Thursday, 29 November 2012

Deltalis RadixCloud Takes Advantage of Old Military Complex

When Deltalis was looking for a location for their new data centre and collocation facility, one of the things at the top of the list was the potential for making the facility as green as possible. What they found was beyond anyone's expectations. The new Deltalis RadixCloud ended up occupying space formerly used as the command-and-control centre of the Swiss Air Force, buried deep in the granite rock of the Alps.

Not only is the site now on the short list as a candidate for the Most Extreme DC Deployment 2012, but it also provides Deltalis customers with unprecedented security in a facility that is "ultra-green." Deltalis RadixCloud takes advantage of the mountain's natural cooling and constant air temperature to maintain a facility where heating and cooling requires almost no resources. This keeps the facility's power and cooling energy needs at a minimum.

In order to make the former military space usable Deltalis had to find a way to adapt to what was already there. Remodelling was out of the question. To make it work they brought in Minkels to design and build a modular system that works with the space they have. Minkels' modular architecture was perfect for taking advantage of confined spaces, large pillars, and narrow hallways. They were able to use the space extremely efficiently through the use of custom-designed racks and containment systems.

In addition to minimal power needs, the site provides military grade security and reliability for a data centre and collocation facility that should be able to provide nearly 100% uptime for the foreseeable future. The site will not be hampered by weather, it has self-contained backup power for redundancy, and the physical structure itself is intimidating enough to keep unwanted visitors away. This is a big score for Deltalis RadixCloud.

An Important Step for Modularity

While building a data centre inside an ultra-secure military installation is an impressive feat in itself, more important is the fact that modular designs were used to build the systems. This is an important step for the furtherance of modularity in the data centre environment.

Modular solutions make it easier for data centre and colocation providers to make use of existing buildings rather than having to buy land and build from the ground up. Re-purposing old manufacturing sites, government buildings, and such could help contain costs of new data centre expansion while increasing the speed by which companies do expand.

With less money needed for construction, companies can further concentrate on green power and cooling as well. Not every new data centre will be able to take advantage of the natural heating and cooling of the Alps, but the possibilities for being much more energy-efficient are broadened significantly with the addition of modular data solutions.

As for Deltalis and Minkels, representatives from both companies will attend the DatacenterDynamics EMEA 2012 Awards in mid-December. Perhaps they'll walk away with the award for the Most Extreme DC Deployment 2012...

Monday, 26 November 2012

Google Announces Plans for New Data Centre

The world's largest search engine is at the forefront of the latest datacentre news thanks their announcement of a new facility planned for the United States. Currently the company operates eight different data centres in the U.S., Chile, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Belgium. The new facility will be located in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Google plans to design and build their new $200 million data centre to be the greenest and most energy efficient of all of their facilities. One of the reasons for choosing the Council Bluffs location is its access to renewable energy sources like the nearby Rippey wind farms. Google plans to invest an additional $75 million in the farms in a separate project to be completed by 2014.

In the short term the data centre project will bring a large number of construction jobs to the area. The company will need all sorts of contractors including steelworkers, electricians, millwrights, etc. But the good employment news doesn't stop there. Once construction is complete there will be a large number data centre jobs that need to be filled. These jobs will be available for IT professionals and college grads looking to get into the IT industry.

The entire project brings Google's total investment in the state of Iowa to about $1.1 billion. The current facility at Council Bluffs will be expanded as part of the new data centre construction. The completed facility will continue to house Google's managed services and applications like Google maps and Gmail. It may also be used to house an expanded infrastructure being set up to get ready for Google's future.

Good for Iowa

It's safe to say there are plenty of sites around the world Google could have chosen for its new data centre. You could make the case the company should expand its footprint in Belgium, or get in on the ground floor in Germany or the UK. But perhaps it's just better to say, "Good for Iowa."

Iowa is part of the U.S. heartland; state that has been hit especially hard by the now four-year-old recession. Much of the state's manufacturing base is gone, and only agriculture is keeping the area alive. On the other hand, Google representatives say they chose the site in part because of the quality workers found in the Council Bluffs area. It's a testament to a group of people who will work just as hard in the midst of recession as they did before it occurred.

To those countries and other American locales hoping to get the Google facility we say this: the Council Bluffs project is certainly not the last one to be undertaken by Google. There will be more in the future, along with more opportunities to convince the company your location is the best choice. For now it is Iowa's turn to enjoy the good fortunes thrown their way. We hope the new data centre puts lots of people to work and boosts the local and state economy.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Virtualisation to Address Fault Tolerance Issues

ZD Net contributing author Dan Kusnetzky recently wrote a very compelling piece talking about virtualization and how it relates to fault tolerance in the cloud computing and colocation environments. The main thrust of his piece was the assertion that the need for affordable fault tolerance is driving the next generation of virtualization software. He's probably right.

As Kusnetzky correctly points out, the cost of acquiring hardware for a new start-up or expansion can be harmful to the bottom line if purchasers don't look for the least expensive equipment possible. Throw in the cost of the datacentre training necessary to properly use more advanced equipment, and you have a recipe in which IT managers and company accountants would rather trust virtualisation rather than investing in the most expensive hardware.

Kusnetzky points out that this type of thinking is not necessarily a bad thing as long as a data centre has the proper virtualisation technology in place to quickly address fault issues. Right now, the biggest downside to virtualisation is that it doesn't offer the near instant response provided by advanced hardware options. But, he says, that looks like it's changing.

If he's right, virtualisation providers like VMware and Citrix may already be aggressively pursuing more robust and scalable solutions. Even companies like Microsoft and Oracle (makers of VirtualBox) will be forced to get on board if they expect to keep up. The inevitable result should be new virtualisation software that takes cloud computing, networking, and managed services to the next level. It's an exciting time to be part of the data centre and colocation industry.

What It Means to the Customer

Practically speaking the average data centre customer won't be impacted in the short term. As good as virtualisation software is, it's nowhere near ready to replace advanced hardware solutions with dedicated fault response built-in. But as virtualisation options become more robust clients should experience more consistent uptime and fewer faults.

The changes will directly help them by keeping their websites readily available at all times. But it will also help indirectly due to the competition among data centres to gain and keep new customers. That competition will encourage them to offer new virtualisation packages, better support systems, and better pricing.

The only question that remains is one of who will cross the finish line first. Among all the virtualisation developers none stands out right now as the clear leader in advanced fault response technology. One would expect a company like Citrix, which earns its living on virtualisation, to be ahead of the game. But even Oracle wants to be on the cutting edge in order to stay ahead of Microsoft, despite the fact that their VirtualBox product is open source and free.

Kusnetzky predicts suppliers like Stratus and Marathon Technologies are likely to lead the way. There's no reason to believe he's wrong, but we'll have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime data centres will have to continue making do with current virtualization technologies and upgraded hardware when they can afford it.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Green Regulation Affecting Data Centre Energy Policy

Even as the UK government is pressing hard to advance cloud computing, data centres and collocation throughout the Kingdom, they are simultaneously making things more difficult through more restrictive green regulation. Data centre owners and operators are crumbling under the weight of carbon emission restrictions, rising energy costs, and an IT industry growing more complex by the day.

Yet all the datacentre news is not bad. For example, Enlogic has just launched a new series of energy metering power distribution units (PDUs) designed to make data centre racks more energy-efficient.  Enlogic is a PDU specialist offering power solutions and environmental management solutions.

According to company officials Enlogic's new PDU systems are able to actively and continually monitor the energy flow of racks, paying attention to anything that could cause service disruptions or overload conditions. The units are also constantly feeding data to an IT staff so they can make correct decisions. All the information makes it easier to plan power needs more efficiently, prevent downtime, and make better use of energy resources all across the board.

Enlogic began to design and build their PDUs more than 18 months ago. Since then they have made major investments in R&D in order to solve the energy problems of its customers while keeping up with regulatory change. Enlogic VP Paul Inett said that "directives such as the UK Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) and European Union Energy-Using Product (EuP) are increasing the pressure on data centre personnel to rapidly reduce the energy used and carbon produced by the company’s IT facilities."

He went on to say that proper energy management must begin at the rack level in order to be effective in the long run. IT managers choosing intelligent PDUs are better positioned to cut their energy consumption while still meeting growth goals.

Green Enough

While very few in the IT industry would argue against the need to be more energy-efficient, one must wonder when data centres will be green enough. No matter how much carbon-reducing regulation is introduced it won't change the fact that living in a digital age requires a tremendous amount of energy humanity has never consumed before. It has to be produced somehow.

Enlogic is in a very good position as long as they are able to continue making intelligent power distribution units able to help data centres keep up with regulations. For them, business should be good for a long time to come. At the same time, more efficient use of energy resources will be good for all of the UK; regardless of whether individuals are directly affected by it or not.

If the company's new line of PDUs delivers as advertised you can bet they will be well received by data centre and collocation facilities all over Europe. And though the company is not even two years old it is poised to have a fairly significant impact on the entire data centre industry.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

London Capital Signs on for Virtual Private LAN

Any organisation involved in the financial sector needs reliable data communications, infrastructure, and so on. It should be no surprise then that London Capital Group, one of the UK's biggest spread betting companies, has teamed up with Exponential-e to come up with a Virtual Private LAN capable of providing London Capital customers with increased protection and faster data communications.

Exponential-e will design and deploy the Virtual Private LAN (VPLAN) to connect London Capital's main headquarters with its outlying sites in Slough and Docklands. The connection will provide a resilient route between all the sites with a capacity of 1 GB. The direct connection and increased speed is vital to ensuring spread betters and traders can stay abreast of what's happening in the markets.

In addition to upgrading its infrastructure Exponential-e will also be deploying a rapid recovery solution to prevent serious disruptions in the event of loss of power. London Capital's 70,000 clients can't afford to be out of the markets if the power goes down, so a new workplace recovery solution with redundancy and constant backups via automation is absolutely necessary. The new solution is fully compliant with all financial sector regulations.

According to London Capital's Paul Marshall his company's infrastructure must be "reliable and resilient; ready to provide an uninterrupted, high level of service to our customers at all times." He believes the combination of the new VPLAN and rapid recovery solution will provide that. He said that the combination of the two systems would enable London Capital to continue to be in compliance with regulations while offering customers the guaranteed uptime necessary to compete in the financial markets.

Can the Cloud and VPLAN Coexist?

The London Capital project clearly illustrates there is still a need for more traditional ways of doing things rather than simply jumping into the cloud. Not that cloud computing is not important or useful, but is not a good option for things like spread betting and financial markets, at least for serious players. Maybe someday in the future it will be, but it's not now.

And even while the cloud is being pushed aggressively in Europe London Capital has chosen the more secure and reliable VPLAN route. This is proven technology they know will work; it is proven technology that will keep both they and their clients hooked into the markets at all times. Their clients should be happy to hear the news, that's for sure.

As for Exponential-e they have been working with London Capital for the better part of seven years. Most of the solutions they've offered have been beneficial to London Capital and its clients. The real test of this new deal will be the first major power outage that occurs at one of the LCG facilities. Though no one suspects there will be any problems, there's no way to know until the situation arises.