Monday, June 30, 2008

Microsoft To Build a Data Center in Iowa!

Om Malik - You Rule! Om talked with Microsoft's Debra Chrapaty after a speech she delivered at Structure 08. She talked about Microsoft data centers, the use of containers, and the number of data center builds in progress....including the one in IOWA that they will be building!!

Now -- this news was actually reported back in February of this year, so I'm not getting too excited, but it is good to hear that the Iowa project is still in the works. Now the guessing game begins for which city they will build in. For anyone living under a rock, Google is building a data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa right now. My guesses for where they would build (although I really have no clue) would be:

1. The greater Des Moines area.
2. Marshalltown
3. Cedar Falls
4. Ames

Hey Microsoft - if you need any help just let me know! :)

Check out the post from Data Center Knowledge here, and Om's post and video interview here.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wrap up of Tech Conferences Last Week

The airlines made out pretty good this week from the Tech industry. There was a ton of conferences and news this past week from clouds, to energy, to Bill Gates retiring.

I, unfortunately, was not able to attend any of these conferences, primarily due to an equally hectic schedule of things going on at work. Luckily there was a lot of blogs and news sites reporting on the various events and here are some highlights of what I have seen.

  • Cisco Live! in Orlando. Cisco had events in Second Life and John Chambers keynote. Here are some links to items from that conference: Michael J. Morris micro-blogged the event (complete with pictures); Cisco talked about the shortage of skilled engineers and their new elearning network; Jim Duffy comments on Cisco flushing out their data center vision; Wendell Odom comments on the announcement that Cisco will break out the CCNA certification into 3 new exams (Voice, Security and wireless; John Cox comments on the demonstration between Cisco and Nivis of a wireless IP mesh network using IPv6; and finally, there was news about he creation of a consortium to drive global security. Cisco, IBM, Intel, Juniper and Microsoft formed the Industry Consortium for Advancement of Security on the Internet (ICASI).

  • GigaOm's Structure 08 - San Francisco: the two highlights of this one (IMO) if I could have attended would have been Werners Vogels (Amazon CTO) and Debra Chrapaty (Microsoft). Michael Halligan did some live blogging, Rich Miller reported from the conference and GigaOm has some videos (via Mogulus)! PC World has an article on Microsoft and the container model (I watched this one on the Mogulus videos -- very good presentation).

  • O'Reilly Velocity - Burlingame, CA: This conference was about web performance and scalability. Rich Miller had several posts from the conference and O'Reilly has the video from Rich Wolski's Eucalyptus talk (Eucalyptus is an open source software infrastructure for cloud computing). You can also view the presentation given about the communication architecture.

  • Data Center Energy Summit - Santa Clara: I haven't had much time to review this conference yet, but it looked pretty cool (pun intended). Rich has a post on the IBM Cool Blue rear door heat exchanger liquid cooling unit.

  • LT Pact - Las Vegas: Although I had not heard of this conference before, I knew several people going to it. 3Tera was a sponsor and James Staten (Principal Analyst with Forrester) gave a keynote on Could/Grid computing. Anastasia Tubanos at WHIR blogs about the conference here.

  • Catalyst Conference - San Diego: The Burton Group conference had themes of building the dynamic data center, identity management, security, wireless, SOA, and the new ways of work.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Intel Premiere - Containers Everywhere

Just a quick link to a nice article from Intel that appears in their Summer 2008 Premier magazine. It primarily covers the Rackable Systems IceCube container.

I continue to be really intrigued with the container model and will (in a future Systems Management News column) go into the container market a little deeper.

Mosso Enhancemens to The Hosting Cloud

In February of this year Cloud Hosting provider Mosso launched a new and improved version of its core hosting offering - The Hosting Cloud. The $100/month offering provided 24x7 support, 500GB bandwidth, 50GB disk space and 3 million web requests per month. In May they announced a private beta release of their new CloudFS Cloud Storage Service.

On Wednesday they announced a new Mosso control panel and provisioning system for The Hosting Cloud. This is a major release for Mosso and gives them a greater degree of scalability as well as greatly enhanced usability features. The Control Panel's file manager introduces a new snapshot tool that allows you to reinstate previous versions of your files. The control panel was built using the Google Web Toolkit, giving them a robust AJAX framework. The new provisioning system was built using Apache ServiceMix , a pretty cool foundation architecture laden with buzz words and acronyms ("an open source ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) that combines the functionality of a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and an Event Driven Architecture (EDA) to create an agile, enterprise ESB.) This new platform sets the stage for a broader range of services that Mosso can provide.

Mosso was started in late 2007 and is funded development from parent company Rackspace. The Mosso infrastructure is spread across Rackspace data centers.

I think the type of offering that Mosso presents is a pretty close picture of what the future of hosting is. It will take a while for mind-sets to change, but eventually customers will migrate from what Rackspace offers today to a Mosso Hosting Cloud. Reading the Mosso FAQ it is evident that they have already had many questions from those that are still stuck in the traditional hosting model mindset. I think with financial backing from Rackspace, their talented group of developers, and the right timing and service offering in a crowded market, Mosso can (and probably will) go far.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Links for June 24, 2008

As I mentioned a few days back, this is one busy week! Here is a wrap-up of some interesting links I have run across over the last few days:
  • Aaron Phillips does a very nice job of summarizing the Iowa Floods and the impact on Fast Servers (now a part of Layered Tech). It echoes what I had said about the tremendous teamwork and compassion that was witnessed over the last few weeks and how this really makes a difference when experiencing an event like this.
  • I ran across (again). I really liked this site a year ago or so and my Bloglines list got so long I have neglected to go there in quite some time. It is a wonderful Web 2.0 resource though and I've also started following the author Pete Cashmore on twitter as well. I am a self-admitted information junkie, but even I am a bit overwhelmed at the content that this blog produces. Search Engine Journal recently did a very thorough review of the 70+ most useful posts.
  • has a write-up and video of vertical-axis wind turbines. Pretty interesting stuff....
  • An IDC forecast was released last week that warns of the high cost to cool storage. The Storage Forum Blog has a nice write-up of the IDC report.
  • IBM reports that it is opening Africa's first "Cloud Computing" center and a second cloud center in China.
    "The two new centers are part of IBM's expansion of its cloud computing capabilities around the world. IBM launched Europe's first Cloud Computing Center in Dublin, Ireland in March. Over the past year, IBM has provided cloud computing services to clients such as Wuxi City of China, Sogeti, the Local Professional Services Division of Capgemini, the Vietnamese government institutions and universities, and iTricity, a computing host service company based in the Netherlands"
  • IBM has also launched "Blue Cloud", a "collection of enabling technologies that is used to create cloud computing experiences for customers in data center, hosting service and other cloud environments."

Google's Council Bluffs Data Center - Phase 2

The Omaha Newstand reports that wheels are in motion to provide the infrastructure for phase 2 of the Google data center in Council Bluffs Iowa. The city council is meeting to consider the resolutions for the creation of a utilities corridor south of the city. Phase 1 of the $600 Million Google data center is on 55 acres of land, where phase 2 is a 1,000 acre parcel, providing greater security for the buildings.

Check out the article here

Monday, June 23, 2008

Terremark's NAP of the Capital Region Set To Open

The Culpeper Virginia NAP of the Capital Region is set to open June 25th. A local newspaper had a brief article about the invitation-only opening and the fact that Norm Laudermilch, who Rich Miller interviewed a short while back, will continue on as the Managing Director of the 35-acre campus.

The same newspaper had an article about the importance of the Terremark project, taxpayer obligations, and a complex private-public proposal for Culpeper Utility Partners. The article is an interesting read and is another case study in the efforts of economic development departments doing their best to attract high technology business to the area. The massive Terremark of the Capital Region was definitely a catalyst for the area.

Terremark stock
has been going down in the latter half of June, but between this NAP opening and their enterprise cloud offering, I would venture that it will pick back up.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Busy Week Ahead

As Rich Miller pointed out -- there are a lot of events happening this week worth tracking. He points out the O'Reilly Velocity conference, Giga Om's Structure conference on Cloud Computing, and the Data Center Energy Summit.

The Energy Summit sounds like a really cool conference and I'll watch that site for all of the information that they will (hopefully) release. It has a lot of heavy hitters in the industry attending and I like "lessons learned" type conferences.

The other big conference that I will be tracking this week is Cisco Live! in Orlando. Cisco Live has been their IT and communications conference many years and now also incorporates Cisco Networkers as a part of it.

Finally - the St. Louis Cardinals (should) sweep Boston today, and then need a really good week and a half or so before they face the Cubs on the July 4th weekend.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thursday Links

I thought I would catch up on some of the surfing I have been doing this week and share some of what I have found. The Iowa flood victims are moving into clean-up mode and President Bush was in Iowa today to tour. Here are some things I have been reading lately:

  • I think I had run across the following link a while back, but forgot about it. On the side I dabble a little in search engine optimization techniques, and the Google Data Center Research Tool is kind of fun. As my friend Ben would point out about their site though.... "C-Class" does not refer to IP Space, only to a Mercedes-Benz. :)
  • Here is an interesting story about the CERN particle accelerator network and distribution of 15 petabytes that the project generates annually.
  • I've been playing around with Summize a little more recently. I think this is a pretty cool little tool that has potential to be really useful. It basically searches twitter posts in real time, shows search term trends, and allows you to RSS your search.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Data Center Staffing

My latest column over at Systems Management News is out. In this column I discuss data center staffing needs and trends.

There is also an excellent article by Michelle Savage on Cloud Computing as well.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Iowa Floods of 2008

I haven't posted here in a while -- I have been incredibly busy with the Iowa Floods. Where I live and work are both high and dry and did not experience any flooding or related problems. I have heard some incredible stories and seen amazing pictures of the floods and this will definitely be one to talk about for years to come. Here are some links to news or pictures about the flood:

From a data center perspective, I wanted to cover two areas. The first is how flooding affects site selection. In the white paper I wrote last year about data center site selection, I included a map of Presidential Disaster Declarations. In this map, every single FEMA region lists flood as a type of natural disaster that can occur. It is a pretty amazing force of nature, and hard to avoid most anywhere you go in the U.S. Even if your state or region of the country doesn't flood much, there are plenty of other natural disasters to go around. The interesting correlation that I have made in site selection factors is that between natural disasters and quality of life. There were a lot of stories on the news and in the newspaper of people helping each other out, volunteering to sandbag the downtown and save businesses, and just an overall impressive level of community involvement. Avoiding natural disasters is one thing, locating where the people pull together in the event of a natural disaster is something else all together.

The other item on my mind throughout the floods is disaster recovery (DR) plans and business continuity. I can't mention company specifics for obvious reasons, but I have seen a lot of companies executing their disaster recovery plans as a result of the floods and have learned a lot from it. I have witnessed disaster plans carried out almost exactly as planned, but have also seen companies that did not have much planning in place at all (especially as it relates to their IT equipment). Again, the impressive part of both good and bad DR plan execution is the level of involvement and willingness to do what ever it takes from the people involved.

I 'think' the worst of the flooding is over - and I don't want this to turn into a Flood update blog, but I thought I would share my lessons learned from what has turned out to be a pretty amazing past week.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

BastionHost Debuts Dataville

I ran across an interesting company tonight - and upon further reading on their site discovered that they offer what I have envisioned ever since I read about containers. I work in the colo industry and although the vision is a bit cloudy (pun intended), I think there is a colo play for containers.

Check out Bastionhost - a Canadian company that offers Dataville - a "secure closed system campus of data centers, ideally situated on the Great Circle route between New York City and London." They offer a number of services, have a pretty experienced management team and advisors, and claim to offer protection from "the prying eyes of big brother, while meeting the stringent standards of the European Union." On top of that - their web site has a cool spinning globe (lower right corner) -- yes I was into the animated GIFs in the late 90's. :)

The most interesting part (to me) was what they call Hot Parking. It looks as though they offer the Sun and Rackable container systems, and then give you the sheltered, conditioned environment in which to run it. These "mini modules" can be returned to BastionHost to be serviced, upgraded, or provisioned elsewhere in the world where it may be needed. I think this is an extremely cool idea --- it might take a bit to catch on, but knowing what I do of the containers, knowing the efficiencies and setup speed they offer, I think there is some huge potential for customers and colo's alike.

The company is based in Halifax, Canada; which I admit, I had to look up in Google Maps. If I had Google Maps and Google Earth when I took 8th grade geography I know I wouldn't have been as bad at it as I am now.

Containerized Data Center Marketing Growing

Byte & Switch has an article about containerized data centers boosting cloud computing. The article talks about a growing market, with offerings from Sun, Rackable, and Verari. They report that Rackable is gearing up orders in the second half of this year for containers "intended for Yahoo or perhaps Amazon".
"There are power claims, too: Verari's Forest Container requires 400,000 watts, which the vendor says is 110 percent more efficient than regular data centers."
I know in past posts I have started to really come around to the container model -- but I still struggle with it. Unless it is in a situation like Microsoft is using them, I really don't get how it is secure or is safe against natural disasters or other threats.
If I can ever get some free time I want to build a matrix comparison of the containers and 'try' to do an apples to apples comparison.

Check out the Byte & Switch article here.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Cloud Computing - Part 2

My latest column in System Management News is out. My last column started a discussion on Cloud Computing, and there simply wasn't enough room to print it all. Part 2 is in this column and it focuses a little more on how clouds will (potentially) affect the enterprise.

Check out my article here (and many other excellent articles there as well!)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Enterasys Scales Intrusion Dection and Prevention

Enterasys Networks is an interesting company that has been in the news a lot lately. They are an spin-off of Cabletron Systems that formed in 2000. The press release that caught my eye was today....but here is a run-down of news:

  • June 2: Enterasys scales Dragon Intrusion Detection and Prevention. IDS and IPS technologies are pretty amazing - and to be doing it at a 10Gigabit performance is even more amazing. I worked pretty closely with Palisade Systems IDS/IPS a number of years ago and really liked the technology.
    “Enterasys Dragon delivers fully distributed protection from both internal and external threats without having to deploy appliances on every wire,” said Mike Fabiaschi, Enterasys President and CEO. “Rather than just telling you that a threat exists – we make it easy to immediately remove the threat from any multi-vendor network without impacting performance.”
  • Extreme wins patent suit against Enterays.
  • Power and Cooling: Cisco vs. Enterasys. Although the numbers show Enterasys requiring approximately half the power and cooling of Cisco equipment, the numbers are baseless (i.e.: 70% of all statistics are made up). The comments after the article are interesting / comical to read. Like I said, 80% of all statistics are made-up.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sun Microsystems Project Hydrazine

Maybe I'm still hyped-up on the talk from Brian Wilson at Sun, but Project Hydrazine is pretty cool.

Brian talked about a needs pyramid of the different parts of Information Technology. It was an interesting analysis, and (of course), Sun provided solutions at many of the steps up the pyramid. An article I read tonight really kind of brought it home for what Sun is offering. I've slowly come back to really like Sun as a company and where they are going. Their entry into the cloud computing arena is a pretty formidable one and worth a look.

Project Hydrazine was announced recently and packages a lot of things together to make an attractive solution. Check out this article from Talkbie or the Sun project page here.

On-Stage Telepresence

Cisco telepresence is some seriously cool stuff. Well, they kicked it up a notch recently by demonstrating on-stage telepresence. I'll link to the video - but it essentially reminds me of R2D2 beaming princess lea to deliver a message. :)

John Chambers was in Bangalore, India and brought on stage with him (virtually) Martin De Beer and Chuck Stucki, from San Jose. The demo apparently uses a presentation system from Musion, who does 3D holographic projection.

Check out the video here