a reckoning for tech by the humans that work with it

Data Center Prawn. TechReckoning Dispatch v3n15


Hi friends,

We are living in a time when the Data Center has been declared Dead. Oddly enough, this week was full of Data Center Prawn.

Prawnography is a funny thing. By definition, it appeals to our fantasy lives in a way that’s not real. In this modern era, we have developed many kinds of prawn to express our fantasies. TV shows and magazines show off a gleaming fantasy kitchen, but if they don’t show that the fridge shows fingerprints, the food processor that you used once in 2011 has to sit on the counter because it doesn’t fit in the cabinet, and the contractor finished 8 weeks late and 100% over budget, which may have had lasting effects on your marriage and your credit card balance. But, oh man, that glass tile backsplash looks so good! In the age of Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, carefully curated prawnography is all around us.

Similarly, the Phoenix Project is DevOps Prawn — telling that fantasy story where your IT department finally makes sense, the boss understands what you’re doing, the clueless security guy sees the light, and then you save the business! That’s not the real world for most of us. That’s not even the real story for people giving their best face forward at a conference like PuppetConf or DevOps Enterprise Summit.

In the IT world, we have subreddits devoted to Cable Prawn and Server Prawn, and last week in the cloud war we got served a lot of Data Center Prawn.

Last week was Microsoft Ignition. Not a lot of new product news, but they released good infrastructure prawno. A Rare Tour of Microsoft’s Hyperscale Datacenters by Timothy Prickett Morgan shows us the “Generation 5” facility in Quincy, WA.

“SDN is a very big deal,” said Bakken. “We are already doing load balancing as a service within Azure, and what I really want to be able to do is cluster-based networking, which means I want to eliminate static load balancers, switches, and routers as devices and go to a standard industry interconnect and do those services in software. This is a big thing in my environment because networking makes up about 20 percent of the capital expenses because I have to replicate those frames in multiple locations.”

Microsoft got a lot of play on putting in the world’s largest installation of Intel/Altera FPGA chips that are super-powering Bing, various AI projects, and Office 365. Read the Wired version for the people story and the Ars Technical story for more details.

Microsoft also announced that their Azure collaboration with T-Systems in Germany went GA. I guess that’s how data sovereignty is going to play out — Papa Global Cloud, Baby Country Trustee. Before we leave Microsoft, here’s TPM again with a great history (and future) of Windows Server. Here’s the story of the 90’s in one quote:

This iteration of Windows Server was less expensive than the Unixes of the time that ran on powerful and pricey RISC machines, and it had the virtue of also running on cheaper (but somewhat less capable) X86 hardware. The X86 hardware would grow up and Windows Server along with it, eventually vanquishing Unix workstations from the market and killing off the volume business that helped Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Silicon Graphics support their respective Unix server businesses.

In the article, Jeffrey Snover throws a little shade on OpenStack:

“Some people feel that they are building the wrong things, and it reminds me of an old adage: When you find out that you are on the wrong road, turn around no matter how much progress you have made. A lot of people feel like they have done that, they have this sense that they are on the wrong road. We hear this a lot from people doing OpenStack. They are a couple of years into this, they have got a group of people who are experts in infrastructure and open source software, and then they ask themselves how is this helping them sell more cars or airplane tickets, how is this really moving the business forward?”

Along with the FPGAs, Microsoft also has some new Nvidia Tesla K80 GPUs in preview, but AWS beats Azure to K80 General Availability by Tiffany Trader at HPCwire.

“I found it fascinating that Amazon’s announcement covered five use cases: HPC simulation, HPC developers with Matlab, AI and then these other two that you don’t hear as much about, enterprise SQL and cloud for video transcode,” Kim continued. “The K80 will be the perfect GPU to cover all five use cases. It is that general-purpose processor.”

If you thought data centers were just going to be big warehouses full of generic x86 boards zip-tied to a rack like you were Google in 1999, you were mistaken.

AWS also announced a new Paris data center (and an expansion of Northern Virginia) while Google opened an Oklahoma data center and announced seven other new ones across the globe. (Amazon and Google Continue Cloud Arms Race with New Data Centers by Barb Darrow at Fortune.)

Not to be left out, Mark Zuckerberg posted some prawn from the new Facebook Swedish data center.

The pretty pictures may be just data center prawn, but even the cursory research I did for this week’s newsletter turned up more news than I could include here. Immense amounts of money are being spent on infrastructure across the globe. No fantasy.

[In case you are confused by what’s going on here, I’ve substituted “prawn” for another P-word in this note in order to avoid getting caught in spam filters.]Things have been good on this sleepy coastal village as we go into pumpkin season. Here at TechReckoning we’re rolling out our new Blogger Program Jumpstart — if you’re at a vendor and you need a better influencer marketing program, give me a buzz.

  • Sign up here with The Briefing List. Thank you to the 28 folks who have signed up so far!
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  • Gveaways are scheduled to go from a pile on my desk to the post office this week.

Listen to Geek Whisperers #121: VMware’s VP for NSX sales and sales engineering drops some wisdom on us. The Domolosophy of Management with Dom Delfino. I’ve never worked for Dom, but he strikes me as a leader I’d be willing to follow.

There are so many bad prawnography jokes that I don’t quite know how to end this note. I wish we had a better name for it, but for some reason I can look at the blinky light pictures all day. Do you like data center tours and photos, or do you just look at the aisles and think “I’m cold” and “another ticket” and “there goes my weekend.”?


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