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    Wednesday
    Apr142010

    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.

    Googdocsprogress

    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 ...

    Tuesday
    Apr132010

    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 6.5.1.1 through 6.5.1.4.

    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.

    image 

    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 ...

    Tuesday
    Apr132010

    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 CIO.com 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 ...

    Monday
    Apr122010

    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 ...

    Sunday
    Apr112010

    Open Data Map movement demonstrates innovation opportunity for Open Sourced Data Center Initiative

    Tim Berners- Lee has a 6 minute TED presentation on the year open data went worldwide.

    Map and location services are top scenarios for mobile devices.  Google and Microsoft have their maps.  Nokia bought Navteq and MetaCarta.  Apple bought PlaceBase.  With all the companies creating services, volunteers using an open approach to collaborate can beat the proprietary services.

    The MercuryNews reports on Open Street Maps.

    Volunteers create new digital maps

    By Mike Swift

    mswift@mercurynews.com

    Posted: 04/09/2010 09:08:55 PM PDT

    Updated: 04/10/2010 01:36:26 PM PDT

    Ron Perez hikes by a waterfall while a portable GPS device records his tracks as... (Jim Gensheimer)

    When Brian "Beej" Hall first heard about an audacious volunteer effort to create an Internet map of every street and path in every city and village on the planet, he was hooked. At the time, the nascent effort had only a few American members, and the U.S. map was essentially a digital terra incognita.

    Just a few years later, the Berkeley software engineer is editing digital maps so precise they include drinking fountains and benches in the Bay Area parks where he hikes, and the mapping community has swelled to more than 240,000 global members. The effort, OpenStreetMap, is a kind of grass-roots Wikipedia for maps that is transforming how map data is collected, shared and used — from the desktop to smartphones to car navigation.

    The reporter makes the observation of how a nonprofit community can change the map business.

    But increasingly, the nonprofit community collaboration model behind OpenStreetMap, which shares all the cartographic data in its maps for free, is also changing the business of mapping, just as Wikipedia changed the business of reference. More and more, the accuracy of searches on Google Maps or directions issued by your car's navigational device are based on data collected by volunteers like Hall and other members of OpenStreetMap's do-it-yourself army.

    Part of the reason why OpenStreetMap is popular is the fact that the end users are creating the maps.

    OpenStreetMap users say that because their data is collected by people who actually live in a place, it is more likely to be accurate.

    "It's the people's map," said Paul Jarrett, director of mapping for CloudMade.

    If you are interested in the use of OpenStreetMap in Haiti go here.

    We chose to tell the story of 'OpenStreetMap - Project Haiti'.
    We all followed the crisis that unfolded following the Haiti earthquake, many of us chose to donate money, a few were flown out and deployed as part of the relief effort. But what practical impact can many have without being there in Haiti itself? Well, during this crisis a remarkable story unfolded; of how people around the world could virtually collaborate and contribute to the on-the-ground operations.

    OpenStreetMap - Project Haiti 1

    With the little existing physical, political and social infrastructure  now destroyed or damaged, the situation was especially challenging for aid agencies arriving on the ground. Where are the areas most in need of assistance, how do we get there, where are people trapped under buildings, which roads are blocked? This information is important to the rescue agencies immediately after the event, and to the longer rebuilding process. In many developing countries, there is a lack of good mapping data and particularly after a crisis, when up-to-date information is critical to managing events as they evolve.
    Enter OpenStreetMap, the wiki map of the world, CrisisMappers and an impromptu community of volunteers who collaborated to produce the most authoritative map of Haiti in existence. Within hours of the event people were adding detail to the map, but on January 14th high resolution sattelite imagery of Haiti was made freely available and the Crisis Mapping community were able to trace roads, damaged buildings, and enter camps of displaced people into OpenStreetMap. This is the story of OpenStreetMap - Project Haiti:

    There are many who think the Open Source Data Center Initiative will not work.  There are a lot of people who thought OpenStreetMaps wouldn't work too.

    Click to read more ...