Lawyer Bait

The views expressed herein solely represent the author’s personal views and opinions and not of anyone else - person or organization.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Computing Greenness at a Data Center

I recently read through an interesting White Paper on evaluating the Greenness of a data center put out by the Uptime Institute, written by John R. Stanley, Kenneth G. Brill, and Dr. Jonathan Koomey. You can get it here.

The report outlines four metrics which are designed to help us quantify energy consumption and they present some interesting formulas which I present below:

SI-POM (Site Infrastructure Power Overhead Multiplier) which tells us how much power is consumed to run the DC facilities vs. to run the gear inside it.


Data Center Power consumption at the meter / total hardware consumption at the plug

They suggest that a Tier 4 Data Center will peg out at 2.2
H-POM (Hardware Power Overhead Multiplier) tells us how much power is wasted on power supply conversion, loss to fans, etc. rather than power going to run the components of the gear.


AC hardware load at the plug / DC Hardware compute Load

They suggest that a data center with a 2.2 SI-POM will peg out at 1.33 on this exercise.

Deployed Hardware Utilization Ratio (DH-UR) is the metric that helps quantify the deployed equipment that is drawing power but is comatose; menaing not running an application, but is left on.


Number of servers running live applications / Total number of deployed servers

For Storage:

Number of Terabytes of storage holding data / Total terabytes actually deployed

Deployed Hardware Utilization Efficiency (DH-UE) helps us quantify the opportunity for servers and storage to increase utilization by virtualizing. This conceptually gives us another way of looking at why we would want to consolidate servers at 25% load to run at 50% load in a virtual and scalable framework.


Minimum number of servers necessary to handle peak compute load / Total number of servers deployed

I will spend more time, as I get it, to play around with some numbers to get some real world computations. Feel free to leave your own in the comments section too. The tide raises all boats in our sea of knowledge.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Follow up post from the Press Release about Calista acquisition

Bob Muglia from the Server tools comments on the move to Virtualization (below).

I will pick this apart as I see it:

Customers have been slow to 'reap the benefits of Virtualization' but as to the complexity and cost prohibitive-ness of it as he states, I'm not sure I agree. Given my ROI for a large environment, given the fact that I have been in the data center to desktop business for 15 years, I believe the reason is that it is not a tactical implementation, but a strategic shift that has tactical implications and companies will grapple with this because of the ripple effects between the street and the cabinet of the data center.

The issues are not with the hardware, blades have been around for a while. They are not with the software as this too is a mature industry. I will argue that the issue is getting enough power/circuits to the data center which Microsoft has little impact on unless they have rolled out a facilities software package that includes electricians, distribution of electrons, and other physical things needed to virtualize.

They also tout the cost savings, yet I do not see any calculator or way to figure this out, other than to trust what they say.

Or you can look at some simple math I have provided in an actual ROI exercise I went through with a large customer.

Quote from Bob in the press release:
"Very few customers are able to reap the benefits of virtualization today," said Bob Muglia, senior vice present of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft. "We estimate that less than 5 percent of companies are utilizing virtualization technology because it is simply too cost-prohibitive and complex. We believe Microsoft's comprehensive approach -- from desktop to datacenter -- is unique to the industry by delivering solutions that address virtualization at the hardware, application and management levels. Our approach is not only one of the most comprehensive in the market today, but we believe it is also one of the most economical. This combination brings a big strategic advantage and cost savings to customers."

Microsoft Is Unveiling Virtualization Strategy Today

Microsoft is getting into the Virtualization game this week. Looks like it's a combination of acquisition (Calista Technologies), tweaking of licensing (it's so complicated these days fro large enterprises I'm not sure what this really means), and it won't be ready for 6 months. Hmmm. Another release of announcement-ware designed to sell their current OS? I can hear the resellers now... ' If you buy Vista today you can virtualize in 6 months, which gives you enough time to figure out our licensing programs...'

Microsoft Corp. this week is disclosing new details of its plans to take on VMware Inc. and others in a hot field called virtualization.

The software giant's moves include the purchase of a Silicon Valley start-up called Calista Technologies Inc. Terms of the purchase aren't being disclosed.

Microsoft is also relaxing some licensing policies to allow use of virtualization software with more versions of its Windows Vista operating system and is lowering some fees associated with using the technology.

The company plans to offer a virtualization component with its coming Windows Server 2008 operating system, which is scheduled to be delivered this quarter. But the feature, known as Hyper-V, won't be ready for six months, or sometime in the third quarter, said Larry Orecklin, general manager of Microsoft's server-infrastructure business.

Virtualization isolates a computer's hardware from key pieces of software, bringing such benefits as the ability to run multiple operating systems simultaneously on one computer. The technique, pioneered by International Business Machines Corp. in the 1960s, has become popular for exploiting unused computing capacity on low-end server systems.

The technology is also moving to desktop PCs such as Apple Inc.'s Macintosh, which can use virtualization software to run both Microsoft's Windows and the Macintosh operating system. In the future, technology companies hope to make it easy to transfer bundles of application programs and operating systems -- sometimes called virtual machines -- from computer to computer to be processed most efficiently.

Virtualization specialist VMware, which is majority-owned by EMC Corp., completed a successful initial public offering last year. It now boasts a market capitalization of more than $31 billion.

Microsoft offers some virtualization components already. But it doesn't yet offer a key layer of software, called a "hypervisor," that emulates the physical features of a computer and runs beneath an operating system. Hyper-V is expected to add that capability.

In the meantime, the company has been stressing the battle is just starting -- a similar theme to one the company used when it charged belatedly into markets such as Web browsers.

"Although virtualization has been around for more than four decades, the software industry is just beginning to understand the full implications of this important technology," writes Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's server and tools division, in an email Microsoft is distributing to customers this week.

Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research, said Microsoft is "using the same playbook" it used in the Web-browser wars, when it eventually overwhelmed rival Netscape Communications Corp. He doesn't think VMware has much to worry about for two years or so, though, because its products are so well entrenched in corporate computer rooms.

"What we have been developing over the last seven years is what Microsoft is just starting to think about," said Raghu Raghuram, vice president of products and solutions at VMware, based in Palo Alto, Calif.

Microsoft had irked some virtualization suppliers by adding language to the licensing agreements for two consumer versions of Windows Vista that barred the use of virtualization. More-costly versions of the software, sold primarily to businesses, weren't covered by the restriction. But Microsoft has now decided to allow use of virtualization on the two consumer versions, Windows Vista Home Basic and Windows Vista Home Premium. VMware's Mr. Raghuram said he welcomed the change.

"We had to work pretty diligently to convince them of the error of their ways," added Woodson Hobbs, chief executive officer of Phoenix Technologies Ltd., another company that recently entered the market for virtualization technology.

Microsoft also is lowering the annual fee it charges for running Windows in virtual machines on servers while accessing them from PCs that are covered by a subscription program called software assurance. The estimated retail price for an annual subscription to what the company calls Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop is now $23 per desktop machine, down from $78, the company said.

Calista, a closely held company based in San Jose, Calif., makes software that helps run a user's desktop computing environment remotely on a server system. Microsoft is also announcing cooperative moves with a bigger company that offers similar technology, Citrix Systems Inc. Citrix, which recently bought the virtualization software maker XenSource, is developing technology to help customers transfer virtual machines between Citrix's XenServer product and Windows Server 2008 with the Hyper-V technology, Microsoft said.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Virtualization Hosting Dependencies

I mentioned that there were a few dependencies around virtualized hosting which in my opinion are not that dramatic, unless of course you own a data center that needs to be refurbished...

Power is the biggie, with cooling right up there as well. Most cabinets/racks draw 4KW a rack (42U cabinet) if you through a loaded Blade rack in the data center, you are looking at 7KW, essentially double. So what, right?

You will need to have the ability to do high density hosting which means 200W a square foot vs. the standard 100W a square foot.

For cooling you will need/want special tiles in the floor that increase airflow around the cabinets. For safety's sake you'll probably want to drop another CRAC in for sites with seasonal spike in utilization and corresponding heat signature(s).

If you want a green angle on the cooling, look North my friends. The smart data centers are using mother nature's inherent cooling capabilities to keep gear cool. They shut down several CRACs and use an exchanger to draw very cold dry air into the facilities, reducing the carbon footprint of that data center through reductions in power usage and cooling.

Depending upon the age of data centers this will vary from extremely difficult/expensive/not worth it to a few weeks of refitting.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Actual ROI of Virtualization

As I look ahead to 2008 and pay attention to what my customers are asking me about and what we are discussing, One of the top 2 things is virtualization which ties into the bigger picture of Infrastructure Management. The other is reducing the cost of Email management.

The top reasons companies are talking about it are:

1. Cost savings
2. It is considered green
3. It is a way to create space in a full data center

The cost savings moved the discussions along from ‘What is this virtualization thing everyone is talking about’ to ‘How do we build a plan to virtualize parts of our infrastructure?’. I will say that in my personal experience, the impacts were pretty dramatic in a data center move I was a part of. Here are the numbers:

Overall Consolidation ratio: 20:1

1,000 Wintel boxes into 50 Sun Blades running VMWare
8,000 square feet to ~200 Square feet
Cooling is 1/10 of what it was
Power is 1/10 of what it was

For a couple of large accounts that I work with, I will take you through the back of the napkin math we did on a whiteboard to quantify the ROI of Virtualization:

100,000 physical Wintel servers collapse into 5,000 Sun Blades
Power is reduced to 1/10
Cooling is reduced to 1/10
Floor space in two data centers 10:1 reduction in footprint

The assumptions were that the costs (they are leased machines) were a wash on the hardware:
• The Wintel boxes draw was 230 Watts at 50% Utilization so 23,000 KW per month
• @ $0.35/KW multiplied by 730 Hours in a month comes out to ~$6M per month on power costs to run machines and cool them.
• Did not include facilities costs

Virtualization costs:

• 5,000 blades draw 3900kw*730*.35= $900,000/mo (6 to 1 reduction)
• Add in costs of VMWare - $5,000 per instance * 5000 = $25M
• 5 month payback w/license inclusion

Are there dependencies? Yes, and in the next entry, I will explore some of the dependencies, which are negligible IMHO.