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3/13/2014
09:06 AM
Keith Dawson
Keith Dawson
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8 Datacenters For Cloud's Toughest Jobs

Each of these innovative datacenters represents the best in class for a design or operational factor. Google's employee sauna? That's just a bonus.
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Companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook don't just innovate with products: Just look at their datacenters. The designs and operations playbooks of these new centers aim to lower costs, increase reliability and maintainability, and improve agility, while reducing energy use and carbon footprint.

As big data and cloud computing push the limits of traditional datacenters, new trends in datacenter innovation have followed. Google started the ball rolling when it scaled up its search operations starting in the late 1990s. By 2001, Google, still three years away from its IPO, was building its own servers from piece-parts, seeking not only economy but also reliability and ease of maintenance. Prior to 2003, Google was investigating putting large numbers of servers in a shipping container. That year it applied for a patent on the idea of the modular, drop-in-place datacenter.

Back then, Google was saying very little about its datacenter operations. A favorite Silicon Valley guessing game was to speculate on how many servers the company ran. The search giant was gradually forced into more transparency by the rapid rise of Facebook, which discussed its operations in detail.

Google's containerization patent was issued in 2007; it wasn't until 2009 that the company confirmed that it had been installing modular, containerized server farms since 2005. Google is now quite chatty about its datacenters.

Facebook built its first from-scratch datacenter in Prineville, Ore., open-sourcing the designs of everything it used -- from servers and storage to networking and even the specifications for datacenters themselves. In April 2011 Facebook announced the Open Compute Project, a non-profit charged with the stewardship of these hardware blueprints.

As Microsoft, Apple, and eBay began building large scale, cloud datacenters during the last half decade, they joined the pioneers in looking for ways to reduce energy consumption in their datacenters. Innovative power and cooling schemes multiplied. Soon the competition shifted to green energy: How much of a datacenter's power could be supplied from renewable sources?

Each of the following cloud-scale datacenters breaks new ground in some dimension of its design or operation -- from modularity and efficiency to scalability and green energy -- and each has something to teach us about how datacenter design is evolving. Take a closer look.

Over a course of more than three decades, Keith Dawson has developed software, managed teams of architects, and worked extensively in the software development industry as a writer, editor, and pundit. He has written for Media Grok, Media Unspun, Slashdot, The CMO Site, and ... View Full Bio

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slove372
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slove372,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/14/2014 | 1:14:42 PM
Re: Measuring that carbon footprint
I think the "Bliss" fuel cells should say "Bloom". They are made by Bloom Energy. Maybe Bliss is a brand of Bloom Energy but I couldn't find a reference to it.

http://www.bloomenergy.com/fuel-cell/energy-server-architecture/

 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
3/27/2014 | 1:42:55 PM
Re: Iceland
Keith, 

There is always some sort of confusion about which countries are Scandinavian and which ones are Nordic. It all depends on if we are talking about geographical location, or linguistically. It goes like this: 

Greenland belongs to the Kingdom of Denmark, but it's autonomous. It's not considered neither Scandinavian nor Nordic even though it has a strong cultural connection with them. 

Geographically speaking, the Scandinavian peninsula is made up by Norway, Sweden, and part of the north of Finland. Linguistically, Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish share the word "Skandinavien", which refers to the ancient territories of the Norsemen: i.e. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Iceland was also one of the Norsemen's regions and Icelandic belongs to the same linguistic family as Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish. Finnish doesn't belong to this linguistic family. 

And then, the French decided to put some order to this mess and came up with calling Norway, Sweden, Denmak, Iceland, and Finland the Nordic Countries. :) 

-Susan

 
kadawson
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kadawson,
User Rank: Author
3/27/2014 | 12:43:41 PM
Re: Iceland
Iceland is part of Scandinavia as well

Live and learn! Did not know that. Greenland too?
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
3/27/2014 | 12:33:14 PM
Re: Iceland
Keith, 

I was remembering that there was a great video about Iceland on Internet Evolution by Steve Saunders. I had the intention of saving it before IE disappeared, but then at the last minute I forgot as I was quickly saving my own stuff. :( It would have been nice to have it here as illustration for this discussion.

Iceland is part of Scandinavia as well. :)

-Susan 
kadawson
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kadawson,
User Rank: Author
3/26/2014 | 2:25:06 PM
Iceland
There is at least one project to build out a data center park in Iceland. It was announced 5 years back, if I recall correctly, and has several tenants at this time. As Stratustician noted, Iceland's limitation is its fiber density. The Scandanavian countries are all better situated from that point of view.
kadawson
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kadawson,
User Rank: Author
3/26/2014 | 2:21:55 PM
Photo correction
Got a note from "Ted T Business" that the photo (from Bing) purporting to be the New York Stock Exchange Euronext in Mahwah, New Jersey is in fact the data center in Carteret, NJ. For what it's worth, here is the Bing photo that this reader claims is Mahwah:



He adds, "Yes, I've been in the data center that is shown."
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
3/20/2014 | 6:31:27 AM
Re: Google's data center in Hamina, Finland
Stratustician,

Iceland is a smart choice for datacenters that don't pollute at all. In fact, all cold-climate countries are ideal for datacenters.The Nordic and Scandinavian countries have also the advantage of using renewable energy.

And and we see, more and more datacenters are populating this part of the world.

-Susan 
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
3/19/2014 | 3:07:34 PM
Re: Google's data center in Hamina, Finland
I'd all be for some data centers in Iceland since they have the nice benefit of really cheap electricity and a climate built to cool those server racks.  Too bad the pipes to extend it out would cost quite the fortune.

 

 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
3/16/2014 | 11:30:18 AM
Re: Google's data center in Hamina, Finland
Laurianne, 

Most likely you won't see any. :) Do you want to hear more? Every year in November there is the three-day Slush conference in Helsinki for European startups and VCs.

There is a sauna for all the attendees who wish to discuss business there, or simply take a break and relax. Yes, these things happen only in Finland. :D

-Susan 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
3/14/2014 | 3:08:45 PM
Re: Google's data center in Hamina, Finland
Susan, I won't hold my breath to see any data centers with saunas in NYC :)
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