Sunday 27 November 2011

Environment 2011

We've been invited to speak on the subject of "The role of IT in environmental protection: data centre energy consumption", the event takes place at the Russell Hotel in London on the 1st December, more information on this link Environment 2011
This really takes in two distinct subejcts, the first of course is how IT can monitor the environment and the second is to manage all this data.
I've prepared a brief 10 minute overview and we'll just let the topic(s) flow.
It should be interesting, my fellow speakers are Bob Crookes from Defra, but also the chair of the BCS Green IT SG and Pete Green from SciSys.
Actually, I'm very excited about smart cities, that is to say the monitoring of systems within cities to provide more resource efficiency and information to users as I beleive it is really our one great hope into combatting climate change and carbon emissions, however we must be mindful of the impact this will have socially, although we are already the most monitored nation on Earth with 3million plus CCTV cameras.
Smart Cities, though are not just CCTV'ed up, they include smart (locally processing) sensor networks, intelligent lighting systems, water and air quality monitors plus a whole load of other stuff which would take me hours just to list.
Its all very exciting and I'm looking forward to the debate.

Busy Week Ahead

Well, we're all set up for a very busy week.
First off, I am taking my CITP exam on Tuesday morning, wish me luck!
Then, later I'm off to London to attend and speak at two prestigious events, the first is Data Centre Dynamics London conference, this is being held at the London Excel Arena, more information and to book please click here DCD London.
I shall be speaking on the subject of retrofitting energy efficiency solutions into existing data centres, for me this is very important as 88% of businesses still own and operate their own mission critical data centres, the move to the cloud in my opinion is overhyped and it is very amusing to see cloud services suppliers grasping at any straw that indicates a wide spread adoption of their services.
That is not to say that I am a cloud sceptic, far from it, I think the cloud is an excellent diverse and distributed compute product that does have its benefits, however do not tell me its green when it patently is not.

None of the major cloud vendors ever consider network energy in their energy saving examples, which is a shame as, in the UK at least, the 3 big network companies, BT, C&W and Virgin Media all feature in the CRC Top 50, in fact if you crunch the table to include carbon emissions without the weighted early action metric scores, BT are 3rd, C&W are 39th and Virgin are 50th, in fact there are 9 network operators in the top 100.
This is alarming to say the least as we have yet to see how much additional energy will be required for the Fibre Broadband rollout BT is currently undertaking. I can see BT being top emitter in a few years.
For clarity, the top 3 and their associated Carbon Emissions (Tabulated) are as follows:

MOD            1,754,541 tCO2
TESCO         1,562,532 tCO2
BT                 1,258,720 tCO2

Saturday 19 November 2011

November Update

Well, I promised to update the blog with news from the Green IT expo and the BCS DCSG event so here goes.

Green IT Expo

The usual suspects were all there with the notable exception of Very PC, whom I know had some very important stuff to attend to, namely the take over of another green IT vendor, I cant say too much about this at the present time as I am sworn to secrecy. Peter will no doubt be available over the coming weeks to explain about his exciting new venture.
The quality of the speakers was again exceptional and Sara Clark and her team at Revolution Events are to be congratulated for the excellent exhibition and seminars. I understand that next year the event will be held once again at the QE2 Exhibition centre.
Both Chris Wallace and Bob Crookes were speaking (Chris is the Green IT Product Manager at the BCS and Bob is the chair of the BCS Green IT SG.
I will be with Bob on the 1st December at Environment 2011, where we will be heading the discussion group panel on the "Role ot IT in Environmental protection: data centre energy consumption", for further information and to register for the event follow this link Environment 2011 Registration.

DCSG Meeting
This meeting was to hear about Data Centre Infrastructure Management or DCIM tools, DCIM tools allow the real time management of Data Centres in terms of both the facilities side and the IT side, however as you can imagine, technicians on both sides of the fence have differing opinions on how this should be acheived with the result that many tools deal with the issues from their particular perspective.
The facilities side is dominated by Building Management Systems and the IT side with enterprise management products such as HP Openview or IBM's Tivoli and it seems with little interaction between them.
This is mostly historic, as BMS monitoring systems used proprietory connections and software as did the IT side, difficult to monitor an IBM Server with HP Open view for instance.
Anyway it seems that we've got to view the DC as a system, not a series of servers and manage the facilty as a whole not as separate entities.
So, what are we monitoring? well Temperature and Humidity, but also server health and utilisation to build up a environmental map for the whole data centre, and to be able to dynamically move vservers into optimum environmental areas as required.
In practice, lets imagine a 200 rack facility with 10 physical hosts per rack and most of the physical servers comprise 10 vservers each, thus we have 200 x 10 x 10 = 20,000 vservers, now most of these servers are used between 8am and 6pm, say 18,000 and we have 2,000 core servers available 24/7/365.
What DCIM allows you to do, is to vmotion the 18,000 servers into a parked state and putting the hosts into standby, thus saving energy and cooling across the facility, further that you put your core servers into the optimum zones for cooling/energy use.
DCIM requires the real time monitoring of temperature and humidity and this is where is all gets a bit interesting, the amount of data to be collected can very quickly become unmanageable and some clever stuff is used to minimise the amount of data transmitted across the networks to the monitoring server.
This particular company use a level of local processing, so whilst the monitors are polling at say 1min intervals, local processing means that only hourly averages get sent to the server, that not to say that data is lost, its just kept locally, for a set period then deleted, after all who needs to know the temperature at 1min intervals?
In the event of a "spike" the entire data set for a set period before and after the event is kept, a sort of overide and probably better than currently, where spikes would trigger monitoring events after the initial trigger point.
All in all very exciting stuff, backed up with the excellent Andy Lawrence from the 451 Group who gave us a sneak preview of his talk on the DCIM market that he will be giving at DCD on the 30th November/1st December at Excel further information and booking details here DCD London .
I'll be speaking at this event as well on the subject of retrofiting energy efficiency solutions into existing Data Centres.

Well thats enough from me, I appreciate that I promised a review of the Governments Greening ICT strategy and this is in progress, theres a lot to go through!
See you next time

Thursday 3 November 2011


I've been in London attending the Green IT Expo and a DCSG event, so I've just got back and I have a lot of admin stuff to attend to, I'll be updating the blog over the weekend with some stuff from these two events.