Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Ed Featherston, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Dalibor Siroky, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Cloud: Datacenters, Meet Software! By @IoT2040 | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

The Open Compute Project Sets the Direction

The PC revolution has redefined the notion of a computer over the past four decades. Now it might be time to redefine the notion of a collection of computers, that is, to redefine the notion of a datacenter.

Datacenters are thought of as big places. Some of the more recent plants used by mega-users like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook have acres of land under roof, with many tens of thousands of individual systems and power requirements that would support a small city.

Even your friendly local, on-site enterprise datacenter is likely to be a big room with a big budget commitment and a lot of people hired to manage it

But what if a datacenter could fit in the corner of a room, or under a desk, or in the palm of your hand?

This seems to be the direction we're headed, as data loads simultaneously grow exponentially and become ever more distributed. This is also part of the vision I saw and heard outlined at the recent Open Compute Summit in San Jose.

Transparency as a Service
The summit was sponsored by The Open Compute Project Foundation, with a goal "to design and enable the delivery of the most efficient server, storage and data center hardware designs for scalable computing," according to its mission statement. Members strive to share ideas, specs, and intellectual property in an open environment. The foundation is keyed by Facebook and the company's commitment to transparency in how it builds out the massive datacenter infrastructure it requires.

One significant announcement at the summit was made by Vapor.io and company CEO Cole Crawford. The company aims for nothing less than utter transformation of the datacenter, starting with a programmable, open-source based management solution at the top of the stack.

Crawford and Chief Architect Steven White envision a modern, data-driven datacenter in which servers are "cattle, not pets," following the still-new concept of software-defined servers and centers. "The Open Data Center Runtime Environment is the first accepted contribution to the Open Compute Foundation using the reciprocal license thus ensuring that forks and branches won't exist," according to Vapor.io. "We did this to ensure that when you are interacting with your data center, you're communicating over a community owned, community standard.

The company's ultimate vision is a modern hardware configuration that brings new levels of efficiency and output to datacenters of all sizes.

Mobility & Then the IoT
The fast-growing global dataflow has mobility as today's primary driver. The proliferation of tablets and especially smartphones on a worldwide basis will cause the total amount of data being processed by the Internet to exceed a zettabyte (1 billion terabytes) annually this year or next. That's more than 30 terabytes per second.

Smartphone ownership will reach into the billions soon enough, and even in many developing countries, such as the Philippines, there are now more mobile phones than people.

But we ain't seen nuttin' yet-the Internet of Things (IoT) will be adding billions of new devices to the global Internet soon enough. Though much of the traffic it generates will be hyper-local (via Bluetooth and other short-range technologies), enough of it will be traveling along the Internet to increase global bandwidth to the dozens of zettabytes by the year 2020, according to Gartner and others.

Think of it as cloud computing to the nth degree in all dimensions. Think of the phrase made famous by Sun Microsystems-"the network is the computer"--extending out to "the edge of the network is your computer."

The edge of the network seems to me to be much like the edge of the universe, that is, there is no such thing to the single observer. One person's edge is another's center. Cyberspace expands outward from wherever you are, and you will expect the same performance (some day) for your single device or your enterprise no matter where you are.

Big, bulky, centralized data centers cannot provide this edge service ubiquitously and effectively. There is also the matter of energy consumption. Datacenters were using about 2% of all electricity consumption in the US in 2011-that number has certainly risen since then, although it did not rise as quickly as the EPA had originally estimated for the period 2007-11.

Focus on Power Consumption
But let's not get distracted by this particular metric. The big picture is one that features global power consumption and the aspiration of billions of people in developing nations to have better lives.

As I've written about many times, and about which much of our research at the Tau Institute is focused, developing nations typically consume 3 to 5% of the electricity per-person of the developed world.

We believe that an aggressive national commitment to IT is a primary indicator of sustained economic and societal growth. To achieve significant economic improvement therefore means we must achieve significant new efficiencies in power consumption.

Right Direction
The vision laid out by Vapor.io seems to be a positive step in this direction. Crawford says the technology, which already has its first customer in Indiana in the US, aims for a PUE of 1.1, compared to an industry average of 1.9 (PUE, or power usage effectiveness, is a simple measure of the ratio of total energy required by a datacenter divided by the amount used by the computing resources. The overhead is primarily eaten up by air-conditioning.

Crawford and team go further, asserting that a new metric needs to be put into place. The metric would be called performance per watt per dollar, or PWD.

New efficiencies and new metrics are one big part of the puzzle. Another big part takes us back to the question near the beginning of this article. What if I could hold a datacenter in my hand? When will I be able to do this?

For now, the direction is being set. The world will need more mega-datacenter technology in smaller urban spaces, as mobility and the IoT inexorably drive dataflows upward. It will also need as much cloud-driven technology within buildings and some day, per person, as we can imagine.

The Software World
The third big piece of the puzzle involves the software that's eating the world, in the phrase made notorious by Mark Andreessen in the Wall Street Journal in 2011. The world of cloud computing is a world of virtualization, containers, languages, platforms, architectures, and many things as-a-service.

It is a world that is not familiar to many people in the world of datacenters. A grand conversation is beginning to take place, and will need to intensify dramatically to sync up where the world of data is going and where the world of datacenters should be going.

Contact me on Twitter

Follow Cloud Expo on Twitter

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Blockchain. A day doesn’t seem to go by without seeing articles and discussions about the technology. According to PwC executive Seamus Cushley, approximately $1.4B has been invested in blockchain just last year. In Gartner’s recent hype cycle for emerging technologies, blockchain is approaching the peak. It is considered by Gartner as one of the ‘Key platform-enabling technologies to track.’ While there is a lot of ‘hype vs reality’ discussions going on, there is no arguing that blockchain is b...
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being software-defined – from our phones and cars through our washing machines to the datacenter. However, there are larger challenges when implementing software defined on a larger scale - when building software defined infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool, provided some practical insights on what, how and why when implementing "software-defined" in the datacent...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
The need for greater agility and scalability necessitated the digital transformation in the form of following equation: monolithic to microservices to serverless architecture (FaaS). To keep up with the cut-throat competition, the organisations need to update their technology stack to make software development their differentiating factor. Thus microservices architecture emerged as a potential method to provide development teams with greater flexibility and other advantages, such as the abili...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
The use of containers by developers -- and now increasingly IT operators -- has grown from infatuation to deep and abiding love. But as with any long-term affair, the honeymoon soon leads to needing to live well together ... and maybe even getting some relationship help along the way. And so it goes with container orchestration and automation solutions, which are rapidly emerging as the means to maintain the bliss between rapid container adoption and broad container use among multiple cloud host...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across business networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost as well as advance trade. Are you curious about how Blockchain is built for business? In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, discussed the b...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
"Since we launched LinuxONE we learned a lot from our customers. More than anything what they responded to were some very unique security capabilities that we have," explained Mark Figley, Director of LinuxONE Offerings at IBM, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.