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Pimp My Data Center

By Steve Jones,

I've had the chance to tour and work with a lot of data centers over my career. I've seen big, empty ones that you could host a football game inside (MCI), modern ones that had left substantial room for expansion, including laying trenches in the floor for water cooling (Sprint), and older ones from smaller companies. I was one that was a series of office space in a large building, including one that used portable coolers vented through a sheet of plywood in place of a window with the hose screwed to the wood.

I've also had to make decisions on where to host various companies' servers. That's ranged from a friend's basement in the early SSC days to choosing a large vendor that could sync up data for a larger company across multiple data centers. I've learned quite a bit over the years, something new almost every time I visit a new center, as this business has grown and evolved over time to respond to changing conditions and needs. I'm sure any day now I'll be seeing a data center with some solar panels or windmills up there to offset costs. Especially now that power is becoming a larger and larger cost in running a data center.

There is a cool set of articles at InfoWorld on a data center rebuilding at the University of Hawaii. One of the editors over there works at UH and documented some of the project for the site. It's an interesting read, especially some of the lessons learned. They are mostly common sense, but it's good to see the advice listed there and get reminded that trying to skimp and save doesn't always work.

Coincidently I also ran across an article about Microsoft's new data center in San Antonio. Now that's a data center, 11 acres, which is a big slice of the property I walk around fixing fences on. I can just imagine a building that was 11 acres in size and how much equipment that you could actually fit in there.

We have some challenges in growing our computing infrastructure in the future as more and more technologies come into play and we have to deal with rising costs, great densities, even the complex challenges of virtualization and the growing need to "no data loss" in our disaster recovery procedures, but from what I've seen, I'm sure that we'll see some interesting data center advances as we progress.

The move to data center in a container, especially a shipping container, is very intriguing. I can see us getting the portability in our data centers that we get with cellular phones now. Don't like your service? Send your container down the road to the next facility.

Steve Jones


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Today's podcast features music by Everyday Jones. No relation, but I stumbled on to them and really like the music. Support this great duo at www.everydayjones.com.

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