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    Tuesday
    Oct202009

    Gartner’s Top Strategic Technologies for 2010 – IT for Green and Reshaping the Data Center make the list

    ZDnet has an article on Gartner’s top 2010 strategic tech list.

    Gartner: Cloud computing, analytics top 2010 strategic tech list

    Posted by Larry Dignan @ 5:46 am

    Gartner unveiled its top 10 strategic technology list for 2010. Unified communications, servers and specialized systems are out. Client computing, data center do-overs, flash memory and mobile applications are in.

    The list, presented Tuesday at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando, by analysts David Cearley and Carl Claunch looks like this:

    For the data center crowd,  look at #5 “Reshaping the Data Center”  From Gartner’s press release.

    Reshaping the Data Center. In the past, design principles for data centers were simple: Figure out what you have, estimate growth for 15 to 20 years, then build to suit. Newly-built data centers often opened with huge areas of white floor space, fully powered and backed by a uninterruptible power supply (UPS), water-and air-cooled and mostly empty. However, costs are actually lower if enterprises adopt a pod-based approach to data center construction and expansion. If 9,000 square feet is expected to be needed during the life of a data center, then design the site to support it, but only build what’s needed for five to seven years. Cutting operating expenses, which are a nontrivial part of the overall IT spend for most clients, frees up money to apply to other projects or investments either in IT or in the business itself.

    Green IT has morphed into IT for Green which aligns well with Intel’s latest IT is the 2% to save the other 98% of carbon footprint.

    Gartner’s topic of advanced analytics fits with why I started discussing modeling on this blog.

    Advanced Analytics. Optimization and simulation is using analytical tools and models to maximize business process and decision effectiveness by examining alternative outcomes and scenarios, before, during and after process implementation and execution. This can be viewed as a third step in supporting operational business decisions. Fixed rules and prepared policies gave way to more informed decisions powered by the right information delivered at the right time, whether through customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) or other applications. The new step is to provide simulation, prediction, optimization and other analytics, not simply information, to empower even more decision flexibility at the time and place of every business process action. The new step looks into the future, predicting what can or will happen.

    The focus on flash memory is interesting vs last year they had server hardware.

    Flash Memory. Flash memory is not new, but it is moving up to a new tier in the storage echelon. Flash memory is a semiconductor memory device, familiar from its use in USB memory sticks and digital camera cards. It is much faster than rotating disk, but considerably more expensive, however this differential is shrinking. At the rate of price declines, the technology will enjoy more than a 100 percent compound annual growth rate during the new few years and become strategic in many IT areas including consumer devices, entertainment equipment and other embedded IT systems. In addition, it offers a new layer of the storage hierarchy in servers and client computers that has key advantages including space, heat, performance and ruggedness.

    Collaboration has been replaced by Social Computing.

    Social Computing. Workers do not want two distinct environments to support their work – one for their own work products (whether personal or group) and another for accessing “external” information. Enterprises must focus both on use of social software and social media in the enterprise and participation and integration with externally facing enterprise-sponsored and public communities. Do not ignore the role of the social profile to bring communities together.

    After going through the Gartner list, I realized their list is a pretty close match to what I blog about to discuss green data centers.  I had already registered for the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas on Dec 1 – 4, and it will be interesting to learn how Gartner aligns with approaches that I see working for others.

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Oct202009

    Google, Intel, Netapp fund Wimpy Node/Server Research

    News.com has an article on low power servers/nodes which is funded by Google, Intel, and Netapp.

    Researchers tout 'wimpy nodes' for Net computing

    by Stephen Shankland

    Mainstream servers are growing increasingly brawny with multicore processors and tremendous memory capacity, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Intel Labs Pittsburgh think 98-pound weaklings of the computing world might be better suited for many of the jobs on the Internet today.

    This first-generation FAWN system has an array of boards, each with its own processor, flash memory card, and network connection.

    This first-generation FAWN system has an array of boards, each with its own processor, flash memory card, and network connection.

    (Credit: Carnegie Mellon University)

    The alternative the researchers advocate is named FAWN, short for Fast Array of Wimpy Nodes. It's described in a paper just presented at the Symposium on Operating Systems Principles.

    In short, the researchers believe some work can be managed with lower expense and lower power consumption using a cluster of servers built with lower-end processors and flash memory than with a general-purpose server. And these days, with green technology in vogue and power costs no longer an afterthought, efficient computing is a big deal.

    "We were looking at efficiency at sub-maximum load. We realized the same techniques could serve high loads more efficiently as well," said David Andersen, the Carnegie Mellon assistant professor of computer science who helped lead the project.

    It's not just academic work. Google, Intel, and NetApp are helping to fund the project, and the researchers are talking to Facebook, too. "We want to understand their challenges," Andersen said.

    What scenarios are they looking at?

    The FAWN approach can be adjusted with hard drives or conventional memory to match various sizes of datasets or rates or the queries retrieving that data.

    The FAWN approach can be adjusted with hard drives or conventional memory to match various sizes of datasets or rates or the queries retrieving that data.

    (Credit: Carnegie Mellon et al.)

    The key value of FAWN
    So where exactly is FAWN useful? Andersen makes no claims that it's good for everything--but the use cases are often central to companies at the center of the ongoing Internet revolution.

    Specifically, it's good for situations where companies must store a lot of smaller tidbits of information that's read from the storage system much more often than it's written. Often this data is stored in a form called "key-value pairs." These consist of an indexing key and some associated data: "The key might be 'Dave Andersen update 10,579.' The update value might be 'Back in Pittsburgh.'"

    How much power can they save?  52 queries per joule for typical server vs. 346 queris per joule for FAWN.

    The researchers compared how many datastore queries could be accomplished per unit of energy and found FAWN compelling: a conventional server with a quad-core Intel Q6700 processor, 2GB of memory, and an Mtron Mobi solid-state drive measured 52 queries per joule of energy compared to 346 for a FAWN cluster. And tests of a newer design show even more promise: "Our preliminary experience using Intel Atom-based systems paired with SATA-based Flash drives shows that they can provide over 1,000 queries per Joule," the paper said.

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Oct202009

    Congress requires Green Data Center For Homeland Security Department

    DataCenterKnowledge has a post on Congress requiring Department Homeland Security (DHS) be greener.

    DHS Data Center Funding Tied to Efficiency

    October 19th, 2009 : Rich Miller

    Congress has told the Department of Homeland Security that it must improve the power efficiency of its data center in Mississippi before it can get additional funds for an ongoing data center consolidation, NextGov reports.

    The facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center is one of two sites where DHS hopes to consolidate its data centers by 2013. But the facility’s power consumption is taxing the capacity of the Stennis campus, leading the House to restrict nearly half of the site’s $83 million budget until it upgrades its power capacity and improves its power efficiency.

    The NextGov site has additional information.

    Congress requires Homeland Security's data center to go green

    BY JILL R. AITORO 10/16/2009

    In the funding bill for the Homeland Security Department that it passed on Thursday, the House restricted more than half of the nearly $83 million budget for a massive data center until DHS develops ways to ensure there is enough power to sustain operations.

    The fiscal 2010 Homeland Security appropriations bill requires the department to spend $38.5 million to upgrade the power capabilities at the National Center for Critical Information Processing and Storage, known as Data Center One and based at NASA's Stennis Space Center, near the Gulf Coast in Mississippi. Homeland Security cannot spend the remaining $45 million on building out the data center, which will provide information processing for the entire department, until DHS officials can make certain the data center has enough power and uses green technologies to reduce demand.

    Is this the start of more gov’t data centers to be green?  How much energy efficiency is sufficient to meet the Congress’s approval?

    Click to read more ...

    Monday
    Oct192009

    Virtualization Blogger asks “how green is your data center?”

    Virtualization Journal has a post asking How green is your data center?

    How Green is Your Data Center?

    Give us your opinions and experiences designing and implementing the green data center

    BY JOHN SAVAGEAU

    Data Center “X” just announced a 2 MegaWatt expansion to their facility in Northern California. A major increase in data center capacity, and a source of great joy for the company. And the source of potentially 714 additional tons of carbon introduced each month into the environment.

    Think Green and EfficientMany groups and organizations are gathering to address the need to bring our data centers under control. Some are focused on providing marketing value for their members, most others appear genuinely concerned with the amount of power being consumed within data centers, the amount of carbon being produced by data centers, and the potential for using alternative or clean energy initiatives within data centers. There are stories around which claim the data center industry is actually using up to 5% of power consumed within the United States, which if true, makes this a really important discussion.

    What I found entertaining was the author’s use of search results to imply the importance of the topic

    If you do a “Bing” search won the topic of “green data center,” you will find around 144 million results. Three times as many as a “paris hilton” search. That makes it a fairly saturated topic, indicating a heck of a lot of interest. The first page of the Bing search gives you a mixture of commercial companies, blogs, and “ezines” covering the topic – as well as an organization or two. Some highlights include:

    I show up # 2 in bing.com search results vs. #1 in google.com “green data center” search results.  It turns out I get 16X more total traffic (not just “green data center”) through google search than bing search.  Search is relevant as I get 63% of my web site traffic through search.  In fact, I get more traffic through images.google.com search than bing.com search.

    image

    image

    Click to read more ...

    Friday
    Oct162009

    Data Center Summit – Social Networking driving Innovation

    KC Mares posted a blog entry on the SVLG Data Center Summit.

    SVLG Data Center Summit a GREAT Success

    Yesterday, October 15th, after a culmination of a year’s worth of work from over 60 people, the SVLG Data Center Energy Efficiency Summit went off smoothly. We had 44 presenters, 24 case case studies presented and about 450 people at the summit. The event was hosted by NetApp in Sunnyvale. Representatives from numerous Silicon Valley elites, start ups, VCs, and solution companies were present. All case studies were presented from data center end-users, showing what they are doing to reduce energy use in their data centers. We had brief sessions about cloud, carbon reductions, notable sessions called the Chill Off 2, in which various cooling technologies were tested with real load in a real data center, also testing the systems at various temperature ranges. Andrew Fanara with EPA gave a quick update of EnergyStar for servers, storage and networking gear. Paul Scheihing with DOE provided an update of the energy efficiency programs and plans for data centers. I had a candid interview with California Energy Commission Commissioner and old friend Jeff Byron about California’s energy policy, zero-energy buildings requirement, renewable portfolio standards, energy efficiency standards for TVs and other consumable devices, etc. It was fun!

    KC goes on to highlight the collaboration and interaction.

    Overall, a wonderful event. It was great to see so many industry friends, old and new, and to make new friends. As the co-chair of the program and summit, it was great to see so many people interacting with each other, beginning collaborations stimulated from the excellent case studies presented, which is what the program is all about: Innovation through collaboration. Together we are benefit when we share with each other, and consequently, we as an industry is then improved. It was wonderful to see every presenter do a fantastic job showing off their wonderful case studies. No vendors showing off their product, instead, everyone sharing information.

    What this event is proving effective for the data center industry is the power of social networking to drive innovation.  Intel’s Eleanor Wynn gave a presentation that discusses this concept.

    Session Title:
    Social Networking and Innovation

    Abstract:
    This session will present research on social network topographies.
    Topics include:
    • Can social networks generate innovation?
    • Effective and ineffective network topologies
    • Characteristics of social networks that allow predictions on success
    • Current social media technologies at Intel and the types of additional capabilities that are needed to support ongoing collaborative networks across the globe

    Speaker:
    Eleanor Wynn Social Technology Architect and Principal Engineer
    Intel Corporation

    image

    I am talking about social networking, not social media.

    image image

    image 

    The organizers and sponsors got their value as people stuck around for the cocktail reception.

    The cocktail reception at the end of the day drew about 200 people that wanted to stay and chat, make friends, and just have fun. So many thanks go out to my committee, which brought the case studies and presentations to us, which includes but not limited to: Bill Tschudi, Bob Hines, Bruce Myatt, Dale Sartor, David Mastrandrea, Deborah Grove, James Bickford, Kelly Aaron, Mukesh Khattar, Patricia Nealon, Ralph Renne, Rosemary Scher, Tersa Tung, and Zen Kishimoto; to Ray Pfeifer, my program co-chair, who brought this program to us last year and so many of the case studies this year again, and his leadership to keep this program about the end-user; to LBNL, CEC, CIEE and PG&E for helping to fund case studies and support the program; to the many sponsors of the summit. And certainly to SVLG for their staff to help make this summit a reality, and most certainly also their lead person, Bob Hines, for his drive and energy. Overall, an excellent day, full of wonderful people, making new and great little discoveries which each other to advance the energy efficiency and this financial success of our businesses, and helping to lead the data center industry to greater success.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the event, but I am reaching out to my social network of people who did go to find out comments they had.  And, KC is going to help extract some of the highlights.

    Congratulations KC for hosting a great event.

    Click to read more ...