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    With recent volcanic activity how long will it take before anyone considers Iceland for a data center?

    We've all seen the Iceland gov't delegation at various data center conferences, and they have had a web site up to promote their site.


    Our competitive operating environment compares favourably with leading countries in the industrial world. Add to this our green renewable energy, low tax structure, high education levels, abundant land and competitive costs for skilled labour, and you will quickly discover that Iceland is a strong candidate as a location for international data centre operations.

    Connected to the world

    Just when they thought the gov't instability and Fiber connectivity were addressed, their statement on low risk natural disasters is irrelevant.

    MSNBC reports on the latest volcanic activity and flooding.

    Iceland evacuates hundreds as volcano erupts again


    Associated Press Writers, Associated Press Writers

    updated 33 minutes ago

    REYKJAVIK, Iceland - A volcano under a glacier in Iceland erupted Wednesday for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air, closing a major road and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters.

    Authorities evacuated 800 residents from around the Eyjafjallajokull glacier as rivers rose by up to 10 feet (3 meters).

    Emergency officials and scientists said the eruption under the ice cap was 10 to 20 times more powerful than one last month, and carried a much greater risk of widespread flooding.

    Can anyone be taken seriously now if they listed Iceland as a site for a data center?

    The risk may have been no higher for Iceland than other countries, but perception of risks given recent volcanic activity have changed.  The general public would say the risk of Volcanic activity is 100%. :-)

    Click to read more ...


    Google's Eric Schmidt discusses Sharing and Mobile strategy

    GigaOm analyzes this video of Eric Schmidt at Atmosphere.

    And throws this out as summary of key issues Eric presents.

    Schmidt made two specific comments about resource allocation, saying that the hardest and most pressing engineering issues facing Google today are around sharing and mobile. He was talking to the enterprise execs present but his statements were so absolute I think it’s fair to apply them more broadly.

    “Companies are about sharing,” Schmidt said. “One of the new things in the last five years about the web is that it enables sharing-sensitive apps.” He continued,

    I think of calendars as incredibly boring, but I’m wrong, calendars are incredibly interesting because they’re incredibly shared. So from a computer science perspective, all of a sudden we have our top engineers who want to build calendars. I’m going, what’s wrong with you guys? But in fact it’s a very interesting example. Spreadsheets are similar, the most interesting spreadsheets are highly, highly interlinked, something I didn’t know, and was not possible with the previous technology — Microsoft technology made it very difficult because they were not built in that model.

    Google's Don Dodge (recently laid off by Microsoft) adds his perspective on the threat to Office.

    Erick Schonfeld at Techcrunch says; "Slowly but surely, Google keeps trying to chip away at Microsoft’s core Office productivity suite with Google Docs, its free online word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Today, Google Drawing is being added to the mix and Google Docs and Spreadsheets is getting a major realtime update."

    David Berlind at InformationWeek is much more aggressive. "Make no mistake about it. Google is going for Microsoft's jugular. The deathmatch is on and, at the very least, it's for bragging rights to what we at InformationWeek are calling the "collaborative backbone." It becomes a battle that's less about Google Docs versus Microsoft Office and much more about the collaborative infrastructure behind Google Apps versus Microsoft's SharePoint and Exchange."

    And provides a graph to illustrate his point.

    This competitive positioning chart illustrates where Google is coming from, and where it hopes to go in the future. It is the classic Innovators Dilemma competitive curve. Time will tell how it shakes out. The move to the cloud seems to be pretty clear. Only the slope of the curve and speed seems to be in question.


    And, let's not forget the changes from Mobile.

    As the mobile Internet becomes central for both consumer and corporate users, the core product questions are interoperability, security and safety, Schmidt said. “What’s important is to get the mobile experience right, because mobility will ultimately be the way you provision most of your services,” he added, saying that Google considers phones, tablets and netbooks mobile experiences.

    These are all things we are thinking about as we get the GreenM3 NPO rolling, and how we will approach data center information sharing.  In some ways you could contrast what we are thinking of in an Open and Transparent approach to data center innovation vs. the status quo.  It is close to the comparison of Microsoft's individual authoring thinking vs. Google's team collaboration.

    Click to read more ...


    ASHRAE Standard 90.1 Data Center Documents

    After writing on Google's post regarding ASHRAE's standard 90.1 and requirement for economizer and talking to Google's Chris Malone, I decided to find the documents.

    Here is the proposed Addendum bu.

    6.5.1 Economizers. Each cooling system that has a fan shall include either an air orwater economizer meeting the requirements of Sections through

    There are a through k in just section 6.5.1

    j. Systems primarily serving computer rooms where
    1) the total design cooling load of all computer rooms in the building is less than 3,000,000 Btu/h (880,000 kW) and the building in which they are located is not served by a centralized chilled water plant, or

    And Addendum cy

    What is hard to figure out is why ASHRAE is making economizers a requirement for cooling systems instead of a performance based solution, but if you meet an efficiency improvement in table 6.3.2 you are allowed you to eliminate economizers.


    Does addendum cy supersede addendum bu?  addendum cy doesn't have the above section j.

    DataCenterKnowledge references addendum bu.

    ASHRAE, for its part, says it welcomes the feedback on the proposed changes. “ASHRAE is committed to excellence in the consensus standard development process and encourages anyone with comments regarding the proposed addendum regarding data centers (addendum bu) to participate in the public review process,” it said.

    Are you confused?  I am.

    Click to read more ...


    Can Data Centers benefit from Supply Chain Management concepts?

    Currently, I am studying data center site selection, and have been asking the question what is wrong with data centers having 1% of the cost being in the land when other commercial real estate will typically have land 20-25% of the cost.  One big thing most miss is land is not a cost, it is a non-depreciable asset. 

    Capital assets that are inexhaustible or where the useful life does not diminish or expire over time, such as land and land improvements. Infrastructure assets reported using the modified approach to depreciation are also not depreciated.

    Land is not an expense, it is an investment.  So, land should be looked evaluated on its ROI, not it's overall cost, including land improvements. 

    Which then led me to think why is it data centers don't use more supply chain management concepts which would address issues like land cost in the overall solution and most likely save you much more than the cost of the land?

    Supply Chain Management is defined as.

    Supply chain management (SCM) is the management of a network of interconnected businesses involved in the ultimate provision of product and service packages required by end customers (Harland, 1996).[1] Supply Chain Management spans all movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption (supply chain).

    Another definition is provided by the APICS Dictionary when it defines SCM as the "design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain activities with the objective of creating net value, building a competitive infrastructure, leveraging worldwide logistics, synchronizing supply with demand, and measuring performance globally."

    Can't you think of all the different groups and vendors involved in providing data center and IT services as a supply chain management problem?  Is the CIO in charge of the supply chain? Maybe.

    Here is a piece of irony from a article on supply chain management.  Supply chain management SW is a mess.

    Supply chain management software is possibly the most fractured group of software applications on the planet. Each of the five major supply chain steps previously outlined is comprised of dozens of specific tasks, many of which have their own specific software. Some vendors have assembled many of these different chunks of software together under a single roof, but no one has a complete package that is right for every company. For example, most companies need to track demand, supply, manufacturing status, logistics (i.e. where things are in the supply chain), and distribution. They also need to share data with supply chain partners at an ever increasing rate. While products from large ERP vendors like SAP's Advanced Planner and Optimizer (APO) can perform many or all of these tasks, because each industry's supply chain has a unique set of challenges, many companies decide to go with targeted best of breed products instead, even if some integration is an inevitable consequence.

    So, if a bunch of people who focus only on supply chain management can't get the software right, how can the data center industry get the right software to run data centers like a supply chain?

    I think I have an answer on how to approach supply chain management for data centers.  The first step is to identify the problem, then test what approaches solve the problem best. The fragmentation and silos is the opportunity to address.  How do you pull all the pieces together?  My ideas are based on using social networking and memetics.

    More to come.

    Click to read more ...


    Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Nokia, Digital Realty Trust, Dupont Fabros vs. ASHRAE standard 90.1 requirement for economizers limits innovation - comment to be heard

    Google's Public Policy blog has a post with some of the most innovative data center operators.

    Chris Crosby, Senior Vice President, Digital Realty Trust
    Hossein Fateh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dupont Fabros Technology
    James Hamilton, Vice President and Distinguished Engineer, Amazon
    Urs Hoelzle, Senior Vice President, Operations and Google Fellow, Google
    Mike Manos, Vice President, Service Operations, Nokia
    Kevin Timmons, General Manager, Datacenter Services, Microsoft

    This collection and probably many others are appealing to ASHRAE to change the requirement for economizers.

    Unfortunately, the proposed ASHRAE standard is far too prescriptive. Instead of setting a required level of efficiency for the cooling system as a whole, the standard dictates which types of cooling methods must be used. For example, the standard requires data centers to use economizers — systems that use ambient air for cooling. In many cases, economizers are a great way to cool a data center (in fact, many of our companies' data centers use them extensively), but simply requiring their use doesn’t guarantee an efficient system, and they may not be the best choice. Future cooling methods may achieve the same or better results without the use of economizers altogether. An efficiency standard should not prohibit such innovation.

    I know many of these above people and thanks to a friend they forwarded me this link to Google's blog post, I speculated on what drove the economizer requirement:

    1. Without talking to anyone, one assumption is this group who are active in ASHRAE brought up the energy efficiency issue early on, and ASHRAE stakeholders, most likely vendors who make economizers saw an opportunity to make specific equipment a requirement of energy efficiency data centers.  I could be wrong, but it would explain why an organization who sets standards would choose to specify equipment instead of performance.
    2. In many established data center organizations like financials, economizers are/were unacceptable in data centers a few years back.  So, is the move to establish economizers a reaction to those who refused to use economizers for energy efficient cooling.
    3. The ASHRAE consulting community sees a need for their services to meet ASHRAE's economizer requirement.  For example, if in a given area there are X number of hours a year that are available for running economizers, does the economizer need to be run for a specific %.  Hire an ASHRAE consultant to interpret the standard.  I sure can't.

    The data center group above proposes the following as a better update to the ASHRAE standard.

    Thus, we believe that an overall data center-level cooling system efficiency standard needs to replace the proposed prescriptive approach to allow data center innovation to continue. The standard should set an aggressive target for the maximum amount of energy used by a data center for overhead functions like cooling. In fact, a similar approach is already being adopted in the industry. In a recent statement, data center industry leaders agreed that Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is the preferred metric for measuring data center efficiency. And the EPA Energy Star program already uses this method for data centers. As leaders in the data center industry, we are committed to aggressive energy efficiency improvements, but we need standards that let us continue to innovate while meeting (and, hopefully, exceeding) a baseline efficiency requirement set by the ASHRAE standard.

    It doesn't make any sense that all data centers built to ASHRAE's standards have to use economizers. If you choose to have a waterfront data center and could use the body of water as a heat sink for your cooling, ASHRAE wouldn't allow it or would they?

    The public comment period is open until April 19.  If you disagree with ASHRAE's economizer requirement comment on this blog or Google's blog post.

    I was able to talk to Google's Chris Malone on this topic after I wrote the above.  The main concern Google has is if you are trying to be innovative in energy efficiency the last thing you want is a barrier saying you have to use a particular technology.

    In other words, the standard should set the required efficiency without prescribing the specific technologies to accomplish that goal. That’s how many efficiency standards work; for example, fuel efficiency standards for cars specify how much gas a car can consume per mile of driving but not what engine to use.

    Imagine if MPG numbers were mandated by use of hybrid, diesel, or turbocharger.  It is obvious that the most innovative MPG is going to come from those who have the freedom to use any technology.

    You should soon see other data center bloggers write on this issue.  If you think this is wrong comment on the Google Blog post or one of the others.

    Click to read more ...