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What Kind of Data Center Can You Build With $500M?

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the bejeweled-server-closet dept.

United States 204

coondoggie writes "So, if the government gave your company $500 million to spend on building a new data center what would you buy and how would you build it? Well, the Social Security Administration is about to find out. As part of the stimulus bill, or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the SSA got the tidy little sum to replace its National Computer Center. The SSA in fact says it will need closer to $800 million to fund a new IT infrastructure, including the new data center — the physical building, power and cooling infrastructure, IT hardware, and systems applications. (This is addition to a $72 million backup facility currently under construction in Durham, North Carolina)."

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204 comments

a mote (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27770893)

A mote for the sharks with laser beams.

Re:a mote (1)

Keeper Of Keys (928206) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771575)

Just a mote?! Must be microscopic sharks...

Re:a mote (1)

mehemiah (971799) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771701)

*Sigh* judging from your rating no one got this Austin Powers reference [youtube.com]

Re:a mote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771973)

Homonym... ho..ho..homonym.

MOAT! IT'S A MOAT! NOT A FUCKING MOTE!

rage off.

I don't know what irritates me more, the fact that the FP used the wrong word or the fact that someone else read it back with the same error thus canceling the mis-meaning.

The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27770897)

I will start with the assumption that this data center must be non-homogeneous. Get an assessment of all the projects that are using the current system you're going to replace (you know, the one with 36 million lines of COBOL code?). Because the number one priority of the customer (other projects) is going to be the lengthy transition from that to current technology. Prepare yourselves for this: Some of the projects aren't going to have any funding to do jackshit. Which means that the awesome spaghetti coded current system that's held together with COBOL duct tape needs to remain intact in some form. Not ideal situation but an uncomfortable truth. I'm thinking you would want to set aside 10% or $50 million or so for this (just throwing out a figure).

Re:The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27770997)

As someone who maintains (part of) that 36 million lines of COBOL code, it's not as spaghetti as you might think. Many parts of it are quite clean, they just haven't been touched in years but they're simple and they work. The problem is, we're facing a demographic time bomb. The folks who wrote the system got hired in a huge spree in the 60s and 70s, and are reaching retirement age with full government pensions. Lots of them retire and come back as contractors, but we're still losing a lot of them.

Re:The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771247)

I think more colleges as part of their Computer Science Elective they should be a class on Legacy System Maintenance. Legacy systems are not as bad as everyone makes them out to be. As well for the most part languages such as COBOL and FORTRAN are really not that hard to follow and learn. In many ways they are easier then the newer languages, as they are designed to do particular things and do them well, and not like C,C++,Java,.NET try to be the end all be all language. The old code is usually focused on the business logic while newer code seems to be working more with trying to get the formatting correct, and being well organized and modularized (which is a good thing too). But the old code you get PROCESS_CLAIM.CBL all the code that you need to process the claims are there, so when you fix the code there the problem is fixed. Having done a lot of work in FORTRAN myself I have found that there isn't that much spaghetti going on. Yes there is the GOTO statement but it is usually limited to ERROR cases where if something critical failes it GOTO ErrorNum and displays the error and quits the app.

For these legacy apps normally when something needs to be changed is because there was a change in the business process not because of a bug.

Re:The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771477)

Not a bad idea, but in order to maintain proficiency, you have to use the skill. And then we have the experience gap between a person who was living those legacy languages instead vs. just visiting the code or picking up a few credit hours in college.

The problem exists because employers have been devaluing legacy skills for a long time. The bean counters thought the problem would be solved via Y2K, with sweeping technology upgrades justified by the aging code (at least that was the view from the 19th hole). But in many cases, the code was simply patched. And many of the Y2K patches are temporary, using pivot years in lieu of 4 digit conversion because it was expedient to do so.

Re:The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771981)

As someone who maintains COBOL driven legacy systems, I disagree. Why teach that stuff in college? Those jobs are much more rare than other programming gigs, and they tend to be held by lifers (I inhereted mine when 2 people hit retirement age, and the third decided she didn't want to do it alone). If you DO get one of those jobs, the learning code for the obscure hand-coded systems is going to be vastly higher than the language.

COBOL isn't that hard to pick up. Maintaining legacy crap code is the same whether it's VB or COBOL or RPG, and the vast vast majority of your headaches will come from environmental quirks (old school databases with fixed width data, packed binary decimal numbers that no one uses anymore, etc).

The biggest problem with COBOL in the modern world is that its designed in reverse. It treats CPU cycles and RAM like they're the most precious things on earth, so a program will make live changes as it goes along (to conserve RAM and minimize disk IO), and is designed to fail in a dirty state (in the middle of everything, so you can't re-run it) on the chance that it'll preserve cycles. It's a real maintenance headache.

Re:The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (2, Funny)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771397)

The problem is not that the COBOL coders are retiring. The problem is that the government made the decision to rewrite the code 20 years too late. Everybody else knew the language was dead.

If this were a commercial company, they would go out of business for making such a stupid decision.

Re:The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (2, Interesting)

AlecC (512609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771729)

There are plenty of not-out-of business companies still running COBOL for good reason. Admittedly, many of them are banks who are now going out of business, but not because of their COBOL. Look how much money IBM's mainframe division is still quietly making: many of these are COBOL engines.

Re:The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (2, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771749)

COBOL's a hell of a lot simpler than C++ or Java, and training people to read it well enough to rewrite legacy apps in a modern language just isn't that hard.

-jcr

Re:The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771957)

Shouldn't this be mod'd 'Funny'? If it ain't broke, why fix it?

Re:The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771289)

I would start with the assumption that the datasync must be able to survive a zombie apocalypse, and allow the person who maintains it to survive it as well.

Re:The Unfortunate Reality of Maintaining Legacy (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771989)

Screw all that complicated stuff. I have two words for them: gold toilets.

A really strong neural net... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27770935)

At $8.95/45 specimens (http://sciencekit.com/harvester-ants%2C-live/p/IG0034483/), the newly constructed Hex would have the most powerful neural net we've ever seen!

But that wouldn't leave any money for the clacks...

A big one (0, Offtopic)

funehmon (648132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27770937)

No, really. That's it.

Re:A big one (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771275)

Simply hand over $400 million to the chuckleheads at Google and keep $100 million for yourself.

Re:A big one (1)

mehemiah (971799) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771717)

clearly someone has mode points and NO sense of humor [slashdot.org] .

Hire more H-1bs! (-1, Troll)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27770941)

That's easy:

To build a new data center for the Social Security Administration all you need is $200M for immigration lawyers to draft legislation to lift the H-1b cap, $200M to buy Congressmen to pass it despite increased unemployment and $100M for labor! Build the whole thing out of recycled Windows XP machines and, BINGO, Green Jobs!

Re:Hire more H-1bs! (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771363)

To build a new data center for the Social Security Administration all you need is $200M for immigration lawyers to draft legislation to lift the H-1b cap, $200M to buy Congressmen to pass it

I really don't get your point (or the joke, if there is one), but it's worth pointing out that influencing elected officials doesn't cost millions (short of large scale lobbying campaigns). If you glance at the political contributions received by influential politicians, you'll see amounts that are generally small.

To take one influential and well monied example, Chuck Schumer [senate.gov] largest contributor was Citigroup [opensecrets.org] . Obviously, the subject of how money gets collected and targeted is more complicated, but you can go down the list and see for yourself how most contributions are in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

Now if you want to complain about the corrosive influence of money, stop to consider that the cost of a campaign (read "keeping your job") can be more or less attributable to voters needing TV commercials (non free in the US) to be informed and persuaded. Like most things, the cause and solution to most problem are found in the mirror.

Re:Hire more H-1bs! (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771683)

If it's that cheap to buy Congressmen then just reallocate $150M from buying Congressmen to buy more H-1bs so we can dispense with the datacenter entirely: Just have a huge call center with people instead of 'pooterz! More Green Jobs!

Re:Hire more H-1bs! (1)

mehemiah (971799) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771843)

To build a new data center for the Social Security Administration all you need is $200M for immigration lawyers to draft legislation to lift the H-1b cap, $200M to buy Congressmen to pass it

I really don't get your point (or the joke, if there is one), but it's worth pointing out that influencing elected officials doesn't cost millions (short of large scale lobbying campaigns).

Are you the bum with no sense of humor thats modding all the Cynics as trolls? If I must explain, he says that you can you can build a huge data center with immigrants and old XP boxes networked together. Yes, there Do exist Windows Clusters [microsoft.com]

Re:Hire more H-1bs! (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771871)

Voters don't need TV commercials, the candidate does because his opponent has them.

Also, if you don't think politicians are a step ahead of a law they passed to 'open' campaign contribution information you are fooling yourself.

Mimicking Private Industry? (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27770943)

Could you approach Google and ask them to license their ideas on server [slashdot.org] and data 'pod' [slashdot.org] technology for your sharded databases? I'm not saying build the whole thing like this but with $500 million, you could probably have a large section to search and sharded databases that mimics Google. I don't think there's anything wrong with following the leader in that department. This probably isn't the best solution for relational databases so I would think another architecture would be in place for your MySQL and Postgres traditional database layouts. And that would be just huge centralized servers running virtualized instances of Linux with MySQL or Postgres.

Re:Mimicking Private Industry? (1)

JonahsDad (1332091) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771153)

Don't license Google's ideas. Instead, use Google's data centers in place of building your own. Just need a Google SSA (Beta), and it won't cost the government a penny.

Re:Mimicking Private Industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771489)

Totally agree. Anyhow, Google got all the personal data they need about us already, so they probably know more about each American than the SSA...

Re:Mimicking Private Industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771417)

Google isn't the only one doing this. Sun is/was doing this too http://www.serverwatch.com/hreviews/article.php/3670621

Re:Mimicking Private Industry? (1)

Zemplar (764598) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771625)

MySQL for critical financial data, are you mad? MySQL is fine for simple stuff, but if you need critical reliability with MySQL and have to use InnoDB ($$) and other performance killers on MySQL to make it reliable, just use Postgres if you want the best open source database. Otherwise, use Oracle, or hell, even SQL Server.

Die Hard 4 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27770945)

Die Hard 4 pretty much set the standard for design here.

WOODLAWN!!!11! (1)

spywhere (824072) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771341)

The AC beat me to it: the Woodlawn data warehouse is diagrammed perfectly in Live Free or Die Hard.

They could hire Justin Long (and John Hodgman?) to conduct guided tours...

Re:Die Hard 4 (1)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771377)

yeah, but I couldn't find the waiting room with the coffee machine.

Why build one... (4, Interesting)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27770955)

...when you could have two for twice as much?

OK, actually two 250 million dollar datacenters, but I love that quote from Contact.

Why tie up that much money in one site when you could build two world class structures and have full redundancy?

Re:Why build one... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27770977)

I concur. There are 3 empty data centers along the I-81 corridor (within 2-3 hours of DC) that stand empty, reminders of the dot com bust. Why build new when you can retrofit an existing center.

Re:Why build one... (5, Insightful)

timelorde (7880) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771237)

Because they're not in my Congressional district?

Re:Why build one... (2, Interesting)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771659)

reminders of the dot com bust. Why build

I could think of three reasons:
* Because those data centers are probably 10 years old already?
* Because government data centers may have different requirements than internet startups?
* Because 2-3 hours is too far away for social security administrators to drop by for a quick visit?

Re:Why build one... (2)

untouchableForce (927584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771177)

I believe it's actually Why build one when you can have two for twice the price. The twice and the price kinda rhyme so it rolls off the tongue a bit better and is more movieesque.

Re:Why build one... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771295)

I'd go for 5 @ $100M apiece - A-F in Vermont, G-K in Ohio....

We don't need no stinkin' data center. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27770969)

Build? I'd take it as a retention bonus and retire. I just want to immulate our most sucessful bankers.

Re:We don't need no stinkin' data center. (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771055)

Build? I'd take it as a retention bonus and retire. I just want to immulate our most sucessful bankers.

I wonder if the emphasis was intended...

Re:We don't need no stinkin' data center. (2, Funny)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771155)

the typo was really close to immolate...probably psychological

Re:We don't need no stinkin' data center. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771987)

I think it's really time to get religious again, but I tend to think more along the lines of the Maya and such. Let's immolate a manager a day until the gods of economy look favorable on us again.

I'm damn sure that would work really, really quickly...

Re:We don't need no stinkin' data center. (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771185)

emulate? Anyway, I'd say it would be more of a telecom industry emulation. Promise one thing, say nevermind but pocket the cash anyway, never be held accountable.

A really big one (0, Redundant)

dingo_kinznerhook (1544443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27770989)

At the price of 8.95/45 ants (http://sciencekit.com/harvester-ants%2C-live/p/IG0034483/), we could build the biggest neural net for Hex that the world has ever seen! But then again, we'd need to leave some funds for the clacks...

Sharks with frikken lasers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27770991)

Finally! An appropriate Slashdot story to respond with the Sharks meme!
Yeah... I spend $499 million on computers/networks/power/air conditioning/ etc.
But definitely $1 million dollars would be on Sharks with Frikken lasers

Re:Sharks with frikken lasers (2, Funny)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771023)

Exactly.

Just copy the general ideas of this datacenter [pingdom.com] in Sweden.

Sharks and laser beams would fit right in.

Re:Sharks with frikken lasers (1)

pyster (670298) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771549)

Hi Stim

How about a location first (4, Insightful)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771003)

Putting the operation in a location that is cost effective would make the taxpayers very happy. The DC area is too expensive. Maybe an old missile facility in Wyoming or the Dakotas.

Re:How about a location first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771107)

I hope they start with defining the level of service requiered, also.

Re:How about a location first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771215)

Putting the operation in a location that is cost effective would make the taxpayers very happy. The DC area is too expensive. Maybe an old missile facility in Wyoming or the Dakotas.

Good luck staffing it in that case.

Re:How about a location first (4, Interesting)

duckintheface (710137) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771217)

Look at the locations where Google is putting it's new data centers. They are in rural parts of the Carolinas on property adjacent to power plants. Google negotiates uninterruptable power contracts in fast growing states on cheap land.

Re:How about a location first (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771525)

Look for job postings at some of these remote facilities - lots of jobs out there, because rural industry is very risky to the employee.

If your employer pulls up roots, then its likely that you and your spouse lose both incomes at once and your home value drops precipitously and there are no other jobs for 50 miles around.

That happened to my parents when I was growing up - it was a great place for my parents for 20 years. Then the major employer slashed employment. We, along with hundreds of others, had to abandon our house, the township went belly-up, and virtually everyone and everything moved away. The population of the township is now something like 20, with its central business being a gas station.

Re:How about a location first (2, Informative)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771273)

Your location also needs some competent staffing....

Mantraps (2)

n1ckml007 (683046) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771019)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantrap [wikipedia.org] Mantraps...?

Re:Mantraps (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771033)

I would definitely include mantraps in any new datacenter design, but I know of other datacenters that have them already. Some of them even have sensors to ensure that only one person at a time is in the trap. Crazy stuff.

Re:Mantraps (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771609)

gotta watch out for those, consult admiral akbar as needed.

Something modest (4, Funny)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771031)

Then spend the rest on hookers and blow.

Hey, the gov't does that all the time, why are you staring at me like that??

Ummm.... (3, Insightful)

Wanon (808109) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771035)

This is a really really bad place to ask how to spend $500000000....

Re:Ummm.... (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771139)

Yeah, he could have asked the government or investment bankers...

Re:Ummm.... (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771305)

Invest the $500 million with Madoff for a year. At 1% per month, you'd have $60 million more the next year to build even a bigger data center!

..near an industry that can use hot water. (4, Interesting)

paul.schulz (75696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771039)

Find an industry that would otherwise need a gas fired boiler and on-sell the heat.

Other options:
- Heated public swimming pool
- Source of community/public heating

Re:..near an industry that can use hot water. (1)

jonnat (1168035) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771479)

Find an industry that would otherwise need a gas fired boiler and on-sell the heat.

To generate even low pressure steam at 75 psig, water should be heated to around 160C (320F), which is not possible with the heat extracted from a datacenter. (Even if it was possible, the largest energy input for steam production is the phase change. Also, steam producers usually operate in a closed loop with condensate returning to the boiler at temperatures close to saturation)

The challenge to recuperating the thermal energy from datacenters lies on the low temperatures generated.

What Kind of Data Center Can You Build With $500M? (5, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771053)

Data Center: $10M*

Hookers and Beer: $490M

*I reckon I could get that down to $6M by cutting corners though, so that's another $4M for the beer :)

pfffff thats easy (0, Redundant)

hviniciusg (1481907) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771059)

A bewolf cluster of all the ideas above plus the sharks whit friking lasers.

Simple (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771087)

200m for me, 200m for you, 100m for the guy in India who builds a data center.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771385)

200m for me, 200m for you, 100m for the guy in India who builds a data center.

$10M for the guy in India. That's equivalent to paying him $200M if he had to buy his groceries in the USA.

Lower prices, Everyday!

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771439)

International I.T. outsourcing has punched a gaping hole in the tech sector of the U.S. economy.

Here's a context in which to talk about the problem:

"Will the United States send $500 million more American jobs to India, or use this money to help repair the American tech industry?"

Easy (1)

EvilDrMike (1342519) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771103)

You get whatever I can get for $50 off ebay and a bill for slightly less than $500M for consultancy fees.

EDM.

mod Up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771115)

I don't know... (5, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771129)

...but I'll bet you $500 million that: 1) It won't be nearly enough money; 2) It will be obsolete before it is finished; 3) It won't be finished before Social Security runs completely out of money (which will coincide nicely with my scheduled retirement); 4) [Fill in the blank]

Re:I don't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771345)

agree, 'specially about the money running out :(

I do know (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771977)

Here. [ssa.gov]

Trustees Reports issued over the last several years have indicated that Social Security's Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds would become insolvent sometime in the next 30 to 40 years under the intermediate set of economic and demographic assumptions provided in each report. Various proposals have addressed this long-range solvency problem. These proposals are generally intended to restore, or largely restore, solvency for the long-range period (the next 75 years).

So, we need to come up with some changes to the system in order to keep it solvent in 40 years. This is not an emergency. Recent market events have once again illustrated what a terrible idea it is to tie retirement to something as volatile as the stock market.

And, like all of the fiscal nightmare scenarios cooked up lately, it's easily fixed by reducing our military spending. Here [defenselink.mil] are the contracts we awarded just yesterday, which totals $1,250,643,816.00. And that only reports contracts worth less than 5 million dollars.

OR,,,, (2, Insightful)

phrostie (121428) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771131)

or they could contract it out to google.
someone who knows how to manage large data centers correctly.

Re:OR,,,, (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771191)

It would be nice, but I think there's policy in place to put out for bidders, and I doubt google would bid or be the lowest, if they did.

How government would do it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771145)

Dislaimer: I have worked for a contractor to the Air Force, and I have some insight as to government bidding, contracting, and results.

Well, if I were responsible for results, I would get requirements from staff, send out RFPs, hire the best people, manage the project, and deliver on time and on budget a state-of-the-art data center.

If I worked for the government, I would do the following:
  - Find a company I would like to work for as a six-figure lobbyist, and hire them without regard to experience or practicality. I will have personal contacts with the CEO, and if I don't, I soon will.
  - Get my "requirements" from that company, and have them provide the solution they specialize in without looking at my environment.
  - I would not supervise them. I am too important for that.
  - I would ask for more money as the project spirals out of control. The government would give it to me.
  - The project would drag on for a decade, would never finish, and would ultimately get scrapped. I wouldn't care, because I now work for the vendor, lobbying the government for more projects. I get my own private limo and driver, and I don't have to declare it on my taxes, unless I want a very visible government job again.

Someone might raise a fuss in the public about this, but all that proves is that the government need more money to fix it.

P.S. The contractor I worked for beat out a lower-bidding, "women-owned", "development-zoned", and much more local company. By any government calculus, the local company should have won the bid hands-down. But there were, shall we say, non-written reasons the local company lost and the gigantic out-of-state, double-the-bid, next door to DC company won.

Build a cloud facility (2, Interesting)

spike2131 (468840) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771225)

Commodity hardware
Full virtualization at the OS level
And a second, mirrored data center on the other side of the country

Re:Build a cloud facility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771299)

For 500m you probably could build a CloudBase - Captain Scarlet style.

http://images.google.co.uk/images?hl=en&safe=active&um=1&ei=mp35SfqmO8HL-Ab1nZmuAg&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=captain+scarlet+cloudbase&spell=1

Easy ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771231)

I'd by 5 Macs ...

(I love Macs, but damn ...)

Me, personally? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771255)

For $500M I'd go for a nice laptop, on a beach, on my own private island. Maybe a NAS system with a few TB of storage and WiFi coverage for the island, couple of big screens on dedicated computers here and there, and possibly a cluster of Core i7 boxes to play with some heavy crunching.

All told, $499.5M could go toward the real-estate and construction costs, staff, transportation, etc. $500K would cover my compute hardware needs quite nicely.

When you analyze what the SSA ends up doing with $500M, you might find a shockingly similar pattern of administrative and facilities overhead.

hmmm.... (1)

eXFeLoN (954179) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771257)

a couple of tickets to a non-extradition country please. and an italian sportscar that gets really shitty gas mileage. fuck you tree hugging hippies.

whats the point? (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771269)

its basically a madness engine if its for social security....

that having been said i would secure my place as a microsoft certified partner early!

Not much on actual assets (1)

MessyBlob (1191033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771349)

A lot of it will probably go to umbrella consultancy fees: spend $100m to learn how to spend $450m wisely among 'carefully chosen suppliers'. Yes, I know that adds up to $550m.

Why do they need a data center that large? (4, Funny)

ciellarg (899150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771373)

Congress has already bankrupted the SSA fund, so all they need is one computeer that can add and subtract "0" very quickly....unless they need something that can divide by zero :)

Great! $500M to prop up the Ponzi scheme... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771425)

I'll never see a dime of the money that's being extracted from me under threat of force by my own government under the pretense of caring for me in my old age, but at least the fat, seeping, sore-encrusted pussies in Congress and the White House can carry on the charade a little longer and keep raiding the Social Security Trust to finance deficit spending. Hey Obama, here's a reality check: our children will NOT look upon this time as the time America turned the corner into a new era of prosperity and enlightenment. They will look upon it as the time their parents robbed them blind and sold them into financial servitude to China.

Re:Great! $500M to prop up the Ponzi scheme... (1)

LVSlushdat (854194) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771919)

I know.. Don't feed the AC's... But THIS AC hit the nail dead on the head... I'm 59 and under normal circumstances, I'd be looking at retiring in about 6 years... but I've got a funny feeling that's not gonna happen... My 401K is now a .001K thanks to Wall Street, and how does anyone live on the monthly SS stipend? I know.. Dog food?? I want to thank the fat fuckin' criminals in DC for the last 50 years who have totally fucked this country up...
Let's have a round of applause for these shitheads... Whether they have an R or a D after their name, they should be behind bars...

an underground bunker full of supercomputers (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771453)

and yes, they'll play doom.

seriously though, I'd buy google data crates. one to match each US representative and then I'd place them across the US in those areas, which is the best indicator of population coverage.

Then I'd spend the leftovers on an underground lair.

Be Realistic. Dont be a 90s dotbomb. (2, Insightful)

pyster (670298) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771491)

There are tons of already built data centers that have been abandoned. They already have much of the infrastructure required and just need some TLC. Using these already built data centers will allow one to have more than one data center, very important for disaster recovery, multi homing, and impressing your customers with your size. I would avoid building a new building from the ground up. Its a cost that will add no value considering the number of buildings available that can be repurposed.

Make strong investments to make sure you can meet you power requires and can readily add more power in a reasonable amount of time. This includes battery piles, back up generators, fuel storage, and maybe even solar panels. Investigate new energy efficient cooling.

It's also important that your data center have easy access to multiple carriers. Look for buildings that used to be ISP central in the late 90s and early 00's. Often these buildings will also already have supporting infrastructure.

DO NOT BY INTO HYPE. Not everything needs to be cat6e or fiber. Use these were required and use cheaper technologies that have specs that will meet the requirement.

Invest services that will add value to your customers. DNS, backups, router maint, firewall sevices, remote hands, terminal services, etc... Dont be afraid to sell your customer shelves, servers, etc... But for god sake, give them screws if they ask. This simple gesture goes a long way to make you not look like small time asshats.

One of the biggest investments you can make is in a person who has real experience in the area and has the ability to get things done. Without someone who understands power, cooling, how to terminate various connections, telco, racks, project management, etc. your project is doomed to failure. Investing in a NOC that isnt full of monkeys will also be a great benefit. (keep them engaged with training and give them a sense of worth and you will create a team loyal to you. Abuse them and they will talk shit to anyone who listens). And your sales engine has to be stocked with people who can sell the services you are selling and can answer basic questions about those services. It might be a good idea to prove that you can sell these services before even breaking ground on the data center to begin with.

Don't over invest and over build. Plan for the future, and use profits to build the next stage. Look at what is coming down the sales pipe and try to predict when you need to add on. Buy customer cabinets and wire them only after the sale has been made.

This could be a great time to invest in experimental technologies for cooling, or to avoid cooling, solar power, etc. It all depends on what the building you find can and will accommodate. But its the bottom line you must always consider. Lots of dotbombs had grand ideas and good intentions and ended up just pissing away all their investors money. Dont dech your NOC out like it was the helm of the enterprise. Dont have large screen TVs and projectors displaying data that the NOC gets alerts on their work stations for.

Oh, and seriously, dont be a jerk about letting your customers use the bathroom, vending machines, and whatever. And have some comfortable couches in the vending area that support rest and work. Some of your customers are going to pull all nighters and there is nothing worse than having to sleep on the floor in a puddle of your own waste chewing on a pizza crust found in the trash.

Have real test gear on hand. If you cannot test a t1, ds3, dsl, pots, ethernet/fiber/coax, throughput, etc you will cause your employees and customers a lot of grief. I'd also put some money aside for a fiber fusion splicer, but dont buy it until you need it.

Data centers can be extremely profitable. I know of one company who I believe had their data centers initial investment paid for with just a few customers in 4 months, after that they began to see profit. Those times might be a bit off, but not by much. (The data center in question I am talking about is in cleveland/garfield. Another option might be to partner with a successful company in another area.)

I'd do the right thing... (3, Funny)

steveb964 (727054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771523)

Cardboard box, tin cans and string.

I'd then proceed to give the rest to support the bailout of the severely ailing and deserving auto and financial institutions.

sb

Good money after bad... (0, Offtopic)

rgviza (1303161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771553)

Rather than dumping more money into social security, they should cash everyone out with what's left and shut it down.

Socialism is a losing proposition; I say cut our losses and spend that money on converting from an income tax to a flat sales tax, which would get rid of the IRS too.

-Viz

Re:Good money after bad... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771965)

If you want to leave old people hanging, "cashing out" would net everyone $0. If you don't want to do that, "cashing out" would cost thousands of dollars per person.

A distributed data center approach (1)

idontagreeWhy (739341) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771649)

Give away almost 5000 pcs or maybe more.....
With conditions pc must remain on 24/7 , they must pay for Internet service - and allow use of grid computing software.

http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ [berkeley.edu]
http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/ [berkeley.edu]
cooling cost - almost 0
power cost - almost 0

Mark

What to do with $500 Million? (1)

baKanale (830108) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771653)

What kind of data center would I build with $500M? I don't know, but I imagine it might look something like this [penny-arcade.com] ...

James Bond Data Center (1)

carkb (1344835) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771673)

Of course you would want to have a moat filled with Sharks with Frick'en Laser Beams mounted to their heads!!

Since you asked... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771805)

Just the other day I was doing back-of-the-envelope calculations about what you could do with huge amounts of storage.

With drive space costing around $100/terabyte some interesting things seem quite feasible, for example IMDB has around 700,000 titles listed. A full DVD rip of each and every one would use around 5 petabytes at a cost of a little over half a million dollars. Half a billion buys you enough space for a 2 hour biography of every living person on the planet, but you would have to use 700mb rips :)

perhaps a more basic question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771831)

What kind of data does the social security administration have that requires a $500 million dollar data center? For $500 million you can get yourself an AWFUL lot of computing power, but I have to think that the VAST majority of the processing that we're talking about here is simple accounting and administrativa.

Servers in the sky (1)

oren (78897) | more than 5 years ago | (#27771877)

http://www.server-sky.com/ [server-sky.com]

The idea is to launch a lot (zillions) of tiny (grams) solar-powered servers to orbit. This means you have no power of cooling issues. It sounds pretty crazy on the face of it, but if it costs ~$1G to build a data center, it may actually be economical. There are a ton of practical issues, of course - the site goes into them in some detail.

This gives new meaning to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771883)

Distributed Computing. They will in fact need a much larger and more powerful datacenter to handle the "distribution" load proposed by B.O.

OH GIVE ME A BREAK! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27771961)

For $500million I could build a supercomputer AND put a man on the moon. The only data centers that cost more than $1million are the pa-cheese-mo Micro$oft + Oracle + .

Besides hookers and blow... (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27772007)

Seriously I would give my business to the vendors and hardware manufacturers who are committed to America. Force the equipment to be made here, with U.S. labor start to finish and supported by U.S. labor until the contract expires.

You want to get the country back on track, rather than just giving handouts force the change to happen with the money already being spent.

That said, I would ensure it is heavy on virtualization and solid blade servers/chassis. A nod needs to be given to "green-ness" and every effort to create the absolute best all around solution for the money.

I hate when just because something is government numbers like $500MILLION (half a BILLION dollars) is looked at like chicken scratch. It is a lot of money, more than many have to build data centers that do as much of not more. Stop acting like everything in government HAS to cost so damn much and it will!

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