Top 10 hardware and datacentre stories of 2011

Cooling and power are still major concerns for businesses building datacentres. We look back at the highlights of 2011.

Cooling and power are still major concerns for businesses building new datacentres. The industry is working on innovative ways to minimise electricity consumption and lower cooling requirements. Datacentres are now running hotter, which lowers the chilling requirements, while some datacentres, such as Experian, run the cooling fans at lower RPMs to reduce electricity consumption without affecting cooling efficiency.

For datacentre expansion, modularisation is the latest trend, as can be seen in Microsoft’s new Dublin datacentre. Companies are also building datacentres to the North to benefit from free air cooling.

Next year, expect to see blade servers powered by ARM chips, which promise to lower the heat envelope, while technologies such as kinetic flywheels may gain wider acceptance as a power source for uninterruptible power supplies.

On the hardware side, Oracle is set on becoming a viable hardware maker, thanks to its acquisition of Sun, and will continue to offer integrated hardware and software. Itanium is unlikely to survive much longer, while graphics processors will be increasingly used for high-performance applications.

1. Oracle develops Linux and Solaris appliance

Oracle has unveiled what it claims is the world's first integrated middleware machine, an appliance to run Java and non-Java applications using Oracle software. Oracle said the new Exalogic Elastic Cloud is an integrated hardware and software system engineered, tested and tuned by Oracle to run Java and non-Java applications. Oracle said the hardware provides a complete cloud application infrastructure, consolidating Java and non-Java workloads.

2. Can Oracle kill off Itanium?

At the end of March, Oracle announced it would no longer be developing its software for the Intel Itanium chip. The database giant also said that other software makers would no longer support the 64-bit processor.

"After multiple conversations with Intel senior management, Oracle has decided to discontinue all software development on the Intel Itanium microprocessor. Intel made it clear that its strategic focus is on the x86 microprocessor and that Itanium is nearing the end of its life," said Oracle.

3. HP's Intelligent Resilient Framework (IRF) put to the test

In the world of datacentres and large-scale enterprise networks there has always been some form of perceived trade-off between performance and resilience. Building in resilience is essential, of course, but it has historically affected service and application ability when brought to play. But despite the best-planned and designed networks, quality of components and management, problems do arise.

4. How Experian is retro-fitting its datacentre to boost efficiency

To most people, Experian is a credit rating agency. Consumers only hear about the company when they are turned down for a loan or credit card. But the firm does far more than this – it is a data company. It provides analytics to banks, marketing services to help retailers understand customer demographics, and has a part to play in fraud detection. Its datacentre knows a lot about you.

5. Gartner: Five trends that will transform the datacentre

IT as a service is here to stay. IT organisations must embrace five major trends in datacentre and operational transformation says Drue Reeves, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

6. Using a private cloud to optimise & transform your datacentre

A survey by TechTarget found that more than half (56.8%) of UK and European users choose not to use, or are even considering using, a private cloud over the next 12 months. This webcast will discuss the current state of private cloud computing adoption across Europe, in addition to raising issues with cost and security.

7. IBM offers Sun/HP upgrade to z114 mainframe

IBM has introduced a new mainframe server, which it says costs 25% less than its existing z10 system and is 25% faster. IBM estimates the new the zEnterprise 114, or z114, will consolidate workloads from 40 x86 processors running Oracle software to three processors running Linux.

8. HP puts ARM at the heart of energy-efficient datacentres

Hewlett-Packard has introduced a line of servers using the Calxeda EnergyCore ARM Cortex low-energy processors which it claims will enable datacentres to host 2,800 servers in a single rack.

Called the HP Redstone Server Development Platform, the project is part of a wider initiative called Project Moonshot, based on HP Converged Infrastructure technology across thousands of servers. HP said the development paves the way to the future of low-energy computing for emerging web, cloud and massive scale environments.

9. Gartner: Build your own datacentre rather than hosting

Despite the hype around cloud and hosting, more organisations are building their own datacentres to save costs, according to Gartner. In a session covering best practices in saving datacentre costs at the Gartner Data Center & IT Operations Summit 2011, Rakesh Kumar, Gartner research vice-president, said it was cheaper to build a new datacentre than use a hosted service.

10. Case study: How Cancer Research is using a computing cluster to analyse the human genome

A breakthrough in genome technology, a decade after the human genome was sequenced, is changing the way researchers fight diseases. Peter Macallum, head of IT and scientific computing at Cancer Research UK, said high-performance computing is core to the research organisation's fight to cure cancer.


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