Sunday, December 31, 2006
Saturday, December 30, 2006
[Microsoft is] going to try to enforce their licenses much more aggressively in parts of the world where that pricing is an issue, where people do have until today continued to use pirated versions of Windows. Suddenly [they will] have to consider other options, and we do see that in emerging markets in particular, Linux is taking off because people want a stable platform that is cheaper. So in that sense, yes, Linux might well benefit from the release of
Vistafrom a pricing and licensing control point of view.
Microsoft is milking the cow here, trying to squeeze out whatever juice is left in their OS business. They have come a long way from condoning, even supporting, piracy of their operating system to get market share, haven't they? Squirt, squirt.
I've been reading a bit of Ray Kurzweil and really enjoying his work. Ray is a very visionary guy and when reading his work I was wondering about the middle points we will need to go through. In this article, I pick out a few middle points that will take some doing to get over.
- Peak Copper - We are going to need a large amount of this metal to bridge the physical gaps in the network infrastructure so we can all talk to each other, and it looks like we won't have enough to outfit newly developing countries in the manner that developed ones did. That would be ok if they used something else (like wireless) but they aren't. Gold doesn't look so abundant either, another necessary component for a lot of communication gear.
- People are Dumb - By Ray's own definition, the human race is capped off at about 10 to the 26 power of calculations per second. Now if we are going to interface with all these machines that will be exponentially faster, we are going to be a real bottleneck, particularly since we will only have a very small fraction of that calcualting power targeted towards this topic. The rest will be blown on silly stuff like playing doom on the OLPC, watching NASCAR, and changing poopy diapers. I seriously wonder whether enough people care about promoting the capabilities of the human race to get there. And finally, the big one:
- Computing is About Power - Power, in the sense that we primarily use the power of computers to leverage our power over other human beings, and to get what we want on a personal level. We use them to send spam, target missiles, view the latest playboy centerfold. It's a control thing, a chimpanzee thing which has been with us forever. And I just don't see people embracing a machine that's 10,000 times smarter than themselves to do anything that will remotely affect their life without having the opportunity to subvert it whenever they want. We are a little too scarce on controlling our emotions for that one to happen.
Friday, December 29, 2006
...the case is different in the US; a spokesman told me that during an American press conference the concern was over consumers thinking 'carbon free' means there is no carbon at all in the PC.
C'mon, everyone knows 'puters are made of a titanium carbonic alloy from the planet Hoth. My four year old said it best - whatever.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
"Does a 'Saviour' still have any value and meaning for the men and women of the third millennium?" he asked in his "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) message to the faithful in St Peter's Square, broadcast live to millions in 40 countries.
"Is a 'Saviour' still needed by a humanity which has reached the moon and Mars and is prepared to conquer the universe; for a humanity which knows no limits in its pursuit of nature's secrets and which has succeeded even in deciphering the marvelous codes of the human genome?"
I wonder if hes is not answering his own question out loud here. Ray Kurzweil might be able to answer it for him. Of course, maybe Jesus was an alien so (ironically) technology is what got him here in the first place.
Monday, December 25, 2006
A good exercise for the start of the new year will be to calculate your Information Productivity Index, which measures exactly how much output you are getting out of your information processing dollars. Paul explains exactly how to do this in this Baseline 500 writeup. You will probably be surprised at how low your score is; in fact, half of all companies don't even get a positive score, implying their entire IT program is just a hobby. Where are you?
Saturday, December 23, 2006
It reminds me of the essay The Abolition of Work, written by Bob Black in 1985. It is a short, though strangely compelling piece about how we should all really do less. I have tongue only somewhat in cheek when I state that the most environmentally friendly thing any of us can do is go to sleep. The cat is our hero here - with most sleeping 13 to 14 hours a day, and almost never using computers (well, sometimes), they are about as green as you can get.
Something tells me that if everyone in the world works harder, that the 15 to 30 percent more energy we use won't make things 15 to 30 percent better. In fact, the solution is right under our noses - just sit on on your fanny and do nothing. It's easy, in fact you are probably doing it right now. So, turn off that computer and take a nap, write me and let me know how it goes.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
"By power is meant every opportunity/possibility existing within a social relationship, which permits one to carry out one's own will, even against resistance, and regardless of the basis on which this opportunity rests."
Basically, It's an "I'm going to tell you what to do" type of thing, this old, rather un-fun competitive chimp infrastructure full of winners and losers. I don't see anything wrong with that, but we should clarify that connecting to the Net, and the trillions we are spending to do so, is really about access to Power, the Power to control and profit off of other human beings. Opinions like this put projects such as OLPC and rural wifi in a different light - maybe we are just connecting more suckers to the Internet to take their money.
The irony of this is that I don't think the investment is worth the returns. In fact, I think it is a giant gambling game, where instead of hunting the Woolly Mammoth, we are now hunting virtual information to put food on the table. I'm the first to admit have a heap of personal examples where I tried to make a million off the net - online poker playing, domain name investing, surfing for money to name a few - Guess what, It didn't happen; my poker bot was just as good as people (or bots) I was playing against; I bought 200 domain names and sold one; the surfing thing took too much time, an I ended up making 30 cents an hour. Who is gaming who here, and are we going to keep turning earth into computers to keep this going? It can't last forever.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
...today, less than 15 percent of the world's six billion people have access to the Internet and the economy it is helping to drive. This not only prevents people in high-growth and developing regions from realizing greater educational, social and business opportunities, it also limits the opportunities for their country's economic growth and participation in the global economy.
AMD's 50x15 initiative is a bold and far-reaching effort to develop new technology and solutions that will help enable affordable Internet access and computing capability for 50 percent of the world's population by the year 2015. With the global population estimated to reach 7.2 billion people in 2015, there is tremendous potential for 50x15 to bring billions of people into the digital age.
It's an interesting idea, and I can agree with the nub of the argument. I'm kinda wondering where this project ranks in terms of other global projects, like access to drinking water (about 1 in people people don't have) and elimination of diarrhea (responsible for 18 percent of all children's deaths). Can we really get 50 percent?
Monday, December 18, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
...any Infrastructure product introduced over 18 months ago, and any Software or Services offerings introduced over 3 years ago. Most vendor investments in these products should have been recouped.
This sounds good to me. Furthermore, what I dig about Vinnie analysis is that he has real numbers for specific vendors on what they need to do to get their house in order. Specifically:
Rock on. Let's put the T back in IT.
So if you are Oracle, think about annual maintenance at single digit rates, not 22%. CIOs, from their own offshoring experiences, know what Oracle has saved from growing its staff by thousands of employees in low cost markets like India.
If you are SAP as you seek large mySAP upgrade fees, be prepared to price your core FI/CO, MM, SD functionality at $ 300 a production user. You recouped that investment a long time ago. If not, you are encouraging CIOs to look closer at BPO offerings which offer less maintenance/upgrades hassle and a lot lower TCO.
If you are EDS or Accenture, learn to make money at $ 75 an hour, not $ 200 as you try to sell "transformational" outsourcing.
If you are IBM and serious about On-Demand make it reflect Utility economics and service levels
If you are Sun, explain why you deserve a premium over Linux pricing
If you are Gartner, discount your research pricing on Utility spend by 75% and move to pay for results if you can help crunch the Utility spend.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
It wasn't supposed to be that way. Management, troubled by server utilitization rates in the range of 10%, was delighted to discover virtualization as a way to get more out of existing hardware. Some organizations have begun cost saving initiatives that require all new applications to reside in virtual machines unless a business case can be made to break policy. Unfortunately, the temptation for some overzealous bean counters is to put too many applications on each physical server.
Ok, there could be a tendency to load a virtual server up to the breaking point. But 10 percent? Come on, we are talking about massive waste here, the equivalent of driving a tank to the 7-11 to get a quart of milk. Typically, 40 percent is about the figure where the hardware people start getting queasy anyway; nevertheless, I challenge anyone to draw me a parallel where you buy a piece of equipment and baby it in this manner. Mitchell concludes that "Such determinations can't always be made purely on a technical basis.", but I have to disagree. You benchmark, weight the options, and allocate the timeslices to the applications. It's a numbers game, and the numbers can be way better than they are now.
In some ways, the traditional vendors seem to be going about their business in traditional ways, selling lots of gear and software licenses and maintenance contracts, pushing upgrades and service agreements - and making a pretty penny off all of it. And yet the entire enterprise seems increasingly unreal. Watching the IT business today feels kind of like watching one of those Roadrunner cartoons when Wile E. Coyote would race off a cliff and manage to tread air for a few long seconds, his legs moving in a blur, his mind not quite registering the fact that the ground had disappeared from beneath him.
Couldn't agree more, it's Old King Cole running around in his birthday suit. Except, it's like there is thousands of kings running around, IT folks who are keeping the smoke and mirrors going. What are they so afraid of? Let Google do the grunt work; you can reallocate your staff to the innovative fun stuff, like solar data centers.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Here's my advice; follow the old adage of reduce, reuse,recycle. With about 80 percent of the total energy used going into just making the computer, and most machines being capable of being used for six years, that will make quite a dent. For starters.
The bill passed the house 417 to 4; the Senate voted unanimously. We are going to see at lot more this this, lawmakers doing what they do best - make laws. I think a round of applause is in order!
Monday, December 11, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
There's something a little mysterious about these avatars, these virtual avatar/people. As I pointed out in Do My Bidding, we Americans already have about 100 energy slaves working for us already on a daily basis. I see avatars as just another appliance working for us, like a toaster or a refrigerator, giving us a bit of fun or maybe even making some money. But when it gets down to it, when energy is one dollar per kWh, are we going to keep or avatar or our refrigerator?
If there are on average between 10,000 and 15,000 avatars "living" in Second Life at any point, that means the world has a population of about 12,500. Supporting those 12,500 avatars requires 4,000 servers as well as the 12,500 PCs the avatars' physical alter egos are using. Conservatively, a PC consumes 120 watts and a server consumes 200 watts. Throw in another 50 watts per server for data-center air conditioning. So, on a daily basis, overall Second Life power consumption equals:
(4,000 x 250 x 24) + (12,500 x 120 x 24) = 60,000,000 watt-hours or 60,000 kilowatt-hours
Per capita, that's:
60,000 / 12,500 = 4.8 kWh
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Toshiba is bringing the God Box a little closer to reality, with their 100GB hard drive that is about the size of a battery. And, as a bonus, it's RoHS compliant too. Storage prices have been falling steadily for years, but this is going to push it to the next level. Oh, and let's not forget the 10 terabyte CD that was just invented.
It's hard to say what the effects of these God Boxes will have have on the younger generation, the Abundance generation, but I think it will be both very subtle and very deep. Imagine never deleting an email, saving all of your telephone calls, recording your entire life on video. Ultimately, having all the information you will ever need right at your fingertips all the time is probably the ultimate ecofriendly thing to do.
"In sharp contrast, Apple is awarded the last position because the company has made absolutely no improvements to its policies or practices since the ranking was first released three months ago, although most of its competitors have improved environmental policies," said Kruszewska. "Despite being the world leader in innovation and design, Apple is losing the race by failing to keep up with the other companies."
Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics ranked the top 14 PC and laptop producers on their use of harmful chemicals and waste recycling. Not one PC manufacturer gained a green ranking, while Apple and HP products contained the highest levels of toxins, according to Greenpeace.
It's always surprising when a zombie talks, you always need to wonder what the reason for such an odd event is. Wouldn't have anything to do with getting kicked out of Macexpo, would it?
It may not be appropriate, but I'm going to use some strong language of my own. Right now. This is malarkey; there, I've said it. I'm not saying Apple is perfect, but Greenpeace is about as misguided on this one as they were when they drove the Rainbow Warrior into Tubbataha Reef.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I've mentioned before that Windows may be very popular in America because it is an American product (see One Eye on the Flag) Now it seems that maybe the British should buy it too, if they want to keep their productivity up. That's the message Roger Whitehead came away with after attending the London launch of Microsoft Vista. I quote:
Samuel Johnson’s dictum—“patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”—came to mind while I sat through this bombardment of dodgy stats and implausible insinuations. I doubt that Gordon Frazer is a scoundrel, or any of his colleagues there that day, but I did think they were desperate.
Yeah, maybe waving the flag to sell software is a bit much. Unfortunately, it seems like this can backfire - couldn't one argue that your patriotic duty is to install the free, open source Linux? Why, that's exactly what other countries are doing.
I'm betting they care because they see the project as not just a technology project, but an appropriate technology project. I would have to agree, the OLPC project is not just about creating low cost laptops, but it is also trying to solve other problems as well such as access to technology, energy use, etc. In my book, that makes OLPC green.
But one can take a few different sides here. One might argue that the project is just a low cost hardware project, and it doesn't really matter what people do with the boxes after they are made. Certainly, with DOOM being ported almost immediately and the Nigerians about to run their scams on the thing, this might be the only practical view. So maybe the OLPC is a nice neutral color, maybe beige.
There's another possible color. Say some for-profit vendors get together with the manufacturers and distributors of the OLPC and start giving them incentives to install their proprietary software on them at the factory. It costs a little bit on money but they can just pass the cost on to the children getting the laptops. Now say the OLPC steering committee allows this. What color would that be? Well, it's right up there in the upper right hand corner.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
To use my favorite analogy, at 20 watts per brain there's 40 megawatts of human brain power on this project. Seems like a lot of brain juice, especially when only 20 percent of companies surveyed think they move to Vista in the next 12 months. 10,000 of the best brains in the world working on this thing for 5 years? I have just one question, is it going to do my laundry? At least match my socks up, I hate doing that.
I think there's some other signs that the desktop is on shaky ground. Just look at that pretty picture I found on the left. Looks so green doesn't it? But Vista is a power hog (or is it?). If so, that's called greenwashing. Also, try searching for Vista in Google. Guess what comes up, the old Wintel partnership as the first link. And when you see same old, same old in the computing industry, you know that something is just not right. It's bad enough that Microsoft is trying to stuff Windows CE on the OLPC, must we also eat Vistasaur? It's a little stringy.
Dell has also come out with a few server lines, the 1950 and 2950 lines, that have similiar claims. Clearly, the processor uses less energy, but the machine is also less functional. And it costs more.
C'mon, this is a three cylinder offering, as good or as bad as any other product. As that biting realm of sarcasm the Register has observed, "All of the hardware makers look to capitalize on rising energy costs by pitching themselves as environmentally sound sellers of plastic, metal and chemically-enhanced computing innards." How about putting Linux on it and extending the warranty to five years? Try harder Dell.
The problem seems to be that none of this free stuff actually turns into cost savings; I recently experienced two events which just highlighted this point. The first was talking to a fellow who works for a very prominent university in the Boston area; he was installing a new email server for a few departments. The cost? 400 thousand dollars. My jaw hit the sidewalk.
The second was talking with some IT people from a Fortune 50 company who wanted to host a few hundred gigabytes of data for a project. The cost? One million dollars. This time my jaw hit China.
Economic tends to focus on the scarcity of resources, not on the abundance of them, and that's probably why when, say, the cost of hard drive space drops to nothing, the costs stay the same to use it. And I'm going to tell you what you already know, that most IT people are terrified of abundance. As Anderson points out, what a wrong way to go:
Abundance thinking--understanding the implications of "practically free"--is a core competence of our age. It brought us everything from the iPod ("what if storage were so cheap you could put your entire music collection in your pocket?") to Gmail ("why should you ever have to delete an email?"). Most truly disruptive technologies disrupt because they take a scarcity assumption and, thanks to some technology that generates abundances, simply turn it on its head. Just think VOIP (why should phone calls, which use hardly any bandwidth, cost anything?) or how anyone under 25 uses a digital camera (why settle for stills when you'd rather have the video?)
To be a successful green computer enthusiast you will need a set of strategies for implementing abundance into your organization. For starters, try to find examples of things that are free and how they get implemented. For example, why is water and bread free at restaurants, but beer and steaks are not? What should be free in IT?
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, December 03, 2006
In Mali, for example, SMS messaging is taking off because a lot of citizens work abroad and use cell phones to send money home. Canada is dumping 67,000 tonnes of eWaste per year, but is working towards upgrading the Basel Convention to help deal with the issue (along with 160 other countries). Bolivia, Jamaica and Kenya are rapidly implementing used cell phones (Plus Brazil! as well) and the French parliament is dumping Windows for Linux. They will save millions.
Worldwide, be prepared for part shortages as RoHS and WEEE come into force. WiFi is coming to Uganda, and an Oregonian firm now specializes in leaping into dumpsters to retrieve eWaste. Companies in the UK are embracing refurbished equipment; finally, Via is building eco friendly infocenters in the Solomon Islands.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I'm optimistic about the project, but right now I don't see a lot of lives in the targeted audience being affected for the better. Right now, it seems to be a device to practice being violent and to run scams - the only thing missing is the specialized porn application. Weighed from a green perspective, is the impact that these machines will have on the environment worth it, to promote violence and run scams?
Anyways, Local Cooling is a new free power management tool. It's great, has a nice little interface and just the right amount of features, including (my favorite) don't shut the PC off if a particular application is running. It also estimates the power that your machine uses and how many trees/gallons of gas/kilowatt hours you are saving. For Windows XP only - it wold be nice if they open source it to get it going in many operating systems.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Conducting business as usual, with finite energy resources and a growing population, means a lower standard of living, Sridhar warned. "We can't promise our children and grandchildren what all previous generations promised—that they can have a better future."
Taking an eco-responsible focus "is just good business... ...You can make more money because energy does cost money, and there's not a CEO in the world who doesn't understand that."
"Energy is becoming a defining issue of our time as we struggle with questions of how much we use and where we get it"Yes, yes.
For starters, it will erase itself. That's bad - what if I want it for 17 hours? I have no control over it, and I think that's a big part of paper use right now - control to file, read, use however you want, then throw away.
Secondly, it's a technology. The paper itself probably goes bad after a while, stops working so to speak. So if you print off a 500 page report on this stuff and 10 of pages don't register any marks or (worse) erase themselves in a few minutes, what do you do? And I doubt the cost of this stuff is anywhere near paper.
I see this as a Kick and Bite product, one that is being introduced to keep a legacy process up and running. I'm not saying paper will fully go away, but I'm pretty sure that electronic paper will never make it.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Zoe McMahon of HP admitted that IT suppliers had to do more to raise customer awareness about the cost effectiveness of energy-efficient systems. "Having the [energy efficient] technology is one thing, but a lot of people don’t think it exists," she said. "There is a lot of education that needs to be done, particularly around the simple steps you can take like activating power management capabilities on PCs."
Okay, so our top IT professionals aren't aware of power management capabilities on PCs. Check, please!
Monday, November 27, 2006
For starters, it looks like virtualization coupled with blade servers have the potential to reduce the complexity of your IT environment, potentially cutting the number of your servers in half. If you "get" this, you will be able to reduce your maintenence time and hardware costs.
Furthermore, PS&G is now offering rebates for every server that is converted to run in a virtual environment. The savings is substantial, up to 4 million dollars per customer. Again, if you "get" this, PSE&G is paying you to conserve energy, as virtualization runs more efficiently. People, this is free money - just make sure you apply before you start your virtualization project.
That's two ways to "get it"; here's another, more painful, way to "get" it. Apparently some outsourcers are saving a bundle of cash on virtualizing their servers, but still charging customer on a per server basis. Since it only takes 10 minutes to set up a virtual server as compared to 10 days for the typical "hard server", the margins on this are huge. Let's hope you are not "getting it" this way.
The biggest challenge will be to actually get your IT staff to "get" it, since you are basically going to reduce their hardware budget and (ultimately) staffing related to server mangement. They may feel that by "getting" it, their team will be "getting" it, and you will hear all sorts of mumbo-jumbo related to increased risk, sacrificing the existing level of service, etc. The key here is to have a green IT strategy where you focus on reducing your maintenance costs and put your IT people into more strategic endeavors such as solar, wind, etc. By doing this, they don't have to worry about "getting" it without "getting" it, and you can move forward by reducing costs. Get it?
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
It's a great idea, mainly because they are trying to address the biggest issue with getting computing going on a shoestring budget - skilled labor. Similiar to the Skolelinux project, the goal is to have a non-technical teacher get 20 workstations up and running in 40 minutes. Now, not to throw stones, but I challenge your IT department to do that. In addition, each Ndiyo terminal uses only 3 Watts, or about 5 if (gasp) you add in a mouse and keyboard. That's a little stark compared to a 400 Watt desktop with dual monitors.
As I've said before, the reluctance to introduce thin clients is not about saving money, it's about cutting maintenence budgets. The Ndiyo project comes very close to giving thin clients away, and IT still won't introduce them; they are terrified will be nothing to do when the desktops go away. How about using your new found free time to save the world?
Friday, November 24, 2006
Do you WEEE? Here's a primer.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
- It breaks the Winintel buy/upgrade/throwaway cycle. Frankly, I don't know if the OLPC cycle will be much better, but I suspect it will be because it is designed with developing countries in mind, and developing countries are terrific at conserving resources. I'm not the only one.
- There are a lot of them. This is exciting because it means there are a lot of parts available. As every SA knows, scavenging works best if all of your machines are the same.
- It's right sized. I posted an article a while ago on using the 100 energy slaves we all have working for us on a daily basis. And, with the competition (the human brain) running at only 20 watts, these things have better be producing. In this regard, the OLPC laptops show great promise, as they only draw 2 to 3 watts. Basically, if they can do a tenth of what a human brain can do, they are a good bet. Compare this to a high end desktop running at 400 watts that has to do the work of 20 people.
You have to figure out how youre going to make products that never mind are just easier to dismantle and recycle, but also have longer lives, both physically and in terms of the technology; and being able to upgrade them so you dont have to buy a whole new case every time you need something. And you have to actually make sure that youre using not brand new virgin materials every time.
Although the book had had some criticism for being too general, I think it provides a nice overview of the topic and is certainly the most comprehensive work to date.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Another issue is related to the sharing of computer resources. This is something that is really taking off, particularly in virtualization. The problem here that a lot of business models can't account for this. According to Richard Curran of Intel:
"Virtualisation raises questions of politics, such as who owns the servers, who pays for them and who manages them... "They have to start thinking of the data centre as a shared capability, a service, not a room housing 'my box'."
Truer words were never spoken; however, it seems like sharing is left to children. But it seems like the virtualization is really where the server room is headed. Maybe. Sometime.
Finally, we have the changing of the operating system from Microsoft to Linux. Some folks think it is inevitable. Some have already done it. And eventually everyone will do it. Maybe. Sometime.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
But one thing you can be sure of is that vendors are going to duke it out as to who is the most energy efficient. Are Sun's Cool Threads really cool? Maybe not. How about Angstrom's Liqucool technology, which they claim will reduce energy use in the data center by 40 to 60 percent. One can even argue the whole debate is moot, because heating is good in cold climates anyways. Finally, HP and IBM are at it over their blade servers. Again.
Fact is, there is a simple litmus test for all of this - the first vendor to mention TCO loses. You know why? Because that means they are trying to bury their equipment's performance in the quagmire of IT, that discipline where 80 percent of initatives aren't even scoped out because 'IT is too complicated.' Bull. Plug a meter into it and give me the numbers.
High-performance computing has (obviously) always been performance oriented. However, environmentalism is sneaking in here as well (some say the hippies are driving it), as supercomputing centers use vast amounts of energy. And, since peak performance is rarely attained, some of this energy consumption results in little or no performance gain. The problem is beginning to be studied; there is even a conference devoted expressly to this issue. There is also a site called Green 500 that ranks all of the supercomputers in the world by how ecofriendly they are. Like others, they are trying to determine the best way to do this, they have an RFC if you would like to contribute.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
IBM - they have announced their "Big Green" innovation plan with $100 million in funding. Also, the IBM blade servers are racking up efficiencies of up to 30 percent more than traditional servers.
Microsoft - Happen to be building aggressive, energy saving technology into Vista, primilarily by putting them to sleep after an hour. I don't see this as a big deal, SA's can do this now; in fact, one might see it as paternalistic. It will, however, save about 5 to 7 billion a year.
VMWare - is now offering businesses rebates between $750 and $1350 for every server that they unplug. Wow.
Final good news - Spending on green IT initiatives is up to 21 percent.