Friday, March 30, 2012

Amazon's Cloud Powered by Estimated 454,400 Servers

endless server roomEver wonder what it takes to run a cloud operation? What kind of infrastructure is needed and what kind of hardware is used? Probably not because most typical users never really get a chance to see the entire infrastructure that supports the plethora of services they use on something like Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud. However, it was recently estimated by by Huan Liu, Research Manager for Accenture, that an astonishing 454,000 individual blade servers are currently being used to power it.

Liu made the estimate in a personal blog post recently, stating that he used a combination of data and DNS queries within EC2, all of which were publicly available, to come up with that number. The number indicates just how many physical server racks are used by Amazon's Cloud Service multiplied by the number of individual servers that could be housed in each rack.

However, Liu did mention that there are a number of different obvious holes in his number. Liu notes that the total number he gave is a complete estimation on his part and that Amazon could very well configure its systems differently than he thinks. In addition to that, if Amazon has any racks without an active server running on it then it would be impossible to count, which would also displace Liu's accuracy in the total.

Regardless, Liu's post has stirred up quite the buzz in the media, though that could be because it is one of the best estimates to Amazon's cloud size currently on the web. Amazon is pretty secretive with their information on their Elastic Compute Cloud, making these hypotheses a necessity.

Source: PC World - Nearly a Half Million Servers May Power Amazon Cloud
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

First Licensed Server Refurbishing Plant Opened in China by IBM

IBM buildingLast month, IBM announced that it had just opened its first facility in China with the main purpose of refurbishing and reselling old computer servers. Financially, this is a great move for IBM as the market for refurbishing and reselling computer servers is expected to increase to $2 billion in China by 2014.

The United States and Europe's exporting of electronic waste to Asia over the past 20 years has brought up some major concerns about the impact this has on local environments as well as the low-paid workers who are in charge of dismantling the toxic-heavy computers and other components to recover valuable metals and parts.

However, the increasingly profitable economy in China has created a significant e-waste problem of its own. China's government even has a 5-year economic plan that encourages recycling and remanufacturing computers in order to keep them out of landfills. According to General Manager of IBM Global Asset Recovery Services Richard Dicks, "In China, they'll use them for five, seven or nine years and they're basically landfill when they come out."

IBM's plant opened back in February in Shenzhen, very close to another IBM factory. The factory is expected to refurbish 100,000 servers and PCs every year by 2014. This feat will be accomplished by installing new memory and storage and packaging them for resale to the domestic Chinese market. According to Dicks, "The Chinese market is huge from a server perspective."

The supply of old servers came mainly from China as equipment leases expired and customers started to turn in old machines and equipment. IBM also operates other refurbishing plants around the world, taking in 33,000 metric tons of old equipment every week. That diverts nearly 97% of the weight of old machines away from landfills according to IBM.

Dicks also stated that IBM had also been negotiating with the government in China for the last 2 years to license the Shenzhen refurbishing plant and that he expects IBM's competition to eventually establish their own facilities. "The thing we talked to the Chinese government about is that it's really easy to buy a new computer but it's really hard to get rid of one. We're the first licensed facility and we have a first-to-market advantage," Dicks said.

Source: Forbes - IBM Opens China's First Factory To Refurbish Old Computers, Tapping A $2 Billion Market

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Windows Server 8 Beta Now Live

Microsoft, right on the heels of its public viewing of Windows 8, has just released a beta version for the company's Windows Server 8 operating system. Windows Server 8, which was officially announced last September, updates the code base for Microsoft's flagship server OS, the current version of which is Windows Server 2008.

The beta version will allow administrators to test the operating system and give feedback to Microsoft who will then use that feedback to finalize the software for commercial release. However, Microsoft did not disclose any information on when the final production ready version of Windows Server 8 would be available for purchase.

Windows Server 8 is a very major update for the operating system and contains a plethora of improvements to virtualization, multi-machine management and application hosting capabilities, according to Corporate Vice President for Server and Cloud at Microsoft Bill Laing.

In terms of virtualization, Windows Server 8 will allow administrators to create virtual networks, allowing different business units or customers to share one physical network while simultaneously maintaining complete independence from the other virtual networks. Another new feature will allow you to move shared files between nodes without ever having to stop the server applications that use these files, which will help greatly in disaster recovery and maintaining continuity in operations.

As far as hosting applications are concerned, Windows Server 8 will also include a copy of .NET Framework 4.5, which also includes new capabilities to run a program concurrently across multiple processor cores. The Web server software Internet Information Server (IIS) has also been upgraded to provide better security isolation as well as manage more sites per server. The PowerShell command line interface has also been increased with the addition of 2,300 commands.

If you want to give the free beta version a run through, then all you need is a 1.4 GHz 64-bit processor, a minimum of 512MB of working memory and 32GB on a disk. In addition to that, users have the ability to upgrade to the new beta operating system from existing versions of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 though you will be unable to upgrade to subsequent releases from this release. Click here if you want to download the Windows Server 8 beta.

Source: PC World - Microsoft Releases Windows Server 8 Beta

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