Small is Beautiful

A book I just remembered as a good read is Small is Beautiful.  It seems appropriate given these economic times and the focus on sustainability and green.

In the first chapter, "The Problem of Production", Schumacher argues that the modern economy is unsustainable. Natural resources (like fossil fuels), are treated as expendable income, when in fact they should be treated as capital, since they are not renewable, and thus subject to eventual depletion. He further argues that nature's resistance to pollution is limited as well. He concludes that government effort must be concentrated on sustainable development, because relatively minor improvements, for example, technology transfer to Third Worldcountries, will not solve the underlying problem of an unsustainable economy.

Schumacher's philosophy is one of "enoughness," appreciating both human needs, limitations and appropriate use of technology. It grew out of his study of village-based economics, which he later termed "Buddhist economics," which is the subject of the book's fourth chapter.

He faults conventional economic thinking for failing to consider the most appropriate scale for an activity, blasts notions that "growth is good," and that "bigger is better," and questions the appropriateness of using mass production in developing countries, promoting instead "production by the masses." Schumacher was one of the first economists to question the appropriateness of using GNP to measure human well being, emphasizing that "the aim ought to be to obtain the maximum amount of well being with the minimum amount of consumption."

Continunig the theme GigaOm just posted on Netbooks and Smartphones on the power of small devices.

Smartphones and Netbooks: Closer Than Kissing Cousins

Stacey Higginbotham | Monday, February 23, 2009 | 3:13 PM PT | 2 comments

You know how you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover? Well, when it comes to smartphones and netbooks, a semiconductor research firm is predicting that in fact the cover — or rather, the device casing — may soon be one of the only ways to tell the two apart. Portelligent has analyzed the silicon guts of some of the latest generation of netbooks and smartphones, and concluded that they’re becoming more alike — something that should come as no surprise to our readers.

1556chart_pg24EETimes reports that the cost and amount of silicon inside both types of portable devices are getting closer, and that the only remaining distinctions between the two can be found in the form factor and power consumption (I would add voice to that). But as firms like Nvidia and Texas Instruments get their powerful, yet power-sipping ARM-based application processors into mobile Internet devices and netbooks, the power consumption difference could disappear. Especially if OEMs choose those processors over Intel’s Atom.

Rackable has their Microslice server in the server space.

Let's Get Physical

We recently announced MicroSliceTM, an architecture we envisage to have a very long life, and our first MicroSlice-enabled products, the CloudRackTM TR1000 tray and the C1002 server.

The strategy behind MicroSlice is very simple.  There is a large class of enterprise workloads that do not require expensive virtualization software and expensive data center server features.  Rackable found a path to provide the benefits of virtualization and data center features without all the cost. We were able to remove so much cost while maintaining the critical features that the result is a sub-$500 server price for many base configurations.

Rackable designed MicroSlice with the following workloads in mind: web mid-tiers, SaaS applications, Cloud Computing, lightweight applications, internet servers, and file/print applications.  MicroSlice supports Microsoft Windows Server 2008, Red Hat, SUSE, CentOS, and Apache.

We made many crucial design choices.  First, MicroSlice uses MiniATX and MiniITX motherboards with critical enterprise features, such as remote management and ECC memory support (aka make it small, but perfectly formed).  This lowers cost and increases density (260 servers per cabinet, over 1,000 usable cores).  Second, it leverages proven energy efficiency and high performance CPU technology that will be reliable in demanding data center environments (AMD Athlon and Phenom).  Third, we stay true to our mission of integrating industry standard memory DRAM and enterprise class SAS and SATA drives (and desktop drives if you choose).  Finally, MicroSlice is operational within traditional cabinets (C1002 half depth, 1U, up to 2 drives) and our new CloudRack (TR1000 full depth, 1U, up to 8 drives), thus providing investment protection for customers who have invested in our cabinet-level solutions.  Please see the TR1000 and the C1002 below:

Blog 4 micro_open_straight_small Blog 4 micro_top_angleLeft_small

Small is Beautiful in more scenarios.