Posts tagged Power

Colocation is so 1990s…

Yep, I said it.

Today, organizations need more agility and elasticity in their computing services. Sounds cloudy, huh?

I’m not a fan of the term ‘cloud’, with the vague meanings and weird marketing tricks. We banter around at the office and come up with silly & new terms like ‘fog’ (because it isn’t clear) or ‘to the clown!’ (a play on words in reference to the Microsoft advertisements).

What I am a fan of is the change in operation for how we (all of us) use computing facilities.

Not long ago we were all buying servers for either a single use (front-end web server, a database server, etc) or a larger edition to combine services onto (perhaps a web/database server with email services planned). This is great from the hardware manufacturer point of view but isn’t the best use of the business’ cash flow, creates inflexible hardware configurations, and isn’t very green.

Enter the concept of the virtual data center (or VDC), something we rolled out on October 1st, 2011 after months of testing.

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Electric

Lots of folks don’t think much about where the power they use comes from, but I do. We can’t do any of the things we do here at all without it and we take it seriously. In this post, I’ll cover the basic parts of how electrical power is delivered to the datacenter without getting too serious.

These parts are: electrical service, backup generator, uninterruptible power supply, automatic transfer switch, power distribution units, power monitoring, and power consumers, such as servers, routers, and switches.

The main difference between power for devices in the datacenter and other types of power service is that a power loss in this situation can be a really big deal. These devices need power that is always on, even in a storm, to function properly. Making the datacenter stay on when the power from the electric company falters takes some special design considerations.

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“It Worked Yesterday!”

The three most dreaded words a support technician can hear are “It Worked Yesterday.”

That phrase has a hidden implication trailing after it “…so what did you do?”

Well, usually, we didn’t do anything. People can accept that a car, or a furnace, or a TV can break someday out of the blue. We all know that those are machines, and we have some idea of how they work, and that they do break. The problem is, not a lot of people realize that computers are machines too. Sure, If you ask someone if a computer is a machine, they’ll say yes. However, if you show them the inside of a computer tower, they’ll usually shake their head and say “Is that it?”

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Power, Power, Power, & Cooling

Gas prices may be down, way down, but data center power costs are still going up. Data center power and cooling costs are going to be one of the huge drivers of increased IT costs in the coming years. Earlier this year, Network World ran a series of articles detailing the problem. Because servers, switches and routers have very few moving parts, generally power in is equivalent to heat out. Heat that then must be cooled.

ipHouse is working hard to position our network and data center for the future.  This fall, we initiated a huge virtualization project. By using high-performance, efficient, virtual servers, we have been able to reduce the total number of physical machines used for hosting email and web services without impacting performance. Mike, our CTO, has been blogging about the virtualization project in his multipart series, “Virtualization and the ISP.”

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