New survey suggests UK data centre optimisation and cooling could be better

A new report argues the UK’s data centres are between them achieving ‘poor’ levels of cooling utilisation, with two thirds of cooling equipment installed on average not delivering any benefits.

The figures come from EkkoSense, a Nottingham-based provider of data centre risk management software. Naturally, it’s worth noting at this juncture that these figures are manna from heaven for such a company and the services it provides – more of which shortly – but the figures are interesting in themselves.

EkkoSense analysed 128 UK data centre halls, and more than 16,500 racks, and found that on average, the data cooling utilisation level is at 34%. Less than 5% of UK data centre monitoring and evaluation teams say they actively monitor and report temperature on an individual rack by rack basis.

The company adds that it’s not the lack of cooling capacity which is causing the issue – indeed, weather patterns in the UK are more often than not a positive contributor – but a ‘continued poor management of airflow and a failure to actively monitor and report rack temperatures’.

“Our ongoing survey into UK data centre cooling clearly shows that, despite their continued reliance on new and more expensive cooling equipment, data centres aren’t doing enough to reduce the risk to the business that unplanned outages inevitably bring,” said James Kirkwood, EkkoSense head of operations.

One company which focuses particularly on the environmental message with its data centres is Rackspace. The open cloud provider opened a data centre in Crawley in 2015 – an event which this reporter attended – with the green theme in evidence. The data centre has a targeted power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.15 – its current level is 1.3, with the industry average being 1.7 – while other environmentally-conscious features include a sloped roof to harvest rainwater and cooling using natural air.

Gary Boyd, senior director DC project engineer at Rackspace, told CloudTech about the process behind the data centre in Crawley. “Businesses can make significant power savings by carefully considering airflow when planning a data centre,” he said. “Our Rackspace data centre in Crawley was the first in the UK to make use of innovative ‘indirect outside air’ cooling technology on a large scale, without mechanical cooling.

“This meant the overhead energy required to operate the data centre was cut by almost 80%,” added Boyd. “The cooling design requires operational discipline, and device management best practice, to ensure the hot and cold aisles are separated through containment, thereby enabling the data centre to operate within the higher temperature range of Ashrae standards [for the design and maintenance of indoor environments].

“It led not only to financial savings, but a positive reputation in the industry, making us attractive to both customers and talent. Hopefully we will see more companies utilising airflow to their advantage in this manner.”

EkkoSense, in a similar vein, offers a data centre optimisation (DCOP) service which uses a three-stage approach to getting the most out of sites. The firm measures, 3D maps and analyses airflow performance across each room, then re-balances the floor to reduce hot and cold spots, alongside utilising EkkoAir, a product which tracks data centre cooling loads in real time.

Microsoft’s latest Azure customers revealed; Hershey, Maersk, UBS, and more

Microsoft has announced a slew of new customers using its Azure cloud services at its Digital Difference event in New York, including financial services provider UBS and confectioner Hershey.

The customer announcements came alongside the release of a new study, sponsored by Microsoft and put together by Harvard Business Review (HBR), which found less than half of business leaders have a coherent digital strategy despite 80% saying their industry will be positively impacted by digital transformation within three years.

The message from Microsoft was clear: one, digital disruption is happening, through cloud computing, the Internet of Things, machine learning, and much more besides; two, your organisation needs to keep pace; and three, here’s how we’re helping organisations keep pace. As a result, the primary interest here is not the fact Hershey, Maersk, UBS and others are using Azure, but how they are using them.

Hershey, for example, is using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors which feed data into the cloud, which is then analysed via Machine Learning in Azure, in order to gain greater insights and trends. UBS is using Azure to power its risk management platform, which can ultimately save 40% in infrastructure costs, while Maersk – who readers of this publication may also recognise through their blockchain initiatives with IBM – is doing various things, from its supply chain business Damco building solutions on Azure, to building an app store on Microsoft’s cloud.

Other companies announced as being Microsoft shops at Digital Difference were clothing provider Fruit of the Loom, with the company developing predictive models for consumer behaviour through Azure, and automotive insurer GEICO, who is opting for more of a hybrid cloud strategy.

“Companies are choosing Microsoft to empower their digital difference,” said Judson Althoff, EVP of Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business in a statement. “Microsoft has the edge in development in the cloud, IoT, advanced analytics, mixed reality and artificial intelligence. We understand companies’ needs for innovation, speed to market, and the importance of continually transforming and re-evaluating how business is done.”

Elsewhere, the HBR paper argues the models and strategies for digital disruption are still evolving, but once companies go all-in with a ‘major commitment’ to digital as a primary revenue driver, they are more likely to elevate and centralise digital efforts. “Most respondents recognise the opportunities the digital revolution is bringing, with the two biggest prizes being enhanced customer relationships and greater value chain integration,” the report notes. “The highest digital priority, by far, is creating an exceptional, highly relevant customer experience.”

You can read the full report here (pdf).

Parallels Presents Mac Management Solution at Midwest Management Summit

The Parallels team will present an exclusive showcase of Parallels Mac Management for Microsoft SCCM at the Midwest Management Summit (MMS) 2017. This highly engaging technology summit will take place in Minneapolis, MN, from May 15–18. Purposely capped at just 750 attendees, the event was created to help foster the community that is lost in […]

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Windows 10 as a Service

Microsoft recently shipped the Creators Update with dozens of exciting new features and capabilities! To ensure users get the best experience, Microsoft has announced its commitment to scheduled feature releases for Windows 10, Office 365 ProPlus, and System Center Configuration Manager. The next major release will be available for users as early as this upcoming […]

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Microsoft Update for April with David Barter

This month in our Microsoft update, Practice Director, David Barter discusses the new Citrix and Microsoft service, Citrix XenApp Essentials. This service helps Azure RemoteApp customers simplify management and app provisioning, improve monitoring, and strengthen security. Another major Microsoft announcement this April is Microsoft Teams, a chat-based workspace in Office 365 that helps users stay on task and efficiently collaborate. Available in 181 countries and in 18 languages, this tool is sure to become a serious competitor to Slack.

12 Japanese #IoT Companies to Join @ThingsExpo | #IIoT #AI #DX #SmartCities

NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special ‘Internet of Things’ and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program, to be aired during the peak viewership season of the year, will have a major impact on the industry in Japan. The film’s director is writing a scenario to fit in the story in the next few days will be turned in to the network.

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Now Available: Stand-alone Parallels Tools

We all have those little, conceptually easy tasks that we need to perform regularly, but in reality they can be tricky to get right each time we need to do them. For me, one of those tasks is saving a Facebook® or YouTube™ video for later offline viewing. Conceptually easy—check. Actually doing it—rather tricky, and […]

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[session] @Accenture to Present at @DevOpsSummit | @Geek_King #AI #DevOps

All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the works because of misaligned incentives.

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Skyhigh Networks Partners with CIS Cybermarket

Skyhigh Networks has announced that it has entered into an agreement with CIS Cybermarket, the government purchasing cooperative that serves the local, state and tribal governments.

Central Internet Security (CIS) Cybermarket, previously known as the CIS Trusted Purchasing Alliance, makes the most of the purchasing power of the public sector to help them navigate the world of cybersecurity. It specifically collaborates with leading cybersecurity companies to help the public sector take advantage of the advancements made in technology.

This is big news both in government tech and cloud world because this is the first time that CIS Cybermarket has offered the services of a cloud service broker to its members.

In general, security is a major concern for government departments because they deal with sensitive information such as Social Security Numbers (SSN), date of birth and financial details that can bring heavy loss if it falls in the wrong hands.

Moreover, there are still many apprehensions when it comes to storing sensitive information in the cloud, despite all the advancements made in the field of cloud security. Much of these apprehensions can be attributed to the number of hacking incidents that have taken place in the near past as well as lack of knowledge on the processes in place to curb these malpractices.

To assuage these fears, security assurances are important as they give a fair amount of confidence and surety about data safety. In this case, many members of CIS Cybermarket want to move their operations to the cloud, but are wary of the pitfalls. This is why Skyhigh Networks was chosen to provide the much-needed assurance about data safety.

To give you a small brief, Skyhigh Networks is a cloud access security broker that helps organizations to enforce security, compliance and governance policies across all its data points and cloud services, regardless of the device and number of users. In many ways, this cloud-hosted software provider acts as a control point to ensure continuous visibility, so companies can always stay on top of their data and applications. Such a software alleviates many fears and even gives assurance about cloud security.

So, this brings up the next question, why Skyhigh Networks and why not some other cloud access security broker?

One of the primary reasons is that Skyhigh Networks is the only cloud access service broker to be authorized through the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program. This program is used by federal agencies to assess cloud vendors and to make the right choices based on their needs. Almost all state and local governments use this program as a standard for buying all kinds of cloud services.

Besides this authorization, Skyhigh also has the experience and expertise needed to guide members through the enforcement process across all their SaaS, PaaS and IaaS platforms.

This partnership, the first of its kind, is expected to bolster the relationship between public and private sector, particularly in the cloud industry. Let’s hope that this addresses many of the fears and insecurities that plague the public sector when it comes to cloud adoption.

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Reducing Development Scoping Costs | @CloudExpo #API #Cloud #Virtualization

A common development challenge is accurately scoping the amount of effort required when creating new applications. This can occur when an application’s requirements are first being designed, or even before. Since one of the most frequently-overlooked capabilities of service virtualization is the ability to rapidly prototype and test the impact of new services directly from initial user stories, I’m going to address that today.
At the very beginning of an application’s lifecycle, there comes a time when the team meets to discuss what the code should do. Often, there are many questions surrounding the feasibility of a new application, and the burden falls on the developer to indicate whether something is possible and to scope the level of effort required.

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