Remembering a Great Thought Leader in DC Industry, Olivier Sanche - a water well was built

4 years ago at this time of year we lost one of great thought leaders way before his time was to depart us.  Olivier Sanche was a dear friend and passionate about data centers and the environment.  One of things Olivier's family did in memory of Olivier is sponsor a water well in Mali.

It is in this desert area that the well bearing Olivierʼs name has been built because ” Water is the Source of Life”.

Here is some background on the well that Karine Sanche, Olivier's wife shared.

-  The well was Bernard Sancheʼs idea ( Olivierʻs dad) because he wanted to honor Olivier with something useful and that would last.
-  He shared this idea with Olivierʼs mom, his brother and myself and we all agreed that instead of having people bring flowers to Olivierʼs funeral, we would have a fundraiser for the well instead and we ended up raising 4500 euros ( almost 6000 dollars).
-  The idea of building a well came to my father-in-law because he had been doing humanitarian work in the Northern Mali since 1984. His associationʼs main goal was to help the Touaregs ( nomad populations) and he knew that one of their biggest problems is having access to drinking water. In an area ( the size of Belgium) called Adeil.hoc, some people must travel over 18 miles to get water to drink, to cook and to give to their herds. It is in this desert area that the well bearing Olivierʼs name has been built because ” Water is the Source of Life”.
-  The exact location of the well has been decided by a local mayor ( the mayor of Abindnage) because he is a liaison with the association; this location was found to best serve the local populations. It was a difficult project because of the wellʼs location which is at 2 days of the nearest town meaning that all the building supplies ( gravel, ciment, steel, the molds ( form work) for reinforced concrete etc...) had to be transported through the desert.The well is 72 feet deep and has several “bowls” so several herds can drink at the same time.
-  Olivier was closely following his dadʼs efforts to help the Touaregs in Mali. These efforts include the construction and/or repair of 180 wells, the construction of schools and infirmaries in the bush, as well as the training of several bush nurses. The association also bought a truck to transport feed from Gao ( over 310 miles away).

Here are a few more pictures showing the construction of the well.


Amazon cranks the numbers and... Yes, they decide 100% renewable for AWS

Amazon is a company that always runs the numbers on whether something makes sense. For years, Amazon didn't think it was worthwhile to have renewable energy as part of its data center portfolio.  In 2011, though AWS had its first renewable energy site in Oregon, and they have added two more.

Options for Customers Seeking Carbon-Neutral Cloud Infrastructure
AWS introduced its first carbon-neutral region – US West (Oregon) – in 2011. Today, AWS offers customers three AWS Regions that are 100% carbon-neutral – US West (Oregon), EU (Frankfurt), and AWS GovCloud (US).

And now Amazon has announced it plans on being 100% renewable.

In addition to the environmental benefits inherently associated with running applications in the cloud, AWS has a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for our global infrastructure footprint.

I've been blogging on the idea of a green data center since 2007 and things have come a long way with Google, Apple, Facebook, and now Amazon amongst many others who have decided 100% renewable energy is a good choice.

Being 100% renewable is a milestone, but not the end.  Having a sustainable strategy for data centers  is more than the energy consumption.  There are so many others things to work on to  green a data center. 

The nice thing is I don't have to focus on the renewable energy part as the media has caught on to the concept.


Amazon Vows to Run on 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Wired - ‎12 hours ago‎

Over the past few years, Apple, Google, and Facebook pledged to run their online empires on renewable energy, and considering how large these empires have become—how many data centers and machines are now required to keep them going—this was ...

Amazon Vows to Run Its Cloud Entirely on Renewable Energy

TIME - ‎2 hours ago‎

Amazon on Wednesday vowed to run its cloud-computing division completely on renewable energy, following in the footsteps of tech giants Apple, Google and Facebook in making a comprehensive environmental pledge regarding its data services.

Amazon will run all its data centers on renewable energy...eventually

GeekWire - ‎18 hours ago‎

AWS-Logo-Orange Environmentally-conscious cloud users got good news today: Amazon has pledged to get all of its data centers running entirely on renewable energy. In a new post on the AWS website, Amazon said that the company has made a ...


Amazon Joins The 'Race To Build A Green Internet' With A 100% Renewable ...

International Business Times - ‎2 hours ago‎

The group estimated that Amazon Web Services gets only 15 percent of its energy from renewables such as wind and solar power, while the rest comes mostly from carbon-intensive sources such as coal-fired power plants. In an April report, Greenpeace gave ...


Amazon promises to run entirely on renewable energy... finally

ZDNet - ‎18 hours ago‎

amazon-hero (Image: Amazon via CNET). Amazon has promised to achieve 100 percent renewable energy usage for its global footprint, the company announced on Wednesday. No firm deadline was given, but it's likely to take many years. Perhaps even ...

Mar 9-11, 2015 Open Compute Summit, San Jose Convention Center, Registration opens Jan 2015

I've gone to every USA based Open Compute Summit and the 2015 event has been announced.

Upcoming OCP Summit
Don't forget to save the date!
We are pleased to announce the Open Compute US Summit will take place on Monday, March 9th, Tuesday, March 10th and Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California.
Call for Particpation and Sponsorship opportunities to open soon.
Registration opens in January. 

Building Great Products, explained by Apple's Tim Cook

Building great products is hard.  And it can be hard to explain in a few minutes.  Tim Cook in January 2009 as interim CEO said the following in an earnings call.

We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.

We’re constantly focusing on innovating.

We believe in the simple, not the complex.

We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.

We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.

We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.

And frankly, we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.

And I think, regardless of who is in what job, those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.

- Tim Cook, Acting Apple CEO, January 2009 FQ1 2009 Earnings Call

Resiliency Approach to Data Center Availability

Everyone wants a highly available data center specifying 9s of availability or Tier levels, but what is harder to find is advice on approaching the availability problem.  Part of the problem is there aren't that many good writers who focus on data centers. 

So, let's switch over to the Harvard Business Review's senior editor, Diane Coutu and her article on "How Resilience Works."  Please read the full article on HBR to get the full set of ideas I am about to share below when applied to the data center availability problem.

The article starts describing a great newsman who had resilience.  This description could fit what you want in a data center - one that can endure an environment that at time can be hostile.

a quintessential survivor, someone who had endured in an environment often hostile

So you want your data center to be resilient.  What makes something/someone resilient?  Diane asked this question and this is what her article answers.

What exactly is that quality of resilience that carries people through life?
I have considered both the nature of individual resilience and what makes some organizations as a whole more resilient than others. Why do some people and some companies buckle under pressure? And what makes others bend and ultimately bounce back?

Resilience is so popular that even college graduates are saying they are resilient, but as the author points out resilience comes after you experience the things like in operations like an outage.

Candidates even tell us they’re resilient; they volunteer the information. But frankly, they’re just too young to know that about themselves. Resilience is something you realize you have after the fact.
“More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.”

Surviving stressful conditions like concentration camps can provide insight to the psychology of someone who is resilient.

Looking at Holocaust victims, Maurice Vanderpol, a former president of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, found that many of the healthy survivors of concentration camps had what he calls a “plastic shield.” The shield was comprised of several factors, including a sense of humor. Often the humor was black, but nonetheless it provided a critical sense of perspective. Other core characteristics that helped included the ability to form attachments to others and the possession of an inner psychological space that protected the survivors from the intrusions of abusive others.

So let's get to the core principle explained.  Three characteristics that resilient people and organizations exhibit.

Most of the resilience theories I encountered in my research make good common sense. But I also observed that almost all the theories overlap in three ways. Resilient people, they posit, possess three characteristics: a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. You can bounce back from hardship with just one or two of these qualities, but you will only be truly resilient with all three. These three characteristics hold true for resilient organizations as well.

Do you see the reality of the situation is the first characteristic.  This fits well with monitoring systems and assessments of the current state of operations.

“Do I truly understand—and accept—the reality of my situation? Does my organization?” Those are good questions, particularly because research suggests most people slip into denial as a coping mechanism. Facing reality, really facing it, is grueling work.
The fact is, when we truly stare down reality, we prepare ourselves to act in ways that allow us to endure and survive extraordinary hardship.

The second characteristic builds on facing the reality.  Your reason, your meaning for what you do.  What is your value system?

Strong values infuse an environment with meaning because they offer ways to interpret and shape events.
immutable set of values. Businesses that survive also have their creeds, which give them purposes beyond just making money. Strikingly, many companies describe their value systems in religious terms. Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, for instance, calls its value system, set out in a document given to every new employee at orientation, the Credo. Parcel company UPS talks constantly about its Noble Purpose.

For those of you who think this is BS and you just hire resilient people consider this point made that values are more important at an organizational level than people.

Values, positive or negative, are actually more important for organizational resilience than having resilient people on the payroll. If resilient employees are all interpreting reality in different ways, their decisions and actions may well conflict, calling into doubt the survival of their organization. And as the weakness of an organization becomes apparent, highly resilient individuals are more likely to jettison the organization than to imperil their own survival.

When there is an outage speed of resolution is critical.  Which means you ideally are going to make do with what you have.  Placing an order for an item and having it FedEx will not be acceptable.

The third building block of resilience is the ability to make do with whatever is at hand. Psychologists follow the lead of French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss in calling this skill bricolage.

I have shared the HBR article with a few other people and they have all enjoyed it.  Give it a read.  Then read it again.  There are some good ideas, well written on what it means to be resilient.

James Hamilton presents on AWS Data Centers - 2014 AWS Reinvent LV

At AWS Reinvent 2014 James Hamilton gave an update on the state of AWS data centers.


SPOT301 - AWS Innovation at Scale


This session, led by James Hamilton, VP & Distinguished Engineer, gives an insider view of some the innovations that help make the AWS cloud unique. He will show examples of AWS networking innovations from the interregional network backbone, through custom routers and networking protocol stack, all the way down to individual servers. He will show examples from AWS server hardware, storage, and power distribution and then, up the stack, in high scale streaming data processing. James will also dive into fundamental database work AWS is delivering to open up scaling and performance limits, reduce costs, and eliminate much of the administrative burden of managing databases. Join this session and walk away with a deeper understanding of the underlying innovations powering the cloud.

Let's start with Power.  AWS now has three data centers that are carbon neutral and AWS has negotiated their own power purchase agreements like Google.

Discussing the network infrastructure you can see the current state of AWS locations.

A data center can have between 50k - 80k servers.

Like Google and Facebook, AWS has its own server skus that they have had developed for their workloads.

Here is a video of James as well at AWS Reinvent.

Technology Companies with Seattle Offices

Microsoft and Amazon are well known for having their HQ in the Seattle area.  Geekwire has a post on the range of technology companies that have set up shop in seattle.

Home-grown tech giants such as Microsoft,, Expedia, T-Mobile, Zillow and Tableau have deep roots in Seattle — important companies which have helped define this region’s unique tech ecosystem.

The post does a good job of providing the range of other companies in the Seattle area.  Here are some that are the cloud companies.

Given that news and Apple’s fresh presence — along with recent arrivals of Alibaba, Oracle, HP, and, yes, even SpaceX — I thought the time was right to update the list.
CenturyLink: The telecommunications giant isn’t just about broadband Internet. The company is building a huge cloud engineering center in 30,000 square-feet of space in Bellevue at the One Twelfth @ Twelfth building, with plans to add 150 employees in the coming year. CenturyLink arrived in Seattle through the purchase last year of Seattle area cloud computing startup Tier 3, which makes up the backbone of the company’s big cloud push.“Seattle has become this pulse of cloud. It is like the heartbeat,” said former Tier 3 CEO Jared Wray in an interview with GeekWire last month as he showed off CenturyLink’s new cloud engineering center. PreviouslyInside CenturyLink’s fast-growing dev center: Shaking up the cloud with innovative work spaces
Google: The granddaddy of the Silicon Valley titans in Seattle, the Internet search pioneer established a presence in Kirkland 10 years ago. It now employs more than 1,000 people in the area, split between offices in Kirkland, Bothell and Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. Last year, the company doubled down on the Seattle area, announcing plans to add onto its Kirkland campus with a new 180,000 square foot development, one with enough room for an additional 700 employees. PreviouslyGoogle to double size of engineering center in Microsoft’s backyard
HP: In May, HP announced that its Helion cloud engineering effort will be based in Seattle, led by Microsoft veteran Bill Hilf.“We’re hiring like gangbusters,” said Hilf, speaking at the HP offices at Seventh Avenue and Pike Street in Seattle earlier this year. The company employed about 70 folks in the offices at the time, and said that it planned to add more than 200 in the next 18 months. PreviouslyHP hiring hundreds in Seattle for ‘Helion’ cloud launch, led by former Microsoft exec, betting $1B on OpenStack
Oracle: Yes, another long-time nemesis of Microsoft just arrived in Seattle. Oracle just inked a 17,000 square-foot lease in Seattle’s Century Square high-rise, with the new offices led by cloud engineering veterans and former employees Don Johnson and Craig Kelly. They are aiming to hire more than 100 engineers for the new office. PreviouslyOracle to hire 100+ engineers in Seattle for new cloud infrastructure center