Lawyer Bait

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Data Center Containers - a black licorice product?

I sincerely hope Tier 1 does a Data Center Transformation Summit twice a year. The one I was at yesterday was excellent and was topped off by dinner with the rock stars over at Horizon Data Center Solutions in Reston, VA. Then this morning our press release hit the wires which was great to wake up to.

One theme I saw again and again was people either 'get' containers or they dont. Chris Crosby over at Digital Realty Trust doesn't like them. Nor does the CTO at Equinix, Dave Pickut. Chris had a presentation that was full of inconsistencies that I will attribute to DLR being a REIT vs. a data center owner/operator. REITs view the container as competition - it's not real estate so they're not interested because they can't sell it. Given Mike Manos' move over there and his work in deploying containers for Microsoft makes me wonder if DLR will shed its REIT status and broaden its offerings. Nah. A REIT is a REIT and they have a lot of customers who rely on them for space.

Equinix (and others) don't like them, I believe, for two reasons -

1. They house high density equipment, up to 27 Kw per cabinet. The standard is 4.8 Kw, which means you need to allocate more floor space for air flow and that's floor space you cant sell to the 4.8 Kw cabinet customers.

2. The data centers they are in can't support them from a deployment perspective. Something new they can't support.

Here is why I believe they cannot ignore the data center container (DCC) market - the efficiency is unprecedented for the draw, the footprint, and the cost. You will save $6,000 per cabinet per year putting it in a container on the PUE gains alone (Power Utilization Efficiency). When all you need is a 600 AMP feed and a 4" water pipe connected to a water source of 65 degress, you're done.

So what's holding the proliferation back?

Basically 18 months ago before the economy really tanked, companies refreshed a lot of servers and other IT gear. They bought a lot of VMWare, and stood up a lot of new stuff. New stuff that was leased. On a 36 month lease. We are 18 or so months into a lease cycle for a lot of companies that have their hands tied and can't move to a DCC if they wanted to.

So what I see starting to happen is that companies are giving DCCs a look because bonuses are being tied to reducing carbon emissions, consuption, and doing more with renewable energy sources. DCC's will give them a healthy bonus. That tied with being able to lease extreme density gear self contained and from PO to plug in of 10 weeks tops - look out.

So right now the DCC's are a black licorice product - you either love em or you hate 'em. I believe more people will be loving them in the next 18-24 months because it's green ($) for them to do it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Digital Realty Trust Presents

From Chris Crosby:

Power is the commodity of the information age - I agree

If you buy square feet in a data center you will get screwed - buy Kw/load - Agreed

If you are thinking about functional obsalescence you are thinking about it wrong -???

'I bet you've never had the FBI raid the cloud' - Duh, only one company has had it happen.

Pitching the modular pod approach - wash rinse repeat, build to be the same -that's great if requirements don't change

Containers are not they way to go - 100% wrong on all data points - this will get a separate blog entry - He completely missed the boat.

Covering the Data Center Transformation Summit 2009

I will follow this on twitter as well:

Hot topics:

Selective outsourcing is available yet under utilized
-Wholesale & resale

Financial stability of providers is key
- There is a lot of legacy debt from 2001 for a lot of players

Best of times for the data center industry
- Banks hate data centers
- Hard to get construction loans
- Data centers are the safe bet vs. mortgages to high credit risks
- Have the banks done that well in picking good loan programs? $100M is safer in a data center project than in high risk mortgages yet in the banks eyes there is no difference

Thursday, April 23, 2009

vSphere 4 - VMWare Turbo?

I love this quote taken from information week

In its initial iteration, vSphere 4 can manage up to 1,280 virtual machines on 32 servers, or an average 40 VMs per server. Each server may have up to 64 cores, such as eight-way server with eight cores per CPU, for a total of 2,048 cores; each server may host 32 TB of RAM. VSphere 4 can also manage 8,000 network ports and 16 PB of storage.

and this one:

Network throughput is now 30 Gbps compared with the previous 9 Gbps. A virtual machine can have up to 300,000 operations per second versus 100,000, and the new maximum number of transactions per second is 8,900. The latter figure is five times the total transactions per second of the Visa network worldwide, said Steve Herrod, CTO of VMware. VSphere 4 includes Distributed Power Management, which monitors running virtual machines and moves them off underutilized servers, which is shut down, to a server running closer to capacity. By adopting Distributed Power Management, a VMware customer can save 20% of his power consumption, said Herrod. If all VMware customers implemented it, the saved power would be enough to supply the nation of Denmark for 10 days, he claimed. He then quipped it would be enough to serve Las Vegas for nine minutes. VSphere 4 includes VMware Host Profiles, which are golden images of desired server configurations. By referring to a host profile, a vSphere user can generate a new virtual machine and know its properties, according to Herrod.

My Crystal Ball says...

I finally had a chance to catch up on a few things early this morning and one of them was the pile of press clippings and RSS feeds.

Two predictions based on 100% personal speculation based on press mentions & reading:

Cisco buys EMC
Dell buys Egenera
Oracle sells Sun hardware business to IBM

That's all for now.
Feel free to tell me how out of my mind I am...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Is a Green Data Center even possible?

This was the question running through my mind this weekend, and assuming it was, who would build it, what makes it green, and is it a standard? Yes, my mind was quite active this weekend…

The question came up after a chat I had with Austin Energy and the State of Michigan last week about wind power projects – both current and future. Why wind you might ask? Because right now it is fashionable, generates more electricity than solar on the same footprint, and it works. In the data center world however, you plan for the crazy what if’s, in this case no wind for a month, so you do need to have back up at the ready, preferably Natural Gas. T. Boone Pickens has studied this extensively.

So let’s consider that we have access to wind generation, the issue that I have seen is that the grid, at least the ERCOT one, is not designed to have more generation that it has today. So you can generate thousands of megawatts from May-October during the windy ‘tornado’ season but because the transmission grid can’t do anything with the capacity being generated you turn off the generation capability so you don’t bring down the entire US power grid. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Given how much electricity data centers consume and need to sustain growth, it seems there should be a louder voice out there telling utilities to upgrade their power systems. There isn’t though. Why? Money. If I own a utility that gets a lot of electricity generated by wind (inexpensive), then any upgrades I make to my power system are going to help my competition more than me (potentially). So they don’t get done.

So while there is all this effort out there being spent on building generation, until we give the Grid an upgrade it will be the equivalent of watching high definition TV over dial up. There will be a lot more content (electricity) than availability to deliver (bandwidth).

I believe this is what ultimately will hold back expansion the most, of both data centers AND the proliferation of getting green energy to some of the largest consumers of power out there. Your friendly, stark, neighborhood data center.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Big Switch

For anyone looking for a GREAT read about where I believe computing is heading pick up a copy of Nicolas Carr's The Big Switch. It discusses virtualization and the rise of Cloud Computing. It's a couple hundred pages of great stuff to think about. I just finished it on my trip down to Reston, VA and will likely re-read it. It was that interesting.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cloud Computing is the New Black

I am at the Virtualization (and Cloud Computing) conference in Manhattan and was here to meet with the cloud computing Czar from HP and 3tera, Right Scale, vKernel and others and had a chance to walk the intimate expo floor and see what vendors were doing. The thought that hit me was that Cloud Computing is the New Black.

The level of confusion that is out there is staggering - both on the marketplace side as well as the consumer side. I saw a fair number of the reveloving slide decks up on LCDs and they all felt compelled to define, yet again, what cloud is. To them.

For Rackspace the cloud offering is a service, for others an IT initiative to reduce costs, for others a chance to offer consulting services and for others it was all about the software solution they were pitching.

There were a lot of people trying to figure out what it was and my observation was that they were as confused when they left as when they got there.

One area that was not even discussed let alone on display was the cloud enablement, and I think it is more important than any one solution. What I mean by cloud enablement is a set of components that are already stitched together to facilitate the use of the benefits of compute on demand.

My metaphor that I have been using at CRG West is that we want to be Madison Square Garden not the performance that is using it as a venue. In other words vendors are focused on whether or not they want to be U2 or Stars on Ice, vs. the place where people (buyers) come to experience what it is they want to experience.

So we have started to build the new Madison Square Garden so when companies want the New Black, in whatever shade or size they need, we will be the place they come to experience it.