Posts Tagged 'server'

Data Center Usage

Probably one of the largest expenditures companies are making these days involve data storage in one way or another. Storing corporate data, user, and customer information securely is becoming a priority at the company board meeting. A couple of problems arise: keeping costs low, and developing a scalable solution.

Given the recent economic troubles Dell decided not to spend more money on servers and simply make better use of what they had. While 65% of their customers had outgrown their storage capacities there certainly was a need for off site solutions. Going to a virtualization model Dell saw it’s 12% server usage go to 42%. Increasing the workload without having to spend another dime. Making use of the resources at hand.

Proposed efficiency requirements have raised the ire of technology companies in this predicament. Placing an outdated standard on current technology would seriously hamper future innovation, not to mention force large expenditures on infrastructure. One thing is certain, the cost of storing data is going up.

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Disaster Proof Backup

For many companies struggling to keep up with user demands a data disaster is just a few hours away. Business demands are relying heavily on information management and protection. Backup technology has moved up the ladder of importance as well as practices to limit data loss and data recovery scenarios. The focus has been on fortifying data centers with multiple and redundancy checks. Better to be over-cautious then explaining to the boss why the company servers are down. However the costs are often enough to force small and midsized companies down the riskier road. Backup systems are getting expensive and complex to manage and often get outsourced. Off-site backups still leaves room for downtime but paying someone else to do the job is usually cheaper than investing in an entire department of your own.

A few companies have come out with their own black box built to withstand all kinds of data disasters. The unit uses solid state drives raided together to provide the ultimate backup system. Remote access, full encryption, and software to help you manage your data.

Tech on TV: 24

Did you happen to catch the television show “24” last night? If you’re any type of a geek I’m sure you spotted a few laughable technology incidents during the show. For me there were 2 spots where I just could not suspend reality and be entertained. There’s a scene where inside the FBI the technicians working for the secret organization manage to implement a system wide format. Yes, silly I know, but it moved the plot along. You can’t have Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) always yelling “put down the weapon!”. So according to the grand wise old television, all that is required to perform a system wide network format is a “special” I/O card, I’m guessing it was PCI, reprogram the firmware, plug the card into a server hot, without shutting or powering down, then type some command line functions and voila. System wide format. Oh and did I mention that you have to “tie the servers together”? HA!

Another issue I had was Chloe, magically recovering data of the secret list of agents stored on an “unknown media device” (which simply looked like a metal SD card or metal USB stick). And it wipes itself after one use? HA! As well Chloe manages to perform another magical data recovery after the system wide format. ZOMG! Run some data recovery software and there’s the files! A secure wipe would have taken a very long time. Sure maybe the bad guys could have performed a quick wipe but any cheap software could have saved the data files. Script writer FAIL! I guess I’m just nerding out but I have to pick on something.

More servers, more problems

Most big companies with cash to spare, spend it to solve typical technological problems. Slow system performance? Upgrade, buy more servers, new hardware, or more bandwidth. Not often do you see companies invest in analyzing existing hardware performance and tweaking their systems. Take for example eBay. eBay handles an enormous amount of data through many, many auctions running 24/7. Sure, with the amount of money eBay is rolling in, it would be easy to buy a few more servers to accommodate people trying to hawk their stolen goods. Rather than doing that eBay took an innovative approach by analyzing the analytic data, finding bottlenecks and improving server efficiency. How’s that for a big company.

Now if only they would share some of those secrets with say … Google? Maybe searches could get even faster (if that’s possible) but also minimize future technology pollution going forward. You gotta think that 5 years from now Google and eBay and other technology companies create a lot of technology waste. Going green would help all of us.

Sun jumping on the flash storage bandwagon

Sun will release a 32GB flash storage drive this year and make flash storage an option for nearly every server the vendor produces, Sun officials are announcing Wednesday. (Compare storage products)

Like EMC, Sun is predicting big things for flash. While flash storage is far more expensive than disk on a per-gigabyte basis, Sun argues that flash is cheaper for high-performance applications that rely on fast IOPS (I/O Operations Per Second) speeds.

“It consumes one-fifth the power and is a hundred times faster [than rotating disk drives],” John Fowler, the head of Sun’s servers and storage division, said at a press conference in Boston Tuesday. “The fact that it’s not the same dollars per gigabyte is perfectly okay.” (link)

SSD ready to usher old hard drives into the sunset

While capacities, fill times, and bandwidth have changed, latencies have, however, remained relatively static. Hard disks still use rotating platters with magnetic pits, and spin latencies can only decrease with increases in rotational speed. Spindle speeds have risen, from the 3500RPM Maxtor of yesteryear, through 4200, 5400, and today’s 7200RPM spindle speeds, with the transition to 10,000 and 15,000 RPM speeds accomplished in some sectors of the server space and burgeoning in the desktop space. But this reliance on physical moving parts has made their development hard; this is only a doubling of spindle and a latency cut from about 30 milliseconds to about 10 milliseconds. While main memory latencies have fallen by a factor of ten, and CPU speeds have risen by factors of thousands, hard disk latencies have remained comparatively static in the milliseconds for those same 17 years.

The result of all of these trends is that it’s easier and easier to store huge amounts of data at lower and lower cost, but the increasing data bandwidth and low latency that modern storage needs demand is harder to come by. I’ve heard from a source that a copy of the text of the entire Internet, stored by Google and its competitors and searched for text in web search queries, is in the vicinity of 20TB. In hard disks, this would now cost a mere $4,000 in disks (much more in servers) but would be completely unsuited to this kind of storage due to the long read time of the disks; a total read for a search would take hours. Instead, Google hosts its web servers from huge clusters of thousands of servers, storing complete copies of the text of the internet in RAM, at about half a million dollars in DDR2 per cluster. (ArsTechnica)

Switzerland: server heats swimming pool

A new computer centre in Switzerland is making novel use of the hot air thrown off by its servers and communications equipment: the heat is being funneled next door to warm the local swimming pool.

When computing companies talk about “greening” their energy-guzzling data centers, that usually means powering the centers with renewable sources or using more-efficient servers.

In a few cases, the heat produced by the computers is used to warm nearby offices.

In what appears to be a first, the town pool in Uitikon, Switzerland, outside Zurich, will be the beneficiary of the waste heat from a data center recently built by IBM for GIB-Services AG. (link)


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