I have been involved in a lot of Data Center projects over the years and during the design discussions someone almost invariably observes: “it’s not rocket science. We’re just building a Data Center.”
It turns out there is rocket science in some Data Centers after all.
A handful of server environments now incorporate hydrogen fuel cells, the same technology that helped U.S. spacecraft reach the moon as part of the Gemini and Apollo space missions in the 1960s and are still used in space shuttles today. Data Center industry publications have in recent years reported fuel cells helping power server environments belonging to the First National Bank of Omaha, Fujitsu and Verizon.
Hydrogen fuel cells combine hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity and produce heat and water as byproducts. They typically run on natural gas, which although not a renewable energy does emits less carbon, sulfur and nitrogen than other sources. Probably the best known fuel cell on the market is Bloom Energy’s “Bloom Box” that was profiled by 60 Minutes in 2010.
So, are we at Cisco using fuel cells in Data Centers? Watch below to see why or why not.
Cisco Advanced Services has been involved in quite a few Data Center Migration projects over last couple of years. One common theme in most of these migrations was that the projects were never limited to infrastructure migration to shiny new devices. Statements of work almost always included improvements and customization to routing, configuration of QoS across the Data Center Interconnect and the WAN circuits, and to provide some level of instrumentation to validate the traffic flow across multiple different paths. While these requirements seem like a logical extension of any Data Center migration project, fulfilling these requirements was never straightforward.
In most of the customer environments, by looking at the Network topology, we could easily determine safe upper limits of client to server traffic. The real challenge was to determine traffic between the web front-end servers and the application and/or database servers – the east/west traffic. Some wild assumptions were made in some cases since the data was either not available or was inadequate. This lack of network traffic profiling made QoS provisioning very difficult on WAN circuits and almost impossible on the Inter Data Center links.
The Cloud market is certainly heating up. Last Thursday’s announcement from Dell of a $1B (US) investment in 2011 to enter the Cloud hosting market had me reflecting on their new direction. Dell is beginning a two-year build-out of ten data centers around the world to serve enterprises’ public and private Cloud needs. Earlier this year in a similar move, HP announced a set of new Cloud services they are offering ranging from consultancy, Cloud services, and equipment. These options included an “Enterprise Cloud Services-Compute” which will deliver private Cloud services directly from HP’s data centers to end-customers.
There’s a striking difference between Cisco’s strategy and those of HP and Dell. HP and Dell’s strategies will be challenging for some of their customers, especially service providers. Cisco’s strategy is to enable our customers to provide cloud services, whether service provider, public sector, or enterprise.
On one hand, HP and Dell are providing data center packages to enable SP Cloud delivery. On the other hand, both are investing to deliver Cloud services directly to end-users and bypass the service providers. While this is likely to further stimulate Cloud competition, it is directly competitive with service providers who wish to offer their own Cloud services.
Strong title perhaps…but thats the kind of over the top messaging I have been practicing now that I am technically on a marketing team. Today is the big day -- all the hard work of a great many people that spent the last several years dreaming, designing and then building what appears to me as the most advanced, eco-friendly data center as yet conceived…(there I go again). Lots to promote here so bear with me -- first and foremost -- be sure and tune in today as they stream the grand opening event featuring our own Rebecca Jacoby and John Manville -- you can catch it live on the uStream channel: http://www.ustream.tv/ciscotv from 2:30 to 3:15 Central Time. (cause its in Texas!). Jimmy Ray recently penned a nice run down of our own recent visit to this high impact low profile data center in his blog -- I thought I would share a couple of my favorite things.