Merry Christmas, CIO

Feature Article | December 20, 2010 by Frank Völkel, Christiane Stagge, Daniel Hardt

NAS with 96 TB: LaCie 12big Rack Network

Christmas list: presents for people who have everything (collage: grasundsterne)Christmas list: presents for people who have everything (collage: grasundsterne)

Christmas list: presents for people who have everything (collage: grasundsterne)

Let’s assume you have just one wish. Let’s assume that, in your role as company CIO, you haven’t yet exhausted all of your annual IT budget and you can invest in something you’ve had your eye on for a while. After all, the money needs to be spent so that your budget for 2011 isn’t reduced. What would you like to buy – without having to involve a large number of colleagues in the decision-making process? Would it be a service or a product that makes your day-to-day work easier and gives you a better standing within the company – and is fun, too?

How about state-of-the-art technology to meet the discerning demands of levelheaded IT managers? We’re not thinking about tablet PCs such as iPads, which can be dotted around various departments – these are planned for the first quarter of 2011. In contrast, purchasing additional hardware in the server room would get your company in shape to tackle new tasks. And it could be a wise investment, given that an SAP database (master data, business intelligence) with several thousand users typically grows by a few hundred megabytes a year.

In such cases, a Business Warehouse (BW) Accelerator server could enable much faster queries, for example, and is available from Dell, HP, and IBM to suit various needs. Blade servers of this kind – with in-memory processing, automatic data compression, and parallel processing – work like search engines and are up to 150 times faster than conventional blade servers.

Or what about an NAS server, which can save up to 96 TB of data in a computer network? Another suggestion could be a powerful uninterruptible power supply (UPS) – and a device with 10,000 VA may well meet all your needs. The range of cloud services is growing, and

energy-efficient server racks are also becoming increasingly important. Or what about using QR codes? On the pages that follow, we present ideas for hardware and software that your company might like to see in its Christmas stocking:

NAS with 96 TB: LaCie 12big Rack Network

LaCie 12Big Rack Server

LaCie 12Big Rack Server

The 12big Rack Network from LaCie is designed to dramatically increase the memory capacity of a workstation or a server. It has 12 hot plug slots, each of which comes with a 2 TB SATA hard drive (3.5 inch). The preinstalled Windows Storage Server 2008 enables the powerful 12big Rack Network to be deployed.

The hefty NAS system runs using an Intel Quad Core Xeon processor (E5410, 2.33 GHz) and 2 GB internal working memory. To boot the operating system, there are also two 2.5-inch disk drives. To connect to a network, there are two gigabit connections (RJ-45).

The total of 12 SATA slots enable a memory capacity of 24 TB, which can be extended to 96 TB by hooking up four racks. The servers are connected to each other using mini SAS cables (iSAS, serial attached SCSI). From an energy perspective, the amount of electricity consumed is comparatively low – around 850 watts for a large, fully populated rack.

Idea 2: Services via the Web

Four LaCie racks give you 96 TB memory – sufficient for many companies

Four LaCie racks give you 96 TB memory – sufficient for many companies

Services via the Web: Lots of memory, not much cash

With Cortado, you can print your documents using any printer (screenshot: Cortado)

With Cortado, you can print your documents using any printer (screenshot: Cortado)

What if you don’t have a budget for heavyweight enterprise software packages? Or there’s no room in your basement for bulky server racks? Many business applications are now available online, and are known as cloud services. All you need is an Internet connection. The software

is browser-based, and the highly practical thing is that users just hire the modules that they really need.

The on-demand software SAP BusinessByDesign, for example, gives you a slimline ERP system with the most important functions for your organization. There are also other providers that have cloud-based applications, software, platforms, and IT infrastructures in their portfolios. Read on to find out about the most important cloud services:

Appeleon

Appeleon provides templates for Web developers. From applications through online services, you can use Appeleon’s preconfigured application templates to create mini programs. You access the tool using your Web browser, and Appeleon offers more than 4,000 features.

Netviewer

Today, Web conferences and webinars no longer require huge technical efforts. Netviewer is much more than just software for videophone conferences. With Netviewer’s online service, all participants can view images or files together. During a meeting, all colleagues can look at and work with the same information on their screens. Remote support is also possible using this approach.

SAP StreamWork

SAP StreamWork will bring a hint of Facebook into your office. Using this collaboration software, colleagues can work together online on a document or project, exchange files, or use the chat function to communicate fast. SAP StreamWork is available in Basic, Professional, and Enterprise editions. The Basic edition is free-of-charge. The Professional edition costs €97 in Europe, while in Asia the price is U.S.$128, and the rest of the world pays U.S.$108 (not including value-added tax).

Cortado

What do you do if you get to a customer and discover you’ve forgotten the forms you need? With Cortado, users can print out documents from almost any mobile end device. From iPhones and BlackBerrys through Android smartphones, the service functions from any device and from any printer, regardless of the file type.

Idea 2: More services via the Web

Lotus iNotes: receiving e-mails through the browser

Lotus iNotes: receiving e-mails through the browser

Fujitsu PRIMERGY BX900 server (photo: Fujitsu)

Fujitsu PRIMERGY BX900 server (photo: Fujitsu)

Citrix: the virtual desk

Thanks to Citrix, accessing your office computer is no longer a problem if you’re at home or away on a business trip. With the Citrix client, users who are away from their workstations can access and process files and documents from their company network using virtual desktops. This makes applications, desktops, and applications available on practically any computer or mobile device.

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services are based on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Customers can use the services to store applications in a modular system. A virtual machine on Amazon EC2 comprises 1.7 GB of memory, 160 GB of local instance storage, and a 32-bit platform. And by the way, in the United States, the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) can be hired for a reasonable price: For example, 15 TB of data costs U.S.$0.15 for each GB within the country. And security is tight. Amazon promises that the data will remain in the region, for example, within the United States or the European Union.

Fujitsu IaaS

From €195 for each device, companies can rent servers and computing power from Fujitsu on a monthly basis. The services are accessed through a secure VPN connection. Virtual Windows servers are now available for between €292 and €780 a month. Customers can decide for themselves whether to handle administration themselves or whether to entrust Fujitsu with admin tasks. A maximum of four CPUs are possible per server. A CPU with a 2.33 GHz costs €88 a month. The memory can be increased at a cost of €20 a month for each GB. The maximum amount is 24 GB.

HP Services

With its Utility Services, HP offers memory, processors, and disk space. The prices depend on the service level. With 99.99% availability and 24-hour support, 1 GB costs €2.82 a month. For €1.41, disk space can be increased in steps of 10 GB.

The virtual core unit models an entire computer, including a virtual 500 MHz processor and 1 GB RAM. It costs €11.81 a month and the minimum rental period for a server is three months. Setup takes five days. A server is available from €208 a month with a quad-core CPU and 24 GB RAM. A four-socket system costs €1,746 with 96 GB RAM.

IBM Smart Business

IBM offers a range of virtual private cloud components. The CloudBurst product line comprises preinstalled service management functions, hardware, middleware, storage, servers, and network components. Version 2.1 is optimized for x86 blade servers and offers main memory enlarged to 72 GB. CloudBurst 2.1 is available in three 42U-rack configurations. The smallest has four blade servers and can run up to 100 virtual machines. The biggest system comprises 28 blade servers and runs up to 960 virtual machines. What’s more, the new version supports IBM’s Power7 processor, on which up to 2,960 virtual machines can be run. CloudBurst 2.1 is certified for SAP applications.

IBM also has a variety of on-demand applications in its portfolio. With the Web-based e-mail program Lotus Live iNotes, employees can, for example, access their e-mails, contacts, and calendars for €2.81 per user per month. Each user has 25 GB of storage.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure provides an environment for applications, storage, Web services, and Web sites. Microsoft takes care of computing power and storage management. You can rent databases on SQL Azure, while the Windows Azure AppFabric helps you create apps.

Other Microsoft products are also available on-demand. For example, Exchange Hosted Filtering and Forefront for Exchange can be used online. With Microsoft SharePoint Online, you can map virtual environments.

Idea 3: Uninterruptible power supply: Smart-UPS from APC

If the power fails: APC Smart-UPS RT 10,000 VA

Takes up 6 units of height: APC Smart-UPS 10,000 (photo: APC)

Takes up 6 units of height: APC Smart-UPS 10,000 (photo: APC)

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) prevents data loss if your servers are suddenly without power. A key feature of an UPS is the maximum runtime, which depends on the battery capacity. If the power is down for a long period, the servers shut down automatically, before the runtime expires. Opened files – such as sensitive databases – are thus closed in a controlled way to prevent data loss.

A high efficiency power supply when the grid is down is provided by, for example, APC’s Smart-UPS RT 10,000, which takes up six units of height in a standard rack. Up to 500 minutes power failure are covered with a minimal load of 800 VA, while you have 50 minutes remaining with a maximum load of 8,000 VA.

APC’s Smart-UPS generates bar charts that provide information about load, battery levels, and overload. Alarms are triggered if the unit is on battery, if the battery is low, or if there is an overload condition. Audible noise at one meter from the surface of the unit is 55 dBA.

Idea 4: Servers for BWA: Dell M610, HP ProLiant, and IBM

Enough sockets for 10 KW buffer

Enough sockets for 10 KW buffer

Servers for BWA and BOE

Enough sockets for 10 KW buffer

Blade server for BWA: Dell PowerEdge M610 (photo: Dell)

SAP’s Business Warehouse Accelerator (BWA) is configured as a hardware bundle by three different companies: Dell provides the PowerEdge M610, HP the ProLiant BL460c, and IBM the BladeCenter HS22. All three systems run on the operating system Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP2 or 11. They enable you to deploy SAP BusinessObjects Explorer with its business intelligence functions. As well as the blade servers themselves, a storage area network (SAN) is also required.

The configuration and licensing of a BWA server depend mainly on the size of the working memory and start at 8 GB. The table below shows a few possible combinations with different hardware platforms (Intel-based only). By snapping together several blade servers, a working memory of up to 2 TB is created, enabling entire databases to fit into the main memory.

Idea 5: Energy-efficient server rack: Rittal

Hardware requirements for SAP BWA

Hardware requirements for SAP BWA

Energy-efficient server rack: Rittal

Liquid Cooling Package Extend (screenshot: Rittal)

Liquid Cooling Package Extend (screenshot: Rittal)

Computers consume electricity, regardless of whether you have an entire data center or individual racks. Up to 50% is used for cooling alone. Efficient cooling systems mean reduced power consumption and improved computing power. Such presents will therefore delight the CIO, the CFO, and the environment alike.

Smart server racks for the midmarket

For small businesses and midsize companies, Herborn, Germany-headquartered Rittal offers three Smart Packages, which are tailored to various air conditioning scenarios. They are based on the pre-fitted TS 8-rack system platform.

Smart Package V1

Suitable for air-conditioned rooms. The rack is ventilated using a door surface area that is 78% available for air throughput. Heat losses of up to 1.5 kW can be dissipated.

Smart Package V2

Thanks to the roof-mounted fan with speed control, the rack is actively cooled while the noise level remains low (40 dB). This makes the product ideal for office environments. Heat losses of up to 2.0 kW can be dissipated, and the plinth is ventilated.

Smart Package V3

A closed system including a cooling unit. This Smart Package server rack is able to dissipate heat losses of up to 3.0 kW at an ambient temperature of 35°C. It can also be installed at locations subject to high levels of contamination.

Cold comfort

Furthermore, there are many components designed to cool down hot IT systems. Here’s a selection:

Cool Efficiency

Wall-mounted cooling unit with a useful cooling output of 1,000 W. plus nano-coated condenser and integral condensate evaporation. According to Rittal, it emits approximately 175 kg CO², compared with 800 kg for standard cooling devices.

Liquid Cooling Package Extend

Liquid Cooling Package Extend (LCP Extend) is an air/water heat exchanger with which racks can be equipped while the servers are running. Its useful cooling capacity is 12 kW maximum and the air throughput of its fans is 3,000 m³/h.

The device replaces the server rack’s rear door, and the water connection can be either at the top or the bottom. For server racks based on Rittal’s TS 8, two more LCP versions are available – Standard and Plus – which have a capacity of up to 40 kW.

Recooling systems

Recooling systems, also known as chillers, ensure centralized cooling and provide the cooling medium, which is generally water or oil. They are suitable for critical IT applications, because redundant pumps, emergency cooling, and buffer storage facilities ensure continuous operation and downtime security.

They have a cooling capacity of between 15 kW and 462 kW. The controls are on the front panel, the air inlet is through the side walls, and the outlet is at the top.

Idea 6: Reading and creating QR codes

Smart Packages (Screenshot: Rittal)

Smart Packages (Screenshot: Rittal)

Reading and creating QR codes

Try it out: What’s behind this QR code?

Try it out: What’s behind this QR code?

Originally intended for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing, QR codes are increasingly part of our everyday lives. They mean we don’t have to key in long Internet addresses. All you need is Java-enabled smartphone or a cell phone with a camera and a special QR code reader. Some smartphones come equipped with a reader, and iPhone and BlackBerry owners can download one easily. Read on to find out about the most important QR code readers and generators.

QR code readers

Programs to read QR codes are available from app stores or from the provider’s Web site. QR code readers need to be compatible with the mobile device on which they run. QuickMark, for example, works on iPhones, but not on BlackBerrys. BeeTagg and NeoReader work on

both devices. Mobile Tag is also available for phones with the Android or Windows operating system. ScanLife supports the iPhone and BlackBerry, as well as Nokia, Samsung, and Palm.

Creating QR codes

There are various free QR code generators on the Web. Kaywa creates codes from URLs, texts, telephone numbers, and text messages. You just insert the text into the appropriate field and click “Generate.” The code is available in various sizes. It can be printed out or embedded in existing Web sites.

GOQR.ME also generates QR codes as business cards. The size of the square can be adjusted to suit your needs.

BeeTag can generate QR codes as well as read them. At www.mobile-barcodes.com, you can generate your own QR codes, too. What’s more, the site provides an overview of all QR code readers and the devices on which they will run.

Ideas special: A flying car or an 8-bit tie?

A flying car or an 8-bit tie?

The good old days of 8-bit computers

The good old days of 8-bit computers

And finally, two ideas that you needn’t take that seriously: a car that you can drive on roads and fly in the sky – or maybe an 8-bit tie, with a design reminiscent of the Commodore C64 home computer?

The Terrafugia flying car – currently still at the prototype stage (photo: Terrafugia)

The Terrafugia flying car – currently still at the prototype stage (photo: Terrafugia)

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