Category Archives: Datacenter

Results of SNW PR reader poll

 “None of the Above” took 7th place out of 31 news items.

Last week I asked readers to vote for their most newsworthy news releases from Storage Networking World (SNW).  Here’s how you ranked them:

  1. StorServer and Mimosa Together (68 votes)
  2. Axxana Births EDR (22 votes)
  3. StoraMagic Customers Are Award Finalists(15 votes)
  4. Verrari Adds SSD (10 votes)
  5. Nirvanix CEO Demystifies (6 votes)

None of the Above came in tied for 7th, ahead of 22 SNW news releases. 

Does that say something about the value of “offline” style press releases to the online community? What does it mean to you?

Barracuda ES SAS tops SPC’s first component tests

7200 rpm SAS is a secret weapon for content streaming applications

For the first time, the Storage Performance Council is testing components – drive performance in a multi-drive enterprise system.  These tests are data center equivalents of PC benchmarks.  Until now, SPC has been focused on system-level performance.

The Seagate Barracuda ES SAS drive outperformed the fastest equivalent SATA drive by 8% in the SPC-1C tests (simulating online transaction processing (OLTP) workloads) and by 34% in SPC-2C tests (simulating sequential read/write environments).    

SPC-2C is especially interesting, given that it represents fast-growing content streaming applications.  These systems are gated by performance and capacity.  Unlike OLTP apps that are mostly about performance, and backup/archive apps that are mostly about capacity, content streaming wants to have its cake and eat it too.

Barracuda ES SAS is the first of its kind: a 7200 rpm drive (for capacity) with a SAS interface (for performance). It doesn’t compare to 15K rpm drives in speed of course. Given the price per terabyte difference, that’s OK.

Reader poll: best SNW press releases

Vote for the new releases that are news to you

Here are all the Storage Networking World press releases according to Business Wire.  Click on the one(s) that intrigue you.  I’ll report back here on the results. 

UPDATE: I reported results in a new post hereNone of the Above took 7th place out of 31.

I’ve included a None of the Above option at the bottom.

Rackable Systems Announces Support for Intel Solid-State Disk Drives




IT is more than Business Technology

Information is now the center of business – leave the name alone

Some argue that Information Technology is an outdated term, and should be changed to Business Technology to reflect its increasingly strategic relationship to the bottom line. 

I say leave it alone.  IT is more strategic than ever for the business because information is becoming more strategic.  

Information drives business today.  And it’s technology that brings it to life and puts it to work. Let’s stay focused on the task at hand!

Wear your badge proudly, data center dudes!  You don’t need to change your name to claim your role at the center of your company’s future.

Cheap storage built the internet

Proof point: the $400 million exabyte data center

Robin Harris calculated the cost of a 1.8 exabyte datacenter to be $400 million.  That’s assuming the barest bones Google-style storage architecture and no redundancy.

$200 million for the 2 million hard drives, another $1 million for the racks, $60 million for the facility, and $2 million per month for power.

That’s a lot of dough!  Or a very affordable two exabytes, depending on how you look at it. 

The relentless growth of capacity

What happens to these numbers over time?

Arguably racks won’t get any cheaper, and real estate and power over the long haul will track with inflation.  Given that half the cost is pure storage – the bytes themselves – what’s the impact of the March of Progress on this number over time? 

The result is what we’ve already seen play out over the past decade or more.  Data center physical costs follow conventional capital budget cost curves, while capacity multiplies every year or two – rain or shine. The result: a relentless decline in cost per exabyte.

With 2.5″ drives and SSD, there is no end in sight to this cost/capacity discount.

Storage is the mother of all web applications

Yes, web technology is cool.  But without the economic foundation of ever cheaper exabytes, the internet that we know today – and Google, Facebook and Twitter – would have remained a twinkle in Silicon Valley’s eye. 

Agree or disagree?  Let’s hear it.

Amazon S3 moves to volume pricing model

Under 50 terabytes? You’re a light user

Power companies charge by the kilowatt-hour; Amazon S3 charges by the GB-month.  Yet another parallel that points to the “utility”ization of storage in the cloud. 

The newest news at Amazon S3 is the addition of a modest volume discount for the really big storers. If you have less than 50 terabytes, you’re a light user and pay full price.  Go figure! 

Om Malik sees the pricing change as a boon for start ups.  He’s right, too, about their amazingly diverse customer base.

Another nugget from Amazon’s S3 post: 70,000 customer objects now stored at the site are touched (stored, retrieved or deleted) per second.  That may sound like a lot, but in any one day, 80% of the 29 billion objects lie undisturbed.  And chances are that the same objects get moved around repeatedly, while a core set (50% ?) rest in peace for long periods.

Amazon S3 may highlight their processing capabilities, but it’s the storage function that pays the bills.

How Google designs data centers

The Frank Lloyd Wright of the Storageplex

Frank Lloyd Wright didn’t see his structures as empty buildings, but as holistic environments.  That’s why his designs often included not only the roof and walls but the chairs and tables as well.

Google is the Frank Lloyd Wright of data centers: they design their own storage systems that function as an integral part of the whole. 

You can see the power of this philosophy in their brutal efficiency.  Information Week points out that Google-designed data centers use nearly five times less energy than conventional data centers.  That correlates with the 4-to-1 ratio in cost per capacity that IDC found in comparing conventional data centers to Google-style “content depots”.

Google has uncharacteristically given us a peek behind the curtain to encourage sustainable energy practices. Sure, being eco-friendlier is good.  All the more so when it aligns with Capitalism.

How can conventional data centers compete without this approach?

The Cloud is purifying storage

Cloud storage companies are peeling away everything but the bytes

More learnings from the IDC Enterprise Disk Storage Consumption Model report

Since 2005, the Cloud’s share of storage capacity has grown from less than 5% to almost 20%.  Yet the Cloud’s share of storage revenue has risen to only about 5% in the same time period. 

How can “Content Depots”, as IDC calls them, build data centers for one fourth the cost (storage-wise) of conventional corporate data centers?

They use more high-capacity SATA drives, but that’s only part of the answer.  Rather than using off-the-shelf enterprise storage systems, they are often building their own storage system/server contraptions to strip away anything that doesn’t add value as a big bucket for internet bits.  

Granted, these systems aren’t going to support your everyday ERP system.  But these changes should be watched closely.  Innovation by these end-users will migrate back to the rest of the industry to give us all more bytes per buck. 

It already is – in many of the latest greatest storage upstarts’ products.

What to do with billowing Cloud Storage

Storage philosophy is as important as storage technology

Storage is growing everywhere, but nowhere more than in the Clouds.  Here’s a link to my guest post on Sitepoint on storage technology and philosophies that can help battle the challenges of billowing Cloud Storage.

Practical storage power efficiency for SMBs

Daniel Dern’s eight steps to less power in your SMB

Daniel Dern’s common-sense summary of what SMBs can do to reduce their storage energy costs and footprint rings true for companies of all sizes.  It’s uniquely practical – he avoids the “silver bullet” approach common to this topic.  Like most things, it takes a lot of little steps to make a big difference. 

His recommendations:

1. Store less data. Good luck!  But maybe growth can be slowed.

2. Use fewer disks.  Fill up the ones you have, and combine multiple disks into today’s high-capacity behemoths.

3. Turn off idle disks.  Like turning off the light when you leave a room, it’s a little added work that can add up to real savings. 

4. Use the right disks.  Match storage with the performance and recall demands of the data.

5. Use more efficient disks.  Converting to 2.5″ enterprise drives reduces power and speeds up I/Os. 

6. Use more efficient storage systems.  Some storage systems leverage disk-level energy efficiency features with system-level power savings.

7. Improve cooling.  Sometimes it’s as simple as keeping things in proper working order.

8. Exploit “Green” rebates. Get full credit for your efforts with Utility and government incentives.

Who’s got additional ideas to add to Daniel’s list?