of data before blogging about it though, so more on Monday....

Wednesday Links:

  • Veritas Cluster Server One -- Symantec Delivers new High Availability Disaster Recovery platform
  • Sun Microsystems recognized by EPA for surpassing agressive greenhouse gas emissions goal.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Welsh Data Center, IBM and Carbon Offsets

I don't have a lot of time to comment on these stories, but found each of them to be interesting:

  • Massive data center planned for Wales.  In April of this year we learned about Next Generation Data's plans for a $400 facility in Newport, Wales.  Today, PC World had an article on the now $346 million renovation of an old microchip fabrication plant.  The building and infrastructure that NGD is putting into this facility is pretty impressive -- and reminds me of some of Terremark's NAP of the Capitol Region.
  • Any good tech blog wouldn't be hip without at least one mention of Cloud Computing.  So....  The ICT Review has an article about the IBM initiative that "extends its traditional software delivery model toward a mix of on-premise and cloud computing applications with new software, services and technical resources for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and clients"

Monday, October 06, 2008

1&1's Lenexa Kansas Photo Tour

Just a quick link to Information Week -- they have a series of photos taken at 1&1's Lenexa, Kansas data center. Check them out here.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Wecome to the Matrix

UsuallyI am reading and linking to information about massive, mega data centers that Microsoft, Google, Yahoo or others are building.  I ran across a presentation tonight, given at the Qcon conference that was really fascinating (in an incredibly geeky kind of way).

It was given by Richard Gabriel and is titled Architectures of Extrordinarily Large, Self-Sustaining Systems.  I really enjoyed the talk he gives and I think it has a ton of insight into software design and the building of Ultra Large Scale Systems - which he defines as "one that is impossible to build because it exceeds critical limit of today's software engineering technology.

I do think this further validates the change in data center architectures in that ultra large scale software will run in ultra large scale computing environments.  Welcome to the Matrix

Check out the presentation here.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Links - IBM and Wireless at Fiber Speeds

IBM is in the news recently regarding two foreign centers. PC World reports that IBM plans to open a new data center early next year in Scotland. This facility, at $3.52 million, is suited for medium-sized businesses. Check out the PC World article here.

IBM also recently (today) announced that they awarded Schneider Electric the contract to design and provide electrical distribution, building management/security system, high density cooling and critical power solutions for their India data center. Schneider Electric is a pretty huge company, and thanks to acquisitions has all of the necessary parts to fulfill such a large contract. The facility should be complete by March 2009. Check out the article here.

MIT Technology Review has a story about new millimeter-wave technology that sends data at 10 gigabits per second. The article is fascinating and I recommend reading it -- here.

ReadWriteWeb has an article on 5 Big Data Center Trends for 2008. Blades, Green, Virtualization, Clouds, Enterprise Linux. Maybe it's just me -- but I would throw the container model in that trend list. I think we are just starting to see containers in the data center and that there is a lot more to come. Check out the article here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Virtual Intrusion Prevention Appliance

A short while back I linked to a presentation by Christopher Hoff about virtualization and security.  Those that attended VMWorld a few weeks back reported that security was a big theme at the show.  Well, the trend continues.... with IBM offering a peek at the future of its Proventia Network Virtual Intrusion Prevention System appliance.  It looks like this product (and maybe others) will be out early next year.

Check out the Network World article here  and more from IBM here

Saturday, September 27, 2008

HP POD Container Video

The idea of data center containers continues to really grow on me. At first I had a hard time seeing the true benefit for a non-Fortune 100 company, but I think I'm coming around. GigaOm has a nice video of an exclusive first look inside the HP POD (Performance Optimized Data center) container. It shows the layout inside their container and since the person being interviewed is a thermal engineer, the cooling solution is discussed.

I think my biggest road block for containers is still security -- but that's a post for another day. Check out the GigaOm video here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cloud Services and Data Center Design

James Hamilton had a blog post yesterday about "Embarrasingly Distributed Cloud Services".  It points to a paper that he and some others at Microsoft wrote to present at the ACM Hotnets 2008 Workshop in Calgary. The paper is pretty amazing and besides some pretty deep formulas and theory for networks a number of good points are made on mega data centers versus newer, geo-diverse, distributed or containerized designs.  It's a paper about trends in the data center industry and what models will work best for particular types of processing and applications.  To me, it was incredibly insightful and you can tell that the authors have not only done their research, but have been seen what works and what doesn't, as well as have the vision for what the future holds.   I (obviously) recommend reading the paper (here), but also have a few comments/observations of my own:

1.  Products -- maybe I've had too much caffiene today, but I can see a mix of software products that are ideal for a predictive and scalable deployment across the new, geo-diverse containerized data center designs.  3Tera continues to be a hot company with their Applogic software and recent global cloud computing expansion.  I thought of them several times when reading the paper.  I also thought about another cool company (that 2 of my friends work at) called Cariden.  I don't know if my description of what they do would do it justice -- let's just call it network simulation and traffic planning/engineering software.

2. I haven't done a plug for my almost year-old white paper in while, so what better opportunity.  If these geo-diverse, smaller data centers are built in closer proximity to the end user, then site selection becomes an issue that many have not thought of before (because they never ventured outside of their region of the country).  So -- check out my Data Center Site Selection white paper.

3. It might be a stretch to relate this one  to the paper -- but it was something I ran across recently that could come into play with containers and an increased need for sensors and environment data.  I was browsing around the Dust Networks website a few days back, via a link from the IP for Smart Objects website.  Dust Networks makes embedded wireless sensor networking for monitoring and control.  Co-founder Kris Pister helped coin the concept of "smart dust" to describe a network of miniture wireless sensors called "motes".  The 12 millimeters square devices can run on micro-batteries for up to 10 years.  Check out the product lines and technology at

4.  The day before at the Interop 2008 New York conference NeworkWorld reports that today's networks won't cut it as foundations for real-time applications.  

Friday, September 19, 2008

What is a Good Network?

My latest column is out at Systems Management News. I decided to do another column on networks, as I was inspired by a question I ran across.

Check out the column here

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Acive Power - 12 Megawatt Sale

Yesterday Active Power announced that it received its largest single order from a "large search engine".  The order was for twelve 1200kVA CleanSource UPS Systems.  
“This particular customer’s order further substantiates the market acceptance of high performance and high efficiency flywheel UPS solutions for large mission critical data center applications,” said Jim Clishem, president and CEO of Active Power. “We continue to see rapid adoption of our flywheel technology particularly among major data center owners and operators who recognize the value proposition and performance benefits inherent with systems of this design. Active Power delivers better space and power efficiencies which result in substantial economic savings while at the same time providing a more reliable and green solution.”
I would have to think that "a large search engine" could really only mean Google, Microsoft or Yahoo.  If I had to guess, I would say it is for Yahoo, but with their containerized power systems I have to wonder if it is for Microsoft.

Virtual Blog Post

With some big announcements from Cisco and VMWare, it was a big day for virtualization.  Before getting to the press releases, I went back and searched my blog for posts on virtualization -- and I found some interesting things.  In July 2007 I tried to comprehend all of the virtualization technologies available in a summary post.  I left a place holder for virtual networks because I really didn't get that one yet, but there was a foretelling blog post by Peter Christy on 'how' to virtualize a network.

Well -- all of that IOS engineering that Peter talked about appears to have been worked out and Cisco had a couple of big announcements today.  First, they announced the new Nexus 1000V, a virtual software switch ; an industry first 3rd party virtual distributed switch.  The joint Cisco/VMWare announcement was made today at the VMWorld conference.  Check out the Cisco page on the 1000V - they do a nice job of explaining the technology.  DatacenterKnowledge has a nice post on the announcement as well.

The second announcement was about new Data Center 3.0 technologies for Storage Area Networks.  The new technologies are intended to enhance SAN Services in Virtual Machine environments.  Building on the unified data center fabric:

'The new Cisco SAN technology includes three Cisco MDS 9000 Family 8-Gigabit-per-second (8-Gbps) Fibre Channel switching modules and new capabilities in Cisco’s SAN operating system, which has been re-branded NX-OS.   These new SAN capabilities, combined with Cisco’s data center-class MDS and Nexus platforms, will help IT managers evolve towards a single operating system and a unified data center fabric, simplifying data center management and reducing costs."

 The 3 new Cisco modules are a 24 or 48 port 8-Gbps Fibre Channel Switching Module, and a 4/44 Port 8-Gbps Host-Optimized Fibre Channel Switching Module.  CNNMoney has an article on the press release here.

Cisco stock fared pretty well today and I found a financial analysis of Cisco through July 2008 at

VMWare announced their Virtual Datacenter Operating System (VDC-OS -- because we need a few more acronyms in the industry).  "The Virtual Datacenter OS allows businesses to efficiently pool all types of hardware resources - servers, storage and network – into an aggregated on-premise cloud – and, when needed, safely federate workloads to external clouds for additional compute capacity.  Datacenters running on the Virtual Datacenter OS are highly elastic, self-managing and self-healing."  Check out the complete press release here.  Another announcement they made was their vCloud Initiative for Enterprise-class Cloud Computing.  It's a pretty cool initiative -- the press release can be found here.  In a VMWorld keynote, President Paul Maritz described internal and external clouds, as well as "giant computers" :)  VMWare stock ended up 2.41% for the day.

The blogosphere was busy with all of this news as well:

Cisco Data Center Blog  (also some cool new information on an acronym sure to compete with World of Warcraft -- Cisco's Windows on WAAS)


The Lone Sysadmin

Michael Keen


Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Links

It was yet another very busy week, and as such I have a number of links and information to share to wrap up the week:

  • I'll be in Phoenix next week to (hopefully) become certified in ITIL v3 Foundation. I really like the ITIL framework and am anxious to learn the new version 3 information. I think ITIL should be a major part of any data center operation.
  • While I'm in Phoenix it looks like some of the bloggers that I regularly read will be at VMWorld in Vegas. It looks like a pretty good show and I'll keep a watch for annoucements or other breaking news. The company I really like, but always seem to forget about has a nice whitepaper out at VMWorld -- it covers server virtualization's match with storage virtualization; from LeftHand Networks.
  • A recent IT@Intel brief was pretty interesting on air side economizers. Intel published results about their Proof of Concept for reducing data center cost with an air side economizer. Check out the results here, and a video here.
  • A friend of mine pointed out that I didn't make a blog post on the Google floating data centers. First of all -- I'm busy! :) Second, I felt it was well covered (here and here) and third --- I'm speechless. I really don't know what to think here. I like the container model, I like what Microsoft is doing with containers......I am just really not sure what to think of Google's patent for the floating data center with containers.
  • TechTarget has a new site I've made a few trips to so far. It's on a pretty popular topic now days and one that I hope to dive much deeper into in the near future -- Disaster Recovery.
  • Finally - Rackable partners with Netapp. I've become a bigger fan of the Rackable container since hearing about it and seeing it in person, and I 'think' partnering with Netapp was probably a pretty good move for the company.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Grand Opening of Madison Data Center for TEAM Companies

Wisconsin Technology Network reports that TEAM's Madison data center could help accelerate IT in the area. Microsoft and Google have opened offices in Madison recently, and last week TEAM Companies held grand opening ceremonies for the new Tier 3 Fitchburg facility. When all 3 phases are complete the $40 million data center will have 60,000 square feet of space.

"TEAM Companies now has data centers in Fitchburg and Cedar Falls, Iowa, storing and protecting information for regional and Fortune 500 businesses. The “fail-safe” Fitchburg center has security features such as retina scanners for personal identification, and 14-to-24 inch concrete, steel-reinforced walls that are built to withstand an F4 tornado with winds in excess of 200 miles per hour."
Check out the Wisconsin Technology Network article here.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fortress, Cisco and HP Links

I have a number of links from recent web surfing that I thought I would share:

  • Fortress International (Total Site Solutions) was awarded additional contracts with existing clients totaling $6 million. Additionally, two other fast-track projects were awarded for a potential future value in excess of $100 million. The two design projects will be completed by subsidiary Total Site Solutions. Check out the press release here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Human Capital and the Data Center

The topic of Human Capital has intrigued me lately, so I thought I would do a little research/commentary post on it. By no means do I want to declare that the data center has a human capital "crisis", but I think a little more attention and action on the topic are perhaps in order. A good starting point would be a definition -- and I found that on LinkedIn I believe. Human Capital is the process of driving business value and improving performance by maximizing capability and engagement of staff. It is different from human resources and work force planning and as many would tell you, the people are the most important asset of a company. Human Capital has actually been in the news quite a bit lately:

  1. Microsoft chose Iowa for the "quality work force"
  2. Systems Management News reported on a joint study between the Human Capital Institute and IBM that extolls "It Takes a Human Touch for Business to Succeed".
  3. Michael J Morris wrote a post about "Good Jobs Are Out There..."
  4. On June 16-17 the Human Capital Institute, Sun Microsystems and the New Learning Playbook hosted the innaugural meeting of a new executive round table focused on learning innovations and managing Milennial talent.
  5. The IBM CEO study I mentioned yesterday listed "people skills" as something that 48% of the CEO's surveyed mentioned as a change driver.
  6. A real shocker: "Both Presidential candidates cited a weak jobs report as an argument for their economic proposals."

The IBM study also had an interesting quote from a financial markets CEO: "we're making acquisitions for the people, not the assets". A virtual data center conference that I attended today also noted that there is a lot of "gray hair" management and senior staff that will be retiring in the very near future. This then implied that the younger IT workers would be left with a knowledge gap and a big challenge ahead of them. I think all of the data center automation that is under way will certainly help fill some of that gap, but the over-arching concern is that perhaps data center staff wouldn't know what to do (manually) if all of that automation broke!

The Human Capital/IBM study was interesting for a number of reasons. Just as we have heard that the CIO role is rapidly changing, the study noted that 84% of respondents know that putting people in the right roles is key to business success. Talent Management was also mentioned a few times and is sure to be the buzz word d'jour for a while. So the challenge at hand is to understand and apply human capital theories/methodologies/whatever, analyze the talent economy within the organization and re-strategize work force planning. Note the correlations within the definition of work force planning and human capital. Work force planning is the process of forecasting and preparing for changes in an organization’s workforce. This is done by mapping the current workforce structure and capabilities, deciding what the future needs of the business are in terms of long term strategic goals, undertaking gap analysis and implementing a plan to alter the workforce structure in order to meet the longer term corporate objectives.

Mission: Engage in work force planning in the data center industry to better profit from human capital and devote more time managing the engagement of staff.

For those new readers to my blog I want to note that I have a slight bias towards the Midwest (and Iowa particularly). Michael Manos declaring that a "quality workforce" was a reason that Microsoft chose Iowa came as no surprise to me. I became involved in a new program recently that I wanted to tout here briefly and give as an example for something that could be a very beneficial program most anywhere in the U.S. It is called HyperStream and it is built as a "tech hub for Iowa students". The idea is to engage young kids in technology and really help guide them into the right technology jobs. There are clubs, camps, programs, internships, mentoring and competitions -- all to help keep the kids engaged and excited about technology. The IT Olympics that I served as a mentor for last spring was a part of this program. I have heard some of the early success stories of this program and it is really inspiring to see how well it is doing. Check out the program and further details at

Well....I suppose that is enough for one night. I just had some random thoughts and opinions that I thought I would get out there. My Dad spent a lot of his career in work force development and "human capital" issues -- maybe it rubbed off on me just enough to author this post. :)