Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tuesday Links

Just a random collection of links I have come across today (mostly from surfing digg.com)

  • Maybe Norway will be the next hot spot for Data Centers.... Here is an interesting article on their sea-based wind parks. The photo above comes from Panoramio, within a Google Maps search of Norway.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Uber Data Center in Vegas

I ran out of super-cool descriptive terms I could call this data center. They are already calling their new facility the SuperNAP (look out Terremark! :) ) The Register has an awesome article on Switch Communications -- a previously stealth colocation facility in Las Vegas, NV. Switch's CEO Rob Roy does what the CEO position is supposed to - overhype the capabilities and specs of the data center. He goes so far as to say that they are better than the mega-super-data centers that are being built by Microsoft and Google.

I won't go into too many details -- the Register article is very thorough and good read. I will say that the "disaster avoidance" maps on the Switch site are a little questionable (In my opinion).

Check out the article here
and the Switch web site here

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tracking and Managing Data Center Energy

I ran across two new tools tonight to help manage and track energy in the data center. On Monday IBM announced Energy Management software that is backed by nine big players.
"IBM is combining the new energy management software with partner solutions to provide customers with a comprehensive view of energy consumption across the enterprise -- not just in data centers but also in non-IT assets such as air conditioning equipment, power distribution units, lighting, and security systems."
Check out the CNN Money article here

Yesterday Federal Computer Week reported that the Department of Energy will soon unveil new tools to help data centers track total energy consumption. The data center Energy Profiler software suite will help calculate how energy is being used and identify potential cost savings.

Check out the FCW article here

Microsoft Data Center Construction Pictures

CRN Channel Web has a nice slide show that gives a peek into construction on Microsoft Data Centers. Facilities shown include Northlake (Chicago) and Dublin Ireland.

Check out the slide show here

This week in Storage 05.22.08

There was a lot of news in the storage industry this week. Here are just some of the items coming across my screen:
  • Reldata offers a DR solution for Fiber Channel SAN. It "replicates FC SAN data to a remote IP SAN without disrupting existing production environment". The Reldata 9240 Unified Storage Gateway can be used for either local or WAN replication. I plan to do some posts on WAN replication, WAN optimization, WAN accelerators, etc.... in the near future. I think the whole cloud computing movement will accelerate this market pretty fast.
  • Content storage software provider Caringo has a couple of new press releases: Their CAStor software was selected by CMWare to be the primary storage solution behind skyTuneZ. They also have a brief interview that talks about Caringo taking on IBRIX and Isilon.
  • Web2Storage Corporation announced the general availability of its Web2Drive software. Their software allows "Windows Vista users secure, remote, and seemingly local access to their data at home or from anywhere with Internet access."

TEAM Companies - Madison Construction Update

TEAM Companies has posted some construction pictures of their data center being built in Madison, Wisconsin. The facility is set to open in the second quarter of 2008. TEAM provides planning, design and build services as well as co location. The Madison location was announced last September and will be 60,000 square feet, built in 20,000 sq.ft phases.

Check out the pictures here

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Power Grid Vulnerability

Back in January there was some news surrounding the issues surrounding network vulnerabilities of the nations power grid operators. Pretty scary stuff considering the implications. According to a Network World article today, the Tennesee Valley Authority (TVA) apparently still doesn't get it. A GOA (Government Accountability Office) report laid out 73 recommendations for TVA to improve its security. The report and recommendations seem to apply across the board to electric companies; the focus on the TVA is probably just because they are the largest, serving an area with 8.7 million people.

Check out the article here.

Sun Blackbox Tour 2008

Earlier today I attended a meeting / event for Sun Microsystems. The Blackbox (S20) was back in Des Moines and although I saw it last year, I was curious to see it again. I'll get to the blackbox in a minute. The guest speaker for this year's event was Brian Wilson, Sun's Director and CTO - Market Development. He was an awesome speaker and I came out of his presentation inspired, with 3 pages of notes.

Brian started by briefly explaining how Sun has transformed over the past few years. Scott McNealy was a good CEO, but Jonathan Schwartz defintely shook things up when he took the healm. Jonathan promotes a new "transparency" for Sun and their interactions with customers and the industry. Sun has also become very 'agnostic' in its hardware and software platforms. Brian noted that Sun is actually more of a software company now than hardware. The challenge that Jonathan and Brian are presented with is... "how can Sun stay in business when customers can do more with less". Rather than give a typical marketing answer to this question, he went into the Sun answer with an overhead projector drawing. For those younger folks reading this -- here is the Wiki article on what an overhead projector is. :) I won't try to replicate Brian's drawing, but the thrust of it is that the focus is moving away from the enterprise where "IT=cost", and over to the service providers where "IT=weapon". The three drivers for this change in focus are the Internet, High Performance Computing, and the SaaS providers.

Some other notes or quotes I had from his talk:

  • AT&T (who has a large Sun footprint), spends over $1 Billion per year for power.
  • Sun opened their Santa Clara data center and Brian took a tour. He was very impressed, talked with his tour guide and ended up finding out that those involved with the design and build of the data center ended up reporting to the Sun CFO. This was particularly interesting to Brian -- let the person in charge of paying the bills for the data center drive the build (and efficiency) of it!
  • Blackbox: 25kW per rack, in 1/8 the space
  • "Some" business do actually want to move their data centers -- examples being the U.S. Military and media companies covering Olympic events for periods in other countries.
  • Sun entered the data center switch business. Internal code name Magnum. This is the big dog. It is an Infiniband core switch, with capacity for 3,456 server nodes and does a lot for switch consolidation and thus reduction/elimination of space and cabling.
  • Brian noted a database shift (in parallel with earlier statements about IT=cost vs. IT=weapon. 90% of enterprise databases are Oracle, while 90% of web 2.0 databases are mySQL
  • Sun does NOT use raised floor in their data centers.
  • They feel it is their corporate responsibility to share data center design knowledge and lessons learned with the industry.
  • 3 take-aways: 1) Sun hardware runs on other vendors chips (Intel/AMD). 2) They push extreme efficiency. 3) Build a digital service delivery platform (i.e.: LAMP , SAMP , or MARS (mySQL, Apache, Ruby, Solaris) )

Ok -- now on to the Blackbox: Unfortunately, Sun did not send the latest version of the S20 to Des Moines. The container was essentially what I saw last year. The two notable differences in the product were that they have added a fire suppression system to it, and this time they had a Sun branded Chiller unit sitting on the truck in front of the Blackbox. Other changes include better cable management and the ability to move an entire cabinet (easily) in and out of the container. They state that you can place anyone's hardware inside the container and there are configuration alternatives you can take; for instance, adding fewer, but deeper cabinets to accommodate special equipment that needs the depth. It was overheard that there are 8 Blackboxes in production today, but the pipeline of interested parties is pretty large. The United Airline story about putting containers in their hangers in Chicago was mentioned a few times.

Overall I am glad I attended the event and I think the whole container story is starting to really sink in with me. I by no means think it is "the" answer, but there are some very plausible scenarios where it can be used and I think Sun entered the game pretty early and as such has a good chance at succeeding. Here are some pictures I took of the Blackbox.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Utility Computing.....Myth?

Myth? I don't think so. I think it is the early stages, but definitely not a myth. This post by Richard Ziade, at the basement.org blog contends that utility computing is not the end of traditional software. He has a pretty funny statement -- "I don't need a multi-billion dollar data center in North Carolina to re-size an image". I don't think utility computing, cloud computing, grid computing -- what ever you want to call it is a myth. Far from it. The applications of these technologies will be seen in different places, for different reasons and at different paces over the coming years. The related space I'm watching is networking and wide-area networking (i.e.: wan accelerators / optimizers, metro ethernet, FTTP, and so forth). FYI - Worldwide Metro Ethernet sales hit $13 Billion in 2007, up 27%. Richards post and subsequent comments are an interesting read though.

Richard's joke about re-sizing an image did (for whatever reason) make me think about a really compute-intensive application (locally and in the cloud) that I simply love. Google Earth. I think I'll start my 12-step program tonight: Hello, my name is John Rath, and I am a Google Earth addict. I simply can't get enough of this program. If any Google Earth developers are reading and need someone to get them Mountain Dew or wash their car, I'm your man. :) I found a video tonight that will explain some of the amazing new features that they have added, if you haven't seen it lately. Check out the video (no, really) here.

One other post on basement.org piqued my interest on "visual browsing". As someone who recently purchased an Ipod Touch and is a BIG fan of visual browsing, the software Richard writes about, PicLens is ... (pardon my Paris Hilton) ....HOT!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Giga Om's Structure 08

Just a quick link to a conference I ran across tonight that looks really cool. Giga Om's Structure 08 will be in San Francisco June 28th, and the speaker line-up is pretty amazing. I would especially like to see Debra Chrapaty (Microsoft), Werner Vogels (Amazon), and Greg Popadopoulos (Sun).

The tag line is "Put Cloud Computing to Work". Check out conference details here

Head in the Clouds

Just a quick link to my latest article over at Systems Management News. I decided there simply was not enough coverage about cloud computing in the press (ha ha) -- and that I needed to put my two cents in.

In the end, I could have written 10x what I did on the topic. There are really a lot of different facets to it and angles to take on what impact cloud computing will really have. I will have a part 2 to the article next and will perhaps write some more on the topic here.

I received my print copy to Systems Management News last night and really enjoy it. For anyone who has not checked it out, take a peek!

Check out my article here

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Data Centers in Iowa

There were a couple of stories recently re-affirming that Iowa is an awesome place to build a data center. Data Center Knowledge reported about this years series of Boyd Company rankings. Three Iowa cities (Council Bluffs, Ames and Des Moines) made the top 10 list for "most affordable markets". TEAM Companies has capitalized on the data center market in Iowa, and Peak 10 is growing rapidly in North Carolina, which had 2 cities in the top 10.

Today, Emerson subsidiary Emerson Process Management, announced plans to build a $12 million data center in Marshalltown, Iowa. This data center will be primarily to backup Emerson operations and development across the globe. They also announced that a new primary data center would be built for the company in St. Louis.

"Akason said Marshalltown stood against competition for the project from metropolitan areas like Minneapolis-St. Paul; Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago and Emerson’s headquarters, St. Louis"

Check out the Times-Republican article here

Monday, May 12, 2008

Terremark in the News

Terremark has been in the news again recently. On Friday, APCON (maker of matrix switches) announced that Terremark had purchased a 20 switch license of TITAN software for managing APCON switches.

Earlier this morning Cisco announced that Terremark's Infinistructure (TM) Utility Computing platform is using the Cisco Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network (IP NGN) architecture.
"Terremark's Infinistructure platform is a true utility-computing solution designed to solve both the economic and capacity-on-demand shortcomings of traditional infrastructure. Infinistructure's enterprise-class server and storage infrastructure combines Terremark's proprietary digitalOps® service-management platform with leading-edge virtualization technology from Cisco and other companies, providing a highly scalable and flexible high-performance computing platform."
Terremark's NAP of the Americas facilities use a wide range of Cisco products, from ASA's to Catalyst 6500's, and MDS switches.
Check out the CNN Money article here
and the Cisco press release here

I have started to watch Terrermark a little closer over the last few years. I almost forgot that they acquired Data Return this time last year. They placed in the 2008 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Hosting and the report had some very positive things to say about them. For instance, they are known for their well engineered solutions and support. I still get a kick out of their Capital Region NAP having DoD-trained anti-terrorism personnel on staff. I think that is the course I need to attend so I can have it on my resume. :)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wednesday Links

  • The Motley Fool lists Savvis stock as the "worst", in last Wednesday's "Worst Stocks in the World". Ouch

  • Andy Kessler has the dream interview -- Woz! Andy has a series of videos on Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, and all-around genius. If anyone is interested in buying my Apple IIGS Woz Limited Edition, let me know.

Monday, May 05, 2008

New EMC Network Management Tool

Here is one I'm going to have to read up on in the near future. EMC continues to grow into new business lines, with the announcement of the release of Voyence Control 4.0. EMC acquired Voyence last October.
"Some other features in the release include an Extensible Hybrid Model-Based Approach, which EMC said aligns with the model-based management capabilities of Smarts and EMC Application Discovery Manager (ADM). You might say that's code for ensuring it works with with other vendor products, especially Cisco's network products"
Check out the article at InternetNews.com here
and the EMC press release here

We'll have to wait until Chuck Hollis from EMC is back from traveling, to hear his thoughts.

What $10.9 Billion Will Buy

A particular Digg caught my eye today -- "Exxon posts a $10.9 Billion Profit." For myself, and other mere mortals, $10.9B is just plain hard to even fathom. So, I thought I would do some of the fun math that I have seen others do that kind of puts it all in perspective.

Here is a break-down of what exactly $10.9 Billion means:
  • It's slightly more than the 2007 Gross Domestic Product of Japan, Germany and China...... Combined!!
  • It could buy 2.7 exabytes of enterprise-grade storage (roughly -- at somewhere around $4/GB). This is approximately .002% of the 1.7 zettabytes that IDC forecasts we'll be generating in 2011.
  • Instead of building data centers for the company, you could just buy Equinix, Level 3, and Digital Realty Trust. (based on Market Cap)
  • $10.9B is more than 4x the 2007 "net investments in real estate" made by Digital Realty Trust.
  • It's more than 3x the total amount Cisco spent in acquisitions in 2007.
  • It's more than 4x what Google spent on data centers in 2007.
  • It's only 6% of the Google Market Cap.
  • Google Gross Profit is catching up -- at $9.9B
  • It would buy around 83,846 shares of Berkshire Hathaway Class A stock

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Microsoft Withdraws Yahoo Bid

I haven't commented much on the Microsoft/Yahoo saga....I figure there isn't much need for yet another story on it. :)
But.....since I am surfing right now and happened to read it -- it looks like the deal is off.

I think this perhaps proves that what ever John Dvorak says will happen....take bets on the opposite! :)

It will be interesting to see what happens with Yahoo over the next few months as the reorganize, and maybe re-think strategies and partnerships.

Check out the press release here
and Tech Crunch article here