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    Wednesday
    Mar312010

    Long Now, Long View, Long Lived Data Center, a 10,000 year clock - a 10,000 year data center?

    I am currently thinking of rules for the ontology in data center designs.  Translated, I am trying to figure out the principles, components, and relationships for the Open Source Data Center Initiative. 

    This is a complex topic to try and explain, but I found an interesting project the Long Now started by a bunch of really smart people, Jeff Bezos, Esther Dyson, Mitch Kapor, Peter Schwartz, and Steward Brand.  Here is a video discussing the idea of a 10,000 year clock.

     

    But, what I found interesting was their long term approach and transparency that we will be using in the Open Source Data Center Initiative.  And, now thinking a Long View is part of what we have as principles.

    Here are the principles of the Long Now Clock that make a lot of sense to use data center design.


    These are the principles that Danny Hillis used in the initial stages of designing a 10,000 Year Clock. We have found these are generally good principles for designing anything to last a long time.

    Longevity

    With occasional maintenance, the clock should reasonably be expected to display the correct time for the next 10,000 years.

    Maintainability

    The clock should be maintainable with bronze-age technology.

    Transparency
    It should be possible to determine operational principles of the clock by close inspection.
    Evolvability
    It should be possible to improve the clock with time.
    Scalability
    It should be possible to build working models of the clock from table-top to monumental size using the same design.

    Some rules that follow from the design principles:

    Longevity:
    Go slow
    Avoid sliding friction (gears)
    Avoid ticking
    Stay clean
    Stay dry
    Expect bad weather
    Expect earthquakes
    Expect non-malicious human interaction
    Dont tempt thieves
    Maintainability and transparency:
    Use familiar materials
    Allow inspection
    Rehearse motions
    Make it easy to build spare parts
    Expect restarts
    Include the manual
    Scalability and Evolvabilty:
    Make all parts similar size
    Separate functions
    Provide simple interfaces

    Why think about a 10,000 year clock, because thinking about slowness teaches us things we don't have time when think only of speed.

    Hurry Up and Wait

    The Slow Issue > Jennifer Leonard on January 5, 2010 at 6:30 am PST

    018-futurists-1

    We asked some of the world’s most prominent futurists to explain why slowness might be as important to the future as speed.

    Julian Bleecker
    Julian Bleecker, a designer, technologist, and co-founder of the Near Future Laboratory, devises “design-to-think experiments” that focus on interactions away from conventional computer settings. “When sitting at a screen and keyboard, everything is tuned to be as fast as possible,” he says. “It’s about diminishing time to nothing.”
    So he asks, “Can we make design where time is inescapable and not be brought to zero? Would it be interesting if time were stretched, or had weight?” To test this idea, Bleeker built a Slow Messaging Device, which automatically delayed electronic (as in, e-mail) messages. Especially meaningful messages took an especially long time to arrive.

    Read more: http://www.good.is/post/hurry-up-and-wait#ixzz0jmOEcLg4

    The biggest unknown problems in data centers are those things that we didn't think were going to happen in the future.  And, this leaves the door open to over-engineering, increasing cost, brittleness of systems, and delays.  Taking a Long View what will the future possibly look like can help you see things you normally wouldn't.

    image

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Mar312010

    50% of IT budgets treat electricity as free resource, Avanade survey discovers

    Avanade has a news release on a survey revealing the disconnect between IT and electricity use.

    GLOBAL STUDY: MORE THAN HALF OF COMPANIES FAIL TO ACCOUNT FOR ENERGY COSTS IN IT BUDGETS
    Executives and IT decision-makers cite energy as a top cost in IT operations; Survey reveals disconnect in budgeting
    SEATTLE – March 31, 2010 – According to a recent survey commissioned by Avanade, a business technology services provider, there is a clear gap in energy policies within IT departments. Companies recognize energy as a top cost, but ultimately, more than half of respondents fail to account for energy costs when developing IT budgets.

    image

    Also, Avanade has a press release on customers interest in Microsoft Cloud Computing.

    In 2009 Avanade engaged Kelton Research to conduct two global surveys on cloud computing – one in February 2009 and the other in September 2009. Between the first survey and the second, there was a 320 percent increase in executives and IT decision-makers reporting they are testing or planning to implement cloud computing technologies.

    Makes me wonder how many enterprises are forgetting to account for the electricity bill as a cost savings for cloud computing.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Mar312010

    Google's Data Center System Engineering approach

    There was recent news on system engineers being the best job in America.

    1. Systems Engineer

    Systems Engineer

    Anne O'Neil, a chief systems engineer at the N.Y.C. Transit Authority, is one of five female senior managers in a department of 1,500.

    Top 50 rank: 1
    Sector: Information Technology

    What they do: They're the "big think" managers on large, complex projects, from major transportation networks to military defense programs. They figure out the technical specifications required and coordinate the efforts of lower-level engineers working on specific aspects of the project.

    Why it's great: Demand is soaring for systems engineers, as what was once a niche job in the aerospace and defense industries becomes commonplace among a diverse and expanding universe of employers, from medical device makers to corporations like Xerox and BMW.

    CNet News wrote as well.

    Systems engineer deemed best job in America

    by Chris Matyszczyk

    If you're a systems engineer who wonders whether you've chosen the right profession, I bring you good news.

    But, what got me write a blog entry was Google's job post for Data Center system engineer.

    The role: Data Center Control Systems Engineer

    Data Center Control Systems Engineers possess demonstrated design, operation, and construction experience in the areas of complex and mission critical facilities. You will have extensive knowledge of large-scale facilities controls and monitoring systems for all infrastructural systems.

    As the Data Center Control Systems Engineer, you have excellent communication skills and are able to work in teams and matrix organizations. You are expected to develop and maintain strong functional relationships across multidisciplinary teams to anticipate future controls and monitoring design requirements. You will be continuously involved in the improvement of plant performance based on historical data collected and collaborate on retrofit projects to improve plant efficiency based on business case justifications.

    and on top of that there is a Data Center Strategic Negotiator job which fits as a business/technical person to work with the system engineer.

    The role: Data Center Strategic Negotiator

    As a Data Center Strategic Negotiator,you will lead a team to collect and analyze large sets of location data, execute extensive on-the-ground due diligence, and to ultimately lead negotiations in to develop comprehensive legal contracts for data centers, real estate, power, and networking services around the world, for both new and existing assets, of all sizes. You must have substantial knowledge of global markets, in-depth technical expertise, and strategic analytical skills, in addition to rock-solid negotiation and collaboration capabilities. All location strategy and site selection initiatives are team efforts spearheaded by the Global Infrastructure Group (“GIG”). You will need to be a flexible, proactive team player who understands and seeks to support the larger strategic initiatives of the company. You are a proven professional with a track record that matches our philosophy of leading by innovation, who has a detailed understanding of both the technological and the commercial sides of data centers, and who has the ability to deliver against aggressive deadlines with a driving passion for cost reduction and highly effective solutions.

    The Data Center Strategic Negotiator will carry out the selection and negotiations process for new data centers from start to finish. You will have experience designing and executing large-scale international site selection initiatives; deep and broad transactional knowledge; strong technical negotiation skills in the areas of data centers; real estate leases, purchase agreements, and entitlements; energy and other utilities; telecommunications; and economic development incentives. Technical knowledge and experience negotiating collocation space, racks, power circuits, cross connects and remote hands in conventional data centers is preferred. You will be adept at strategizing, structuring, negotiating, and closing a range of mission critical transactions in diverse settings and with diverse parties.

    I spent more time going through the Google job postings for Mtn View.  Google is building teams I was used to working with at Apple developing hardware.  But, Apple didn't have the system engineers above as data centers back when I worked there were just for enterprise applications.

    It will be hard to discover what Google's data center system engineer and strategic negotiator do, but keep in mind, they are developing systems for the way Google operates as a business.  Copying their actions could cause more problems than they solve unless you think of the whole system.

    It is great to see that Google has reached a stage in maturity to identify system engineering and holistic system negotiation as keys to their continue growth and cost reduction.  On the other hand the job for these people would have been much easier if they were hired 10 years ago as they now need to work with the momentum of dozens of groups who are entrenched.

    The biggest challenge to doing the jobs above is whether you have the organizational skills to instill change in groups.

    My next read is Switch.

    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.

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Mar302010

    GreenPeace targets Cloud Data Centers environmental impact and use of coal power

    I blogged back in July 2009 asking what would be Greenpeace's target for environmental impact of data centers, speculating Apple, Google, Microsoft as a possible target.  Well Greenpeace uses the Apple brand recognition and the iPad announcement to create awareness.

    The announcement of Apple’s iPad has been much
    anticipated by a world with an ever-increasing appetite for
    mobile computing devices as a way to connect, interact,
    learn and work. As rumours circulated – first about its
    existence and then about its capabilities - the iPad
    received more media attention than any other gadget in
    recent memory. Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs
    finally showcased his company’s latest creation before a
    rapt audience in San Francisco. From their smart phones
    and netbooks, the crowd feverishly blogged and tweeted
    real time updates out to a curious world.

    Greenpeace report cover: Cloud Computing and Climate Change
    Whether you actually want an iPad or not, there is no
    doubt that it is a harbinger of things to come. The iPad
    relies upon cloud-based computing to stream video,
    download music and books, and fetch email. Already,
    millions access the ‘cloud’ to make use of online social
    networks, watch streaming video, check email and create
    documents, and store thousands of digital photos online
    on popular web-hosted sites like Flickr and Picasa.


    The term cloud, or cloud computing, used as a metaphor
    for the internet, is based on an infrastructure and business
    model whereby - rather than being stored on your own
    device - data, entertainment, news and other products
    and services are delivered to your device, in real time,
    from the internet. The creation of the cloud has been a
    boon both to the companies hosting it and to consumers
    who now need nothing but a personal computer and
    internet access to fulfill most of their computing needs.

    image

    Greenpeace has been making noise about Facebook's data center, and now has started the public awareness in this pdf.

    image

    I know of some companies that have a sigh of relief they are not on the Greenpeace list.

    image

    Some of you have noticed I made a change last week to the blog title and now have Green (low carbon) data center.

    image_thumb[1][1]

    Green is such an overloaded term it made sense to clarify a focus on discussing low carbon as a goal of a green data center.  Note the following in the Greenpeace pdf.


    More cloud-computing companies are pursuing design and siting
    strategies that can reduce the energy consumption of their data
    centres, primarily as a cost containment measure. For most
    companies, the environmental benefits of green data design are
    generally of secondary concern.

    Cloud computing infographic
    Facebook’s decision to build its own highly-efficient data centre in
    Oregon that will be substantially powered by coal-fired electricity clearly
    underscores the relative priority for many cloud companies. Increasing
    Key trends that will impact the environmental footprint of the cloud
    the energy efficiency of its servers and reducing the energy footprint
    of the infrastructure of data centres are clearly to be commended, but
    efficiency by itself is not green if you are simply working to maximise
    output from the cheapest and dirtiest energy source available. The US
    EPA will soon be expanding its EnergyStar rating system to apply to
    data centres, but similarly does not factor in the fuel source being used
    to power the data centre in its rating criteria. Unfortunately, as our
    collective demand for computing resources increases, even the most
    efficiently built data centres with the highest utilisation rates serve only
    to mitigate, rather than eliminate, harmful emissions.

    Some people thought the hype about Facebook's coal power was a fad.  No it is a trend and the start of evaluating the carbon impact of data centers.

    image

    Here is a sampling of other media coverage.

    Coal Fuels Much Of Internet "Cloud", Says Greenpeace

    New York Times - Peter Henderson - ‎5 hours ago‎

    By REUTERS SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The 'cloud' of data which is becoming the heart of the Internet is creating an all too real cloud of pollution as ...

    Greenpeace issues warning about data centre power

    BBC News - ‎7 hours ago‎

    Greenpeace is calling on technology giants like Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo and Facebook to power their data centres with renewable energy sources. ...

    Data clouds called out for dirty energy

    Marketplace (blog) - ‎5 hours ago‎

    Environmental activities are concerned about server farms' use of dirty energy to keep sites like Google and Facebook running. ...

    Greenpeace: Cloud Contributes to Climate Change

    Data Center Knowledge - Rich Miller - ‎5 hours ago‎

    The environmental group Greenpeace says data center builders must become part of the solution to the climate change challenge, rather than part of the ...

    Cloud computing 'fuels climate change'

    PCR-online.biz - Nicky Trup - ‎8 hours ago‎

    The growth of cloud computing could cause a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions, Greenpeace has warned. ...

    2020: Cloud Computing GHG Emissions To Triple

    Basil & Spice - ‎9 hours ago‎

    San Francisco, United States — As IT industry analysts label 2010 the “Year of the Cloud”, a new report by Greenpeace shows how the launch of quintessential ...

    Greenpeace criticises coal-fuelled internet cloud

    TechRadar UK - Adam Hartley - ‎10 hours ago‎

    Eco-campaigners at Greenpeace have criticised the idea of an internet 'cloud' - with data centres built by the likes of Facebook, Apple, ...

    The iPad, internet, and climate change links in the spotlight

    Greenpeace USA - ‎13 hours ago‎

    International — On the eve of the launch of the iPad, our latest report warns that the growth of internet computing could come with a huge jump in ...

    Click to read more ...

    Monday
    Mar292010

    Mobile Devices shifting power to the users, away from IT departments

    When I was visiting Mizzou last week, I was able to visit Clyde Bentley.  Clyde writes a blog on Mobile Journalism and the conversation with Clyde was quite useful to build future discussions on mobile devices and its effect on information publishing.

    Below is a video of Clyde discussing the change in journalism caused by Mobile Devices.

    Clyde Bentley: Why editors should make the move to mobile now from Bill Densmore on Vimeo.

    And, what got me thinking more was this post on AgileOperations.

    Agile Operations is a concept which combines lean, low-cost service delivery with flexible, just-in-time response to business demands, helping you keep your department relevant and competitive with trendy low-cost solutions available outside the business. In a sort of technology judo, Agile Operations seeks to use the strengths of these alternatives against them, keeping the flexibility and the savings in house and under the control of the IT department without resorting to heavy-handed prohibitions and lock-down measures which simply serve to force users further and further from a state of trust and understanding with the CIO.

    This post on AgileOperations and Mobile discusses the impact on IT departments.

    The challenge to the IT department in this scenario is to provision and support users with these devices and solutions. This is a far different prospect than traditional IT provisioning and support, and many IT departments are having trouble keeping up. It's not the first time IT has had trouble staying on the same plane as users when new technologies emerge, but this time, the devices and the online solutions are sufficiently cheap that those users don't need the IT department to implement them. While IT has held the keys to the kingdom for many years, there is an increasing chance that the IT department will simply become irrelevant as users bypass it for easier, cheapers solutions. As this Wall Street Journal article outlines, that day is coming.

    We have all been frustrated with IT departments who standardize the desktop and laptops we use to reduce IT costs.  In Mobile, this is the strength of RIM's Blackberry server and the ability to manage the Blackberry device.  But, the rest of the industry is moving so fast, and managed mobile devices are not a priority for many.

    I had a blackberry curve last year and now have an iPhone 3GS.  There is no way I would go back to a Blackberry device.  If anything I would try a Google phone.

    Maybe one of the most rapid innovations and growth for Mobile's is the fact they are not in control of many IT departments.

    How many of you think you would have a better mobile experience if your IT department made your purchasing decision?

    Feel sorry for all those blackberry users who have a choice of one.  Unless you are an executive and you can get the more expensive Blackberry one with a touch screen.  Ooohhh!!!!

    Click to read more ...