Modular Rally Car Design is behind Ken Block's Viral Video

In the data center industry, we all hear about modular data centers.  Some designs are more flexible than others.  Ken Block's Gymkhana 5 video has reached over 3.7 million Youtube views in less than 2 days.  The car behind the video is a modular design.  You can watch this video to see the three different configurations that have suspension, engine, tire, and cooling system changes.

For the mechanical engineers here are some details.

"Many people may not realize this, but despite the fundamental similarities between stage rally, rallycross and gymkhana, in order to be the best at each, you must have specific built vehicles," says Block. "My WRC Fiesta just can't do what my Gymkhana Fiesta can, and vice versa. But having to campaign three separate cars is a nightmare, so we built one car that can be transformed to suit each form of racing I do on the highest level."

The chassis of the H.F.H.V. is based on M-Sport's current 2011 Ford Fiesta RS WRC car, but in order to achieve the power outputs required for both rallycross and gymkhana, the 1.6L engine has been replaced with a Pipo Moteurs-built 2.0L, inline-four cylinder. This mill is based off the power plant found previously in the Ford Focus RS WRC car, a motor that has over 10 years of development. The result is a massive 600hp and 665 ft. lbs. of torque when using the 45mm restrictor required by the Global Rally Cross series. While the 2.0l engine makes the H.F.H.V. ineligible for WRC competition, the addition of a 34mm restrictor will allow the car to compete in the Rally America series. Engine management is handled by Cosworth Electronics.

Mated to the Ford EcoBoost motor is a custom AWD system designed by Sadev. The drivetrain features a 6-speed Sadev sequential transmission and three adjustable Sadev mechanical differentials. Different gear ratios are used for each of the Hybrid's three modes. To handle the varying surface conditions, specific Reiger suspension set-ups have been developed for each of the three modes.

If you don't know the video I am talking about.  Here it is.

Let's see a modular data center that can be this cool.


A quest for where the data is stored in the cloud has an article by John D. Sutter who tries to find where his data goes in the cloud.  I feel sorry for the poor guy trying to find answers and not know the first rule of data centers is '”we don’t talk about data centers and where they are, let alone what data is in the data center.”

The following parts is when I felt the guys pain.

I was curious and I wanted to find the scattered bits of my online life before dumping everything on my laptop onto the Web.

So I decided to go on a scavenger hunt into the cloud.

Before I started the search, when I thought about cloud computing, this is the image that came to mind: a giant cartoon cloud just slurped information off of my computer like magic. My files just floated in the sky until I wanted them back.

Video: What is cloud computing?

The cloud doesn't work like that. It's made up of a massive and growing network of data centers, which are huge warehouses full of computers. They store and process information from all around the world, largely in secret.

Then he finally connected with Rich Miller who helped him a bit.  Except he realized he was kind of a clueless.

I found it shocking that the gut of the cloud, an image I found so soft and quaint, was actually comprised of an enormous and ever-growing network of machines.

But apparently lots of people already knew this.

"All the clouds live in data centers," Rich Miller, editor of a prominent cloud-computing blog called Data Center Knowledge, told me. "There's always hardware involved, and bricks and mortar. ... It's not a fluffy cloud. It's living in someone's building."

Awesome. So all I needed to do to find my family photos and the rest of my data was to call up the data center where it lives and go there, right?

Wrong. I quickly learned tours of the cloud aren't easy to come by.

I want a tour of a data center.  Let’s call Google.

Google, which has most of my sensitive data, like e-mail, calendars, to-do lists and documents, declined an interview request for this story. A spokeswoman said the company doesn't give tours either. Go figure.

Excited he gets a tour of an IBM data center.

Dismayed, I started turning to companies who don't have my data, just hoping to get a sense of how this system worked. IBM offered to give me a tour, maybe because, like me, it's trying to break into the cloud world.

and , finds a PUE of over 2.0.  Hopefully the IBM rep didn’t try to explain PUE to him.

Inside, I found rows of black, refrigerator-sized computer towers, 4,000 of them in all. They buzzed and whirred so loudly that I had to lean in to hear my tour guides. In front of the towers, grates and pinholes in the floor pump out frigid air to keep the machines from overheating. The computers breathe this air in and then exhale air as hot as a hair dryer's.

I'm told the cooling bill here costs more than running the computers.

So, he asks more questions and gets more confused.

As I walked around the center, IBM employees did their best to explain this hyper-complicated system. They rattled off machine types, specs and technical details faster than I could write them down.

I confess that I left the IBM tour not feeling much better about the safety of my data. Not that there seemed to be anything wrong with their cloud computing center. The IBM staff was friendly and helpful. The machines looked nice.

Maybe he is a snipe hunt.

A snipe hunt, a form of wild-goose chase that is also known as a fool's errand, is a type of practical joke that involves experienced people making fun of credulous newcomers by giving them an impossible or imaginary ta

So maybe he is asking the wrong question.

But the more I mulled over my failing scavenger hunt, the more I thought that maybe I was asking the wrong question. Perhaps it doesn't matter where my data is, just that there's some way for me to get a sense of how well it's managed.

And, then he realizes maybe he doesn’t own the data.

"Terms of service" agreements offer some details on free services. But, after reading several, it's still unclear to me who owns my data, if I can ever delete it from some sites and what would happen if any of these companies goes bankrupt. In response to an e-mail question about what would happen to Facebook data if the site closed, a company spokeswoman wrote, "The business is doing well and continuing to grow."

Who do you trust?  He talks to Microsoft’s Brian Hall.  Note: I was interested in what Brian had to say as I worked with Brian on Windows XP.

Still, without information, it's hard to know who to trust.

That makes it easy to fall back on flimsy methods of comparison, like going with a brand you already know. I'm sure this is how I ended up with so much data on Google's servers. It's a huge company. Billions use their search. Tens of millions save files with Gmail. They've got to know what's up, right?

That's exactly what the big cloud companies hope you will think. Microsoft's general manager of Windows Live, Brian Hall, told me brand recognition is the best way for people to compare services.

"Consumers, they don't really care if there are 9,000 data centers or two data centers as long as they have confidence that we're going to protect their data and they'll have access to it when they want to have access to it," he said. (In case you're wondering, Hall said Microsoft has "between 10 and 100 data centers" worldwide. Really specific.)

After all this, his conclusion is good.

The most important thing I realized on this search, though, was rather basic:

The cloud is not some fluffy ball of magic, it's an energy-sucking and fallible machine.

One I'll be more cautious before trusting.

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TechHermit Blog Deleted

Unfortunately, has the following page.

The authors have deleted this blog. The content is no longer available.

You can create your own free blog on

There were hopes the TechHermit blog would continue.

TechHermit Returns with New Authors, Speculates the end of Microsoft’s Data Center Program

DataCenterKnowledge spreads the word TechHermit’s blog continues.

Tech Hermit Blog Returns
September 22nd, 2009 : Rich Miller

Back in July I noted the passing of Shane McGew, who wrote about the data center industry at his Tech Hermit blog. So I was surprised to find new posts at the Tech Hermit blog this week.

Here’s the story: “Today we are announcing that through detailed negotiations with the McGew family a group of avid readers have purchased the rights to the Tech Hermit brand and will continue to post under this heading and keep the same edgy feedback that we came to love with Shane. We hope to earn the same level of trust and respect in time.”

Shane was always pretty plugged into goings-on in data center operations at Microsoft, a trend that continues with the new team (whose members remain anonymous). A post today notes the departure of another Microsoft data center executive, Joel Stone, who is headed to Global Switch. Stone’s departure follows the exit of Global Foundation Services corporate VP Debra Chrapaty, who is off to Cisco.

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Mike Manos and Olivier Sanche conversation, Data Center Design is a popularity contest?

Mike Manos has a post discussing a conversation he had with Olivier Sanche, Apple’s Global DC Director.

Opinion Polls and the End of Times

October 9, 2009 by mmanos

I recently had an interesting e-mail exchange with Olivier Sanche the chief DC architect at Apple.  As you probably know this is a very small industry and Olivier and I have enjoyed a long professional working relationship.   He remarked that we are approaching the end of times, as we were both nominated for a Data Center Dream Team in an industry magazine.  I agreed with him wholeheartedly.

We we were referring to the poll being conducted by the Web Hosting Industry Review (WHIR) who is conducting a survey to see who would represent the Industry’s best Data Center Dream Team.  While its a definite honor to be mentioned, it definitely signals the end of times.  :)

To me the phrase “Dream Team” conjures images of people with a long list of accomplishments.   Its a bit strange to think of the Data Center Industry at large as having made significant movement forward.  There has been a tremendous amount of innovation in the last few years, and I do definitely believe we are at the start of something truly revolutionary in our industry, I think its probably way to early in our steps forward to start defining success like this.  

For those of you interested the poll is located below.  Please keep in mind that you cannot see the results without actually taking the poll itself.


Here are the poll results so far.


I totally agree with Mike’s point on this being too early to celebrate progress, but this is a marketing stunt by WHIR.  Not reflective of true design leadership.

There are so many other people out there pushing the edge of design like Microsoft’s Daniel Costello, MegaWatt Consulting KC Mares, bunches of people at Google and Amazon.

You could vote, but Rob Roy has already rallied his supporters in a popularity contest to vote for him.  You know Rob Roy is going to be marketing his winning the WHIR Data Center Designer title.

What would be interesting to see is the list of people on the Write-in.

For a perspective, check out the comments on Mike’s blog entry.  Manos and Sanche get mentioned in the last comment, and I agree with his comments on the innovation from these two.

3 Responses
  1. on October 9, 2009 at 8:46 am | Reply Gerald Downs

    I just took this poll and I have to say I was shocked! Rob Roy from SwitchNap is leading the data center designed category? Please! That man is a total joke. He probably voted for himself a million times. You and Olivier have 1000 times more experience than he does. They should have put him in the self-promoter category or marketing.

  2. on October 9, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Reply m00sh00

    Wow Gerald you are spectacularly uninformed. Apparently you have never been to see the SuperNAP or you would know it for the engineering triumph that it is. Rob Roy invented something that outperforms anything built by anyone else on that list, or in the data center industry for that matter. You might want to check your facts.

  3. on October 10, 2009 at 9:05 am | Reply Gerald Downs


    I have been on his dog and pony tour through that facility and I can tell you that there is absolutely nothing new. The whole tour was seriously a conversation in a cult of personality around Roy. I would also be curious as to how easily names get dropped as far as other customers in the building. As far as I am concerned his modularized approach and mechanical designs have been present in the military, oil and gas, and other industries for a long time. But you dont really have to go that far. You can easily look to the work being done by Google and Microsoft and a ton of others to see this same kind of thing. Not to plug Manos, but he has done the same thing on a much bigger, global scale than Roy. Additionally, Olivier Sanche who is mentioned is another truly innovator in the data center industry. Additionally, both Sanche and Manos are out there talking to the industry. I have yet to see Roy show up to ANY industry events. Perhaps he is to busy playing the with action figures in his office.

    I think it might be you who needs to check your facts.

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Green Guide to CES

Lewis Curtis sent me this link on The Green Guide of CES.

There are reasons to both love and hate the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas — it showcases practically every gadget due to come out in the year ahead (nice!), it has a football stadium’s worth of corporate And booths (yuck), and media events are held every hour for five days straight (fun but tiring). This year, CES is also adding a “green component” that could make it a little more lovable for friends of the environment.

Granted, a lot of it is just green marketing, like Fujitsu’s corn laptop or the show’s own site. We like our buddy Dean Takahashi’s (of the San Jose Mercury News) take on the green angle: “Some products marketed as green are not green at all, and the offset programs make you wonder if that’s the only solution for an enterprise that is fundamentally wasteful.” Ah, snap! Still, CES is making a green effort, so here’s our guide to the massive gadget convention “going green”:

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