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    Wednesday
    Mar182009

    Memory Virtualization (Getting Servers to Breath Better) vs. the Uber Virtualized Data Center

    There is a lot of news and products on Virtualizing the Data Center. 

    Cisco announced their Unified Computing System.

    Cisco Unleashes the Power of Virtualization with Industry's First Unified Computing System

    Innovative Architecture Integrates Compute, Networking and Virtualization in a Single Platform; New Services and Partnerships Focused on Next Generation Data Centers

    SAN JOSE Calif. - March 16, 2009 - Cisco today unveiled an evolutionary new data center architecture, innovative services and an open ecosystem of best in class partners to help customers develop next-generation data centers that unleash the full power of virtualization. With today's announcement, Cisco is delivering on the promise of virtualization through Unified Computing - an architecture that bridges the silos in the data center into one unified architecture using industry standard technologies. Key to Cisco's approach is the Cisco Unified Computing System which unites compute, network, storage access, and virtualization resources in a single energy efficient system that can reduce IT infrastructure costs and complexity, help extend capital assets and improve business agility well into the future.

    VMware has their Virtual Data Center OS.

    The Virtual Datacenter Operating System Defined

    VMware's flagship product, VMware Infrastructure, coupled with VMware's comprehensive roadmap of groundbreaking new products provide a virtual datacenter OS for IT environments of all sizes. The virtual datacenter OS addresses customers’ needs for flexibility, speed, resiliency and efficiency by transforming the datacenter into an “internal cloud” – an elastic, shared, self- managing and self-healing utility that can federate with external clouds of computing capacity freeing IT from the constraints of static hardware-mapped applications. The virtual datacenter OS guarantees appropriate levels of availability, security and scalability to all applications independent of hardware and location.  

     

    But, what I find interesting in all these solutions is how neither of these solutions focus on memory.

    Why memory? The focus is on compute, storage, and network.

    I think memory is like air for automotive engine (CPU). You need good intake of air (memory input), and exhaust with minimal backpressure.

    So why not virtualize memory across multiple servers?

    While in Portland I was able to visit with RNAnetworks and discuss their latest announcement.

    RNA networks Brings Memory Virtualization Into the Enterprise Data Center

    RNA Memory Virtualization Transforms Memory into a Shared, Networked Resource

    Portland, Ore. – February 2, 2009 – RNA networks, a leader in memory virtualization software that transforms server memory into a shared network resource, today announced the launch of its Memory Virtualization Platform (MVP) and first product, RNAmessenger, based on the MVP.  Memory Virtualization unleashes high-performance computing from existing commodity hardware by decoupling memory from the processor and server.  Uniquely, the RNA Memory Virtualization Platform is transparent to existing applications and operating systems allowing enterprises to leverage their existing IT assets with no changes.
    “Reliance on fragmented local server memory has been a key roadblock to optimizing performance in data center clusters, but memory virtualization eliminates size limits and slashes access times by providing distributed shared memory for all CPUs in a cluster,” said Eyal Waldman, Chairman, President and CEO, Mellanox Technologies. “By combining RNA Networks' Memory Virtualization with Mellanox Technologies' unrivaled connectivity performance, data center architects can achieve new levels of performance with high efficiency and lower costs.”

    The concept is simple.

    RNA’s innovative Memory Virtualization Platform works by pooling or aggregating available memory across nodes, and making the memory pool available as a shared network resource available to all servers in the data center.  Servers can access the pool, contribute to it or both.

    image

    Where is the money savings? This is another problem I see with Cisco and VMware’s uber virtual data center solutions.  Where is the money savings?

    I asked RNAnetworks CEO Clive Cook how much could be saved with memory Virtualization, and he said in grid computing type of scenarios where there is a high throughput requirement across multiple machines they have numbers below.

    Bottom Line Economic Advantages

    Performance Improvement
    10-30X

    Cost Savings

    Fewer Load Balancers
    $44,500

    Less Aggregate Memory
    $64,500

    Storage Savings
    $163,000

    Power Savings
    $39,500

    Additional Benefits

    • Efficiency
    • Simplicity
    • Reliability
    • Resource Sharing
    • Low TCO
    • Consolidation

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Mar182009

    Missed My Chance to Have a Green Discussion with Harrison Ford

    I was in Portland yesterday working on Green Data Center Modeling, and stayed at the Nines hotel for a $99 special rate.

    It turns out the Nines hotel is the location for The Living Future conf, May 6 – 9, 2009.

    headergraphic-main

    The Unconference for Deep Green Professionals

    The 3rd annual Living Future will convene the continent's deepest-green building professionals for two days of kinetic dialogue and unbridled imagination to catalyze revolutionary change.

    And, they have a session on Living Building Mindmapping.

    This session intends to share our learning experiences and the inspiration of working with Living Tools to make Living Buildings.

    Also the hotel is nice enough that Harrison Ford was two tables over having a breakfast meeting.  Sitting about where these tables are. 

    image

    I knew Harrison Ford was into green efforts, but I didn’t know how much until I went to another website.

    Hundreds came out  Orange County’s Laguna Beach for The Sea Change Summer Party to raise money for environmental group Oceana, and to honor Harrison Ford’s consistent work for the environment. Ford sits on many boards for different environmental groups, he’s donated acreage in Wyoming for conservation, and his recent chest waxing to bring attention to deforestation is one of the most creative acts of advocacy I’ve scence in a long time.  A perfect choice for someone to honor…he deserves it!

    If I had known all this, I would have approached Harrison for a green discussion. Which is a better plan than getting his autograph for my son who was excited to hear I saw “Indiana Jones” in the restaurant.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Mar182009

    Greenwashing Hits Microwind Turbines, Perform 1/3 of Performance Expectations

    News.com has a post on Massachusetts microwind turbine project.

    Study: Microwind turbines a tough sell in Mass.

    by Martin LaMonica

    BOSTON--Despite the growing enthusiasm for home wind turbines, an analysis of microwind turbines in Massachusetts found that they fell short of performance expectations.

    The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust commissioned a study last year to review electricity output from 21 small wind turbines in the state and the results were surprising: the data showed that the estimated production was about three times higher than the turbines' actual production.

    Oops, the estimated production was three times higher?  And as the article states few ever go back and measure the performance in the field.

    The analysis is not the final word on small wind generators, but is significant because few states have done similar reviews, say the study's authors.

    The Swift wind turbine from Cascade Engineering, one of many new small wind turbines now available or being developed.

    (Credit: Cascade Engineering)

    The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust was "taken aback" at the discrepancy in expected versus actual performance and made changes to its "small wind" rebate program earlier this month to address the issue, said James Christo, a program director from the quasi-public state agency. Christo spoke on a panel on small wind--defined as less than 10-kilowatt capacity machines--at the Northeast Sustainable Energy Building Energy Conference here last week.

    What are some of the issues.

    Data problem
    The Massachusetts state analysis tried to pinpoint the reason for the underperforming turbines and found that installers often worked without sufficiently good information.

    Area wind maps for the region tended to overestimate on average by 10 percent how good the wind was for certain locations, according to Shawn Shaw, an analyst at the Cadmus Group who worked on the study.

    Another problem is the rated capacity--how much electricity a turbine can produce--that manufacturers publish aren't always reliable for extrapolating expected performance, Shaw found. Industry associations are trying to come up with standard ways of reporting capacity which will help, he added.

    "You want to be internally honest about your (wind resource) assessments," Shaw said. "The economics are going to probably be the best driver in Massachusetts."

    A state like Massachusetts has a good wind resource near the coast, but its hilly and woody terrain means that finding a good site requires some investigation.

    Installers and customers should be aware, for example, that nearby obstructions can have a significant impact. A 100-foot wind tower placed next to a 50-foot tree is effectively the same as a putting turbine on top of a 50-foot tower, which means it will get a lot less wind, Shaw said.

    The results from the Massachusetts study echoes a similar survey done in the U.K. over the past two years, called the Warwick Trials.

    That study focused specifically on urban microwind turbines, some of which were roof-mounted. Overall, it found that the performance of these systems fell below expectations as well and that a number suffered technical glitches.

    "The truth of the matter is that (urban wind) hasn't been studied very much, at least in the U.S.," said Shaw. "There's a tremendous amount of uncertainty."

    And, now they are going to do what should have been done in the beginning.  Set up a performance lab to evaluate devices.

    To test urban wind turbines, Christo said the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust is sponsoring a "science experiment" to put up five turbines from different manufacturers at the Museum of Science, a project expected to go up this spring.

    Click to read more ...

    Saturday
    Mar142009

    Acer Ships Japan Only Intel Atom based Windows Home Server

    Acer has shipped a Japan only version of Windows Home Server running Intel Atom.

    Acer Launches Atom-Powered easyStore H340 NAS

    Initially only available in Japan

    By Traian Teglet, Technology News Editor

    27th of February 2009, 08:22 GMT

    Acer Aspire easyStore H340 packs Intel's Atom
    Enlarge picture

    Acer, the world’s third leading PC vendor, has just announced a new Atom-based product in Japan, which will not be part of the company’s lineup of Aspire One netbooks. The company has, however, decided to use the low-power Atom processor on one of its latest easyStore H340 series Networked Attached Storage (NAS) products. The NAS comes in two flavors dubbed S1 and S2, each one offering a different storage capacity.

    Acer’s NAS has been designed to incorporate Intel’s 1.6GHz Atom 230 processor combined with 1GB of memory and four internal bays. The system is based on the Intel 945GC Express chipset and boasts 5 USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA and one Gigabit Ethernet port, meant to provide the end-user with the necessary connectivity options to back up their large media libraries or important data.
    In terms of storage, the new Aspire easyStore H340 can set the user with support for up to 3TB of storage space on the S2 model, while the S1 model is only good for 1TB of storage. The system is packed with Microsoft’s Windows Home Server and is specifically designed to allow home users to easily back up their data, personal photos and videos or music. The NAS is expected to start shipping in Japan on March the 6th with a price tag close to $600 for the S1 model and a whopping $900 for the S2 model. Unfortunately there are no details regarding an upcoming release in other parts of the world, but given the approaching CeBIT show in Hanover, Germany, the PC vendor might be showcasing the new product at the event.
    With the launch Acer has basically provided its users with support for storing their personal data in a convenient and easy to use device. It takes advantage of Intel’s low-power Atom processor to ensure the required performance while also keeping the power requirements to a minimum.

    Click to read more ...

    Saturday
    Mar142009

    AFCOM says CxO’s See the Costs and Greenhouse Gases from Data Centers

    GreenerComputing reports on an AFCOM survey. But, what caught my eye was the paragraph at the end.

    "They're saying the data center is important," she explained. "[It also means] the CEO now has to take accountability for what's going on in the data center to be compliant, and to go green."


    What that means is that the c-suite is finally realizing that although the data center is critical to operations, it is also a major element of costs and greenhouse gas emissions. All of which points toward more efficient and greener data center technologies, notably virtualization and cloud computing.

    Another interesting one is 50/50 split in budget changes.

    "The interesting thing is that for the first time in history I see corporate America looking at data centers and recognizing that they can't do day-to-day business without them," Eckhaus said. The survey found that just under half of all data center managers have been asked to cut their budgets for 2009, while the remaining 50-plus percent have not -- in a time when all companies are feeling serious economic stresses, that is a remarkable number, Eckhaus said.

    The interest in Green Data Centers keep on growing. :-)

    Click to read more ...