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.

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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.