Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Data Center in Guam

GTA Teleguaum is a communications company in Guam, a small Pacific Ocean island. They recently opened a $60 million, 60,000 sq.ft datacenter for businesses on the island to have a safe and secure to operate their equipment.

I may not have even posted about this data center, but one fact about the facility is pretty interesting:
Ninety percent of the undersea cable system for voice and Internet traffic between the U.S. mainland and Asia comes to Guam, said Singapore-based Eric Handa, vice president of sales with global telecom giant Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd., or VSNL.
Check out the rest of the details in the article here

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Google Data Center?

It seems like all of the news surrounding where the next mega Google data center would be located had died down. They made a number of announcements and after they slowed down, the buzz slowed down. Until now....

Is Colorado the next spot? Chris Sherman at SearchEngineLand has an article about a "mystery buyer" of a 432 acre plot. Chris makes some good points for why it could be a good location...guess we'll have to wait and see.

Check out the article here

Tuesday Links

Monday, January 28, 2008

Winds of Opportunity

One thing I meant to get to in my site selection white paper that I just didn't find time for was maps of renewable energy sources across the U.S. While surfing tonight I ran across some information on Wind energy - something that has interested me for a while now. Google and others have been big on Hydro energy and I would by no means discount that as a valuable and beneficial energy source.

The U.S. Department of Energy has a nice web site for their Wind and Hydropower program. I found a subsection of the site called "Wind Powering America" that contained a lot of valuable information on wind power. I clicked through to an update presentation they had available and wow - this report is amazingly thorough and has some really nice maps, research, correlative data and is a really nice place for anyone looking to learn about wind power and all of the environmental and economic benefits to start.

The 20% Wind-Electricity vision states:
Wind energy will provide 20% of U.S. electricity needs by 2030, securing America’s leadership in reliable, clean energy technology. As an inexhaustible and affordable domestic resource, wind strengthens our energy security, improves the quality of the air we breathe, slows climate change, and revitalizes rural communities.

Check out the Wind Powering America Update presentation here

Cisco - Data Center Infrastructure Transformation

If you work in a data center or follow the industry, you certainly can not avoid Cisco. Even if you somehow managed to avoid Cisco gear in your network there is a good chance you use something that they have since acquired. In 2007 they had 11 acquisitions, including the big one -- Webex . Cisco has engineered some amazing products, bought the rest and orchestrated a $146 Billion company. The San Jose Mercury News has a nice article on how the company has reinvented itself and other information on the collaboration strategies they are rolling out.

Fundamental to the data center space was the July 2007 announcement about "Data Center 3.0" (I then declared Data Center 3.5 ) Cisco's Data Center 3.0 strategy is a collection of products to manage network and other data center assets. There was the Vframe , the DC Assurance Program , and numerous acquisitions, including Securent . In this month alone they have demonstrated Visual Networking at CES , extended their Application Network Services portfolio , and made an investment in (market leader in femtocell technologies) . On top of all this, CEO John Chambers was on the panel for the World Economic Forum a little while back titled Corporate Global Citizenship in the 21st Century (YouTube link ). Hey John -- I can't even fathom your schedule, but how about a blog like Jonathan Schwartz does from you?

DC 3.0 is about enhancing business resiliency and agility(remember--the keyword/buzword from the Garnter conference? ) Now there is the Infrastructure Transformation stage of their Data Center 3.0 strategy. The DC Networks blog (Douglas Gourlay) hinted at this several weeks back . Today Cisco releases the details on the infrastructure transformation stage, and exeution of the DC 3.0 strategy. The 4 cornerstones of this announcement are:

  1. Unified Fabric - convergence to a single network (Storage,Ethernet,IP and HPC traffic)
  2. A new switching platform, Cisco Nexus - Multi-terabit platform for the most stringent availability needs.
  3. NX-OS - multi-protocol, Data Center-class operating system.
  4. DC Network Manager - end-to-end systems visibility.

The new Data Center-class switch - the Cisco Nexus 7000 series is a powerhouse that delivers a number of things: first, it is a zero service disruption design; second, it is capable of handling 40GbE/100GbE; and third, it has a 15 Terabit switching capacity. Cisco usually touts 'investment protection' in their switch line and I have to imagine that the 6500 series switches will have 40GbE and 100GbE cards in the future. The Nexus 7000 delivers investment protection through fabric modules (46Gps per slot) that support GbE, 10GbE, 40GbE and 100GbE modules. Another impressive feature is "integrated lights-out management". This means there is a separate network in place for applying changes, so as you remotely connect and make changes to a switch you don't have to worry about applying changes and being in the dark because you have restarted the network you were connected on. In a nutshell - it's their latest revision in the switch line that delivers support for the future, transport flexibility and efficient physical and power design.

The new Nexus 7000 series I/O modules are either a 32 port 10GbE card or a 48 port 10/100/1000 card. One of the cool new features of these cards is Cisco TrustSec. TrustSec was announced on December 5, 2007 and was promised to be available across the switching platform. It will be interesting to see the first labs run the 7000 series through testing to see what, if any overhead there is on the TrustSec product. The claim is that it is "wire-rate encryption" on a hop by hop basis.

Nexus (NX-OS) represents a new operating system to converge ethernet and SAN network protocols. This convergence and a zero service disruption design are its most impressive features. With NX-OS planned outages cause pre-emptive reconvergence around the device in a maintenance window. Think of it at as proactive, real-time ITIL Change Management. Pardon the marketing terms, but.... it provides a "virtualized control plane and scalable design", and it "sets a new standard for usability".

Other details being released today include:
  • Data Center Network Manager - Complete infrastructure visibility and ease of configuration, troubleshooting and management.
  • Catalyst 4900M Switch - high density uplinks, GbE and 10GbE Host and NAS
  • Catalyst Blade Switch 3100 - coming in May 2008

Cisco will hold a Webcast today to discuss the changes and continued execution of the DC 3.0 strategy.

As a side note I started poking around in Second Life again recently....Cisco has a pretty cool plot inside of Second Life. They have a wealth of information about the company and products, as well as hold events regularly about various things . Their efforts here, the Telepresence offering and John Chambers saying "collaboration" every tenth word means that there are exciting times for this branch of Cisco coming. IDC thinks pretty highly of the collaboration group at Cisco as well:
"IDC predicts that Cisco (CSCO) will take the platform that they acquired with Webex, beyond just Web conferencing and other "collaboration" applications, to become an online platform for a wide range of business applications and services. "
Cisco holds their Q2 Financial results conference call in a little over a week.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Google's Iowa Data Center: Smart Move

Well Duh!! oh...sorry, was that out loud?

For anyone new to this blog, I was simply ecstatic that Google selected Iowa for one of their mega data centers. Bridget Botelho at has a nice article that explains why the experts agree that Iowa is a great place to build a data center. At the last Linux Users Group meeting we had two Google employees present and a member of the group inquired about the Google data center expected to be built just south of Ames.....pure speculation/guestimate by the way. The Google employees of course declined to answer. I would doubt that they would even know such a thing anyway.

Check out the Search Data Center article here

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Charter Deletes 14,000 E-Mail Accounts

Charter Communications claims a "software glitch" was the cause of an accidental deletion of 14,000 active e-mail accounts. I post this, partially to poke a little fun at the 'accidental' part of it and partially just to further show that human error is the most likely cause in so many large goofs like this.

They claim it was a software error - that they regularly delete inactive accounts and this time 'some' active accounts slipped in. I bet if you were to ask the software company they would most likely say that their software was configured wrong -- by a human. Even routine procedures need to have a RFC (Request for Change) filled out, the process thought through, and a review board look over the change.

Check out the Cnet article here

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Secret History of Silicon Valley

One of my favorite bloggers (and only the inventor of the frigg'n web browser) Marc Andreesen has a post about a video on the secret history of the Silicon Valley. It is a long video, but well worth it.

It was a Google Tech Talk video from Steve Blank late last year. I'm currently consulting on a project for a war museum and so the content of this video, how the CIA/NSA and Fred Terman 'really' built the silicon valley, is really fascinating.

Link: Marc Andreesen's post

Cisco CCDE

Just a quick post to say congrats to Michael Morris for passing the Cisco Certified Design Expert certification. I've often thought of going after this path of certifications -- starting with the CCDA. The tests look pretty hard, but I really like the design and architecture side of Cisco networks.

Link: Michael's blog

Link: Cisco news release on the CCDE

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

$1B Savings for Federal Data Centers by Going Green

Two new studies released today are getting some press. They cover how the U.S. Government could save $1B over five years, or $1.9B over 10 years in energy costs by applying the recommendations given in the reports. Many of the projections are based on the August report from the EPA outlining the energy-efficiency improvements possible for government and private sector data centers.
"Deploying green technologies in data centers can help the government save nearly 9.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in five years at a cost savings of $959 million, according to the HP and Intel study."
Check out articles on the studies here:

Tim Kauffman at the Federal Times

Sunday, January 20, 2008

1-Gig Cable Modem

Perhaps my prediction for 2007 wasn't too far off -- at the SCTE's Emerging Technologies conference Cisco talked up a cable modem cable of delivering upstream throughput of 974,723,228 bits per second.
But while the industry is using the DOCSIS 3.0 spec to target downloads of between 100 and 160 Mbps, Cisco envisions much higher speeds -- as much as 10 Gbps in the future, according to Bernstein -- using a passive optical network (or "PON") as the underlying transport mechanism.
Can someone get this to my house some time this year!?!!!

Check out the rest of the article here

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hacking the Power Grid

Here is one to keep any data center manager up at night. Speaking at a security conference, CIA analyst Tom Donahue gave information about attacks (regions outside the U.S.) where criminals hacked into systems and cut power to several cities. All attacks were intrusions via the Internet, and the goal was extortion.

On Thursday The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved approved new standards to protect the nation's bulk power systems against cyber attacks. The eight new standards are:

  • Critical Cyber Asset Identification
  • Security Management Controls
  • Personnel and Training
  • Electronic Security Perimeters
  • Physical Security of Critical Cyber Assets
  • Systems Security Management
  • Incident Reporting and Response Planning
  • Recovery Plans for Critical Cyber Assets
In November 2007 President Bush asked congress to move $152 million into cybersecurity programs for 2008. Given what the CIA has known (presumably for some time), it's no surprise that investigation, new technologies and protection methods are crucial.

The PC World article quotes a conference attendee as saying that this "came as news" to many professionals in attendance. I'm no security expert, but come on.... this is nothing new. The U.S. has had any number of reports on potential infrastructure attacks and we have been pouring money into cybersecurity for many years -- the Clinton administration announced a $1.46 Billion initiative for cybersecurity in 1999, there was project Eligible Reciver in 1997, and countless others since then. Just last September there was a demonstration at the Idaho National Laboratory of the effects of a software vulnerability attack on infrastructure systems.

The power grid hacking is still pretty scary to think about though....and good reason for all of these alternative power sources to gain popularity.

Check out the PC World article here

Friday, January 18, 2008

Data Center Tours

As I have mentioned before, it is always fun to see tours/videos of other data centers. TechTarget's IT Knowledge Exchange has a collection of DC tours here

I like the Huawei Network Operations Center!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Google Visit

I just wanted to say a quick thank you to Peter and Noah from Google for stopping by our Linux User Group last night. We had an awesome turn-out -- go figure, mention Google and free pizza!

They mentioned that the next 3 Google data centers will be located in...... just kidding - they did an excellent job of not disclosing anything they shouldn't. They did describe the systems administrator job and the tools they use to support the hardware techs that are deploying and fixing the thousands of servers in the data center. They confirmed that Google is indeed a seriously cool place to work and that most all of the software used is home-grown.

Google is getting serious about hiring for the Council Bluffs data center and I think a lot of applications will be filled out from the group attending last night.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Uptime Institute - Data Center Greeness

As soon as I finish posting about the Emerson white paper and how there is so much press on the topic, the very next thing I read is about a new paper from the Uptime Charrette titled Four Metrics Define Data Center Greenness

It looks to be very good (as most all of their content is), but I'll have to find another time to dig into it.

Check it out here

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Emerson Network Power - Energy Logic

Emerson published a press release regarding their Energy Logic road map - a new approach to data center energy optimization. Energy Logic centers on the "cascade effect" (throughout data center infrastructure) and is based on Emerson's research and modeling.

A lot has been written lately about energy savings, and the whole green movement, but this approach helps to quantify energy savings and sheds light on potential ROI.
“When we released our report earlier this year, we stressed that energy reductions could be achieved with the proper planning and implementation of efficient technologies that exist today,” said Andrew Fanara of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “We encourage companies like Emerson Network Power to share any and all expertise that helps the data center community reduce their energy usage.”

Their white paper titled Energy Logic: Reducing Data Center Energy Consumption by Creating Savings that Cascade Across Systems divulges the Energy Logic approach. Among the sea of energy efficiency / green literature, news and white papers, this one has some meat to it. It covers:
  • Energy Consumption (where it goes)
  • The approach - including the cascading/sequential approach of how certain best practices have the greatest impact
  • Some nice tables and diagrams of Energy Logic applied (I'm a visual person) :)
  • The ten Energy Logic Actions (more pretty graphs and pictures)
  • Assumptions and timing benefits
Overall this is a very good white paper and one I'll keep in my reference pile

The white paper can be viewed here

US Signal Elk Grove Village Data Center

US Signal, a Midwest bandwidth provider, with a large DWDM backbone, announced the addition of a new data center in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. They have an impressive DWDM network in the Midwest (hey-what about Iowa!?). US Signal has been busy in the Chicago burbs lately, to complement their downtown loop.

I embeded the map below just to show how close it is to the new Microsoft Northlake data center. :) Check out the press release here

View Larger Map

Monday, January 14, 2008

Internap Acquisition Rumor

Back in the dot-com bubble I used to track stock message boards pretty religiously. It was entertaining at times, a little bit informative and it was fun to watch some people write under multiple handles. I had the pleasure for working for a company with a very eccentric CEO who loved to post on the message boards for our stock -- so much so he made posters out of a particular conversation with a share holder.

I've setup this post like that for a reason -- I read the message board for Internap tonight and found a discussion on Internap being acquired by AT&T. Just thought I would post a link to it and let you take it for what it is worth. There have been so many acquisitions in past years that it is hard to keep track of who owns who any more.

Anyway.... here you go

Computing in the Cloud

I ran across a blog post from Chris Tengi that reviewed a workshop titled "Computing in the Cloud", presented at Princeton. The post covers cloud computing and the historical computing models that brought us to it.

The review itself is interesting, but a particular blurb made about 'data' ownership made me automatically relate to what I've preached about the reason corporations build data centers near their headquarters.
It's all about location, but why does it matter where the data and software actually is? Possession of data implies control, and control implies power. Whomever owns the systems on which data resides has the ultimate control of how that data is retained and who has access.
Anyway....I wanted to post the quote, but also link to the blog post. I wish I could attend these workshops -- they sound very interesting.

INX to build $2.3 Million Data Center

INX, an infrastructure and professional services company, announced they have been selected to design and build a data center for a "major web-based company".

The press release reports that their client is moving their data center from a remote location, to a site closer to their headquarters. This kind of goes back to my tangent on disaster recover and site selection -- people want their infrastructure close to their primary offices; presumably so they can put their hands on it and see it in person.

INX is based in Houston, TX, but recently acquired Select, Inc., a similar company based in Canton, MA

Check out the press release here

Friday, January 11, 2008

Links Round-up

Well, it's been a busy week, so here are some miscellaneous things I feel are post-worthy:

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Intel -Transforming a Global Data Center Environment

Hats off to Intel! I am a big fan of lessons learned.....why not share the knowledge gained and let others benefit from it?!

Intel published a white paper titled Transforming a Global Data Center Environment and it is an excellent read. I of course could comment on placing three of their strategic data center hubs ALL on the west coast....but I won't. :)

It is interesting to read the story of their transformation, what it took to accomplish it and the data behind it. Well worth a read -- check it out here

Cabling Mess

I've seen some pretty bad cabling jobs before and many picture galleries.... but I think this one wins first place. :)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Gram Tel Data Centers Acquired

Cincinnati Bell Inc. has paid $20 million for the privately-held assets of Gram Tel. Gramtel had been expanding its footprint of data centers throughout the Midwest and offers a variety of managed services additionally.

Check out the Houston Chronicle article here and the press release here

Floating Data Centers

I really don't know what to think about this whole container model data center thing. It is really intriguing and there have been some creative uses for them. After posting about nuclear-proof bunkers I now read, on the Silverback blog, that a company is planning to put data center containers on ships!

I'm much too confused to write the details here -- and you can check the story out for yourself. I just don't know if I can figure this one out. They list some of the reasons 'why' someone would want to use a container on the ship, but it simply doesn't counter the hundreds of reasons why you wouldn't want to.

The company is IDS (International Data Security), and Ken from the Silverback blog has a couple of posts on the company as well as a brochure for it. It sounds like it is pretty early stage development, yet they have pretty ambitious plans (22 ships in North America, 50 worldwide). No mention of whether it is a generic container or Sun BlackBox, Rackable IceCube, etc.

Check out the two posts here and here

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Wikia Colo in an Iowa Bunker

In a January 7th press release, United States Secure Hosting Center (USSHC) is set to announce that Wikia has selected them for colo and DR services. Wikia is Jimmy Wales (of Wikipedia fame) latest venture - a new way of community search, that challenges the typical model (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft).
Wikia Search looks to give users an alternative to today's search engines by using individual feedback rather than secret algorithms. This approach is designed to lead to more effective results where the users determine how accurate a page or wiki is based on its relevancy. With the community providing the fine tuning of the searches, there will be fewer results with “parked pages” and ad content, and more relevant data.
Wikia is cited as selecting USSHC because their "level of service and security is as unprecedented as the disaster tolerance of their facility itself". USSHC is an underground bunker in Monticello, Iowa. Their facility is another U.S. Government project from the cold war that is 2N for power and 3N for cooling and fuel stores.
“We are very excited to host Wikia at our facility for their various projects,” stated Jerry Pasker, CEO of USSHC. “Our facility allows us to offer the best physical security available without breaking your budget. Companies that are looking for more than just commodity data center space expect a higher standard. We're able to offer that peace of mind through our attention to detail and dedication to having the best systems and practices in place.”
Maybe a 2008 project for me will be to research how many data centers would be able to survive a nuclear bomb. :) List any of the disasters in my site selection paper and these guys have you covered!

Congrats on landing Wikia as a customer!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 Review

I was reading a Star-Telegram article tonight that came across in my Google Alerts. It was about the problems with population growing so fast that communities and states can't keep up. No surprise, after reading about all of the Texas data center deals in 2007, this article was about the population boom in Texas. Check it out here

For whatever reason, this article made me think of something else.....

A while back I gave a lunch-and-learn at my company on Google searches and related applications. I am a bit of a Google fanatic and really dive into most every product and service they offer. I thought of an idea for reviewing the data center industry (via a specific Google search) -- and after reading about the most popular stories of 2007 on Data Center Knowledge.

Since a lot of my white paper on Data Center Site Selection was at the state level as far as what states were good or bad for building, I thought I would do a Google search for how many times a states name came up in 2007 articles at Data Center Knowledge. As many would agree, Rich is the source for all Data Center related articles, news and information. I didn't do a comprehensive search, but here is what I found:

Google Search results count within datacenterknowledge 2007 archives:

Washington: 78
California: 53
Virginia: 55
New York: 51
North Carolina: 42
Texas: 41
New Jersey: 40
Oklahoma: 37
Iowa: 36
South Carolina: 26
Washington D.C.: 23
Boston: 23
Kansas: 16
Illinois: 16
Oregon: 15
Michigan: 11
Colorado: 11
Indiana: 10
Wisconsin: 10
Minnesota: 7
Arizona: 6

While I was at it, I decided to run some other terms through the same search:
Google: 119
Microsoft: 118
Yahoo: 34
Equinix: 64
Digital Realty Trust: 80
Terremark: 35
Akamai: 54
Sun: 48
Virtualization: 547
Utility computing: 35
Green: 88

No, John doesn't need a hobby or more to do with his time....I just thought it might be interesting as a snapshot of 2007 stories.