Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘infrastructure’ Category

The Blackout In India

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To my friends in India, I hope you’re fairly weathering your blackout.

I was just reading through some BBC coverage which has reporters spread across northern India, including Utter Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, and West Bengal.

The report suggests Calcutta was not as badly affected as other regions, because it has a private electricity board, but that power went out across the rest of West Bengal state.

Thus far, coverage suggests the power breakdowns in India are mainly in the north, the east, and the northeast, and that about 600 million people have been in affected in over 20 Indian states.

To put that in perspective for those of us here in the west, that would be like the power going out across all of the U.S. and all of the United Kingdom, at once.

Yes, just imagine that.

Obviously, there will be lots of fingerpointing until an investigation can get to the bottom of this, but in the meantime it demonstrates once again how fragile infrastructure can be, in both emerging and advanced economies.

In the Northeast blackout of 2003 here in the U.S., some 55 million U.S and Canadian citizens were impacted and some left without power for up to 16 hours.

Though there was no major civil unrest during that particular blackout, one need simply just read the Wikipedia entry of that event to remember how many “systems” were impacted: everything from transportation to healthcare to water supply.

In India, telecommunications are being particularly hard hit in this outage, because so many people there depend on mobile phone service for their communications.  Even if the cell towers have backup generators, many folks in rural India have no alternative method of recharging their cell phones once that primary charge dissipates.

Also, business process outsourcing companies such as Wipro, Genpact, WNS and others have “kicked in business continuity plans” to ensure continuity of services to global clients. Thus far, The Hindu Business Line is reporting that the IT-BPO industry, which accounts for over 7% of Indian GDP, are running their operations at centers in the north and eastern India using backup generators running on diesel.

The Wall Street Journal India has an “IndiaRealTime” blog where you can follow the latest on the India power outage.

Softer Networking

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The Turbo radar sensed more disruption on the technology M&A front overnight.

Actually, it was my RSS feed reader, but hey, close enough for jazz.

VMWare, the virtualization technology provider owned by storage technology stalwart, EMC, bought Andreessen Horowitz-backed Nicira for $1.05 billion buckaroos.

Nicira is an open source software developer for network virtualization, and has been adopted by VMWare most likely for its development of “software defined data centers.”

Historically, data communications controls have been managed by proprietary software sold in combination with hardware (think Cisco, Juniper, etc.)

With Nicira, control functions are separated and moved down the stack, so to speak, so they can be run on a variety of servers and not just proprietary hardware.

According to Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the announcement, VMWare CEO Paul Maritz “predicts that nearly all of the hardware in current computer rooms will be replaced by software running on commodity-style servers.”

The software-defined data center. Veddy interesting.

It’ll be even more interesting to see how Cisco and the other networking hardware vendors respond…or not.

Written by turbotodd

July 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm

CNBC: Texas’ Is the 2012 “Top State For Business”

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I turned on CNBC this afternoon to catch up on business news just in time to see Texas governor Rick Perry doing a standup interview over at the University of Texas to celebrate Texas’ being chosen for the third time in the past several years as the “America’s Top State for Business.”

According to CNBC’s Scott Cohn, Texas “racked up an impressive 1,604 points out of a possible 2,500,” and had top-10 finishes in “six of our 10 categories of competitiveness.”

Texas has never finished below second place since CNBC started the study in 2007.

This year’s categories, developed in concert with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness, included the following: “Cost of Doing Business,” “Workforce,” “Quality of Life,” “Infrastructure and Transportation,” “Economy,” “Education,” “Technology and Innovation,” “Business Friendliness,” “Access to Capital,” and “Cost of Living.”

Diving deeper into the results, Texas has the nation’s best “Infrastructure” and improved to second place for “Technology and Innovation,” and boasts the third lowest “Cost of Living.”

On the downside, Texas came in 26th in “Education” and 35th of “Quality of Life,” apparently getting dinged for less available health care and higher property and sales taxes.

Obviously, this is very exciting news here in Austin and across the state of Texas, especially considering the vast diversification we’ve seen of the Texas economy over the past decade.  When I was growing up in Texas, energy and oil dominated the economy, but we’ve seen massive investments and innovations in more diverse fields these past 20 years, including high tech, telecommunications, biotechnology and life sciences, health care, and many more, all in a business-friendly (read: less regulation and taxes) climate.

But we’ve still got some work to do, I would submit.

If you’re a person of little means, whatever else you do, don’t get sick here.  Texas is not expected to expand Medicaid or establish a health insurance exchange, according to another recent announcement by Governor Perry, and only 31 percent of physicians in Texas accepted Medicaid patients in 2011, according to the Texas Medical Association and as reported in the Texas Tribune.

So, congrats to the great state of Texas…I’m really glad to hear we’re doing a great job of taking care of business…but clearly there’s some work yet to be done in taking better care of our people!

Defending The Fortress

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I believe it was Napoleon who said “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

Ron Markezich, the sales lead for enterprises and partners in the U.S. at Microsoft, apparently explained to AllThingsD earlier this week that for every dollar companies spend on Microsoft software, they have to spend $6 to get it running right.

So I went and read the interview to get the full context.

The specific question Markezich was asked centered around Microsoft’s disruption of its traditional business model that “has brought in billions upon billions of dollars is sold” and whether or not “this new model [cloud delivery] ultimately catch up with and supplant the old one?”

Here’s the latter part of his response:

…So every one of these customers, we see their total spend with Microsoft go up anywhere from 2 to 6 times what it was before. The other thing is that if you look at the total industry spend, most of it is on activities where there’s no value added. Every dollar you spend on software from Microsoft, you spend $6 trying to get it to do anything. What we’re trying to do is drive that six dollars to zero.

It was also Napoleon who explained that “the fate of a nation may sometimes depend upon the position of a fortress.”  Insert “business” for “nation” and the intent of the statement remains.

But after the last two days, some perhaps might ask if the cloud ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, either.  

Amazon’s cloud done been down, off and on, for a couple of days now.  

ReadWriteWeb’s Alex Williams is keepin’ ’em honest, and updated, which apparently Amazon hasn’t been too busy doing.

ComputerWorld describes it as an outright black eye for the “dominant player in the cloud market,” with sites like Quora, Reddit, and foursquare “left staggering or totally knocked out” because of server problems in the Amazon datacenter.

By way of example, Reddit’s site explained it was in “emergency read-only mode” because of Amazon’s degradation.

In the ComputerWorld piece, analyst Rob Enderle suggests the biggest impact from the outage may be to the cloud itself.

“What will take a hit is the image of this technology as being on you can depend on, and that image was critically damaged today,” Enderle is quoted as saying.

On the other hand, it should be noted there are lots of flavors of cloud computing, and a fully public, rentable cloud service like Amazon EC2 doesn’t even pretend to offer 100% availability.  In fact, it quite clearly states in its public FAQs that “The Amazon EC2 SLA guarantees 99.95% availability of the service within a Region over a trailing 365 day period.”

In any case, I would recommend carefully reading all the FAQs before fully banking one’s business in the public cloud.

And I would also recommend reading more widely about cloud implementations around the globe.

One size doesn’t fit all (there’s the public cloud, the private cloud, the hybrid, etc.), and the IBM Academy of Technology conducted a survey released this past October entitled “Cloud computing insights from 110 implementation projects” which explains pros and cons, the good and the bad, as well as related considerations to be thoughtfully considered before embarking upon cloud deployments.

Maybe read a little of that before the media or the blogosphere scare you back into your private data center bunker with your AR-15 and 10-day survival kits!

Written by turbotodd

April 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm

POWER Overload

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IBM announced today a slew of new servers, services, and software to help minimize the rising costs and complexities of operating modern data centers.

These new offerings are intended to help IBM clients around the globe reap the benefits of IBM’s three-year, $3 billion (U.S.) investment in POWER7 systems that are primed to handle new workloads and perform powerful, real-time business analytics.

The announcement includes new blade servers (see image below) built on IBM’s POWER7 workload-optimized systems’ design and new systems software design to reduce time to workload deployment.  They also include new services to help remotely implement the systems (and in turn reduce deployment costs by 25%).

In the announcement, IBM also announced that the POWER7 technology achieved record performance for a range of workloads.the same 64-bit POWER® technology at work in some of the world’s most critical data centers in government, research, finance and high-tech industries, among others.

The IBM BladeCenter PS700

The IBM BladeCenter PS700 takes advantage of the workload optimization features of POWER7 technology.

There are many facets and contours to this announcement, so to get the full read I would recommend you check out this press announcement and then follow the links to the information that will be most useful to you.

But make no mistake as to the headline here: More computing capacity at a lower price point designed to optimize your workloads faster in the pursuit of more actionable business insights.

Written by turbotodd

April 13, 2010 at 11:07 pm

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