Friday, June 29, 2012

Google Debuts Compute Engine to Compete with Amazon EC2

Google has decided to open up its global datacenters to all who need access to large amounts of computer horsepower. The company has opened up its service called Compute Engine, which allows companies and developers to get into Google's hardware. Those who sign up for the new service will be able to run nearly any program that they want to on Google's servers.

Many people see this move as a way for Google to compete against Amazon and Microsoft, both of which offer similar services. Urs Holzle, who oversees Google's infrastructure, debuted Compute Engine at the I/O Developers Conference recently. Holzle said that the service was aimed at organizations that needed to call on huge amounts of computing power. Holzle also demonstrated the service by showing a genetic analysis application that used 600,000 processors.

Compute Engine will go along with Google's App Engine that was released back in 2008. The older service has a lot of restrictions on the applications that can run on Google's servers and even goes as far as to limit what programming language software developers can use. In comparison, Compute Engine will be packaged as a "raw" service and give customers a lot more freedom to run applications.

Google has stated that the service is currently in a test phase that would last a couple of months before it was fully opened to the public. In addition to that, the company said that its expertise in running large data centers meant that it would be able to undercut rivals and offer nearly 50% more computer power for every dollar spent.

As I mentioned earlier, Compute Engine will have Google squaring off against both Amazon and Microsoft in this industry. Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud  (EC2) service is currently the market leader in barebones processing and has been very successful, so much so that it is estimated to be behind 1% of all net traffic. A lot of firms use EC2, as well as similar services, like Microsoft's Windows Azure, which allow them to handle spikes and peaks in traffic.

Source: BBC News - Google sets up 'raw' server service
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Cisco and Fusion-IO Team Up for Flash on UCS Blade Server Systems

Cisco Systems is planning on teaming up with Fusion-IO's flash storage modules later this year which will make the company the latest server manufacturer to offer the technology already available in servers from IBM, Dell and HP. Fusion-IO announced last Monday that this is the first Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partnership the company has had with Cisco.

In addition to that, Fusion-IO will supply its ioMemory modules and software for use in Cisco's B-Series Unified Computing System (UCS) blade servers. Fusion-IO also provided demonstrations at the Cisco Live user conference last week in San Diego.

Fusion-IO is known for making flash storage subsystems that are integrated into servers via a PCle slot as opposed to being located on external storage systems. This type of storage is generally more directly accessible than conventional solid-state disks (SSD) and is also designed to accelerate application performance. Fusion-IO has also developed flash subsystems with HP for use in its BladeSystem c-Class servers and also with IBM for its xSeries line. Dell and SuperMicro servers also benefit from Fusion-IO subsystems as well.

The UCS platform used by Cisco was introduced back in 2009 and has moved up to being the third most incorporated blade server in the world, boasting more than 11,000 customers. Even though there are also rack mount UCS servers, blade servers are still the most utilized of the product line. Cisco uses blade servers in a platform that includes virtualization, network connections, access to storage and management software. Cisco also has storage partnerships with EMS as well as VMware through its VCE alliance and NetApp.

The first Fusion-IO components for UCS will be based on Fusion-IO's ioMemory2 technology, an upgrade that was announced at the beginning of this year and will eventually ship from all of the company's OEM partners. Pricing and available capacities have yet to be unveiled, though you can expect that information to come just before commercial release of the product.

Source: Computer World - Fusion-IO on-server flash coming to Cisco's UCS blade systems

Friday, June 1, 2012

Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate Goes Live

Microsoft has just unleashed the Release Candidate of Server 2012. Release Candidate versions are usually the very last beta versions of a Microsoft server operating system before the launch of the actual release, and this Server 2012 Release Candidate confirms that Microsoft is dedicated to the Metro interface.

Many IT professionals were skeptical about the usefulness of including a consumer-oriented touch UI in a server product, especially one that targets businesses and professional use. However, despite all that, Metro remains in Server with a GUI install option. The Release Candidate edition also has a couple of minor changes over the Server "8" beta, though most of them are purely cosmetic.

The most noticeable change is that the moniker Server 8 Beta has been completely replaced with Server 2012 in the splash screen and installation screens whenever you perform a Server with GIU installation. In addition to that, the background color during installation has been changed as well as in the Metro-style Start screen. The dull green has been replaced by a vivid dark blue, though server administrators have no ability to change this, unlike the screen in the beta release of the Windows 8 client operating system.

An extra setting has been added under the Server 2012's Charms Menu and is known as Tiles. This option doesn't provide any new setting controls over the beta release, though it does launch the settings that allow you to enable and disable administrative tools as well as allow admins to have clear personal info from the tiles. In the beta version, these same options were available directly under Settings; Microsoft has simply added an extra step in order to access them.

The Release Candidate's Start screen has eight tiles by default, which comprise the Start menu, whereas the beta only had seven tiles. These tiles are labeled as Server Manager, Windows PowerShell, Administrative Tools, Computer, Task Manager, Control Panel, IE and Desktop. The final change is that when you right-click on the Start screen, the "All Apps" icon is now on the bottom right-hand side instead of the left.

There also doesn't seem to be any way to disable Metro in the Release Candidate, though it is safe to assume that the user interface will be in the final release product. Server administrators can also choose to bypass the Metro user interface and simply use the Desktop and Server Manager for administration. If that doesn't do it for you then you can also choose to install Server 2012 in command-line Core mode.

This Release Candidate is probably going to be very close to what the final product is going to be like for Server 2012. There weren't a lot of things that were changed from the Beta version to the Release Candidate version and you can expect that any changes made before launch will be mostly under-the-hood.

Source: PC Mag - Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate: Metro Lives!
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