Centre stage

Data centres are suddenly exciting. I know it’s a radical concept, but the idea of having a dedicated room to house and nurture an IT infrastructure is becoming (in relative terms) pretty darn cool.

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By  Eliot Beer Published  December 11, 2006

|~||~||~|Data centres are suddenly exciting. I know it’s a radical concept, but the idea of having a dedicated room to house and nurture an IT infrastructure is becoming (in relative terms) pretty darn cool. And cool is the operative word – issues around heat generation and power are high on the agenda for modern data centres. Vendors are pushing ‘green’ servers, IT managers are biting their nails over cooling systems, and environmentalists are counting up the costs of all things IT – down to the energy consumption of online world Second Life (roughly 1,750 KW per avatar per year: equivalent in CO2 generation to driving a SUV 3,700 kilometres, apparently). In fact, it was a Sun Microsystems representative which produced that SUV equivalency scale, which should not be surprising given the vendor’s recent interest in green computing. Following on from its – surprisingly successful – UltraSparc T1 range of servers, the high-end giant has announced its latest data centre drive: a data centre in a shipping container. Going under the name ‘Project Blackbox’, this slightly bizarre concept does actually make a lot of sense. Why invest in an expensive and complex new data centre, which may even require a new building, when you can get Sun to deliver it to your door? Ok, car park. Sun is expecting to complete ‘productization’ of Blackbox by the middle of 2007, and it’s safe to assume that shipments to the Middle East may well be some time after that. In the meantime, then, for all those organisations which need a data centre rather more urgently, December is the month to sit up and take notice. The region is host to two significant data-centre-related events this month – one of Online Distribution’s patented regional roadshows, showcasing the latest their vendors have to offer, as well as the first appearance for Datacenter Dynamics, now one of the premier events for the sector (see here for more). While it’s always nice to see international events make their way to the Middle East, it is clear the region’s IT managers have been champing at the bit for some time over the lack of decent, informative events on the subject. “We want something which tells us about the technology, not just vendor sales pitches,” one network specialist from a major regional startup – which is intent on doing the right thing by its data centres – told me recently. His frustration was palpable – he and his team were eagerly awaiting the Datacenter Dynamics event, or anything which gave them some insight into the modern data centre. The data centre is now much more than a room filled with server racks – it is a work of engineering art in its own right, if done properly. And the old ways of looking at a data centre are no longer sufficient for organisations wanting to build a world-class, future-proofed, resilient facility. So here’s to this month’s events, and the interest from the growing number of vendors in data centres. Long may it continue, and let’s hope more of it makes its way to the Middle East.||**||

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