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    99.99% available services, Are Tiers relevant? The Cloud may be more disruptive than misinformed

    Uptime Institute has a post in Response to an AFCOM post on Tier Standards.

    An abbreviated version of this column was written for Data Center Knowledge in response to an interview with AFCOM Denver Chapter President Hector Diaz, on September 11, 2014.


    The Tier standards offered by the Uptime Institute can often be confusing at present.

    Tiers are summarized as these 4 levels.

    • Tier IV - Fault tolerant site infrastructure
    • Tier III - Concurrently maintainable site infrastructure
    • Tier II - Redundant capacity components site infrastructure (redundant)
    • Tier I - Basic site infrastructure (non-redundant)

    So when you want a highly available service you would assume you need a Tier 3 or 4 data center.  But for services like Netflix, eBay, and Google, there are 3-5 data centers running services where a data center can go down and services are still available.  I don’t ever hear these guys talking about they have built Tier 3 or 4 data centers.  Heck, Netflix proudly says they don’t need data centers, using Amazon and Google Cloud Services.

    Given 99% or more of start up are using the cloud to build services and following guidance like AWS architecture for high availability services, are Tier ratings of data center relevant?


    Instead of talking about tiers, highly available cloud services talk about availability zones.

    Regions and Availability Zones

    Amazon EC2 is hosted in multiple locations world-wide. These locations are composed of regions and Availability Zones. Each region is a separate geographic area. Each region has multiple, isolated locations known as Availability Zones. Amazon EC2 provides you the ability to place resources, such as instances, and data in multiple locations. Resources aren't replicated across regions unless you do so specifically.

    Amazon operates state-of-the-art, highly-available data centers. Although rare, failures can occur that affect the availability of instances that are in the same location. If you host all your instances in a single location that is affected by such a failure, none of your instances would be available.


    While AFCOM and Uptime Institute debate Tier Standards, the technology community is moving to Availability Zones practices. 

    Netflix just survived the unavoidable rebooting of 10% of its cassandra servers in AWS due to Xen maintenance.  And Netflix has survived a variety of data center outages in AWS as well.

    A State of Xen - Chaos Monkey & Cassandra

    On Sept 25th, 2014 AWS notified users about an EC2 Maintenance where “a timely security and operational update” needed to be performed that required rebooting a large number of instances. (around 10%)  On Oct 1st, 2014 AWS sent an updated about the status of the reboot and XSA-108.

    While we’d love to claim that we weren’t concerned at all given our resilience strategy, the reality was that we were on high alert given the potential of impact to our services.  We discussed different options, weighed the risks and monitored our services closely.  We observed that our systems handled the reboots extremely well with the resilience measures we had in place.  These types of unforeseen events reinforce regular, controlled chaos and continued to invest in chaos engineering is necessary. In fact, Chaos Monkey was mentioned as a best practice in the latest EC2 Maintenance update.

    Morning View sets the tone for the day

    The other day one of my data center friends came over with his dad who was visiting from San Antonio, Texas.  My cousins were raised in San Antonio and one still lives there.  I’ve gone to a few Longhorn football games with my cousin who was an all american swimmer at UT so I’ve got a chance to experience Texas as local do.

    My friends Dad had made his first trip to Seattle and the weather was great this past week.  It rained one day with a bit of drizzle and this morning is a bit of clouds.  

    Below is this mornings view from home.  Yes, my friends dad realized he needs to visit his son more often.

    Today is a day I can spend chatting with friends on ideas to transform the industry and the cloud.  I think part of what is nice is staring out the window I can dream without worrying about bozos.  oops, HR will get mad at me for calling someone a bozo.  oh, wait there is no HR.  and, there are no bozos in the house/home office.

    I’ve put my roots in Redmond, WA.  Been here for 22 years.  After 14 years at Microsoft it was time to leave.  Now I spend more of my time in the Cloud which luckily has Seattle as a hub.  Amazon, Microsoft, Google, HP, and so many more are realizing the Seattle area is a place to be work on the cloud.



    Hydropower from the cooling tower, Honda did it, should a data center?

    We’ve all stared at cooling towers.  How many of you thought hey let’s see if we can recover some of the energy from the falling water?  Think it’s not worth it?  Honda didn’t.



    They were able to get 5.3 kW from the turbine.



    Intelligent Cooling Algorithms, Google Data Center and Honda Manufacturing

    Saving energy is something everyone knows is good when you can maintain environmental conditions for equipment.  Here are two different examples.  One is Google in a data centers with its servers and another from Honda in its painting process.  

    First Google’s Joe Kava explains what was done to improve the cooling system performance.

    2nd is Honda explaining what it did to save 25% energy consumption in its cooling system for painting processes.

    At the 1:21 mark the Honda Engineer explains the energy savings.


    This Honda video was so good it won an award.

    Honda's Environmental Short Film Series Receives National Award Recognition

    Telly Award recognizes outstanding "Green/Eco Friendly" video content

    6/24/2013 12:00:00 PM



    The first film in Honda's Environmental Short Film Series, Paint by Numbers, has been awarded two Telly Awards in the Green/Eco-Friendly and Social Responsibility categories. The Telly Awards, now in its 34th season, honors the best film and video productions, groundbreaking online video content, and outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs.

    Honda's Environmental Short Film Series highlights some remarkable initiatives - dreamed up and developed by Honda associates - that fulfill the company's vision for reducing its environmental impact and creating a sustainable future. Paint by Numbers, the first film in the series, tells the story of how Honda engineer Shubho Bhattacharya was inspired to develop technology to reduce the energy needed to operate the auto body painting system at Honda's manufacturing plant in Marysville, Ohio. Auto body painting accounts for the most energy use in Honda's production process. With the help of his fellow associates, Bhattacharya conceived Honda's Intelligent Paint Technology, which has cut Honda's North American manufacturing CO2 emissions by about 10,000 metric tons per year.

    "Honda associates are always dreaming up innovative ways to reduce our environmental impact," said Marcos Frommer of Honda North America, Inc., one of the producers of the film series. "Short films are a great way to share our associates' sustainability initiatives, and we're honored to receive this recognition from the Telly Awards."


    Wake up Business Majors, most of the students don't like their jobs

    WSJ has an interesting post on 4 different group of university students.  The surprise is Business majors are bored and not the most financially secure compared to others.

    Business is the most popular course of undergraduate study at U.S. colleges and universities. It is also the one most likely to produce people bored with their jobs.

    This graphic illustrates the 4 different groups.


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