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Economic Downturn Driving Cloud Computing Evolution

“Desperate times call for desperate measures”. — Not sure who said this originally, but some attribute it to Guy Fawkes in 1605. There was an article I was just reading on Data Center Knowledge that got me thinking a bit. In periods of economic uncertainty, especially when the capital for large-scale build-outs may be hard to raise in the debt markets or at least much more expensive to raise people turn to look at other options that enable them to continue to meet end-user and business demands for IT services. Sometimes they need capacity, sometimes IT just needs the time to focus on new projects. Read More »

Today my laptop was stolen….

In the last 24 hours I went to my car, went for a drive, and noticed that it was a bit breezy. I looked over the the right and noticed a good bit of glass all over the place, some of it underneath me, and where o’ where was my briefcase, with my snazzy MacBook Air, external HDD, US Passport, and notebook. Yeah I was irked a bit! Read More »

Efficient Application versus Efficienct Infrastructure

I recently heard an interesting comment to the effect that “the problem with all this Green data center stuff is that you only get so much by improving the IT infrastructure and the facilities that support them. The real gains come in the application architecture”. From a purist point of view I would agree that this is correct, infrastructure is designed and deployed to support applications and the services therein.However, (and forgive me if I sound like a former facilities guy here) we need to walk before we can fly in my opinion. I’ve done some calculations along with some fellow green collars tech folks at consortium and data center charets we attend that suggest you can get as much as a 40% operative efficiency gain without even touching the applications. Expressed as a percentage electrical efficiency improvement, we’re talking about 1) reducing total power supplies (SMPS) 2) Increasing distribution voltage 3) Improving IT asset utilization through virtualization 4) high efficiency, close coupled cooling with side air economizers 5) efficient UPS and so on. Emerson does a good job of summing up this methodology in their Energy Logic approach.Now if we consider a data center that is roughly 40% efficient (very typical sadly) from an electrical standpoint (including cooling measured in Watts) and you could move that to 80% that equates to a difference of $400,000 of opex spend on a 1 MW data center costing $1,000,000 per year for electrical supply. Is this not compelling?When we look at application architectures it becomes evident there are massive, probably larger gains that can be made than just focusing on the infrastructure. For example looking at an information stream that is generated as the result of a typical web transaction. Most math says it will hit infrastructure of one form or another somewhere between 100-120 times. Lets for argument sake say that each time it traverses this infrastructure it requires 2 Watts on average (per touch point) to handle that stream… We would be talking best case scenario 200 Watts (100 touches x 2 Watts). Doesn’t sound like much until you consider a use case like say ebay…Now if we can take that application delivery model and streamline it to say 20 touches we now are looking at 40 Watts per web transaction (20 touches x 2 Watts) then we’re talking about a 60 Watt delta per transaction, perhaps a 120 Watt if we count all the supporting facilities power requirements (primarily cooling).So in the case of energy efficient application architectures, the scale can be massive. However, there is no metric or monitoring application that can easily correlate Watts to applications. Since anything we do in a data center requires a business case, to me focusing on application architectures only today may be philosophically correct but is prohibitively difficult to show the value clearly.Maybe I’m missing something here but I believe there is a lot of good work we can do by focusing on infrastructure architectures in the near term that will improve operative efficiency and will also set a good foundation for the planning and analysis of more efficient application architectures later. I think taking an “and” and not an “or” approach to efficiency across applications and infrastructure is our best bet.Weigh in here with some thoughts, I’m curious if anybody else is having this “water-cooler debate”?Some additional good thoughts on this topic on Paul Murphy’s blog on ZDNet.

Wishful Thinking: The MDS Edition

October 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm PST

A few months ago, one of our switching competitors started telling customers that our Catalyst switch was going to be put out to pasture, which, of course, was not even close to reality. Well, now it seems that the new rumor is that the Cisco MDS has its days numbered. Again, this may just be wishful thinking on the part of some folks, the the reality is that Cisco is fully committed to the MDS family. The MDS continues to be a successful and critical part of our Data Center 3.0 strategy and we will continue to invest in the platform. End of story.

Tacking with Captain Ron and the Nexus 7000

October 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm PST

So, I am watching Captain Ron (hey, we all have our guilty pleasures) and it reminded me of a conversation I had with a customer back in Vegas at VMworld. The customer was giving me some friendly grief around the recent NetworkWorld lab test of the Cisco Nexus 7000 and the high availability features of the platform. At this point, you are probably wondering where Captain Ron figures into this…. Read More »