Tag: datacentre

Microsoft might close datacentres post Brexit


Get-Britain-OutSoftware King of the World Microsoft might mothball its UK datacentre plans after  Blighty decided to pull out of the EU.

Microsoft had wanted to set up its datacentres in the UK so that European data did not have to cross the pond to the US.  This was because the EU was a little worried about US spooks spying in European citizens and wanted all data to stay here.

However, with the UK outside the EU too, the Microsoft set up its databases in the UK is completely pointless.

Microsoft’s UK Government Affairs Manager Owen Larter spoke in the What Brexit Means for Tech webinar expressing that the Redmond giant is committed to their branches in the UK. At least, for now.

But it is getting more worried that if Britain leaves the European single market is that import tariffs will rise and if the tariffs were to become an issue, Microsoft might pull their future plans for Britain’s two datacentres.

“We’re really keen to avoid import tariffs on any hardware. Going back to the datacenter example, we’re looking to build out our datacentres at a pretty strong lick in the UK, because the market is doing very well… So if the UK puts tariffs on Chinese server racks or eastern Europe, where a lot of them are actually assembled, that might change our investment decisions and perhaps we build out our datacentres across other European countries.”

If Vole cannot build in Britain, then they will build surrounding it.

Ironically one upside to the Brexit for Microsoft is the ability to bring in foreign employees into the UK for work.

“We’ve really struggled internally at Microsoft sometimes to bring people over from the US, from China, from India. Even just on a month or by week basis, because the restrictions on immigration from outside the EU have been so severe, because we [the UK] couldn’t control immigration from inside the EU and we were conscious about the numbers.”

We say ironic because many people thought they were voting Brexit to keep foreign workers out of the UK. This means Vole is confident they can bring many more in.


Nvidia teams up with IBM

IBM and Nvidia have announced plans to work on accelerated GPUs for use on IBM Power Systems.

That means Nvidia chips will be used in enterprise level data centres.

Both companies will work to integrated Tesla GPUs with IBM Power CPUs and means Nvidia will have a share in providing techn for big data analytics and high performance supercomputing.

Ian Buck, VP of accelerated computing at Nvidia said that the move allow existing supercomputing customers with technologies for energy efficient systems used in scientific applications and in data analytics.

As part of the deal, IBM  will provide its Rational enerprise software development tools to supercomputing developers.

And in other news, Nvidia said today it is launching the Tesla K40 GPU accerlerator which it claims will give double the memory and 40 percent higher performance than its K20X GPU.

Features include 12GB of GDDR5 memory, 2,800 CUDA parallel processing cores, dynamic parallelism and it will support PCIe Gen-3 interconnect support.

HP attempts to build zero net energy data centre

The maker of expensive printer ink, HP, is attempting to build a data centre which runs on solar power.

HP wants to develop what is called a “net zero” data centre that requires no net energy from utility power grids. The concept is being tested at a 3,000 square foot facility at the company’s campus in Palo Alto, California.

According to Datacentre Knowlege, which we get for the centrefold, the HP testbed uses a photovoltaic power array, a cooling system that can use either fresh air or mechanical cooling, and consolidation strategies that boost server use to reduce power demand.

Although the solar hardware would appear to be the key to the cunning plan, the secret is the data centre’s management software that can orchestrate the energy supply and demand to maximise the use of renewable power and reduce dependence on the utility grid.

The solar array has a limited capacity of 134 kilowatts and can only generate power when the sun shines. The testbed comprises of four ProLiant BL465c G7 servers, each with two 12-core 1.8 Ghz processors and 64 GB of memory and a total of 48 KVM virtual machines.

The data centre software allocates traffic so that it is a mix of critical and non-critical workloads.

The software estimates the output available from the solar array and the power required to run the applications, and then schedules workloads to take advantage of the daytime power peaks from the array.

It will not work for facilities that need round-the-clock availability and the ability to scale workloads up and down. But HP said it could be attractive to users with mixed workloads, particularly companies in international markets.

HP Labs researchers will present a new research paper, “Towards the Design and Operation of Net-Zero Energy Data Centers,” at IEEE’s 13th annual Intersociety Conference on Thermal and Thermomechanical Phenomena in Electrical Systems. You should get there early as we expect them to be queuing around the block to get into this one. 

Intel announces 910 Series SSD for datacentres

Intel has continued its push for solid state drives, launching its new 910 Series datacentre drives with PCIe interface.

Intel is attempting to address the needs of growing trends in cloud computing and virtualisation, and is hoping that the benefits of its new SSDs will have datacentre staff ripping out HDDs straight away in favour of the 910.

400GB and 800GB varieties will be available, offering the standard benefits of an SSD such as increases in performance and endurance with 25 nanometre NAND flash memory.  

While consumers may be still be put off by the relatively large price tags of an SSD in mainstream devices, for businesses the cost is likely outweighed by a need for reliability and high performance. Prices are  $1,929 for the 400GB version and $3,859 for the 800GB drive.

Intel maintains the devices can prove cost effective with the ability to allow up to 10 full read writes a day for five years, with a thirty-fold endurance improvement over standard MLC-based flash products.

By replacing multiple 15K rpm HDDs in the datacentre, Intel says that it can save on space and power consumption, but also reduce latencies and improve storage scalability.

ThePCIe enabled 910 SSD Intel will expand on previous SATA-based offerings from Intel in the datacentre, such as the 700 SSDs.

In terms of performance, at the top end the 800GB version will reach up to 2 gigabytes per second sequential reads and 1GB/s writes.  It will also reach 180,000 4K random read IOPS, and 75,000 4K random write IOPS.

The SSDs will be available from “mid-2012” according to Intel.

Atos, EMC, VMware create Canopy cloud venture

Atos has announced a new company aimed at making cloud computing more accessible, blaming too much complexity as one of the barriers to greater uptake.

The company, Canopy, will be formed out of the cloud services provided by Atos, EMC, and VMWare to make a “one stop shop” for cloud computing, Atos CEO Thierry Breton said today.

Breton and EMC chairman Joe Tucci were keen to highlight the massive impact cloud computing is set to have.  As with most cloud announcements the hyperbole came think and fast with Tucci claiming that cloud computing represents a “Tsunami rather than a sea change” in IT, with “massive disruption” leading to “massive opportunities”.

With Apple CEO Tim Cook claiming that tablets are likely to be more widely used than PCs, Tucci reiterated that “we are definitely in the post-PC world”, and this is a world of multiple devices that the cloud will thrive in, he said.

With such opportunities in mind, the heads of the two firms were both keen to encourage the “acceleration” towards the full introduction of the cloud.  The cloud market is worth roughly $59 billion in 2012 but this should grow to $267 billion by the end of the decade, and all three companies are intent on getting a portion of that, even if they have to buddy up to do so.

Among the camaraderie, there are certainly roadblocks in the way of reaching such large figures, even if it is a question of when rather than if that growth occurs.

Other than questions of security and openness, the complexity of cloud offerings have been named a turn off for enterprise customers.

According to Breton, “Most of our cutomers are requesting a one stop shop” – and he hopes that Canopy will manage that by using the technologies from each firm.

Canopy will be run by Atos with smaller investments from the other two.  Atos intends to draw on the storage and virtualisation experience of its partners in various aspects of cloud computing.

The business, headquartered in Europe, will focus on combinations of public, private and hybrid enterprise cloud, and will look towards open standards.

The services will include features such as an enterprise application store as part of a software as a service model, powered by technologies from EMC and VMware.  An enterprise platform as a service will also be on offer, as will consulting services.

Shareholders agreement should be reached in the second quarter of this year, and Atos will decide on who will lead the cloud project as CEO.

Wipro asset strips Infocrossing

Wipro is about to sell all the data centres and other computer hardware assets of its US subsidiary Infocrossing.

According to the Times of India the move is to unlock value at the outfit’s ‘non-core’ business.

Wipro apparently has had initial offers from several medium to large US telcos. The deal is said to be worth $300-$400 million.

A deep throat in Wipro said the Infocrossing’s data centres were not the “game changer” it wanted over the next three to five years. . Data centres are being considered non-core by outsourcing vendors, but are becoming more important to telecom firms. We guess clouds are for other people.

Wipro said that so far the interest it has had has been unsolicited and there more than one potential bidder.

In August 2007, Wipro wrote a cheque for $600 million for Infocrossing. At the time the outfit only made about $200 million.

At that time, the company had plans to increase Infocrossing revenues five-fold to $1 billion by 2010. However it soon twigged that punters did not make decisions based on whether a vendor owns data centre.

There are some things that Infocrossing has which Wipro still wants and that’s mostly its lucrative healthcare business. Infocrossing has Nestle, BP, Capital One and Best Buy among its top customers. 

Apple's expensive data centre is a hoax

Apple has spent a fortune on creating a huge expensive data centre which is actually just an empty building.

For a while now Apple has been touting the new $1 billion Apple data center in Carolina as its bid to enter cloud computing and a key component in its iCloud strategy.

Stories, which have been leaked to the tame Apple press, emphase how much Apple paid for the land and the amount of electricity it will go through.

However according to Robert X. Cringely’s  bog,  the place has no equipment in it and is mostly empty.

It is difficult to find that out. Apple has built a tall earthen wall around the entire site and planted trees atop that. But if you steal your way from the Baptist cemetery next door you can see the top of a huge white building and a couple of big tanks. Only one truck visited the site.

What is odd is that the new data centre is supposed to be the centre of iCloud and iTunes activity, updating all those Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

More to the point, Apple has been telling the world+dog that its data centre has 500 times more space than IBM’s equivalent.

Cringely has done some adding up and worked out that even if Apple’s iCloud really was talking off, there is no way it needs that sort of space to keep operating. Apparently even Google, which keeps updating the whole Internet does not need that much. Apple could get by with a tenth of the space.  

If it is trying to future proof the centre then it has wasted its money because every one knows that computers will get smaller.

“I think it’s a joke. The building is a near-empty facility built primarily to intimidate Apple competitors. And so far it seems to be working,” he wrote. 

Anonymous attack on Amazon.com fails, hackers move on

The DDoS attack by Anonymous on Amazon.com has seemingly failed today, causing the hackers to abandon it and refocus their efforts on more achieveable targets like PayPal.

The failed attack was noted on Anonymous’ twitter account, where it said:

“Okay, we have changed our target — the Hive isn’t big enough to attack Amazon. NEW TARGET: api.paypal.com. Port: 443. SPREAD THE WORD.

“Listen up, we’re NOT targeting Amazon. Please join The Hive or attack manually to api.paypal.com.”

Several more tweets were posted that revealed that Amazon was too big a target and that Anonymous did not have enough resources to bring it down, thought it appears that Anonymous intends to try to attack it again at a later date:

“Okay, here’s the real deal – We can not attack Amazon, currently. The previous schedule was to do so, but we don’t have enough forces. 

“Though our final intention is to DDoS Amazon.com, we currently CAN NOT. The target is api.paypal.com, port 443 as shown on the main channel.”

The attack was scheduled for around 4:00pm GMT yesterday after Anonymous posted a tweet setting Amazon.com as the next DDoS target: 

“New target: www.amazon.com. Time check: 1h50m. They are selling the cables. Connect your LOICs to the Hive. Attack will start soon.”

The comment about Amazon selling the cables relates to a Kindle book by Heinz Duthel which features the first 5,000 cables in the latest leak. Many have seen this as hypocrisy on Amazon’s part, since it previously pulled web hosting support for Wikileaks.

So what went wrong for Anonymous? In many ways, it’s simply a matter of Amazon having built-in capability to fend off DDoS attacks. It has a huge array of datacentres and its clouds services, including EC2, allow for rapid scaling of web hosting to cope with heavy loads, either from genuine customers in the busy Christmas shopping season or from a DDoS attack.

In fact, its European datacentre, which previously hosted Wikileaks, is in Dublin and is so large that it accounts for “more than a third of all internet-facing web servers in Ireland,” according to internet security firm Netcraft. Considering that Ireland hosts many of the big technology firms’ European datacentres, including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Vodafone and EMC, Amazon clearly has a large infrastructure in place that Anonymous may find impossible to bring down.

Paul Bristow Chief Operating Officer of DDoS protection firm Webscreen, speaks to TechEye:

“The Anonymous DDoS attacks first and foremost rely on there being enough “public support” to launch a DDoS attack powerful to cause a service interruption or outage.

“I believe that in the case of Amazon there was not the same level of public support for an attack as there was  for attacks on MasterCard, PayPal, Visa and Swiss Bank,  who because of the financial nature of their business are easy targets.

“With regards to what should the companies that suffered service interruptions do, first they need an urgent independent review of their systems and infrastructure to establish the reasons why they suffered service interruptions. Typically the “Targeted Flash Crowd”  DDoS attacks used by Anonymous and others exploit backend weakness, so having huge amount of bandwidth does not help.

“Targeted Flash Crowd” attacks are designed to exploit the inherent weaknesses of old fashioned “rules” based security products and that is why so many organisations are today investing in Heuristic DDoS technology with its inbuilt intelligence and real time dynamic  functionality.”

Salesforce ups ante against Oracle with Database.com launch

Salesforce is to announce a new database hosting service today called Database.com at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, escalating its rivalry with database supplier Oracle.

The database offering is described by Salesforce as “open” and will allow the use of any programming language on any platform or device. This means the database can run on a personal data centre or from cloud services run by the likes of Amazon and Google, along with PCs, Blackberry, Apple and Android devices.

The service is the same database that Salesforce.com itself runs on. Various drivers for it have been developed by Progress Software, while NoSQL, VoltDB and Memcached are also supported. It already contains over 20 billion records, delivers over 25 billion transactions per quarter and has a response time of less than 300 miliseconds on average, making it a strong contender to other database offerings.

The service will operate a “freemium” price package, allowing initial setups to be made for free, with additional hosting requiring a monthly payment. The free service will allow up to three users, 100,000 records and 50,000 transactions per month. 

Anything over that will be charged at $10 per month for every additional 100,000 records and a further $10 a month for every additional 150,000 transactions. A further Enterprise option is available for an additional $10 per month per user, which includes identity, authentication and security features.

Salesforce was founded by a former Oracle executive, Marc Benioff, and is already in heated competition with Oracle over customer relationship management (CRM) software. At the end of last month HP ditched Oracle for its CRM partner, inking a deal with Salesforce instead, a move that is sure to cause tensions with Oracle, particularly since Larry Ellison, Oracle’s CEO, was an early investor in Salesforce.

The move into databases marks more treading on Oracle’s territory, a sector the company has been dominant in since its foundation some 30 odd years ago. It’s not clear how much custom Salesforce will steal from Oracle, but if the CRM battle is anything to go by it could be a lot.

The service will launch fully in 2011.

Mellanox to buy Voltaire for $218 million

Mellanox Technologies has announced that it is to acquire data centre fabric manufacturer Voltaire for approximately $218 million.

The all-cash deal will see Mellanox pay $8.75 per share in Voltaire, which Mellanox believes will strengthen its position in the server and supercomputer sectors.

Mellanox was founded in 1999 and makes connection devices for servers and supercomputers, including the InfiniBand adaptors for China’s first petaflop supercomputer in May of this year. It claims to be the company of choice for server and supercomputer connectivity, particularly for the Fortune 500 firms.

Voltaire was founded in 1997 and is also big in the server and supercomputer game, making computing fabric for data centres, supercomputers, and cloud systems. It supplies more than 30 percent of the Fortune 100 companies and many of the Top 500 supercomputers, making it a perfect match for Mellanox.

As part of the acquisition, Voltaire’s CEO, Ronnie Kenneth, is expected to join Mellanox’s Board of Directors in 2011, subject to approval at the next Mellanox meeting.

With both companies combined Mellanox will have roughly 700 employees and a revenue base of $217 million for the year ending September 30. Mellanox also expects a cost synergy of at least $10 million by 2012.

The deal was approved unanimously by Voltaire’s Board of Directors and is expected to close within the first quarter of 2011.