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Data Center Servers Suck — But Nobody Knows How Much

If the computer industrys dirty little secret is that data centers are woefully inefficient, the secret behind the secret is that nobody knows how bad things really are.

On its surface, the issue is simple. Inside the massive data centers that drive todays businesses, technical staffers have a tendency to just throw extra servers at a computing problem. They hope that by piling on the processors, they can keep things from grinding to a halt and not get fired. But they dont think much about how efficient those servers are.

The industry talks a lot about the power efficiency of data centers as a whole i.e. how much of the data centers total power is used for computing but it doesnt look as closely at the efficiency of the servers inside these computing facilities how much of the time theyre actually doing work. And it turns out that getting a fix on this is pretty hard.

The folks who run the most efficient data centers in the world the Amazons and Googles and Microsofts view this information as a competitive secret, so they wont share it. And in the less-efficient enterprise data centers, staffers may not welcome any type of rigorous measurement of their server efficiency. Think about it who would want their boss to know how poorly utilized that incredibly expensive asset was? said David Cappuccio, a Gartner analyst speaking in an email interview.

But that keeps the industry from getting a proper fix on things, says Amy Spellmann, a global practice principal with the Uptime Institute. I think there are good reasons for getting the benchmarks and the analysis out there, she says. We should be tracking these things and how we are doing as an industry.

When The New York Times ran its recent investigative expose on data center waste, they had to peg the story on a 4-year-old data center report by McKinsey & Co. and a whole lot of anecdotal evidence.

That seems to be the current state of research on data center utilization rates: one report based on data from 20,000 servers that was compiled in 2008. Back then, Amazons EC2 cloud service was in beta; nowadays, EC2 and its sister Amazon Web Services run as much as one percent of the internet. The industry has changed, but the research has not.

McKinsey spokesman Charles Barthold says that the only systematic study McKinsey has ever done was this 2008 analysis. Back in 2008, it pegged server utilization at 6 percent meaning servers in the data center only get used 6 percent of the time. The firm guesses that the rate is now between 6 to 12 percent, based on anecdotal information from customers, Barthold says. McKinsey declined to talk in depth about the report.

And thats too bad. Its not ever clear whether this is the best way to measure the efficiency of our data centers.

Over at Mozilla, Datacenter Operations Manager Derek Moore says he probably averages around 6 to 10 percent CPU utilization from his server processors, but he doesnt see that as a problem because he cares about memory and networking. The majority of our applications are RAM or storage constrained, not CPU. It doesnt really bother us if the CPU is idle, as long as the RAM, storage, or network IO [input-output] is being well-utilized, he says. CPU isnt the only resource when it comes to determining the effectiveness of a server.

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How to share documents with iCloud

The new dream in computing is keeping all of your files in the cloud, on remote servers that you can access from anywhere at any time. Apples cloud-based syncing and storage service, iCloud, debuted in June 2011. Still, only since the release of OS X Mountain Lion that enough applications have started to support iCloud document syncing for this feature to be useful. Working with iCloud is fairly simple, but you need to know the ground rules if you plan to start storing your documents in the cloud.

If you dont have a free iCloud account, or if youre just starting out with it, this article will give you an overview of how to set up a new iCloud account. To store documents in the cloudno matter which application puts its files thereyou also need to activate the Documents & Data setting in the iCloud pane in System Preferences, as well as in the Settings of any iOS device you plan to use (to do so, selectSettings > iCloud). Once youve done this, any iCloud-compatible app can store files in iCloud.

For now, only a limited number of applications can store files in iCloud. By files, I mean documents that you create, not data that an application such as Calendar stores in the cloud. On the Mac, many of Apples apps do support iCloud, including Preview, TextEdit, the iWork 09 suite (Pages, Numbers, andKeynote), and GarageBand.

Third-party apps that store documents in the cloud include text editors such as iA Writer, Byword, and Smultron; the PDF editor PDFpen; the graphics editor Pixelmator; and some others. At this point, compatible programs can produce files in Microsoft Office formats, but Microsoft Office itself doesnt support iCloud.

Note that Apple lets onlyapps sold through the Mac App Store use iCloud to store documents. If your favorite productivity app is only sold directly by the developer, youre out of luck.

If youre using an application that can save documents in the cloud, doing so is fairly simple. Say youre using TextEdit. After youve created a new document, press Command-S, and make sure the Where menu shows iCloud. Name the file and click Save, and the document will be sent to the cloud.

Once youve saved a file to the cloud, you can access it from multiple devices. Say you have a desktop Mac and a laptop; you can save any files you need on the road in iCloud and access them from either computer as long as you use the same app.

To open files youve saved to iCloud, press Command-O in an iCloud-savvy application, then click on the iCloud button. Youll see something like this:

Note that in the above screenshot you see a folder. To create a folder, just drag one file on top of another, as you would with icons on an iPhone or iPad. Name the folder, and itll be saved on iCloud.

You may have a number of files on your Mac that youd like to put in the cloud; this is straightforward. Just open a file with an application that can put documents on iCloud, choose File > Move To, then choose iCloud from the Where menu. If you want to move a file from the cloud to your Mac, click on the Where menu and find the folder where you want to place the file. If the folder where you want to move the file isnt in the menu, choose Other from the bottom of the menu, and navigate to the location you want.

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EU Eyes Cloud Computing to Kick Start Economy

With a four-year debt crisis and recession affecting many of its member countries, the European Union (EU) is turning to cloud computing to create 2.5 million new jobs and boost the region's economy.

Cloud computing is where files are stored in massive data centers rather than on office servers and computer programs and functions run via the internet. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison describes it being like an electricity network.

"Consumers don't have to get bogged down with the complexity of computing and they don't have to make a huge capital investment, they just plug in and run their applications," the founder of the world's largest database software company told CNBC Tuesday.

It may not be a new concept but it certainly caught the eye of the European Commission which says the industry could increase the region's gross domestic product (GDP) by 583 billion euros between 2015 and 2020 and create millions of new jobs.

EMC is one of the world's largest data providers and Howard Elias, president and COO of the company's cloud computing branch told CNBC, new strategy and regulations can only be positive for the industry.

"Anything that governments and the EU can do to clarify and simplify is always a good thing," he told CNBC "Any time you have a framework, that can only foster more investment."

The EU wants to focus on four key aims to help cloud computing realize its full potential. They want users to be able to easily move providers, a certification for trustworthy companies, contracts that would simplify regulations and clear communication between providers and the public sector, so work doesn't drift overseas to the U.S.

But Katherine Thompson, analyst at Edison Investment Research is not entirely convinced.

"I'm not sure I strictly agree that it will give such a boost to the economy, as the move to the cloud is often a shift from one form of expenditure to another, as opposed to incremental spend, and in many cases will be deflationary," she told CNBC.

"The EU's thinking behind this is that it would help create new types of companies and new business models start...I do agree with this myself, but this is already happening without EU involvement."

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Secure-24 to Feature Hosting and Cloud Services for SAP® Solutions at SAP TechEd 2012 Las Vegas

Secure-24 will showcase its capabilities at SAP TechEd 2012 on October 15-19 and partner with Cisco to host a roundtable discussion and an executive networking event. As an SAP-certified provider of cloud services and an SAP hosting partner, Secure-24 offers comprehensive hosting services for SAP solutions with teams highly experienced with Basis.

Las Vegas, Nevada (PRWEB) October 08, 2012

In booth 515, Secure-24's senior executives, regional managers and technical management team will be available to meet with visitors and demonstrate the company's single-source support for the entire lifecycle of cloud and hosting services for SAP solutions.

On October 17 at noon PDT, Secure-24, will host a collaborative roundtable with Cisco and SAP to discuss the SAP IT Process Automation application by Cisco. Secure-24 and Cisco also will host an Executive Networking Event from 6 to 8 p.m. PDT at the Lavo Nightclub in the Palazzo, just a short walk from the SAP TechEd convention floor.

Secure-24s Director of ERP Applications Len Landale and Enterprise Solution Architect Hercules Bester also will host two Expert Networking Sessions at SAP TechEd. Landale will be discussing the heterogeneous migration of SAP solutions and combined upgrade and Unicode conversion solutions on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 1:30 p.m. PDT. Bester will be speaking later that day at 2:30 p.m. on practical architecture deployment tips for SAP solutions. These sessions are open to all attendees and will take place in the Expert Networking Sessions Lounge, centrally located on the show floor.

Secure-24 offers comprehensive hosting services for SAP solutions with teams highly experienced with Basis. The company is an SAP-certified provider of cloud services and an SAP hosting partner, as well as a Cisco Premier Partner. Secure-24 supports over 150 clients with operations around the globe in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, energy and utilities, government, chemical, financial, and retail.

Through SAP TechEd, SAP aims to teach and raise awareness of the business possibilities with SAP solutions, said Inga Bredehoeft, director, National SAP Alliance, Secure-24. Were here to help those professionals host their SAP applications, run their technical operations, and find creative ways to continually make IT more efficient and cost-effective.

Secure-24 partners with mid-to-large-sized companies that have global operations to deliver cost-effective, cloud-based delivery models for mission-critical SAP applications. The company is supported by strategic partnerships with technology providers such as VMware and EMC.

About Secure-24, Inc. (http://www.secure-24.com)

As an SAP hosting partner and SAP-certified provider of cloud services, Secure-24 provides a full service technical offering in support of SAP applications with proven project methodology and demonstrated successes in hosting, management, upgrades, migrations and support engagements. Secure-24 manages complex IT landscapes for many Fortune 500 companies, with a focus on quality, completeness of service, and delivering real business value to customers. As a result of enterprise customers stringent requirements, Secure-24 is continually audited and maintains a high level of compliance, leveraging SAS 70 / SSAE 16 certified data centers and a long-established history of Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) management processes to help customers meet compliance mandates and mitigate risk.

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Apple extends iCloud storage for another year

Good news if you previously used MobileMe and migrated to iCloud. Apple has extended its increased temporary storage for another year, CNET reports.

Apple's iCloud only offers 5GB free online storage, which is a lot less than the 20GB promised by its now defunct MobileMe predecessor. So Apple granted those on MobileMe the same 20GB on iCloud, to help aid the transition. And now it'll stay for another year. Happy days.

The increased storage was supposed to expire on 30 June, then 30 September, and then things went a bit wrong. Apple suffered a glitch that told anyone signed up that they'd have 20GB free for another 38 years. The glitch went unnoticed, with the expiry date of 30/09/2050 staying for a few days.

But now Apple has remedied it with an email to customers.

"When you moved your MobileMe account to iCloud, we provided you with a complimentary storage upgrade beyond the standard 5GB that comes with an iCloud account to help you with the transition," the email read. "Originally, this storage upgrade was set to expire on 30 September 2012.

"As a thank you to our former MobileMe customers, we will continue to provide you with this complimentary storage upgrade at no charge, for an additional year, until 30 September, 2013. No action is required on your part."

Recipients were also directed to an article on the topic on the Apple Support pages.

So, another year of freebies. Good stuff. When that expires, you'll have to start paying to keep your goodies in the cloud. iCloud costs 14 a year for 10GB storage (15GB total with the 5GB free), 28 for 20GB (25GB total), and 70 for 50GB (55GB total).

Have you been using iCloud? Are you happy with it, or do you agree with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak that cloud storage is going to cause "a lot of horrible problems in the next five years"? Let me know below, or on Facebook.

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Apple extends iCloud storage for another year

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Oracle vs Amazon Cloud Storage: OpenWorld 2012 – Video



03-10-2012 23:05 Why should a software developer use Oracle Public Cloud if they already leverage Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)? Oracle Executive VP Thomas Kurian offers his views during Oracle OpenWorld 2012. Recorded by Talkin' Cloud (www.talkincloud.com).

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Nasuni's CEO To Speak At Interop On The Secure Use Of Cloud Storage

NATICK, Mass., Oct. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Nasuni, a provider of enterprise storage to large, distributed organizations, today announced that Andres Rodriguez, the company's co-founder and CEO, will speak at Interop on the secure use of cloud storage. The session will show how new advancements enable enterprises to realize the benefits of cloud storage without giving up the control IT leaders associate with the most advanced on-premise storage infrastructure.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120403/NE80973LOGO)

In the session, titled "Security for Untrusted Storage," Rodriguez will address head-on the belief that cloud storage implies or requires enterprises to forfeit a level of control over their data. Specifically, the session will explore the benefits of cloud storage, its application within the data center as a component, and new approaches to data encryption, key management, data integrity and data consistency that fundamentally change the use case for the cloud.

Details Include:

What:

Session "Security for Untrusted Storage"

Who:

Andres Rodriguez, co-founder and CEO of Nasuni; former CEO and founder of Archivas;and former CTO of The New York Times

Where:

Interop in New York City, The Javits Center Room 1E07

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Synnex CEO Kevin Murai: Tablets, Mobile, Cloud Computing (p3) – Video



05-10-2012 23:20 Synnex CEO Kevin Murai describes challenges and opportunities for VARs, managed services providers (MSPs) and cloud integrators during Synnex National Conference 2012. He mentions the tablet, cloud computing and managed IT services and managed print services waves. Plus, Windows 8 and Ultrabooks. Recorded by The VAR Guy (www.thevarguy.com). NOTE Part 1 of 3.

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Cloud Computing Saves Health Care Industry Time And Money

The cloud's vast computing power is making it easier and less expensive for companies and clinicians to discover new drugs and medical treatments. Analyzing data that used to take years and tens of millions of dollars can now be done for a fraction of that amount.

Most of us know Amazon as the world's largest online retailer. But its cloud computing business is booming too.

Companies can rent massive computer resources by the hour, and the cost is relatively little. The ability to analyze vast amounts of data in this way is changing lots of industries including health care.

Dr. Michael Cunningham is doing rounds at Seattle Children's Hospital. As medical director of the hospital's Craniofacial Center, he sees young patients whose skulls have fused prematurely.

"The biggest obvious consequence of having craniosynostosis is that your head shape gets very abnormal and it increases the pressure inside the skull, having potential to damage the brain," Cunningham says.

The disease seems to be caused by an abnormality in the way bone cells communicate, but Cunningham wanted much more information. And researchers, working with a huge amount of data stored in the cloud, were able to identify patients whose cells looked similar.

"It's the first thing that's ever been found that really gives us a clue as to where to look in terms of underlying cause," Cunningham says.

That should help in coming up with better treatments.

Aided by cloud computing, researchers crunched, analyzed and sequenced massive amounts of information something Cunningham could not have done on his own. It would have been far too expensive and taken too long.

Work like this is going on at Google, Microsoft and other places too, but Amazon is the leader.

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Cloud Computing Saves Health Care Industry Time And Money

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Trust – The Key to Cloud Computing Growth in Europe

The European Commission is optimistic about the future of cloud computing in the region and predicts it will not only save on data storage costs, but create new jobs and boost GDP.

The European Union's cloud computing strategy was finally unveiled last week and is expected to boost GDP by around AUD$200 million (about 1 per cent) and create almost four million jobs in just under a decade.

This is the first concerted effort by the EU to increase the popularity of cloud computing among businesses. Digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said if the EU doesn't take united action, they will continue to miss out on the major profits to be made by using cloud computing. At present, only about a quarter of European computer users access cloud applications and are lagging behind worldwide levels by about 10 per cent. The value of the cloud computing market is expected to more than double and be worth just over AUD$70 billion by 2015.

Kroes estimates the cloud will save most businesses particularly small ones up to 20 per cent in operating costs. So why is cloud computing still less popular in Europe than the rest of the world?

Trust is a major factor. Cloud services in Europe are mostly localised rather than regional and even though EU legislation protects cloud users, most are unaware of their rights. Cloud computing growth in Europe has been stunted as users are unclear on which jurisdiction they fall under, where their data is located and how safe it is. To help clear up confusion, the EC plans to introduce standards and a certification scheme for a single digital market by 2013. This will increase transparency and hopefully build users confidence in storing data across, and beyond, European borders.

Do you operate a business in Europe and use cloud services? If not, will these changes encourage you to move some of your business to the cloud, or do they not go far enough? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Susanna Sharpe, Social Media Manager. Visit the blog maintained by Susanna Sharpe here.

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Trust - The Key to Cloud Computing Growth in Europe

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