Article

Data center managers' holiday wish lists

Mark Fontecchio

This holiday season, silent nights are on data center and IT managers' wish lists. What manager wouldn't want fewer pages and phone calls that require him to trudge into a facility during the wee hours because of a temperamental uninterruptible power supply?

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For Roxanne Reynolds-Lair, CIO of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, in Los Angeles, some extra processor horsepower wouldn't hurt either.

"The gift that would make me happy for the holidays would be an IBM System i5 570 Power6 machine," she said. "System i already makes my life easier, and Power6 would make it even better."

System i already makes my life easier, and Power6 would make it even better.
Roxanne Reynolds-Lair,
CIOFashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

Earlier this year, IBM released the Power6 processor and started offering it in its System p Unix boxes. The reduced-instruction-set-computer-, or RISC-based Power6 chip clocks in at a maximum of 4.7 GHz, more than twice as fast as the latest iteration of Power5. The 65-nanometer-designed chip also has a memory cache of 8 MB per processor, twice as much as the Power5 while consuming roughly the same amount of power while doing it.

Reynolds-Lair added, "If you could throw in the cable-labeling elf, that would be perfect."

Clive Greenall, the manager of IT operations at the Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd., is looking a bit further into the future. The bank has plans to build a new data center that will be 6,000 square meters (or about 65,000 square feet) and expandable to 12,000 square meters (about 130,000 square feet).

"My Christmas wish would be for some information on building new data centers to carry us through the next 20 years and beyond," he said.

But Butch Adkins, manager of computer operations at the University of Kentucky, conceibably has the most common data center manager wish of all: He just wants the facility people and the IT people to get along.

"What would probably help us the most right now would be a pill that we could give folks in the physical plant and IT that would give them an understanding of what the data center is and what it takes to operate one under best practices," he said.

The data center IT-facilities gap is a common problem. IT people on one side want to provision servers quickly as applications grow. Meanwhile, data center facilities employees need more advance notice on incoming computing equipment so they can properly plan for power and space needs.

Adkins said the facilities people recommended regular maintenance on the data center, for which Adkins was able to get funding. But while the money's available, he said, maintenance hasn't been done as often as he'd like. Now, Adkins said, facilities-focused staff isconcerned with reliability because the data center doesn't have power redundancy. Adkins countered, however, that the data center hasn't had it for about three years and has handled it as best it can, so he's not sure why it has become an issue now.

Meanwhile, Adkins contends with IT staff who have "the usual hardware showing up with no notice and the expectation that it be available the next day."

Hopefully these data center managers and others will get their wishes fulfilled this season.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer. You can also check out our Server Specs blog.


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