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* Posts by Brian Murray

35 posts • joined 31 Jan 2007

The dark horse in data centre I/O simplification

Brian Murray

What would make a REAL difference ...

try something more dramatic ... http://www.abidanet.com/

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Dell: We went green too early

Brian Murray

and the more serious point ....

I'm not sure if the 'what is a CIO' comment was made out of irony or not - but it is obviously a very good question when looked at in terms what the role should be nowadays.

That aside, as I think it diverts from the topic in hand, the fact the CIOs are not only not accountable for a significant proportion of the running costs of their operations, but are also not being asked to monitor their footprint (in carbon terms if nothing else) are serious issues which companies should be addressing.

The first of these issues are fairly simple - how can you measure cost-savings against value-delivery if you don't even measure these appropriately in your budgets?

The second is more subtle but I doubt anyone would doubt there is a carbon budget emerging and we will have to monitor these factors sooner or later. Thinking our supply chain will not pass on those costs is perhaps niave. This will also need to be international e.g. if we outsource to india (for example) then the carbon costs will need to be factored in.

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Sun may or may not be about to obliterate Oracle and Microsoft

Brian Murray

@madra

I would love to agree but I'm not american.

Infact, the phrase has its roots more in irony than in logic i.e. we don't say "I couldn't care less" despite its literal implication. We actually say "I could care less" with the implication towards the missing phrase "... but not much less!"

There is much discussion on numerous websites around the origin/intent of the phrase though so please fee lfree to browse.

On the subject of gramatic peeves though, as a mathematician I can never understand why mathematical sciences gets shortened to the singular (math) in the US rather than the traditional maths?

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Brian Murray

language

good article - and it's a real shame people are still sensitive to words which have randomly been selected as 'swear words'. To me, words are words so I could care less.

unfortunately this is probably more of a reflection of the sensitivity of your audience than the article itself

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Dell squeezes cloud into a shipping container

Brian Murray

sun or dell

not sure what this article reflects on Dell but it certainly does show Sun in it true light

i.e. so many times the first to market (albeit first in the last decade or so), so many times the innovator, so many times releasing such great technology offerings ... but so rarely managing to make it a great success - why is this? are they so bad at sales and marketing? have they just become the whipping boy in the IT press? do we just not like going with the 'new things' first time around? I have no idea

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Green data center threat level: Not green

Brian Murray

"Data centers are rampaging energy hog"

indeed ... but what does that make desktops?

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Sun's xVM virtualization wares run red with catch-up

Brian Murray

misguiding comment

I think it's a little unfair to label Sun as coming late to the mainstream virtualisation game. After all, Sun led the virtualisation field in the UNIX space for quite some time and were thought leaders here for a good part of that. True, their x64 story has oscillated badly over the last decade or two (I remember their first painful steps in that space only too well!) but considering this has only really come to fruition in the last couple of years I don't think we can really put them down for it.

One thing they have always struggled with is getting the best out of their acquisitions (need say more than highground!) but I tihnk their x64 virtualisation solutions also shows they have learned lessons here.

Let's just pray we do see valid and strong competition to VMware from Sun - VMware are evolving from strength to strength (especially in the virtual desktop space) but I would hate to see EMC form a stranglehold on the market. Long term choice is good for all of us.

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Telehouse plans £80m London data centre expansion

Brian Murray

@london?

I think the point of putting the DC where the skills base is shouldn't really make sense anymore - given the capabilities for remore management and the level of skills now required actually at a DC.

However, the point re-the number of connectivity terminations puzzles me a little - is this something which happens out of culture/habit or is there a good reason why they have to terminate in london?

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Brian Murray

logic or culture?

does it really make sense to locate major DCs in london - never mind docklands?

surely the real estate costs, plus the power/cooling/terrorism/etc dont add up compared to a more remote location?

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HP plunks 16GB SSD drive into slim business PCs

Brian Murray
IT Angle

technology-led business

I think this story, and HP's marketing, is missing the real point i.e. the potential business advantages. To my mind these include:

- the reduction in energy in (and heat out?) requirements

- the reduction in moving parts decreases maintenance and increases resilience to the local environment

- the SSD should be higher performance.

- the ability for companies to flash images to the SSD easily and reduce the local data requirements.

As far as the last point goes, in reality, I dont understand why there should be a requirement for any local user data on a desktop. For a laptop is a different matter. So - particularly given the other advantages above, especially power use, I really wonder when this will appear in an HP laptop offering?

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When Green Computing attacks - hype or heaven?

Brian Murray

breadth of vision

More efficient systems - absolutely. More conscientious users (turning off monitors etc.) - of course ... but these are fairly superficial aspects.

I would love to see more people looking at re-architecting the IT approaches to address wastage (and hence save money). Why should we accept outrageously low utilisation figures when proven approaches now exist to address this?

More importantly still, lets look at the opportunities which exist from leveraging IT solutions to make our business practices less environmental wasteful?

... I'm looking forward to what should be an innovative and challenging debate, rather than the usual small shifts from the norm. Lets address the cultural inertia which really blocks critical tranformations in this area!

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Reckless loss of laptop data? ICO calls for stiff fines

Brian Murray

laptop/desktop addiction?

Absolutely the lack of encryption/localised security should be addressed here ... you cannot delegate responsibility to the users without available commodity (e-)solutions (which we may well see emerge in the future but not now).

However, I am perplexed by our cultural addiction to localised data (whether on a laptop or a desktop). Surely the first focus should be to ensure as much data as possible is centralised and only access over centrally controlled network security. If you can access your session anywhere/anytime, why would any localised data be required! .... Access, even where local and/or encrypted, should then rely on a smart card/token system such that the laptop alone is useless (and even with the card/token still needs access code/password).

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Corporate computing going thin to go green?

Brian Murray

responses

Not certain the 'network goes down' commentary warrants response other than the fact I'm often astonished by the extent people give this argument credibility. It's fairly obvious that an organisation should focus on core server/services, as well as the network, providing sufficient availability and reliability in these architectures - that said, many cut costs in some unbelievable naive ways!

However, I think the point regarding the true cost savings is worthy of re-iteration. It is undoubtedly the time and investment it takes to revise and maintain locally distributed resources (hardware, OS or software) that represents the biggest area of potential cost saving here. Add to the the flexibility and agility gained by the IT function (e.g. increased mobility) and the ROI starts to talk for itself.

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Brian Murray

facts speak for themselves

I am seriously baffled by the ongoing cultural resistance to this approach.

The environmental impact of IT is well known, and well publicised. We know from the recent Gartner report (among others) that 25% of this can be aligned with the data centre, compared to 40% with the desktop!!

Add to this the more important aspect of Green IT, i.e. to enable the organisation to behaviour more responsibly, and we have to ask - why do we retain this cultural cling to our C:drives?!

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Google's PowerPoint beater beta is go

Brian Murray

googlesun

am I the only one waiting to hear of a Sun/Google partnership to provide StarOffice as a SaaS offering?

I've been wondering, given Sun's Java technology and expertise, why they have brought a SaaS StarOffice offering to market by now ... Given the investment and evolution of StarOffice and its MS Office compatabilities it seems a great potential addition to the Google apps campaign.

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Sun to virtualize boxes, storage and NICs with 'Project Virginia'

Brian Murray

I agree ... but

Having been working with Sun technology offerings since the 80s I have seen them experience their peaks and their troughs. One thing that has remained consistent though is the fact that they are true innovators in the market and I don't think many other come close on that front. This is something which I feel the analyst-led market has great underplayed in recent years.

However (and this is the point above I think) they seem unable to turn great technologies and intellectual property into deliverable propositions. Perhaps their Highground acquisition showed this more than their Terraspring acquisition did - and certainly their N1 saga has done them more harm than good (at one point they had potential to lead the blade market but soon showed up as 'also finished' players, if that).

I really hope they managed to pull themselves out of this particular trough, and they do seem to be doing so, as I think they can make a unique and significant difference in the market.

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Efficient data centers make companies less green

Brian Murray

the solution, more than the ingredients

Lots of great points here - I think the more enlightened people in the industry have recognised these issues for quite some time now (albeit, as highlighted by the above, not necessarily in this context) ... it is interesting (and encouraging!) to see the light of recognition among so many of us now though.

I think there is a fundamental point people have not quite recognised in the essence of 'Green IT' (call it what you will) ... That is that the real benefits will come from how we apply IT to enable reduced personal or organisational/corporate environmental footprint (and therefore cost savings). This should represent at least as much impact as minimising the impact of IT itself.

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How green is my V-word?

Brian Murray

pointless?

I think there has been some great input in all the above but have to say the article/heading/topic does seem a little misguided.

It does seem a bit like asking if a paintbrush is artistic or not! ... i.e. virtualisation is an fantastic enabler for change, this doesn't mean it is green in itself, nor does it mean anyone who uses it will automatically gain environmental impact advantage.

I do wonder if this was deliberate just to park the reactions?

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Apple, Ebay and Amazon receive failing grade from environmentalists

Brian Murray

segmentated but good

I think we absolute need a means by which corporations/organisations/etc can certify themselves on their environmental responsibility - IT is as good a starting point as any (after all our industry does represent a much more significant environmental footprint than most people imagine, and more importantly hold a high potential to help address the issues).

However, I think multiple uncoordinated scoring systems (e.g. one for CO2-equivalent footprint, and another for corporate policy) will confuse the issue. Why not employ a cross-linked ranking ro ensure we know what actions represent significant change and which are more greenwash.

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Asus shows off bamboo-clad 'eco' laptop

Brian Murray

dont judge the notebook by its cover

... if they were promoting this by its design/look good on them, they do look fairly smart) --- but to claim environmental responsibility is ridiculous (as has been proven by all the comments above!)

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SGI's ICE, ICE bladey

Brian Murray

infiniband

... I notice this is creeping in behind the scenes as a critical ingredient in many offerings now.

The advantages of this backplane have always been obvious, except to those clinging faithfully to their ethernet/FC familiarities. I've always thought it was under-hyped before it really got the chance ot be over-hyped - so it's amusing to see it being quietly adopted despite being unfashionable.

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Dell: 'We'll clobber pricey NetApp with new iSCSI kit'

Brian Murray

misaligned

NetApps competitive advantage has always come from it's embedded OS, not from the hardware and it could even be argued, not directly from the functionality. I don't see Dells range claiming to have addressed this - it seems to be simply trying to push its existing range into that mid-range space.

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Sun's new supercomputer and switch are bigger than yours

Brian Murray

the network is the computer

... returning it's to this statement is probably the best opportunity Sun has to regain a top position in the IT world. Unleashing the greatly missed potential of Infiniband can only help.

to quote a great old tv show - they have the technology, they can re-build better and stronger than it was before!

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Biggest barrier to green IT is cost

Brian Murray

just one acronym ....

has nobody heard of "TCO" nowadays? How about looking at the value to the business (including, but not limited to, reduced power, hardware maintenance, hardware decommisioning, software and OS maintenance) as well as just the cost?

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UK Ltd not bovvered by green blether

Brian Murray

If not for social responsibility, do if for the value!

I am baffled by the being green versus being greedy argument - these are different views of the same quality after all. The only thing that occasionally differs here is timescale and possibly impact.

We should be green wherever because we CANNOT afford not to be. For those of us with today's wallet in mind, why waste money on extra energy or extra resources if they are not needed? For those us with an eye on the longer term profitability - apply a green strategy and see the returns multiple over decades to come. Finally, for those of us who have thought this through effectively - we already know that the green approach for strategy and design is usually the one which enables so many other beneficial approaches.

p.s. as for Tony Humphreys view, that is probably the most expensive proof ever sought!

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Voltaire saves glaciers with 20Gb/s Infiniband switch

Brian Murray

correction

Just realised I said "need more bandwidth" above - what I should have said was "need more effective networks" ... reason being it is more likely that latency with be a defining factor.

I would also pick up on Joe's comments above - which are spot on by the way - when we are looking at 10Gb/s plus via ethernet we are going to have to look at TOEs and OS enhancement to optimise (or circumvent) the stack. Having vendors bundles IP-over-infiniband drivers shouldn't be too painful ...

... then we can also put the energy efficiency factors into the mix, as well as considering what we do when demands extend to 100Gb/s and above.

I think most pressing arguments revolve around the opportunities architectures such as inifiniband provides for looking at out infrastructure architectures with fresh eyes and exploiting "new" (are there any really new ones recently?) approaches, such are a true grid design for example.

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Brian Murray

why so much intertia?

I've been following Infiniband developments for many years now and have myself baffled by the cultural resistance to this technology. There seems to be an overwhelming feeling that ethernet will evolve, or fibre channel will suffice, or that somehow we won't need more bandwidth that we have!

I remember an ex-professor of mine claiming that fortran would never die and there was no need for any other programming language. As he put it "I don't know what the number one programming platform will look like in 10 years time, but it will be called fortran"! ... it may well be an applicable attitude here - the facts behind our networking demands and related challenges speak for themselves, when we will finally recognise that we (the industry) need a new approach and embrace infiniband as the best we have to work with?

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Silicon offsetting - the new green saviour?

Brian Murray

wonderland - how to build

Thanks for that Nick - its a great article although I think the truth lies between current practice and your 'wonderland'.

First & foremost I think the difficulties people have with remote working are threefold:

(i) The implication locations should be all-or-nothing. I think people need to be able to 'connect' from wherever their work (or other factors) take them. The primary goal should be to remove the need to go to some random location (such as the traditional office site) in order to do something you go just as well from somewhere else. This may include integrating the 'internet cafe' model with that of serviced office use, for example, such that we can simply use office space at any location (including IT facilities) at some daily/hourly rate.

(ii) The need for far far better infrastructure. I'm sure many of us who are used to using video conferencing over ISDN/broadband will know why we find it so painful - and why face-to-face is still required most of the time rather than just some of the time. We need to push the industry and the government towards supporting truly real-time and high definition delivery ... this means fibre to the kerbside at the very least!

(iii) The need for cultural shift to allow people to separate being at a place of work from delivering value through work. This applies equally to people in an office. [Taking this to natural extremes moves us away from paying for attendance, towards paying for productivity - a huge cultural shift and heavily depends on true knowledge/intellectual capital management].

However - let's not forget, remote collaborative working is only one ingredient here ... we need to think broader and better around adopting technologies for more sustainable IT - which includes the benefits to sustainable business IT can deliver (such as this).

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Brian Murray

cultural inertia

Fantastic to see the consistency with which this issue is sustaining headlines with. Hopefully this is a reflection of it's criticality as well as a groundswell of public interest.

More importantly, I think we are finally homing in on the real opportunity for change here - that is, an opportunity for cultural shift.

Many aspects are discussed above which are by no means new - increased use and scope of remote collaborative working, reduction of the hardware demand itself through approaches such as thin client and consolidation (nowadays pushed further within the realms of virtualisation). It has not be technical or commercial issues that have held back innovation on these fronts, it has been cultural ones.

The simple truth is, the real opportunity for reducing environment impact is from changing our behaviours, reducing our cultural intertia … 'if it aint broke' - it can probably be improved!

The day we see CxOs more willing to adapt and embrace change more as opportunity rather than risk - is the day the tide will really turn on this issue.

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Opteron hero Newisys goes titsup

Brian Murray

victim of cultural inertia

It's a real shame to see these guys go - although I think the writing was on the wall when Sanmina bought them out.

Newisys had two real bits of innovative gold

The first was their optimisation of the high performance AMD platform (particularly around the hypertransport internal interconnect).

The second, and arguably to be proven ahead of their time, in the exploitation of a low latency & high performance external interconnect and management platform.

Sanmina never showed the vision to build on the latter - it will be interesting to see who picks up the neglected intellectual capital around this and runs with it!

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HP marries Cisco's Infiniband switches with clusters and blades

Brian Murray

at last ...

Well done HP! ... it's certainly been a long time coming. With new players on the market eating the big players lunch in this space I was wondering when the HP/IBM/Sun/Dell vendors would wake up.

Now if we can see this blended in nicely with an effective management software platform and virtualisation solutions I think we'll really see the shift in the market we've been expecting for so long!

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Dell reinvents the cardboard box

Brian Murray

reuse or recycle?

This is a long standing debate, and a far broader one than covered here.

I do applaude Dell's efforts here - and hope others follow suit.

Two approaches seem head-to-head here in that should we focus on enable the IT customer base (i.e. us) to recycle all our waste (as is proposed here with the extensive use of cardboard), or should we focus on the use of lasting and multiply re-useable packaging?

In the case of the supermarket carrier this seems to be showing reuse as more practical (albeit perhaps paper bags just didn't pass muster).

I do wonder what the environmental cost production and recycling is around the cardboard packaging.

Perhaps the bigger issue surrounds the systems/components themselves? ... is it really just too complicated for the manufacturers to agree common chassis dimensions/etc such that components are standard and interchangeable?

Come to think of it - why plastic? Given the evolution of materials science isn't there a paper/wood based substitute out there yet?

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How did we all end up with Windows?

Brian Murray

Is it Windows .. or is it Office?

I always follow these debates with great interest.

In general, and this is showing no signs of being an exception, people are drawn (for good reasons, cultural reasons, orotherwise) to wanting to use Microsoft Office for complete and ongoing compatibility with other people and with employee experience.

This then means they need to use Windows. I have rarely found more compelling reasons.

I do wonder if Microsoft Office was a more open product - just how popular Windows would really be.

But if we can't do without Windows, can we minimise the number of instances to support? - Absolutely!

But do people exploit thin client, remote desktops, etc? .... Not really.

Why not? ........ cost? (Certainly not, all studies show otherwise) ...Technical practicality? (Not that either, not for a long time now) ... The answer tends to be far simpler and more wide spread - Cultural interia!!

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UK bank switches off to go green

Brian Murray

switch off, or just bin?

If they save this much power by switching off PCs atnight - how much more could they save by moving to 4W thin client devices?!

... not to mention the savings in maintaining, replacing and decommisioning old PCs whenever an OS/software upgrade is needed?!

Why are people so stuck in this cultural rut of a desktop-per-desk?

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Scotland says nay to the big bad wolf

Brian Murray

Just concerns?

Having followed this debate for some time, I am always curious as to the motivations and logic of those who support and oppose the idea of re-intruction of wolves.

In terms of the supporters - I think the underlying benefit lies in allowing woodland and forestry to re-assert themselves in the natural countryside (it should be noted that this will not mean moorlands etc will be unnaturally altered, most of these were never suitable for large scale forestry).

The primary reasons this does not happen today is deer and sheep over-population.

The opposition seems heavily led by the farming industry (no real surprises there), with the arguments around local pet owners or ramblers raising questions around the fair and scientific representation of wild wolf behaviour by the media.

The reasons why we should be dramatically strengthening our forestry (including but quite definitely not restricted to the forestry industry) should be at the forefront of all our minds nowadays.

Perhaps the time has come to:

(a) Convey a more realistic a reasonable portrayal of what living with wild wolves really means to local people;

(b) Review the way we financially support our farming industry to encourage, by which by 'carrot' as well as 'stick', a move to both short term returns (such as sheep farming provides) as well as the longer term benefits from a move towards forestry.

In short, lets take our heads out of the sand and realise we simply must reverse the deforestation which was imposed on the Scottish countryside only centuries ago.

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