David Cuthbertson of Square Mile Systems was kind enough to demonstrate his AssetGen software to myself and Denis last week. Once the data has been inputted into a CMDB like AssetGen all sorts of very impressive reports can be generated very quickly. Implementing a CMDB involves a heavy up front investment because you have to manually enter at least 50% of your infrastructure and associated dependencies. The cause of the steep initial investment in CMDB is the invisibility of infrastructure in the data centre to auto-discovery software, meaning that infrastructure cannot be auto-discovered in the same way as devices on the network.
Interesting what Amazon is up to…first with cloud storage then cloud computing and now cloud databases. Is the art of data centre management going to be concentrated into a few massive data centres? We currently rent a single Sun box, running Linux oddly enough, in a data centre to run all of our websites and email. One of the down sides with renting a machine is the limited capacity of storage, CPU and bandwidth.
One of the side effects of the recent RackSpace outage in their Dallas/Fort Worth data centre has been finding out just how quickly their data centre heats up when the air conditioning system fails. Our backup generators kicked in instantaneously, but the transfer to backup power triggered the chillers to stop cycling and then to begin cycling back up again a process that would take on average 30 minutes. Those additional 30 minutes without chillers meant temperatures would rise to levels that could result in data loss and irreparably damage customers’ servers and devices.
Servers are getting faster and faster, consuming more and more power, producing more and more heat. Removing heat from the data centre uses even more power. According to a November 2006 Gartner report, over 60% of total data centre power consumption is spent cooling the data centre environment. Making the cooling system less power hungry would be the best bet. Unfortunately, significantly lowering the power consumption of air-conditioning units is very difficult.
“Few have made the connection between IT efficiency and green compliance” so says Steve Nunn in The Green Room, BBC’s green issues series. But I’m not so sure. I have noticed a significant increase in awareness at least in the IT press of the need to reduce power costs particularly in the Data centre environment, no doubt aided by the introduction of virtualisation which can reduce a Data centre’s energy bill by as much as 60%.