The power of Commodity Hardware

In this new era of Big Data, the term commodity hardware became very common, but it’s up to you to define how to use it. The term commodity hardware in general mean Computer hardware that is affordable and easy to obtain. Typically it is a low-performance system that is PC-compatible and is capable of running Microsoft Windows, Linux, or others operating systems without requiring any special devices or equipment.

Why do we need datacenters with special configurations to be able to run servers 24/7 : ACs, UPS, raised floors, networking, security…etc. While we used to have a desktop computer in every office. Imagine a company having 30 desktop computers having an i7 8cores 4GB ram 500GB hard drives each, that’s the equivalent of a 240 Core super computer with 120GB ram, and 15 TB or storage ! But obviously we don’t use them as servers, because these PCs fail frequently and they are not designed to run 24/7. Read more

Efficient Edge 2010 – Sun Oracle Wipro Conference

I assisted today at the Efficient Edge 2010 conference organized by Wipro in a partnership with Sun/Oracle. The conference was held today in Intercontinental Jeddah from 8h30 to 13h30. Sincerely beside the commercial aspect of the conference, it was really very informative, and it was a pleasure to meet few names from Sun Microsystems mainly Iyad Al-Bukhari, Andy Clark, and Thomas Bretscher.

The first session was about Sun SPARC enterprise servers, and I liked the idea of supporting mix of processors versions in the M4000, M500 and M9000 (the M series servers) – and it’s only Sun that offer this compared to IBM and HP. Some benchmarks also in this session and was very informative; also covered different aspect of the M-Series and CMT servers for single-threaded and multi-threaded.

In the second session the Datacenter Architect talked about Datacenter efficiency through virtualization. Andy talked about different level of virtualization Servers, Storage, and Network, in addition to virtualization tool Sun VDI software and Sun Ops Center. The business case in the end was very interesting showing 14% ROI in the first year only. There is something I noticed that virtualization tools are available free with Open Solaris, and coming soon to Solaris; and you don’t have to pay more to use them ! It’s something like when you buy a new car, then you try to use the Radio and they tell you have to pay more for this feature. Well, I totally agree with Andy and find it really ridiculous to do this; especially that I have a similar problem with HP Storage and the way they limit licencing to a fixed number of TB – so to add more capacity we’ll need a new license.

In the last session, Thomas talked about Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems. Almost all speakers was insisting on the ZFS – the famous Sun File Systems; obviously it was mentioned more frequently with the storage session. I liked especially the Enterprise SSDs, which eliminates storage bottlenecks. The ZFS pool guarantee a better performance for writes via the ZIL pool and reads via L2ARC pool – both connected to SSDs in addition to a third pool with cheap HDs.

The last session was about Sun FlashFire; also by Thomas. There was a case study of the KAUST presented by Mohammed Abdel Aal; Manager KAUST IT Computing Infrastructure. Mr Mohammed talked more about KAUST research strategy, but there is something that I liked most in KAUST IT requirements “No legacy systems, no legacy thinking”.

Overall it was great meeting IT professionals. I have already worked with Sun servers and Solaris, but I don’t have previously good knowledge of their hardware architecture. I was only familiar with ZFS and Open Solaris.

I didn’t stay for the lunch, but I expect it to be great too.

(HBY) Consultancy