Announcing the launch of Data Center Discovery!

The complexity and growth rate of the data center marketplace can make sourcing the best products and services a challenge. Identifying, locating and qualifying suppliers of data center products and services is often a time consuming and confusing process.

Other industries utilize helpful on-line tools that allow purchasing agents to make efficient and educated buying decisions. Web based services such as GlobalSpec and ThomasNet allow purchasers in the manufacturing sector to perform comprehensive searches for the products and services that they need from detailed and extensive directories of suppliers.

Until now, the data center industry has lacked a central directory that collects corporate profiles and contact information for the companies that make up the data center marketplace. Data Center Discovery fills that need.

Data Center Discovery is a worldwide, online directory of firms that are involved in the data center construction and operations industry. For the first time, all the players in the data center marketplace have a professional and well organized venue to promote their capabilities and value to a receptive audience.

This collection of valuable information will allow purchasers of data center products and services to identify suitable business partners and make informed purchasing choices.

Visitors to the website can browse the directory free of charge. Business can also post their profiles free of charge. However, more feature rich profiles are available for a orporations wishing to be listed in the directory will pay a recurring monthly fee. The amount of the monthly fee is based on the number of categories, geographies and specialties under which the service provider appears.

For more information please visit the site at


DARPA is working on new chip design. Promises high efficiency, powerful compute and…low accuracy?

Photo credit DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is the US Department of Defense (DoD) agency responsible for the development of new technologies for use by the military. 

The scientists at DARPA routinely launch projects so audacious and ambitious that their project list looks like something conjured up by science fiction writers and Hollywood directors rather than legitimate scientists.  Thought controlled bionic arms? Check.  (See project Proto2).  Iron man style powered exoskeleton?  You bet.  (See project XOS)  Battlefield telepathy? Yep. (See project Silent Talk)  Throw in a half dozen autonomous robots and an assortment of super-soldier tactical gear and you start to get a picture of a group that lives on the bleeding edge of science and engineering. 

Given the radical technology innovations these guys are dreaming up it’s no surprise that they’re getting frustrated with the slow pace of computer chip efficiency improvements.  When your projects include surveillance systems that can “track everything that moves” in an entire city (CTS), you obviously need computers with serious processing power.  But, just as importantly, these DARPA projects also require computers that make efficient use of electricity. 

Per chip processing power has continued to double every 18 months (roughly in accordance with Moore’s Law.)  However, chip energy efficiency has reached a near dead end.  In other words, power scaling has all but ceased.  As a result, battery powered devices can’t keep up with the energy demands of the computer chips.      

To address the chip efficiency issue DARPA is throwing away the digital rule book and designing a new generation of ANALOG computer chips.  Instead of using the energy intensive, Boolean logic strategy of driving voltage into transistors to change their state from zero to one, Darpa is examining low power “probabilistic” computing possible using analog computing.

Daniel Hammerstein, DARPA program manager for project UPSIDE, expects intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems utilizing the new technology to be faster and “orders of magnitude more power-efficient.”

How does it work?  According to the DARPA press release; “UPSIDE envisions arrays of physics-based devices (nanoscale oscillators may be one example) performing the processing. These arrays would self-organize and adapt to inputs, meaning that they will not need to be programmed as digital processors are. Unlike traditional digital processors that operate by executing specific instructions to compute, it is envisioned that the UPSIDE arrays will rely on a higher level computational element based on probabilistic inference embedded within a digital system.”  (A super fast, super efficient, self organizing, self programming nano-computer?  What could possibly go wrong?)  

Probability computing abandons the its-either-one-or-zero straightforwardness of digital computing.  As a result, it sacrifices some accuracy.  For imaging and surveillance applications, the inexact nature of analog, probability processing may be sufficient. 

Ben Vigoda, the general manager of the Analog Devices Lyric Labs group seems to think that the technology may be applicable to the problem of energy consumption by data centers and server farms.  In an article for Wired, Vigoda stated, “We’re using a few percent of the U.S.’s electricity bill on server farms and we can only do very basic machine-learning,” says Vigoda. “We’re just doing really, really simple stuff because we don’t have the compute power to do it. One of the ways to fix this is to design chips that do machine-learning.”

Maybe.  But a large portion of those server farms using all that electricity are financial sector facilities.  I don’t see them (for example) rushing out to cut their power bills by introducing errors into their data. 

For the foreseeable future, information systems still require three core characteristics; Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability (CIA).  I don’t see many takers for computing strategies that sacrifice one of these core principles for better energy efficiency.

Progressive Insurance looking for data center engineer

Progressive is looking for an experienced engineer to help manage a 24X7 Data Center environment, while repairing and maintaining electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems or equipment.

If you’re interested in being considered, please go to to learn more about the job and complete your confidential, five-minute candidate profile.

For more information please contact:
Wilhelm Ong

AFCOM Presentation is online

My presentation, Cybersecurity for Mission Critical Infrastructure from 2012 AFCOM Data Center World is posted on Slideshare.  Despite the fact that I had the last speaking slot of the the conference, I had a terrific turnout.  Thanks to everyone that stuck around to hear it!

Here’s a link to the presentation slide deck

Also had some very good conversations with some of the attendees following my presentation.

Thanks to everyone who attended!

Data Center Mechanical Engineer Needed

Global accounting giant PriceWaterhouse Coopers is looking for a Mechanical Engineer with data center experience.  The candidate should have hands-on experience maintaining data center HVAC infrastructure. 

If you think this would be a good fit for you or for someone you know, please contact Tamara at pwc.

Tamara Burks | IFS Experienced Recruiting | PricewaterhouseCoopers |

Telephone: +1 813 348 8043 | Mobile: +1 813 507 1295 |

Good Luck!

Santa “Un-friends” Coal

Naughty children all over the world are breathing a sigh of relief at the news that Santa Claus has decided not to place lumps of coal in their stockings on Christmas Eve.

The long standing tradition of coal in naughty children’s stockings has been the proverbial “stick” in the Christmas carrot-and-stick behavior equation for as long as anyone can remember.  Nevertheless, Santa’s spokeself has confirmed that this year Saint Nick will be leaving the North Pole without a sack of coal for delivery to a few egregiously underperforming children.

It appears that Santa is bowing to a relentless campaign by environmental activists.  An anonymous elf source stated, “The environmentalists really ratcheted up the rhetoric this year.  Greenpeace’s “Coal Isn’t Tinsel” campaign really stung the old man.”

Representatives from Greenpeace commented, “We believe that Santa’s association with the filthy coal industry needed to end.  By delivering coal to children, Santa continuously reinforced dependence on fossil fuels with each succeeding generation.  We are proud to have helped stop the cycle of violence against the Earth.”

2011 has been marked by significant victories for Greenpeace.  Earlier this year they chalked up a major win against Internet giant facebook by forcing them to “unfriend” coal.  It seems that facebook had the audacity to build a major data center in the state of Oregon which generates a slight percentage more of its electricity from coal than other states.  The environmentalist group was not dissuaded from their campaign by the fact that facebook’s data center is a model of energy efficiency and sustainable design.  They were equally unimpressed by the fact that if the data center had been built in a different state it would have consumed more electricity and contributed more greenhouse gases because it would not have been able to take advantage of the cool Oregon climate for “free cooling.”

Santa was equally unsuccessful when trying to reason with Greenpeace.  Tensions peaked earlier this year when Santa thundered, “The lump of coal a symbolic gesture you nitwits!”  Greenpeace responded with a well crafted marketing campaign that equated giving fossil fuels to naughty children with giving loaded weapons to known criminals.

Santa quickly caved to demands after Greenpeace pointed out that Santa is operating a workshop at the North Pole.  An activity the Greenpeace characterized as “a harsh, polluting industrial facility located at the vulnerable center of Earth’s most pristine and sensitive wilderness.”

Santa is reportedly working with representatives from Greenpeace to find an alternative to lumps of coal for naughty children.  Greenpeace has suggested biodiesel producing algae.  Santa has suggested reindeer manure.  In either case, environmentalists will be hanging their stockings with extra care this year.

(PS Thanks to soniacarreras for the elf!

Northeast Halloween Snowstorm. Power Outage Maps

Weather incidents, like the snowstorm that just dumped on the East Coast, send a shiver down the spine (pun intended) of data center operators.   30 inches of wet, heavy snow fell in the Northeast over the weekend and snapped power lines and felled trees.  As a result, 3 million residents and businesses were plunged into blackout.  State officials throughout the NE have declared that the economic impact, recovery time and number of outages will all be worse than Hurricane Irene.

Data center’s requirement for utility power is nearly universal.  If you are building or operating a data center you simply must have reliable, utility scale electrical power.  Generators, turbines, UPS systems, solar panels are all very good.  However, none of these technologies are substitutes a reliable utility feed or two.  As a result, a thorough understanding of the reliability of the local electrical grid and likelihood of an outage are key concerns for data center.

Edward Vielmetti, an Ann Arbor journalist has put together a terrific resource for those planning a data center build or those simply interested in the reliability of the grid.  Edward has assembled “Power outage maps for all 50 states plus as many other countries as I can find”.  Check it out at:

Edward clearly put a lot of work into this.  It makes fascinating reading.