Friday, 16 October 2009

LEED - Is it beneficial?

Increasing amounts of Data Centre operators in the United States are looking to get LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification on new Data Centre builds in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. There are obvious advantages to creating a more sustainable building which conserves and/or generates its own power, but are all the LEED checklist points beneficial to the building of a new facility?

23% of the LEED checklist refers to the site chosen for building construction. The checklist covers areas such as the reduction of impact on the land, rehabilitating biodiversity and minimizing the effects on water flows and runoff. Although many of these site-related points can be achieved, the nature of Data Centres generally require them to be located close to, or in, a major town so as to avoid the huge cost of re-routing power and sourcing data connectivity. Urban sites are often limited and developers often do not have the space or money convert 50% of the land to promote biodiversity which is one of the LEED requirements.

Conforming to other sections is easier. There are recommendations on taking logical steps to reduce carbon emissions. Building in minimum levels of energy use in new devices by design can realise significant power reduction.

A major section is to demonstrate that a building will be more efficient than a normal building, scored on a percentage improvement on an incremental scale. It encourages improvements at every stage of the build to encourage the highest scores. The more efficient the building materials used, the more efficient the building will be.

A relatively small maximum score (6.3%) is awarded for the production of on-site renewable energy, which appears to recognise the fact that it is not feasible to produce off-grid energy in large quantities at this point in time. They also give points for sourcing grid power from a green source. Most electricity providers now supply, for a premium, energy produced sustainably using wind, wave, hydro and solar. Crucially, LEED promote building power metering - essential for a well run Data Centre. Only by monitoring and logging energy use can it be properly assessed. This provides the basic tool to make informed changes to reduce energy use.

So to answer the original question 'Is LEED beneficial to new Data entre construction?' the answer depends! The benefit of LEED accreditation must be balanced with return on investment. Many of the criteria for LEED compliance are industry best practice and should be followed as they will result in lower running costs. Other criteria may not be considered as essential, and with budgets being tight, this may mean that not enough points could be realised to obtain creditation.

There is also the issue of potential conflicts between LEED and meeting the requirements for a tiered facility, as defined by the Uptime Institute.

Companies will look at
a return on investment when designing a new Computer Room or Data Centre. The benefit of LEED accreditation has to be weighed against cost. LEED best practice should however, be followed where possible.

Migration Solutions is a specialist Data Centre consultancy focused on improving data centre and computer room design. Migration Solutions is an active member of The Green Grid, the only UK accredited RIBA CPD Network Provider for data centre design and endorsers of the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres. For more information visit or call 0845 251 2255.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Power saving V's Facility relocation

Power costs in the UK are on the rise, you don't need to be told that. Everyone is feeling the pinch, none more so than the Data Centre industry. Businesses are tightening their belts and reducing staff levels in order to cut costs and stay in business. Data Centre and Computer Room managers are constantly trying to increase efficiency and reduce costs so that they can be competitive in a growing market.

The Invest in Iceland Agency appear to have the answer to everyone's problems. Cheap green power, multi feed connectivity, low building costs and a skilled workforce. It appears to be a no brainer! Power in Iceland costs around 2.1p kW/h for heavy industry where the cheapest rates in the United States are 3.1p and 10.2p in the UK. One of the biggest drains of power in Data Centres is cooling using around 40% of the total power. Fresh air cooling in Iceland solves this problem with the annual temperature not rising above 13ÂșC.

So why is everyone not building Data Centres in Iceland? There is a misconception that latency to Iceland is a hurdle that companies cannot afford to jump. In reality, latency from London to Iceland is half that of London to New York. A more worrying problem is the geomorphology of Iceland. Iceland is geologically, a very young island which has, depending on sources, 18-22 active volcanoes. This would pose a large threat to Data Centres across the island, although the nearest is over 50 miles from the capital, Reykjavik. Earthquakes could also be considered a major problem with Iceland, although they have only recorded 2 major tremors in the past 10 years, compared with Japan which has had more than 10 in the same period. Also, what happens if one of your servers breaks down? Iceland is 2½ hours flight away, not including travelling to and from the airports and getting through security.

So should you relocate to Iceland? It will vary between businesses whether the cost savings are worth the amount of potential downtime from natural events, but if you can, it could be a perfect location for you.

Migration Solutions are a Data Centre consultancy who specialise in Computer Room and Data Centre migration. For more information visit or call 0845 251 2255

Friday, 9 October 2009

Sun to run your Sun Servers?

This blog has looked at renewable energy for Data Centres and Computer Rooms before, but an increasing amount of information is surfacing that suggests that, without any further improvement, the payback on solar panels does not make it cost effective.

Toyota have an office in California which, since 2003 has relied on the sun for 20% of its power requirements. Now we all know California is a sunny place; it enjoys on average, 263 days of strong sunlight a year, but what is the payback of their installation?

Toyota have 54,000 sq ft of solar panels on their office in Torrance which are rated at 536 kW in total. Southern California has an insolation value of between 4-5.5 depending on the source. Taking the maximum figure, that each m2 of solar panels generates 550 watts per day, we can presume that their panels generate £331 of equivalent grid power every day, or £120,810 a year. The solar panels cost Toyota $3 million, half of which was paid by the government in tax credits. Ignoring the tax credits as they vary from country to country, and including the need to replace the inverters every 12½ years (at a $240,000 cost!) payback on these panels would be 17¼ years, and after that they would save Toyota £108,785 a year off a £543,925 electricity bill, or around 20%.

What relevance is this to the UK I hear you scream? The same set-up in the London would take 157 years! By this time, the technology would become defunct and replaced by more efficient systems. For now I think we are safe using mains power until a more efficient method of power generation can be found!

Migration Solutions are a specialist Data Centre consultancy who are fiercely vendor independent. They created ERA, and Environmental Report and Assessment to take a snap shot of a facility and suggest ways to improve its efficiency and save on running costs. Information Age presented Migration Solutions with the 'Data Centre Innovation' award for this product. For more information visit or call 0845 251 2255

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Free Cooling Calculation

Free cooling has been around for a significant amount of time and many data centre managers are choosing to, at the end of its practical life, replace their current cooling plant with equipment that takes advantage of free cooling technologies. In smaller data centres where IT is a support tool and not the core business, data centre managers often find it difficult to persuade the people who hold the purse strings that it is better to spend a little more money now and make large savings down the line.

The Green Grid, campaigners for more efficient data centres, have developed a tool to help data centre managers to justify the extra capex when replacing the cooling plant. Their calculator 'The Free Cooling Tool' takes into account your data centres country, location within that country and all of your cooling and power use thresholds and combines this information with the cost of power to estimate the savings possible from replacing your current equipment with a free cooling type.

With this tool, the Green Grid hope to assist the world in making data centres as green as possible and to reduce their global carbon footprint. The net result is that you can help save your company money, while saving the environment and improving your facility.

Migration Solutions are specialist data centre consultants and members of the Green Grid. Being vendor independent allows them recommend free cooling equipment that will not only be the best available on the market, but best for you and your data centre or computer room. For more information visit

Monday, 17 August 2009

Box in Box in Box

Cardboard, bubblewrap, parcel tape, foam padding, plastic strapping. In IT there is excessive packaging with every item purchased. A keyboard will come in 3 boxes covered in tape and surrounded by foam. The Register recently reported about a delivery of a standard PS2 Mouse to a reader from HP which was the only item strapped to a pallet. Excessive? I think so! They also reported another reader's delivery from HP of 32 pages of information. Each 2 sheets was wrapped in foam and enclosed in its own box. These 16 boxes in turn were in a larger box. Is it all really necessary??

There is a serious point to be made though. 6-10% of all IT equipment failures in Data Centres are solely caused by dust. Cardboard dust is the worst dust as it is very fine. It gets sucked into servers by the fans where it settles. This makes the fans work harder to cool the equipment as the dust reduces airflows and the fans create more heat as a result. The cooling plant must cool a higher temperature driving up power costs.

Many facilities have dedicated de-box rooms so that cardboard never enters the operational floor, but 90% of these rooms are ignored and people unpack equipment in the facility and use any spare space for storage. A number of facilities that Migration Solutions has visited has had boxes, clothes, furniture and food on the live floor to name a few! The design of a facility makes it easier for staff to keep to tidy habits and maintain a clean environment, but it is up to the Data Centre Manager to ensure that these standards are adhered to by the entire workforce. A well run facility will as a result be a clean and efficient facility.

Migration Solutions created ERA, an environmental report and assessment to look at Data Centres and Computer Rooms and investigate what improvements could be made to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Cardboard dust cropped up on many ERAs that were undertaken which greatly effects the efficiency of a Data Centre. Over 150 points are assessed in an ERA which provide Data Centre Managers a great incite into the health of their facility, and a selection of free, small cost and large cost suggestion on how to improve efficiency and save money. For more information vist

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Web Security

Twitter, the hugely popular blogging site fell under another attack from hackers again on Tuesday night. The 30 minute outage has not had a cause linked with it yet, but many people feel that it could be related to an account hack last week. This is not the first time that Twitter has had security issues. In January, 33 accounts were hacked into, including the US President Barack Obama, gaining access to the administrators secure area where they made changes including changing email addresses and leaving messages.

The attacks on Twitter have highlighted the need for careful security at server and software level to protect private information. Since the internet went live, hackers from all over the world have been breaking into websites and breaching security whether it be with malicious intent or just for fun. No level of security is immune from these virtual threats and this has been exemplified by Gary McKinnon from the UK who managed to hack into the United States military computer system, allegedly in search of information about UFO's.

Companies spend thousands of pounds protecting their computer systems from hackers and viruses, but Data Centres are often a major weak point in IT security. Data Centres and Computer Rooms throughout the country lack the physical security that their servers virtually uphold. How many times have you held the door for someone else to enter a facility? Did you check whether they should have had access? How often is your loading bay door left open or secure doors propped open while you 'carry a box through'? In Migration Solutions experience, it is often too easy to enter a Data Centre through the back door and get someone to let you into the live floor without a pass or signing in.

It is not just having the physical security that needs to be addressed. Staff need the training to ensure that they don't let people through, that they follow procedures and maintain the security levels that your facility requires. Regular staff training can vastly improve your Computer Room or Data Centres security and maximise the potential of the the security measures, physical and virtual, that you have in place.

Migration Solutions are specialist Data Centre consultants with many years of expertise in both building and operating Data Centres. With this combined knowledge, they can advise you on the best security systems for your facility and help train your staff so that you can be as well protected as possible. For more information visit or call 0845 251 2255 today.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Connection Security

How resilient is your Data Centre? How many fibre feeds does it have and where do these feeds come from? In the news recently was a story about the majority of west Africa being cut off from the internet due to a fault in the cable that runs from Portugal and Spain to South Africa via west Africa. The initial reports suggest that 70% of Nigeria have had their bandwidth cut as the remaining 30% takes up the load. Some may view this as a good thing as those pesky Nigerians who want to transfer millions of $ into our accounts so they can make themselves and us money, will not be able to send out any more emails! On a serious note, the bandwidth blackout has had a major effect on the government, banking sectors and the mobile phone networks. The lack of communication has left the country struggling to maintain normal activity.

Does your facility have diverse feeds? Do you know the routes these diverse feeds take? It is all very well having a resilient facility that has multiple feeds, but if both feeds exit the premises together, or at any point on their journey follow the same path, there is a large point of weakness to the connectivity of your Data Centre. With the country's infrastructure being dug up over and over again as water mains burst, sewers get clogged and broadband improved, there is increasing risk of damage to the fibre optics that service your facility. Being prepared and looking into having true diverse power and connectivity feeds into your Data Centre or Computer Room is a must for any business that relies on 24/7 connectivity.

Migration Solutions are a specialist Data Centre consultancy focusing on design, build, operation and migration of facilities throughout the UK and Europe. Contact us now for advice on how to make your Data Centre or Computer Room more resilient at

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Green Repercussions

The EAC (Environmental Audit Committee) has commented today that they believe that if government departments fail to cut their carbon emissions in line with their Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) plan, that the taxpayers will have to pick up the bill. The CRC plan charges companies £12 per tonne of CO2 they release or expect to release in a year. Using energy saving technology to reduce emissions and increase efficiency will allow companies to be ranked on percentage of CO2 reduced and will then be given a rebate if they succeed or exceed the 12.5% reduction by 2012.

The government's plan is to give companies an incentive to reduce energy consumption and they expect the savings to more than pay for the £12 charge, making a net gain for the businesses involved. The EAC are suggesting that this plan could come back to bite the government if they cannot achieve their own targets, meaning the government would have to take money out of the national budget to pay for their own shortcomings.

There are widespread worries that a 12.5% reduction in CO2 emissions will be hard to attain for many companies.

In the words of Lance-Corporal Jack Jones "DON'T PANIC"!! This is far from a bad thing for Data Centres. As we all know, Data Centres consume around 3-4% of all power in the UK. 12.5% of this equates to the equivalent of a 200MW facility!

Reducing every Data Centre and Computer Rooms power consumption by 12.5% may sound like an impossible challenge, but in reality it can be a very simple to achieve.

Migration Solutions developed ERA (Environmental Report and Assessment) which concentrates on all aspects that affect the running of a Data Centre or Computer Room and advises clients on how to improve their efficiency and as a result, reduce their power consumption and costs. Using the advice provided by Migration Solutions, estimated savings that will be free to implement could save between 5-10% of your facilities power costs. With a small amount of expenditure you could expect to see a reduction of 12-20% in power consumption. So the CRC may not be as hard to fulfil as you may first think! For more information visit or call 0845 251 2255

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Broadband Bashing

ISP's (Internet Service Providers) are in trouble again after the release of Ofcom's latest report. There has been extended debate about the legalities and honesty of ISP's 'up to' speed clause in their bandwidth package, because the majority of customers do not and cannot attain the speeds suggested by them.

The Ofcom report focused on the 8Mb service provided by ISP's across the country. Their findings revealed that only 9% of users who subscribe to an 8mb service could attain above 6Mb and that the majority of users could get less than half the quoted amount. The ISP's argue that customers within a close proximity to the telephone exchange attain close to the quoted bandwidth speeds and because of distance and drain on the service by other users, customers who are further out get a slower service. Ofcom also revealed that the majority of 8mb connections could not even support 8Mb, and actually only had the capacity for 7.1Mb.

While the rest of the country has to abide by advertising laws and provide the customer exactly what they offer, ISP's have the ability to suggest that you will receive a service that they cannot provide. The two words 'up to' are an unfair loophole for consumers considering that the majority of customers are not getting the advertised amount. The issue that Ofcom is attempting to solve is to allow the public to get broadband connections that are consistent and that can be regulated. If companies are willing to install the infrastructure to support fast internet speeds such as ADSL MAX or fibre, then they should be allowed to advertise its availability - but not before the service is available.

So what does this report hope to achieve? The government wants the ISP's to be honest about the service they provide so that they can reach their target of the whole country having a minimum of 2Mb internet speeds. If the report has the desired effect, ISPs will have to improve their infrastructure and improve their service, which allows the public to receive what they pay for and not a substandard service.

The result of increasing internet speeds across the country will be a larger demand for Data Centre space, as people access websites, store information and extend their dependency on online services. The competition will increase speeds and drive down prices which will make Data Centre space more affordable and desirable. Migration Solutions are data centre specialists who focus on the operation, migration and design of new and
existing data centres. They are vendor independent which allows the best products to be selected for their clients. To find out about what Migration Solutions can do for you visit the website

Friday, 24 July 2009

Is a wireless Data Centre possible?

Does your Data Centre look like this?

The majority of Data Centres and Computer Rooms in the UK have disorganised cabling and patching which inhibits air flow and reduces efficiency. The organic nature of a network infrastructure often starts with the best intentions and neat cabling, but develops into a sprawling mess when 'quick patches' are made and then left in position. Five years down the line and you can't see the rear of your servers!

There are so many benefits to a neatly patched facility. Connecting your servers through a patch panel allows quick organised alterations to the network while maintaining sub-floor cabling and air flows through the Data Centre. Using cable management arms inside cabinets keeps all cables neatly together and easily traceable, and allows hot air to exit quickly and unobstructed from the servers, which reduces the need for the computer fans to work as hard, reducing power usage. But could we do away with cabling all together?

Companies like WiTricity are already researching safe, wireless power transfers with the idea that in the future, you will be able to walk into a room or your office and phones, laptops and and mp3 players will start charging automatically without being connected to anything. The potential for this technology is unlimited, giving true freedom for you and your gadgets. But what about Data Centres and Computer Rooms? If the same technology was applied, power cables could be removed which would improve air flows and therefore cooling efficiency. The question remains though, would the amount of power required be able to be safely transferred to the equipment reliably? And, more importantly, being only around 40% efficient vast improvements will have to be made to make it a viable solution in a Data Centre environment.

So if wireless power is a possibility, what about wireless networking? Cisco are currently operating and improving a wireless Data Centre. Their facility uses Power over Ethernet and Wi-Fi Ethernet to create a network cable free Data Centre. They have up to 27 routers in the ceiling per meter to give excellent redundancy and bandwidth levels. This technology, along with wireless monitoring and management like the service provided by Synapsense would create a true, wireless Data Centre. Synapsense gives an on-demand picture of temperatures, humidities and pressures within a facility which could replace an expensive and often in accurate CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) test.

While CFD has its place, it lacks the ability to map each individual facilities server utilisation. This new method would allow a Data Centre Manager to fine tune a facility so that servers are always in the most efficient area. With the ability to move servers and racks around freely to optimise cooling, with the only constraint being floor grill placement, super efficient data centres could be just around the corner and they could, just possibly be wireless!

Migration Solutions is a member of The Green Grid which is focused on advancing efficiency in Data Centres. They have also recently received Information Age's award for Best Data Centre Innovation for ERA - an Environmental Report and Audit which aims to help data centre owners to save money and the environment with no or little financial outlay.

Swine Flu

The world has gone swine flu crazy! The public has become paranoid about contracting swine flu and doctors have been inundated with appointments from people who think they have the symptoms. The NHS has just launched a telephone and online service to handle the huge number of enquiries and to provide Tamiflu without the need for a visit to the doctor, where the infection has potential to spread rapidly. Record numbers of people have been phoning the service and accessing the online website,

In the first hour they received 10,000 phone calls and 9.3 million website hits!

NHS direct normally run at around 110-140 GB of bandwidth a month with people looking for information on their website. With their dedicated swine flu website coming online, in the first 3 hours they used 1,404 GB! The new website does use a less bandwidth-heavy design, but even taking that into consideration, they had a rise of 2,453% in bandwidth used! If you compare their normal bandwidth figure (110-140GB a month for 2006-2007) with that of 2003-2004 (25GB) you can see how much of an increase in the reliance on the internet there has been to help find information and diagnose problems.

Is the internet becoming a core utility? The majority of the country use the internet daily to find out everything from directions to talking to relatives abroad. We rely on it as our library, dictionary and news source. When did 'Google it' become an acceptable business term!? Lord Carter's Digital Britain report has promoted the need to give everyone in the UK access to broadband internet by 2015. When you move house, ensuring that you have internet connectivity has become as essential as organising your electricity, water and gas suppliers. If the internet is becoming a core utility, should it be treated as such? Should each house have a bandwidth meter to measure 'how much' internet you use? That way, you could could pay for what you use and not what you think you will use; better value for money for the consumer.

Using the same methodology in Data Centres would reduce the amount of website downtime that is linked to company's exceeding designated bandwidth limits. Companies wouldn't have to second guess the amount of bandwidth they might use which would make Data Centres more competitively priced. There would be a larger focus on the cost of power and subsequently the efficiency of each Data Centre. With more efficient Data Centres, less power would be used and there would be less CO2 being released so the Data Centre operator, customer and the environment would benefit!

Migration Solutions created a Environmental Report and Assessment to look at how a Data Centre operates and areas that could be improved within the facility and operations. The ERA report comes with an entire section on changes that can be made to help your Data Centre run more efficiently and effectively. These improvements range from free, low man-time changes that can yield a 5-10% reduction in power costs to major works which include changing a facility layout, rack layout and replacing old plant equipment. For more information on the Environmental Report and Assessment visit

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Power to the People

Have you got power? Do you know where your power comes from? How long can you survive without power? Many companies in Kent are asking these questions as they face a third day without electricity. Up to 100,000 homes and businesses have been left without power after a suspected vandal attack on an electricity substation in Dartford. Many businesses have had to close as they cannot function without power and only facilities with backup power generation have been able to continue their operations as usual.

For those who need to keep their businesses going, there has been a huge demand for generators and fuel. EDF who own the substation have been trying to restore power and have been providing backup power in 3 hour long, rotated sessions where possible. A number of Data Centres in the area who do not have generators on site have been paying higher than usual prices to source power at short notice. They are starting to realise how fragile the national grid is in the UK and how there is an increasing need for standby generators with present and expected, future power problems.

So do you know where your Data Centre gets its power? Do you have diverse feeds to maintain resilience? In a worst case scenario, how long could your facility survive without mains power and without generator fuel? For the majority of Data Centres with standby generators, no more than 24 hours worth of fuel is kept on site. According to the Uptime Institutes tiering standards, a tier 4 facility is only required to have 4 days of fuel while a Tier 3 only 3. What happens if fuel trucks cannot get to your facility to refill the tanks? Some Data Centres claim to hold enough fuel for 90 days of normal operation. This may seem very expensive and sound like overkill, but talks of London running out of power in the near future and past fuel price strikes are leading business continuity experts to recommend larger fuel tanks to minimise potential impact on critical business systems. How vital are your systems and how long could your facility survive?

Migration Solutions are a specialist Data Centre consultancy focusing on design, build, operation and migration of facilities throughout the UK and Europe. Contact us now for advice on how to make your Data Centre or Computer Room more resilient for the future at

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Will BitTorrent ever beat the Data Centre?

With the Pirate Bay and Kazaa deciding to go legit, the way we access music, films and software could be about to change. Peer to peer (P2P) transfers of files, legal or not, has boomed since Napster's break through in technology in 1999. The introduction of BitTorrent's in 2001, a file sharing protocol that allows millions of computers around the world to share files quickly, has made sharing files easy and fast. The technology works by taking the original file from a user, and when it is downloaded, splitting that file into many small chunks. When there are multiple users downloading (or providing) a file, BitTorrent allows people to access these little bits from different people, which minimises the amount of bandwidth traffic that the original 'seeder' has to use to share the original file. The protocol ensures that the rarest part of the file is provided first to ensure high availability. As a result, large files can be downloaded very quickly, significantly faster than a normal website download could be achieved with multiple downloaders.

The popularity of this method of data transfer has exploded and now, although there are conflicting reports of actual amounts, around 30-50% of all internet traffic is thought to be from BitTorrent up and downloads. IsoHunt has claimed that there are 1.7 petabytes (1,000,000 gigabytes) being shared by their sources. Although BitTorrent downloading is popular, it cannot guarantee a connection to the file you require.

When you download a song from iTunes, you are connecting to their server in a Data Centre directly. You have a guaranteed connection speed from the Data Centre via a fibre optic cable. The only limitation to the speed you receive that file is the Internet Service Providers (ISP) network and your own personal internet connection. Theoretically, you could connect to the Data Centre at 14 terabits per second via fibre, which would effectively produce instant downloads. The reality is that fibre transmitters limit the possible bandwidth of fibre and that PC's cannot connect directly to a public fibre connection. Additionally, most bandwidth gets limited by connection via copper cables when connecting to a computer as it is a vastly cheaper method of data transfer in a localised area.

When you download a file from a P2P or BitTorrent network, you are connecting to individual PC's in the majority of cases. You are limited not only by your own computer, bandwidth and ISP, but by the person's that you are connecting to. BitTorrent is considerably more efficient at using this method over P2P due to the fact that it downloads many small files from many different users which allows the for an increase in availability. The limit to this technology appears when connecting to another user. If you could guarantee the connection speed there would be less of an issue, but connecting to P2P networks requires reliance on other users having the file you want, and that they have their computers switched on so you can receive it. In a Data Centre environment, a file would always be available.

So will BitTorrents ever replace the Data Centre? The nature of the connection method and the process that allows a BitTorrent file to be downloaded requires many people to have the same file and an active internet connection. There is no guarantee that you can download a file and each file that is not downloaded would lose someone money. While BitTorrent may be great for the free and illegal file downloading, the lack of control would make it hard to charge for the downloads. Aside from this, the majority of Data Centres require servers for their raw computing power and storage capabilities. BitTorrent software cannot recreate this and even if it could, the running costs would be significantly higher and the synchronisation impossible to maintain.

Migration Solutions is a specialist computer room and data centre company offering independent advice on the design, build and operation of data centres and computer rooms. See our website at

Apollo 11 Guidance Computer - Has software moved on?

21st July 1969 was a big day for computers! Apollo 11 made history when the first man landed on the moon. Migration Solutions MD, Alex Rabbetts, has been taking a look back at the technology in use at the time and how it has evolved today.

The Apollo Guidance Computer, (Apollo 11 actually had two - one in the command module and one in the lunar module), was very advanced for its time. It had 2k of memory, 32k of storage and a processing speed of 1.024 MHz and it managed to guide Apollo 11 all the way to the moon and back.

Let's put this in context - it had 2kb of memory ... the machine used to write this article has 2.75GB of memory. That's 1,441,792 times more memory! It had 32kb of storage ... the machine used to write this article has 139GB. That's 4,554,752 times more storage! It had a processing speed of 1.024MHz ... the machine used to write this article has 3.4GHz of processing speed. That's 3,320 times faster!

So, what can be concluded from this is that a machine with over a million times less memory, almost 4.5 million times less storage and a processing speed that is 3,400 times slower than the PC in my office managed to fly man to the moon and back! But then my PC does run Windows ...

Taking a quick look at the Microsoft support website and I find the minimum requirements for running Windows XP:

At least 64MB of memory (128 MB is recommended) - 32,768 times more memory that the Apollo Guidance Computer
At least 1.5 GB of storage - 49,152 times more storage than the Apollo Guidance Computer
A 233 MHz processor (300 MHz is recommended) - 233 times faster than the Apollo Guidance Computer

The question therefore must be ... such a low spec computer such as the Apollo Guidance System is capable of flying man to the moon and back, what is my PC with such a vastly superior specification capable of doing?

One could be forgiven for wondering exactly how this relates to data centres! The answer really is in that very large storage number. The IDC estimates that by the end of 2010 the amount of data storage worldwide will reach 1 zettabyte (1,180,591,620,717,410,000,000 bits of data) and it will continue to rise at an exponential rate. The recent Digital Britain report supports this view of exponential rise in the storage of digital media. All this data has to be stored somewhere ... much of it in data centres.

Data Centres require huge amounts of power to drive the storage equipment used for all this data that is produced. There are all sorts of drives to reduce carbon emissions from data centres, ranging from The Green Grid, the EU Code of Conduct to the Carbon Reducation Commitment. Greater efficiency in data centres is the right way to go, but we mustn't forget the software. 1.5 gigabytes just to install an operating system is a massive amount of storage when compared to that of the Apollo Guidance Computer - the real question is whether this vast increase in the amount of code required simply to run the computer is so much better than the system used to send the first man to the moon!

And one final thought ... if we were told that we were to fly to the moon today and that the computer that would get us there and back was running Windows XP or Vista, would we still want to go?

Friday, 17 July 2009

Chillerless Facilities

In the news this week is another of Google's data centres. Their facility in Belgium does not use chillers and traditional air conditioning, but utilises fresh-air cooling to effectively cool the data centre for free. Fresh-air cooling is not a new technology and it is in use by many different facilities around the world, but the clever part is that Google have done away with the need for backup air conditioning units for the few days a year when temperatures rise above the safe operating levels of their computer equipment.

To allow this facility to run at optimum levels, the technology employed had to be redesigned from the ground up. Google already build their own servers which mean they can purpose build them to their specific requirements, using minimal components and reducing the need for expensive casings and multiple drives. These servers can be run at a temperature of 27 degrees centigrade which allows for cooling requirements to be minimal in the first place. The average summer temperatures in Brussels are between 19-21 degrees which allows a 6 degree variance for heat waves or unseasonal hot days. If the temperature in the data centre rises to a level where the IT equipment cannot handle the heat, Google, using its virtualisation technology, starts to transfer the servers activity to different facilities around the world which allows the data centre to cool naturally, restoring a lower temperature and allowing the facility to continue to operate at normal levels. This process is performed automatically by the data centre, which can recognise when it may be over heating. There is also an increasing reliance on local weather forecasting so they can pre-empt any problems that may occur.

As the world moves towards virtualisation as a more efficient method of server utilisation, the question remains, is the Google data centre blueprint the future of the modern computer room? Google have the ability and the financial backing to be able to take a problem, dissect it, and redesign it so it works most efficiently for their requirements. This is their plan for Google OS, but are Googles requirements the same of the rest of the worlds?

Making your Data Centre as efficient as possible will reduce your yearly power bill significantly. Some very small, often free changes can return 5-10% savings in power. Migration Solutions are specialist consultants who created their ERA, Environmental Report and Assessment, to help Data Centre and computer room operators save running costs and extend the life of servers and their support equipment. For more information visit or call 0845 251 2255

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Wind Power

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has released a report this week about domestic wind generation, which could change how and where wind turbines are installed. The report, which sampled a number of homes across the UK, used predicted and actual average wind speed readings to map the UK and decide where the most appropriate location for wind turbine installations actually are. Although the ideal position and geographical location was no surprise, findings about return on investment (ROI) and home installations were revealing.

Manufacturers figures for domestic wind turbines suggest that on average, building mounted turbines make 10% of their ratings a year and free standing turbines make 17% of their ratings. If a turbine is rated at 1kW, this would equate to 100 Watts and 170 Watts respectively. In direct comparison, the large wind farms get closer to 30-40% of their rating on average, reaching 59% efficiency at peak output. The EST's findings revealed that building mounted turbines actually came closer to being 3% of their ratings, a difference of 7%. This would mean that a £4,500 1kW wind turbine would generate 262.8 kWh of power per year, which equates to £34. Therefore the ROI for a 1kW wind turbine mounted on a domestic house in an average area would be 132 years!! This therefore is not a very environmentally friendly method of power production! If they are located in an ideal location such as Scotland where it is windy, with few obstructions and either by the sea on on a hill, this average rises to 7.4% of the rating. This equates to 648.2 kWh for the same turbine per year or £84. This lowers the ROI to 53 years and 5 months!

On the other hand, due to the ideal location of free-standing turbines, they have a much higher efficiency and much lower ROI. Free standing turbines need a large area of open ground so that they are safely positioned and not a danger. They should ideally be in a high position with no trees or buildings obstructing the wind flow. In the EST's tests, the average load was 19% of the turbines rating which almost certainly is because of their location. The benefit of a free-standing turbine is that it can be larger than one that is building mounted. So for example, a 6kW free standing wind turbine costs £17,200 to buy. At 19% of its rating it will generate 9,986.4 kWh a year or £1,298. Therefore, the ROI would be 13 years 3 months. In perfect conditions either by the sea or on top of a hill, the efficiency rises to 30% which makes the ROI 8 years 5 months. After this period it will start giving you free electricity.

So what has this got to do with data centres I hear you cry? Reducing power costs in data centres is big money, and many new facilities are trying ways to make their data centres or computer rooms "green". One idea is to have private power generation through wind and solar generation, but as was discussed before in this blog, solar power generation is not at a level yet where the benefits can be gained in the UK. If you have a data centre or building located in a remote area which has high average wind conditions, installing 10 free standing wind turbines could power four 3kW racks. Although the ROI would be a major factor, for a domestic situation, the government will provide a grant of up to £1,000 per kW of turbine installed and similar incentives are provided for businesses. In Dubai a number of different designs are being considered by architects to build wind generation into new skyscrapers. These could produce 1,200,000 kWh of power a year, enough to power a 20 Rack data centre with cooling included. If every new building had this technology included in the design, the possibilities of "free power" are endless.

Making your Data Centre as efficient as possible will reduce your yearly power bill significantly. Some very small, often free changes can return 5-10% savings in power. Migration Solutions are specialist consultants who created their ERA, Environmental Report and Assessment, to help data centre and computer room operators save running costs and extend the life of servers and their support equipment. For more information visit or call 0845 251 2255

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Google to re-invent the netbook OS

ChromeOS - could this be the new face of cloud computing? Google announced on their blog last night that they were developing a totally new operating system that will be specifically designed for netbooks. Chrome OS is expected to be ready for shipping towards the end of 2010 but will be available for the open source community later this year.

Google has revealed that they are planning to include in-built security. This has been totally redesigned in order to do away with processor hungry anti-virus and malware products, and to ensure that from switch on to internet browsing there is only a a few seconds delay rather than the few minutes needed by Windows. By starting from scratch, Google hopes to be able to redefine the operating system into something that will "just work" rather than a tool that constantly has problems. All web-based applications will work on ChromeOS and Google is concentrating on ensuring that all the ChromeOS apps are usable on all other operating systems.

This could be the future of operating systems - to give users what they want rather than what they are given. One question remains, although there are many people who disapprove of Microsoft's strangle hold on the market, will Google start to carry the torch?

Monday, 6 July 2009

Super-Data Centres

Has anyone got a spare million lying around? How about cheeky $2 billion?

The NSA (National Security Agency) in America, has announced plans that they intend to build a $2 billion, 1 million sq ft data centre in Utah as they are fast growing out of their Fort Meade headquarters. The proposed 65 MW facility will be sited on 2 major power corridors and will house new supercomputers that the Fort Meade facility can no longer support. The NSA, who watch and listen to most communications - via the internet, phone calls, radio broadcasting and other communications methods. They watch over the whole world's communications, attempting to spot dangers to the USA from foreigners. An element of this information is shared with GCHQ, the UK's version of the NSA. The NSA build bespoke supercomputers to break ciphers and encryption around the world, which require huge amounts of power and cooling to operate effectively. As an example, the world's most powerful supercomputer, the IBM Roadrunner takes up 296, 42U racks and uses 2.53MW of power, not including the water-cooled CRAC units.

In the UK we can presume that GCHQ must have a similar sized computing capacity. There is not much information as you would expect from a highly classified branch of the government, but they have stated that “It’s hard for an outsider to imagine the immense size and sheer power of GCHQ’s supercomputing architecture.” This does beg the question, does the government/GCHQ have access to vast amounts of power that is not readily available to the public and average data centre operator. There is a severe shortage of power in the UK which has been highlighted through the reserving of electricity for the Olympics by many companies who have been paying vast sums of money in a bidding war to secure the limited power available. The government has a plan in place to build a number of new nuclear power stations and clean coal powered stations (which will include carbon capture) by 2018, but many sources are saying that the UK will run out of power by 2015 as old power stations come to the end of their lives.

The best way to safeguard your data centre or computer room for the future is to make it more efficient now so that you will not require excessive power in the next 10 years. Migration Solutions are specialist Data Centre consultants who design and build, operate and migrate data centres all over the UK and Europe and have recently won Information Age's Data Centre Innovation award for ERA, an Environmental Report and Assessment which looks at ways that computer room and data centre operators can cut costs and improve their facilities efficiency. For more information visit or call 0845 251 2255.

Friday, 3 July 2009

UK Government says more data centres needed!

According to the widely publicised 'Digital Britain'report, it is anticipated that 'the volume of digital content will increase 10x to 100x over the next 3 to 5 years' and that 'we are on the verge of a "big bang" in the communications industry that will provide the UK with enormous economic and industrial opportunities.' The question posed in the report, however, is where is all this data going to be stored? The answer, of course, is in data centres.

The report continues; 'All of the information on the global Internet, whether for commerce, industry or consumer consumption, has to be stored somewhere in digital form on servers. This is the function of the Data centres. They are a crucial part of the underlying infrastructure and a vital foundation block of much of the digital economy.'

'The current demand for highly-connected data centres in the UK points to constraints in supply which is of concern as these facilities can take up to two years to build from initial inception. The private sector needs to look beyond the current recession since the up-turn in the economy will not be the only driver of expanding demand - the quantity of information to be stored continues to rise exponentially across the world.'

Those involved in the industry already know about the shortage of supply, but if the report is only half right, this shortage will soon become a drought. Putting this in context, the introduction to the report states, 'Yesterday, 20 hours of new content were posted on YouTube every minute, 494 exabytes of information were transferred seamlessly across the globe, over 2.6 billion mobile minutes were exchanged across Europe, and millions of enquiries were made using a Google algorithm.'

Assuming a rather conservative view is taken and that digital content increases just 5 times over the next 3 to 5 years, this would result in 100 hours of YouTube content being posted every minute, 2,470 exabytes of information being transferred and 13 billion mobile minutes being exchanged across Europe. This would result in the current shortage becoming chronic!

It is evident, not just from the report, but also from what is happening today, that new data centres must be built ... and soon! The average data centre will take 6-12 months to construct (some longer) and that's only after all the relevant permissions have been obtained. Building a data centre isn't that easy either. In order to support all of the technology - servers, storage, network equipment etc., there is a significant amount of infrastructure required. Firstly, any site that is identified as a potential site for a data centre needs power ... lots of it! And there isn't much of that around at the moment. Some towns and cities are reported to be down to their last megawatt of power, and that isn't nearly enough to power a data centre of any size. A data centre of just 100 racks of equipment is likely to need at least 1 megawatt of power, the average commercial data centre will have upwards of 500 racks ... some will run into thousands. A second consideration is the communications required. These data centres need big communications links. Not a 200Mbps connection as is currently being trialled in Kent, but several Gigabit, or even Terrabit, connections will be required. Getting these connections to the data centre is not cheap!

Getting the design right is going to be crucial. It isn't, as some newer entrants to the market seem to believe, a case of chucking a load of power and communications into a shed and calling it a data centre. Very careful consideration needs to be given to the operation of these data centres after the builder has gone. It needs specialist design with the ongoing operation at the forefront of that design. In some existing data centres an upgrade will be necessary, in others it won't be possible as their design and infrastructure simply won't support the new demands.

The report states, 'London is the largest data centre market in Europe and a location for international businesses looking to expand into Europe.' This is currently true, but the clever people are going to be thinking slightly outside the box. London is the largest data centre market in Europe but with the chronic shortage of power in London at the moment and the lack of investment in infrastructure meaning it won't get better anytime soon, London may not be the panacea to the problem. The UK certainly, but the clever money will be building outside of the capital. Some will need to be close enough to allow synchronous replication of data, but most applications don't need this - digital storage being one.

Smart operators should be looking to build data centres in locations where both power and connectivity are available. Really smart operators should be looking at sites where both power and connectivity are available and where the power comes from a 'green' source. Whilst the government, through the Digital Britain report, has rightly identified that there is a need for more data centres and that there is a current shortage which can only get worse, they have, as ever, balanced this with the introduction of a promise to heavily tax those users of significant energy, or which data centres are one.

Interesting times are ahead for the data centre industry!

Migration Solutions has many years of experience in computer room and data centre design and construction. Utilising operational experience to create a data centre that runs as efficiently as possible, but is easy to use for the operations team is the most important aspect of any data centre or computer room design. For more information visit

Tuesday, 30 June 2009


As you may be able to tell there is a heat wave happening in the UK! Throughout this week the temperatures will be increasing reaching a peak on Thursday. The Met Office has issued a Level 2 Heat-Health warning to prepare the public for the weather. While the temperatures may not be high compared to many places around the world, the UK is used to a more moderate heat and infrastructures are designed with this in mind.

Older data centres and computer rooms often start to overheat and fail in high temperatures, as the air conditioning struggles to cope with the increased heat levels and cooling. These facilities are also likely to be full to capacity. In a facility that is already on the limit of cooling, a heat wave becomes very dangerous, especially if a CRAC Unit (Computer Room Air Conditioning) were to fail. Old servers are also very sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. Increased heat requires the internal fans to spin faster to cool the equipment and if a fan stops working, a server can very quickly over heat and shut down. If any 1 server has business critical applications on it, you should be prepared.

Migration Solutions created a health check for data centres and computer rooms which looks at all aspects of a facility and gives it a scored rating. The ERA report comes with an entire section on improvements that can be made to help your Data Centre run more efficiently and effectively, and can identify possible problems that could result in down time. These improvements range from free, low man-time changes that can yield a 5-10% reduction in power costs to major works which include changing a facility layout, rack layout and replacing old plant equipment. An essential part of Data Centre management is preparing for the worst, and identifying the strengths and weakness of your facility is key. For more information on the Environmental Report and Assessment visit

Monday, 29 June 2009

Solar Servers

Humans are having a big impact on the world, and learning how to slow and eventually stop the processes that are affecting our environment is of key importance to humanity. Not only is it important from an environmental perspective, it is important for preparation for life without fossil fuels, which will become reality in the not too distant future. The technologies that have been developed in the past 20 years which include super efficient batteries, electric motors, and solar panels, will help to cut our reliance on coal and gas power stations to a level that would help our planet re-stabilise itself.

Data Centres use between 3-4% of all electricity produced in the world. As a major drain on the planet's resources, the sector as a whole needs to look at how much power we are using, what can be done to reduce power consumption and whether it will ever be viable to run a Data Centre that is environmentally neutral. At present, the only area that can be run totally neutrally is computer room air conditioning. Using fresh air cooling, Data Centres can make use of low external temperatures to cool an entire facility effectively for free, saving 40-50% of the overall power costs.

But what about the other 50-60% which provides the power to run the servers themselves? Many environmentally conscious Data Centre operators are choosing to use power from green sources like wind farms and hydroelectric but there is not enough of this type of power available for everybody. In the UK, solar panels have never been that effective at generating power and initial outlay far exceeds the returns that would be gained from the amount of power they can produce. Systems like the solar-thermal power plant in Seville, Spain are significantly more effective than the traditional solar panel, using heliostats to track the sun and concentrate its thermal energy into a heat exchanger that powers a steam turbine. It currently produces 11MW of power according to its owner, Solucar, which could power 4 or 5 large Data Centres, but the system requires a large amount of space and strong sunshine to operate at this level. Being 100% environmentally neutral by combining this technology with fresh air cooling, is not a viable option as they both require very different environments.

Two inventors, one in Massachusetts and one in Missouri, have come up with two different ideas to make solar technology cheap and efficient, both claiming 70-80% efficiency (normal solar panels range from 10-40% efficiency with a steep increase in cost) and at a fraction of current prices. One inventor has created two different materials that can be sprayed onto glass or plastic which create different layers of conductive metals to produce electrical power. The second inventor has used nanoantennae, tiny loops of highly conductive metal, each 1/25 the diameter of a human hair which can be stamped onto a variety of materials and harness power through the infra-red part of the light spectrum. The benefit of this system is that during the day the antenna can absorb power from the sun, but at night they can absorb the stored infra-red energy in the ground which is given off long into the night after the sun has gone down. Both are promising technologies and when the eventually go on sale they may be the answer to the environmentally neutral Data Centre.

Making your Data Centre as efficient as possible will reduce your yearly power bill significantly. Some very small, often free changes can return 5-10% savings in power. Migration Solutions are specialist consultants who created their ERA, Environmental Report and Assessment, to help Data Centre and computer room operators save running costs and extend the life of servers and their support equipment. For more information visit or call 0845 251 2255

Friday, 26 June 2009

Michael Jackson and Cloud Computing

Google, ABC, AOL, CBS, CNN… to name a few were all hit hard this morning as news of Michael Jackson’s death spread like a ‘speed demon’ around the world.

The number of hits that these websites were getting were off the wall with Google believing it was under attack from a virus or spyware application during the peak of searches (between 0240 and 0315 Pacific time).

This begs the question, is it dangerous to rely on the cloud to cope with the demand of such relatively rare incidents? Cloud computing claims to have the technology to cope with such a massive influx of visitors, but has it? After all, we’re still relying on hardware based somewhere – working day and night, and when extra demand is needed how quickly can these dormant virtual machines be brought up?

It’s not black and white, who’s to say the architecture is robust enough to cope? Those promoting the cloud certainly Just can’t get enough of promoting their vision of a cloud based future.

In truth, the cloud is in its childhood, but growing up fast. A well defined, efficient architecture, using best practice techniques is very likely to offer an invincible solution that some current on-site computer rooms and data centres just don’t have.

It’s human nature to get excited about new technology, but persuading business to trust the cloud with their business critical data? It’s bad enough trying to convince business to move their data 25 miles out of their own London offices, let alone persuade them to send it into the cloud to a Stranger in Moscow.

There is no doubt that cloud computing is going to play a large part in the future of data. Once the fear of lack of data privacy is resolved we’ll be saying remember the time when we had all of our data stored on-site?

We’re almost there, whatever happens history will prove that cloud computing is coming of age. I’ll be there!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Digital Britain

The final Digital Britain report was published last week with many interesting discussion points. The report was commissioned to ensure that the whole of the UK, from businesses to consumers could maximise the benefits that the internet and emerging technologies surrounding it can provide. Key points that were highlighted were the development of broadband across the country, especialy rural areas, so that the entire population can have access to higher download speeds; ensuring the public have sufficient IT and media literacy skills to take advantage of new technologies; creating a digital copyright framework to protect intellectual property rights to support and promote creativity along with investment opportunities and job creation in sectors important to the UK and to combat internet piracy to ensure the future of on-line music and film downloads.

One of the surprises that came out of the Digital Britain report was that all wired internet users will now have to pay a 'broadband tax' of 50p per month to help pay towards the expansion of fast internet across the country. There has been doubt expressed already that the government is just trying to look as if they are doing something to alleviate the problem, and that the big cabling providers do not require a "meaningless sweetener", and that it is just another stealth tax. When it comes to piracy, the government will only intervene as a last resort. This means that abusers will not be disconnected if they flout the law, which does not seem much of a deterrent. Whether this will work remains to be seen, but if after a year there are not significant improvements, Internet Service Providers will be asked to slow the abuser's connection speeds and as a last resort block their IP addresses. Removing the internet from the illegal downloader's appears to be one of the few viable ways of stopping piracy.

Data centres were touched on very briefly, maybe to explain to those not in the know what data centre is! All the report revealed is that the need for data centre and co-location space is increasing - which is stating the obvious! There does not appear to be a plan in place to help provide power for these 'in-need' data centres which is the biggest limiting factor at present. This means that power will remain very expensive as it becomes a bidding war for provision and it will become increasingly harder to obtain. As a result the public will end up picking up the cost.
So with all these 'revelations', internet use will increase while the ability to host the vital equipment needed to run the internet will remain limited!

Migration Solutions are a specialist, vendor neutral consultancy who focus on data centre design and builds; business continuity planning and disaster recovery; data centre migration and operation. For more information vist

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Restoring trust for the future

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the highly honoured professor credited with being the father of the internet, has revealed that Gordon Brown has given him a job to assist the public in regaining the trust of their government. In new plans, Gordon Brown has agreed with Sir Tim, that taxpayers' money has paid for data about the government, so they should have access to it. This sudden bold move by the Prime Minister comes after a wave of resignations following the 'expenses scandal' which revealed that many MP's have been claiming for items and houses that they were not entitled to, passing them off as 'perks of the job'. Sir Tim's role will be to create a website that gives complete transparency of the government's expenditure in an attempt to restore trust before the next general election.

In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee, an Oxford graduate from London, presented the first proposal at CERN for an HTTP client for the sharing of information between scientists. In 1990 with the help of Robert Cailliau, they created the first communication via the internet. This team could also be considered the parents of the modern data centre. Data centres were already in use throughout the 1980's as the reliance on computing grew across the globe, but it wasn't until the internet took off in the mid 90's that data centres became what they are today. As many companies turned to the internet as a way of marketing and creating brand awareness, the internet exploded in size which resulted in the dotcom boom. As a result data centres evolved very quickly and many new facilities were constructed.

It is believed that data centres use 3% of the worlds electricity, while in the UK this figure is over 4%. This is equivalent to around 800 2MW data centres across the country. In reality this is made up of thousands of small 10 rack or less computer rooms. The figure gives an idea of just how much power we consume in IT. 1600MW would run 3.6 million homes for a year. While our requirement for data centre space is on the increase, computer processing capabilities are also increasing which allow a single server to perform multiple tasks more effectively and efficiently. The more efficiently a server works, the faster we can receive results from it and so our expectations of how long a task should take are reduced. As a result, we have created a perpetual cycle of power consumption that will be very had to slow down.

With the release of the full Digital Britain report today, the country is expecting to see an attainable action plan to get every person in the UK on the internet at a connection speed of at least 2Mbps. With 61 million people using the internet, and internet connections getting faster, eventually becoming fibre connections, data centres will need to have faster connections into the facilities and faster servers to process the information. This will just add more fuel to the perpetual technology cycle. The cost will fall to the consumer with a premium paid for faster connections and to the data centre operator who will have to increase the bandwidth to each facility. Improving data centre efficiency is likely to be the first step in keeping costs down. Migration Solutions has created a tool for this. ERA - the Environmental Report and Assessment takes a snapshot of all aspects of a data centre from the cooling to the layout, power to the processes and procedures, to help data centre operators save money and save the environment at the same time. For more information visit

Friday, 12 June 2009

iPhone - The Next Generation?

As the whole world will know, Apple has announced the release of the new iPhone handset for next week. This small piece of equipment has been the market leader in smart phone technology since its initial release in June 2007. The iPhone has made the internet accessible from pretty much anywhere with mobile phone reception and as a result, many more people have been accessing the internet, reading and writing emails, downloading music and Twittering on the go rather than waiting until they are at their PC or Mac. The public is becoming more dependent on the internet for everything, and the iPhone is one of a handful of phones that is contributing to this dependency.
The iPhone now has a better camera, 3.2 megapixels over the 2 previously, and supports video capture. It can connect and transfer data faster than ever. For the consumer this is brilliant news, and for Apple it's even better as many people will upgrade their phone, but how will it affect the users, the data centre owners and the data centre operators?
The faster connection speeds will require faster processing power in data centres to keep up with the advancing technology. The consumer will expect the infrastructure to be able to support the new technology and so data centre operators involved with any aspect of the iPhone will have to improve and maintain their technology to keep up with the ever increasing demand for speed. For many ageing data centres, this will mean that old servers will need to be replaced with new, multi core processors with sufficient RAM and fast storage attached to a fibre or cat 7a based network connection. New equipment and faster processing will necessitate more efficient and reliable cooling. The faster processors and increased cooling will require more power which increases the cost of running a server. The net result? The public will end up paying a premium on the services relying on data centres - which will show up on your phone bill as higher line rental and data charges.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Refurbishment vs. New facilities

Whenever there is a hot summer, old and some not to old data centres and computer rooms suffer. As they overheat due to inefficiencies and under-cooling, management must decide whether it is more cost effective to patch the room up to last another year, to totally refurbish the computer room or to build a brand new computer room or data centre from scratch. This summer is likely to be no different with many people expecting some record temperatures.
The task of persuading the powers that be to choose one of these options lies with the facilities and operations departments explaining the viability of each choice to the finance director. It has been said before that facilities and operations rarely see eye to eye, often due to the differing natures of their jobs, so the management team rarely get an unbiased view of the true needs of the IT department. So what are the benefits of refurbishing a data centre vs. building a new facility and vice versa?

When refurbishing a facility there is one major problem that stands in the way; working around live equipment, be it plant or servers. Maintaining 24/7 operations during a refurbishment is possible, but special care needs to be taken by all parties working in close proximity to the facility. As workmen connect and test new plant, short circuits and power failures are a common hazard, as are people tripping over live cables and lifted floor tiles that span work areas.
In choosing a refurbishment, there are many areas in which budget can be saved when compared to a new build. Starting from scratch requires foundations, walls being built and services being connected, all of which may be avoided in a refurbishment saving time and money. The site will often be in, or close to the main office which appeals to many companies and IT departments and this also means it may be possible to reuse plant from the old facility.

Many computer rooms and data centres have evolved over time to become the backbone of company operations, but often, this Darwinist approach to IT results in a room that is the wrong shape, size and layout for modern computer equipment and the installed plant often struggles to cope with advances in computer power. Building a new computer room or data centre provides the ability of hindsight to prevent the same problems happening again, by future proofing the new facility from its outset.
A new data centre will be specifically designed for the businesses needs. Building from maximises the efficiencies of new technologies such as free and fresh air cooling, heat re-use and dust reduction. By designing a new facility, the ability to include de-box and test rooms adjacent to the computer room or data centre, secure delivery bays and single level entry to the finished floor level helps to maintain the operation of an efficient data centre. A problem that often arises from a refurbishment is that IT staffs still see it as the old facility and fall into bad habits that encourage poor patching which reduces airflows; poor housekeeping that increases dust levels; and poor security to name a few. A new facility is often treated like a new car; you want it looking like that day you took ownership for as long as possible so staffs try especially hard to maintain its high standards. By moving data over to a totally new facility you can start afresh and help maintain a reliable, efficient computer room or data centre for many years to come.

Every case is different and Migration Solutions are experts at recommending the most suitable options for each client. Migration Solutions has many years of experience in computer room and data centre design and construction utilising their operational experience to create a data centre that runs as efficiently as possible, but is also easy to use for the operations team. For more information visit

Monday, 1 June 2009

Symantec Publishes 2009 Green IT Report

Symantec has just published its 2009 Green IT report, and it makes interesting reading. Here are some of the key facts:

97% of respondents state that they are discussing a green IT strategy
45% said that they have already implemented green IT initiatives

Key drivers are reducing electricity consumption (90%), reducing calling costs (87%), and corporate pressure to be green (86%).

The report also highlighted that organisations are prepared to pay a premium for more energy efficient servers with 95% reporting that new energy efficient equipment is part of their strategy, followed by monitoring power consumption (94%) server virtualisation (94%) and server consolidation (93%).

The report’s press release can be read in full via the Symantec website

These results are positive, but in other news, published yesterday on the BBC’s website, sales of servers fell almost 25% in the first 3 months of 2009. That doesn’t look too promising for the move to ‘greener’ servers.

But is buying new the right thing to anyway from a green perspective? Old servers may use more energy to run, but what about the energy used to produce this new hardware, and the environmental impact of the disposal of the replaced devices?

There is so much more that can be done to improve the efficiency of a computer room and data centre, and a lot can be done for little or no money.

Migration Solutions’ award winning Environmental Report and Assessment (ERA) has shown companies, government bodies and educational establishments how savings can be achieved without spending a fortune on changing the whole of the IT estate.

Simple steps can be taken immediately, and recommendations made on a future strategy to improve efficiency when a refurbishment is due, or when fitting out a new computer room or data centre facility.

Migration Solutions is a specialist computer room and data centre specialist offering independent advice on the design, build and operation of data centres and computer rooms. See our website at