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    Monday
    May102010

    Google & Microsoft adoption of Containers and Cloud Computing has a common pattern - cost containment

    Cloud Computing has reached record levels of media interest and confusion.  Containers had a lot of interest in the data center industry and there are some efforts like Cisco to combine cloud computing and containers.

    Cisco targets Data Center Containers for Federal/Defense market saves 50% capital and 30% operating costs

    Containers have gone through its hype phase, and now we'll see how many start buying containers.  There is some new media coverage on Cisco's move in containers.

    Cisco claims that by purchasing a portable data center—which cost around $1.2 million for a 40-foot, fully loaded model and some $600,000 for a 20-footer—an enterprise can save 50 percent in capital expenses and 30 percent in operating expenses compared with a similar-sized, permanent land-based facility. But those are very general numbers.

    But what clicked in conversations this past 4 days is there is another way to view why Google and Microsoft both are using containers and cloud computing.

    Cost Containment.

    Process of maintaining organizational costs within a specified budget; restraining expenditures to meet organizational or project financial targets.

    Data Center Containers are enclosures of compute allowing a more accurate cost accounting of IT.  Much easier than thousands of feet of white space with power and cooling systems that need to be allocated across the load put in the space.

    Cloud computing is a virtual enclosure of compute that you pay for as you go.  Easy and smaller increments of cost containment IT.

    Both of these solutions support better management of budgets.

    Cloud computing means so many different things to different people, and what almost all miss is this is a way to adopt a cost containment mindset.  There are other ways to put cost containment in IT and the data center that are even better than Cloud Computing as there is more to IT systems than cost.

    Click to read more ...

    Sunday
    May092010

    Mother's Day Stand-up Paddle Boarding with PerfectWave and a bit of data center networking

    Mother's Day was a perfect weather day here in Seattle, and the OHarder's (the new name for when the Ohara and Harder family get together) had Mother's Day Brunch to celebrate the day and new Stand-up Paddle Boards they had delivered from PerfectWave.  Both Hilary Ohara and Vanessa Harder had tried stand-up paddle boarding in Hawaii and wanted to make it part of their regular exercise routine, so stand-up paddle boards have been on the wish list for a while.

    Below is the gang before we started the lessons with PerfectWave owner Bobby, who is in the middle with Hawaiian Shaka hand sign.

    image

    Bobby's giving us lessons.  He is the one standing in the below picture.

    image

    It's hard to stand when I have my son on the board and he is having fun pretending he is surfing.  He already skateboards and snowboards, so surfing is on his list.

    image

    But, I eventually get up when he settles down.

    image

    Overall a great day for all, and I was busy cooking bacon and pancakes for 20 people, quadrupling the buttermilk pancake recipe. 

    Hilary and Vanessa did a great job researching what kind of paddle board to get and where to buy it from.  They checked out brands like Surftech Laird.  What local shops or REI they should buy from. A week ago, they found the place they wanted to buy their boards - PerfectWave, a local shop.

    Founded by Bobby Arzadon, a local boy from the Island of Kauai, Hawaii, the Perfect Wave Surf Shop is your direct link to Hawaii, without leaving the mainland.

    The Perfect Wave Surf Shop is located in the Northwest, approximately ten miles east of Seattle in Kirkland, Washington.

    Ninety percent of the surfboards we carry are made in Hawaii. Surfboards can be custom ordered to suit your tastes. We also carry local surfboards made here in the Northwest along with a full line of accessories, for the expert or beginner.

    The girls called me and asked me to come by the shop and met Bobby before buying the boards.  We talked about how he designs his own boards in addition to carrying other brands.  I asked him what he does for his day job, and he says he runs the CAD shop at Casne.  I told him yeh, I know Casne, they are one of system integrators for OSIsoft data center real time monitoring solution.

    Casne Engineering, Inc. was founded in 1979 based on a firm belief that there is great value in the engineering process. The engineering process is what matures the owner’s ideas from a dream to reality. This is the vehicle that allows the owner to make informed decisions along the way.

    Looking into the future, we see a continuing need for the engineering process, and Casne Engineering remains fully committed to our mission:

    " Engineering Excellence Through Teamwork
        Anchored in Trust, Integrity, and Commitment. "

    One of the people who came over to try the stand-up paddle board is Bobby's Casne co-worker , Nick Wiley, who coincidentally was at OSIsoft's user conference when I was there and we were both at the Data Center Birds of a Feather lunch meeting as we made the connection we were both at the table with HP's Dave Rotheroe. 

    So, in between paddling and cooking, we talked a bit of data center shop and agreed to catch up later as we both agreed data center monitoring has a lot of potential and is in its early stages compared to other industries.

    I am going to have a hard time topping this Mother's day next year.  But, maybe a Mother's day brunch paddling on the lake with the OHarder's is a new tradition.

    imageimage image

    Click to read more ...

    Sunday
    May092010

    Where do you find good ideas? In a corporate conf room or where you can be creative

    Seth Godin's blog has a good tip on creative thinking.

    Where do you find good ideas?

    Do you often find ideas that change everything in a windowless conference room, with bottled water on the side table and a circle of critics and skeptics wearing suits looking at you as the clock ticks down to the 60 minutes allocated for this meeting?

    If not, then why do you keep looking for them there?

    The best ideas come out of the corner of our eye, the edge of our consciousness, in a flash. They are the result of misdirection and random collisions, not a grinding corporate onslaught. And yet we waste billions of dollars in time looking for them where they're not.

    A practical tip: buy a big box of real wooden blocks. Write a key factor/asset/strategy on each block in big letters. Play with the blocks. Build concrete things out of non-concrete concepts. Uninvite the devil's advocate, since the devil doesn't need one, he's doing fine.

    Have fun. Why not? It works.

    The block ideas a good one,  to work with physical interaction to stimulate creativity.

    But I am going to try and go further with K'Nex Engineering Marvels: Buildings, Structures, and Machines which is a closer alignment to data center challenges.

    Engineering Marvels: Building, Structures and Machines

    DESCRIPTION
    KEY CONCEPTS
    STANDARDS

    • Systems and Order within Systems
    • The Technological Design Process and Problem Solving
    • Identifying and Using Patterns as Recurring Elements
    • Careers in Technology and Engineering
    • Science and Technology Concepts that could Solve Practical Problems
    • Motion and Energy Transfer in Physical Systems
    • Processes of Inventions and Innovations
    • Modeling, Testing, Evaluating, and Modifying
    • Construction Technologies

    I can see it now, I'll be spending hours working on complex data center concepts, and my wife will come into the office and see me playing with legos. I'll try to explain I am working on complex systems modeling concepts and lego parts don't work, and I want to try K'Nex to illustrate complex system relationships. One good benefit of working from a home office is I don't have to worry about co-workers or my boss watching me play with toys.

    I could do all this in Visio or some other tool, but there is a brain stimulation that happens you use your hands to create a physical abstraction, a model representation of reality.  Also, Visio is 2D and I don't have the time to learn or think I need to spend the money on a 3D AutoCad program.

    Click to read more ...

    Thursday
    May062010

    Can Bloom's Energy Server be used in Data Centers?

    Today is a beautiful morning, getting up early for an East Coast phone call. I got the following view.

    image

    With a view of Mt Rainer on a clear cold morning in Redmond.

    image

    Mt Rainier is here in above picture.

    image

    Thinking about a Low Carbon Data Center, fuel cells as a potential source.  It's been a while since Bloom Energy made its debut at eBay's campus showing fuel cells used in the office environment.

    eBay

    "eBay believes in the power of our business model to make a real difference in the world, and that includes how we embrace innovation to reduce our carbon footprint. When Bloom came to us, it was an easy decision to become an early-adopter of their cutting-edge new technology. As a result, we're meeting financial and environmental goals with the project while fueling a more energy efficient global marketplace. That's good for us, our customers and the planet."
    – John Donahoe, CEO

    photo

    www.ebay.com

    Bloom Installation

    500kW
    June 2009
    San Jose, CA

    Objective

    eBay Inc sought a cost effective, 24/7 solution that delivered 100% renewable energy, allowing them to meet both financial and environmental goals.

    When I went up to Bloom Energy's site I found the mention of data centers.

    DC Power: Bloom systems natively produce DC power, which provides an elegant solution to efficiently power DC data centers and/or be the plug-and-play provider for DC charging stations for electric vehicles.

    Also, Bloom Energy Server can be used with intermittent renewable energy to generate hydrogen to later be used in the fuel cells.

    Hydrogen Production: Bloom's technology, with its NASA roots, can be used to generate electricity and hydrogen. Coupled with intermittent renewable resources like solar or wind, Bloom’s future systems will produce and store hydrogen to enable a 24 hour renewable solution and provide a distributed hydrogen fueling infrastructure for hydrogen powered vehicles.

    Fuel cells aren't up to the high availability for data center power generation which can be addressed with reverse backup.  This could make sense for areas with power prices above $0.10 kw/hr as cost reduction.

    Reverse Backup: Businesses often purchase generators and other expensive backup applications that sit idle 99% of the time, while they purchase their electricity from the grid as their primary source. The Bloom solution allows customers to flip that paradigm, by using the Energy Server as their primary power, and only purchasing electricity from the grid to supplement the output when necessary. Increased asset utilization leads to dramatically improved ROI for Bloom Energy's customers.

    One fact I hadn't seen is the ease of carbon sequestration.

    Carbon Sequestration: The electrochemical reaction occurring within Bloom Energy systems generates electricity, heat, some H2O, and pure CO2. Traditionally, the most costly aspect of carbon sequestration is separating the CO2 from the other effluents. The pure CO2 emission allows for easy and cost-effective carbon sequestration from the Bloom systems.

    How long will it be before a data center is powered by fuel cells? A friend offered to make some introductions at Bloom Energy, I think it is time to take him up on his offer and discuss some projects I know of that could use a fuel cell solution.

    Click to read more ...

    Thursday
    May062010

    Cloud Computing is changing behavior, one of the hardest steps in Greening the Data Center

    A Green Data Center is not a binary thing that is demonstrated by achieving a performance number.  Achieving a sub PUE of 1.2 is a good step, but does that make the data center Green?  It is more energy efficient than others.  A LEED platinum data center means the building has achieved enough points that the building now has more points than others, but is that Green?  These are all good ideas, but overall it is not changing behavior for the holistic system.

    The book Switch: How to change things, when change is hard makes an excellent point.

    Buy Switch.
    Come see us on the book tour.
    • Read the first chapter.

    Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?

    The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the critically acclaimed bestseller Made to Stick. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.

    that

    Usually these topics are treated separately—there is "change management" advice for executives and "self-help" advice for individuals and "change the world" advice for activists. That's a shame, because all change efforts have something in common: For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently.

    When you build a LEED certified data center does it change the behavior of the occupants?  Does a low PUE change how you host your IT?  It changes the mindset a bit for the mechanical operations staff.

    If you are running a Cloud Computing data center that is charging users for their resources used and there is a clear profit and loss goal for operations and customers, there are behavior changes all over.

    James Hamilton posts on Dave Patterson's latest Cloud Computing keynote at Cloud Computing 2010.

    The Berkeley RAD Lab principal investigators include: Armando FoxRandy Katz & Dave Patterson (systems/networks),Michael Jordan (machine learning), Ion Stoica (networks & P2P), Anthony Joseph (systems/security), Michael Franklin(databases), and Scott Shenker (networks) in addition to 30 Phd students, 10 undergrads, and 2 postdocs.

    The talk starts by arguing that cloud computing actually is a new approach drawing material from the Above the Cloudspaper that I mentioned early last year: Berkeley Above the Clouds. Then walked through why pay-as-you-go computing with small granule time increments allow SLAs to be hit without stranding valuable resources.

    James does a good job of identifying the top 6 slides out of the 50 slide talk.

    If you look at all these slides each one of these are discussing how Cloud Computing is and will change behavior of people in the IT system.  Which is the biggest step in a Green Data Center.

    I think leading Cloud Computing data centers will be greener than most as performance per hr is a number all think about.  And, a natural 2nd question is how much it costs.  The costs are largely affected by the power consumed.

    Click to read more ...