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    Friday
    Jul032009

    Cisco Grow a Greener Data Center Book, missing a piece – THE SOFTWARE

    InfomIT has an interview with Cisco’s Douglas Alger on his new book Grow a Green Data Center.

    Paint Your Data Center Green: An Interview with Douglas Alger

    Linda Leung

    From the author of
    Grow a Greener Data Center, Rough Cuts

    In an interview with Linda Leung, Douglas Alger explains what it takes for businesses to green their data centers, how Cisco is eating its own green dog food, and how his former career as a journalist has helped him in his career at Cisco.

    It's easy to do your bit to green up your life. From taking public transportation to work, to switching off your computer every night, to recycling and composting, every little counts. And every little bit counts a lot more when you're involved in greening data centers. By being smart with data center equipment layout and design and using energy-efficient devices, green data centers can save hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars depending on the size of the facilities. Douglas Alger, author of Grow a Greener Data Center, and Build the Best Data Center Facility for Your Business says Cisco's savings due to its green initiatives could be in the millions of dollars.

    I haven’t read the book, but took a look at the Table of Contents.

    Table of Contents

    Chapter 1 Going Green in the Data Center
    Chapter 2  Greener Construction Strategies
    Chapter 3  Powering Your Way to a Greener Data Center
    Chapter 4 Cooling Your Way to a Greener Data Center
    Chapter 5 Cabling Your Way to a Greener Data Center
    Chapter 6  Refrigerants and Fire Suppressants
    Chapter 7 Choosing Greener Gear
    Chapter 8 Saving Energy Through Consolidation and Virtualization  [Contributing Chapter 9 Greening Other Business Practices
    Chapter 10 Measuring and Managing Green
    Appendix - Sources of Data Center Green Information
    Glossary

    Douglas’s background is interesting in that he is a journalist and learned his trade in Cisco’s data center group.

    Linda Leung: You have a bachelor's degree in journalism, and you had stints as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and Syracuse University. Why did you change careers? Are there elements of journalism that have helped you in your career as an IT professional?

    Douglas Alger: My career change was actually put into motion by a desire to relocate to San Jose, where I had gone to college years before and where several friends still lived. One of them worked at Cisco, so I called him and asked if he knew whether the company had any openings for technical writers. It did, but my friend also mentioned that his manager was looking to hire someone to do support work for their data centers and ideally create a website to document their data center-related operational policies and procedures, many of which were still taking shape. The position sounded like a new way for me to apply my writing background, and Cisco seemed like a good company to work for, so I decided to apply.

    Being able to communicate clearly in writing and produce work while up against daily deadlines are certainly useful skills that can be applied to any field. Probably most helpful from my days as a newspaper reporter, though, has been the ability to investigate unfamiliar subject matter, figure out what are the key elements and then communicate their importance to other people.

    The one big thing though I found missing is the lack of discussion on the role of software in a green data center.  Virtualization in many ways is just a hardware utilization technology, working at a low level close to the hardware that software doesn’t care.

    There is a communication gap between the software developers, IT operations, and data center facilities.  These groups speak different languages and have different priorities. I actually think it is too hard to get all of these groups in one room, and even if you did get them together once, you’ll have a rapid fall off in any remaining discussions.

    The good thing is there are some groups who get the role of software (the consumers of data center resources) need too be aware of their energy use and the impact of their actions.  Look for more on the topic Software and a Green Data Center.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Jul012009

    Yahoo Announces NY Green Data Center & Drops Carbon Credit Strategy, Why?

    Yahoo made their site selection in Buffalo NY, beating out Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

    Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 2:39pm EDT

    NY beats Ohio, Pa., Ill. for Yahoo! data center site

    The Business Review (Albany) - by James Fink For The Business Review

    Months of aggressive pitching and a coordinated economic development approach laid the groundwork for computer industry giant Yahoo! Inc. to decide to build a northeast data center in the the Buffalo area.

    Yahoo!, Tuesday morning, confirmed it will be building the 190,000-square-foot center at the Lockport Industrial Park. The data center could employ, initially, 125 people. Yahoo! has pegged a 30-acre site in the park for the complex.

    Yahoo!’s decision is considered a major victory, especially against a backdrop of a weakened economy where unemployment has increased in the past year in Erie County to 8.1 percent from 5.5 percent, and in Niagara County to 9.3 percent from 6.6 percent.

    “This is a big win for the community,” said Tom Kucharski, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise president and chief executive officer. “We won the day.”

    Yahoo! was being courted by several states including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois for the center. All offered a handsome array of incentives.

    “When a high tech company like Yahoo! picks a community like Western New York, it’s like a lighthouse,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, New York’s senior senator, who played a key role in Lockport landing the data center.

    Part of the incentive package is 15 mW of low-cost hydropower.

    The region crafted its own aggressive incentive package including the New York Power Authority offering 15 megawatts of low-cost hydropower that could save Yahoo! an estimated $100 million over a 15-year period. Empire State Development Corp. also offered job training grants and other incentives.

    The executives and local officials are excited as they say the site will be built in ten months – Aug 2009 start, finish May 2010.

    Construction on the data center will begin in August, said David Dibble, Yahoo! senior vice president. The center will be open by May.

    News.com adds more.

    Yahoo redesigns data center, ditches carbon offsets

    by Tom Krazit

    Yahoo thinks its plan for a new data center could eventually help the company achieve carbon-neutral status without having to resort to the purchase of carbon offsets.

    Yahoo's David Dibble discusses the company's plans for a Buffalo-area data center with New York Senator Charles Schumer (right, red tie) and other state officials.

    Yahoo designed its forthcoming data center to let outside air cool the servers at all times, borrowing the idea from the design of a chicken coop, according to Yahoo co-founder David Filo. The company joined New York officials such as Governor David Patterson and Senator Charles Schumer Tuesday to unveil plans for the data center, the design of which Yahoo is attempting to patent.

    With One Yahoo data center in Eastern Washing with Hydro-electric and another in NY, Yahoo must see themselves as leaders in carbon neutral data center.

    As part of the announcement of the new data center in Lockport, N.Y., just outside of Buffalo, Yahoo also revealed that it will no longer purchase carbon offsets as part of its energy strategy. Carbon offsets have been controversial in some quarters, but they allow companies to claim they are "carbon neutral," in that purchasing offsets diverts money to green projects.

    The original Yahoo Blog gives more details about PUE and energy efficiency.

    For data center geeks, we expect our Buffalo data center design will have an annualized average PUE (power usage effectiveness) of 1.1 or better. To achieve that, we’ve come up with a unique building design that we call the Yahoo! Computing Coop (because it looks like something chickens live in), which is angled to take advantage of Buffalo’s microclimate, using 100% outside air to cool the servers.

    We’ve been pushing green data center standards since we started building our own data centers two years ago. For example, our facilities in Washington are powered by zero-carbon wind and hydroelectric sources, and we use free cooling for most of the year, dropping energy consumption by 40-50%. As we build more capacity to meet demand, we’ll continue to focus on innovations and inventions that improve energy efficiency. And we’ve been sharing best practices to encourage the entire industry to put smarter policies in play.

    For years Yahoo has been promoting its carbon neutrality by buying carbon offsets, but now have shifted to carbon reduction vs offsets.  Yahoo will be able to claim a big reduction in carbon when they shut down their existing data center capacity and shift it to NY.  Keep this in mind when you think about your carbon strategy.  The public is wising up to carbon offsets are not as good as carbon reduction.

    Click to read more ...

    Friday
    Jun262009

    Twitter Presents on Metrics and Monitoring

    I am down in SJ on my now regular visit. Velocity 90 conference just occurred, but I was not able to attend.

    clip_image002_thumb[1]

    The great thing about a conference like Velocity you can get to much of the content on their web site. I am going through a bunch of them, and the Twitter presentation by John Adams triggered some thoughts.

    After going through the presentation I found it interesting that data centers are not built to Twitter’s requirements which is a boon  for the collocation companies. Twitter uses AT&T hosting services.

    Can data centers be built for companies like Twitter?  Or do collocation companies need to be building different type of facilities for this market?

    It was quite refreshing to see an operations team who gets what it takes to green its  operations.  John says nothing about being “Green” in his presentation, but in his passion for performance he is being green.

    Here is the full video of the twitter presentation.

    Slides that caught my attention for the data center crowd are below.

    It is typical that IT Operations doesn’t deal with the physical plant.

    clip_image002[5]_thumb[1]

    And, Twitter figured out clouds don’t work for them as performance and latency is a top issue.

    clip_image002[7]_thumb[1]

    They use closed loop feedbacks.

    clip_image002[9]_thumb[1]

    Prioritize the issues by finding weak points.

    clip_image002[11]_thumb[1]

    Have metrics as a priority.

    clip_image002[13]_thumb[1]

    clip_image002[15]_thumb[1]

    Present the data with dashboards and admit to data porn.

    clip_image002[17]_thumb[1]

    Then turn the data into actionable information.

    clip_image002[19]_thumb[1]

    The Intel gang must be doing a little jig when they saw this slide about efficiency, and how to people can green their data center with Intel Nehalem.

    clip_image002[21]_thumb[2]

    And makes an excellent point on disk in their scenario.

    clip_image002[23]_thumb[1]

    And provide transparency on the status of the site.  This would be great to have a PUE Status for those who claim record PUE numbers.

    clip_image002[25]_thumb[1]

    Click to read more ...

    Friday
    Jun262009

    Facebook Technical Operations VP Jonathan Heiliger tells Server OEMs “You guys just don’t get it,”

    GigaOm has an interview with Facebook VP Jonathan Heileger.

    Heiliger had strong words for OEMs and system builders during his chat with Om. To compete with sites like Facebook and Google, Heiliger said, OEMs and system builders need to be more power- and cost-efficient. “You guys just don’t get it,” he said, adding that Facebook has reaped success from investing heavily in its infrastructure.

    InternetNews focused on the Intel and AMD dig.

    Intel, AMD Get Thumbs Down from Facebook

    Head of the social network's technical operations say the latest and greatest from Intel and AMD don't make the grade.

    June 25, 2009
    By Andy Patrizio: More stories by this author:

    SAN FRANCISCO – Intel and AMD just got a nasty smackdown from the person who run's Facebook's datacenters, saying the chips don't deliver on their promises.

    Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations for Facebook, was being interview by GigaOm Network founder Om Malik here at the GigaOm Structure 09 conference. Malik asked him about unexpected problems in managing the fast-growing company's datacenters.

    Reps from Intel (NASDQ: INTC) and AMD (NYSE: AMD), both running panels and present at the show, must have clenched their teeth when they heard this:

    "The biggest thing … was less-than-anticipated performance gains from new microarchitectures, so new CPUs from guys like Intel and AMD. The performance gains they're touting in the press, we're not seeing in our applications," Heiliger told the audience.

    He didn't let the tier one server vendors off any easier. "I'm not sure if I'm embarrassed or pleased for OEM vendors in the audience, but you guys don't get it. To build servers for a company like Facebook and Amazon, and other people who are operating fairly homogeneous applications, they have to be cheap and super power efficient," said Heiliger.

    He added he's not sure why hardware vendors fail at the job, but thinks customers need to step up and apply pressure. ""Perhaps in the coming months we'll see more collaboration with people running small clusters and large clusters," he said.

    Click to read more ...

    Thursday
    Jun252009

    Yahoo Joins PUE Disclosure with 1.21, but Under What Conditions?

    Datacenterknowledge reports on Yahoo’s disclosure of its 1.21 PUE at O’Reilly’s Velocity 2009.

    Yahoo Unstealths Its Data Center Efficiency

    June 24th, 2009 : Rich Miller

    The Yahoo data center in Quincy, Washington includes cooling-optimized "podules" with a PUE of 1.21 (photo by Yahoo Inc.) 

    The Yahoo data center in Quincy, Washington includes cooling-optimized "podules" with a PUE of 1.21 (Photo: Yahoo Inc.)

    When it comes to data center efficiency, Yahoo has maintained a lower profile than rivals Google and Microsoft. But the Yahoo team is building a compelling data center story of its own, with innovations in cooling design and energy efficiency ratings approaching the best that Google has achieved.

    Yahoo’s Adam Bechtel began telling the story yesterday at the O’Reilly Velocity 2009 conference in San Jose, Calif. Bechtel, the chief architect of Yahoo’s data center operations, shared details of a patented cold-aisle containment system that integrates an overhead cooling module, building the air conditioning units into the top of a “podule” of cabinets packed with servers.

    That design has helped Yahoo lower its Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) to 1.21, according to Bechtel, just a hair shy of the best numbers disclosed by Google and a slightly better than the lowest PUE reported by Microsoft. The PUE metric (PDF) compares a facility’s total power usage to the amount of power used by the IT equipment, revealing how much is lost in distribution and conversion.

    What is missing is under what conditions was 1.21 determined.

    What is needed is transparency for PUE claims.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could connect to a web service at google, microsoft, and yahoo data centers to get their PUE at any time of the day with the current weather conditions?   And, make a request for any other time for the PUE number?

    Once we see a data center do this, I’ll believe the PUE claims would stand up to a compliance audit.

    I am waiting for a claim of 1.10 PUE.  Competition is good, and this all helps educate more people.  But, we need more transparency on how PUE is calculated.

    Click to read more ...