March 31, 2008

"It's Too Darned Hot"

Electric_bills_2 More expensive electricity, less access to power, cooling challenges, growing data center demands and innovative solutions.  All of these topics are covered in an overview article by Steve Hamm in the March 20 issue of BusinessWeek, titled "It's Too Darned Hot," which reports on data center advances by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Pacific Gas & Electric, Verizon, Sun and IBM.

There's also a fascinating sidebar story by Hamm titled "IBM: Better Chilling Through Biochemistry" that explains how IBM researcher Bruno Michel in Zurich has developed new ways to cool chips with water shot through thousands of nozzles, much like capillaries in the human body.


In the Alps: Michel of IBM devised a way to cool chips with water jets.

Hamm reports, "IBM researcher Michel is focusing on a seldom-trod territory—where biology and physics meet. Michel, who has a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Zurich, is designing devices that he expects will one day cool chips with a system modeled after the human body. While the processors in server computers are typically cooled with air, these chips are chilled with a liquid delivered through a system similar to the body's capillaries. One of Michel's inventions is a metal cap that fits over a processor and sprays jets of water out of some 50,000 nozzles into microscopic channels etched in the metal. The channels circulate the liquid efficiently and cut the amount of energy required to pump the water."

by Will Runyon March 31, 2008
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March 25, 2008

Green your data center and get payback in two years or less

The March issue of Green Business magazine reports in an article title "Get Tech Smart" on the fast ROI from green IT. 

Green_business_cover Key excerpts . . .

In the drive to promote energy efficiency and to improve their own bottom lines through innovation and “green” marketing, IT companies are pushing a more environmentally friendly approach to computing, and they’re doing their best to walk the talk as well. The critical hot spot for all this activity is the data centre...“If this room was a data centre, you’d typically be using 10 to 30 times the amount of energy it’s using as an office,” notes Steve Sams, vice-president of global site and facilities services at IBM Corp...
    The statistics vary depending on who you talk to, but everyone agrees that data centres are energy hogs. The problem, according to Sams, is that many businesses are operating without the facts. “If companies consider their data centre as a car, they don’t actually know if their data centre is a Toyota Prius data centre or a Humvee data centre. They don’t know how many miles per gallon that data centre is getting.”...Sams agrees...most CIOs aren’t responsible for their energy bills. “They may only be paying for a tiny fraction of their energy use because they are charged the same amount per square foot as office space,” he says. “Few have looked at their energy bills either, so they lack the facts to make real business decisions.”
    Another challenge Sams points to is clients not understanding the payback. “These aren’t six, 12 or 20-year payback periods,” he stresses. “What we’re finding is that significant improvement is available in all data centres we looked at with payback periods of two years or less. And we typically find that customers are discovering savings in the 20-55 per cent range.”...IBM has done something similar, rationalizing its internal data centre infrastructure in the past decade from 155 host data centres and 31 networks down to one network and 7 data centres. This is saving them $1.5 billion a year in operating costs. The process itself proves a point for the companies’ customers...As Steve Sams notes, there are other tools coming to the market that could take data centre management to a new level by offering greater automation controls for energy use. “Start taking advantage of these so you can set a policy around service levels and energy management, and let the tools start saving you money by automating what it is capable of — moving workloads around, turning off servers that don’t need to be used as part of active energy management.”

by Will Runyon March 25, 2008 in Design, Energy Efficiency, Services, Who's Who
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March 20, 2008

New Cloud Computing Center in Dublin

NetworkWorld reports on the opening of a new IBM "cloud computing" data center in Dublin. 

One of the Dublin center's first offerings for clients, called IBM Idea Factory for Cloud Computing, is a new service delivered directly to clients over a cloud computing environment. Using Web 2.0 technology, it allows communities of business professionals to be assembled into social networks to facilitate the development of new business ideas. IBM Idea Factory for Cloud Computing captures business processes -- from their beginnings as ideas to commercialization -- speeding up brainstorming among employees, partners, software developers and other third party participants.

Cloud computing is an information technology (IT) infrastructure in which dynamically shared computing resources are virtualized and accessed as a service. Cloud computing replaces the traditional data center model in which companies own and manage their own stand alone hardware and software systems. Cloud computing is an attractive proposition for small to large-sized companies. It also is a green technology model that reduces energy consumption by improving IT resource utilization, therefore requiring fewer servers to handle equivalent workloads.

by Will Runyon March 20, 2008 in Design, Services, Who's Who
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March 06, 2008

Data Center Best Practices

The March 1 issue of InformationWeek has a cover story on data center best practices.  One of the best practices covered is how Bryant University has transformed its data centers.

Infoweek_cover_030108_2 Information Week reports . . .  "Rhode Island's Bryant University sees its fair share of snow and cold weather. And all that cold outside air is perfect to chill the liquid that cools the university's new server room in the basement of the John H. Chafee Center for International Business. It's just one way that Bryant's IT department is saving 20% to 30% on power consumption compared with just a year ago. 'We've come from the dark ages to the forefront,' says Art Gloster, Bryant's VP of IT for the last five years. Before a massive overhaul completed in April, the university had four 'data centers' scattered across campus, including server racks stuffed into closets with little concern for backup and no thought to efficiency. Now Bryant's consolidated, virtualized, reconfigured, blade-based, and heavily automated data center is one of the first examples of IBM's young green data center initiative.

IBM practices what it preaches, spending $79 million on its own green data center in Boulder, Colo. It spends $10 million a month on energy for all its data centers and hopes to keep the same environmental footprint through massive data center expansions."

by Will Runyon March 6, 2008 in Design
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March 03, 2008

College kids find careers in mainframe programming

The Wall Street Journal's Business Technology blog has a post titled Young Mainframe Programmers are the Cat's Meow about the 50,000 kids in college who are studying mainframe programming.

Money quote - "Students like Elizabeth Bell, a 23-year old computer-programming student at Georgian College in Ontario, Canada, are starting to realize that while being a young mainframe programmer may not be sexy, it’s highly marketable. 'There are so many legacy systems out there that it isn’t feasible to think that businesses will phase them out over the next 10 or 20 years,' she tells the Business Technology Blog. Rather than compete with 50 other Web designers for the handful of programming jobs that use the hot technologies of the moment – technologies that Bell says she knows – she taught herself COBOL, a mainframe computer language invented in 1959."

Read more about the next generation of mainframe programmers here and here

by Will Runyon March 3, 2008 in Who's Who
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