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Deprecating the Datacenter?

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the only-a-matter-of-time dept.


m0smithslash writes "The blogging CEO asserts that that datacenters are doomed. Computers are showing up in everything from drill bits, to cargo ships to tracking devices in stuffed animals at Disneyland. With computers becoming so small and easy to distribute over a wireless network, do we really need data centers to house computers or are the computers going to be placed where they are really needed?"

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Missing info (5, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396357)

How many drill bits will I need to buy for the company toolbox to run our email service? And does anyone know where I can get a toolbox with redundant power and cooling? Thanks.

Re:Missing info (3, Informative)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396397)

First post says it all.

Data centers are there for the things you CAN'T run on-site.

Yes, you could set up your own data center in your building, but there is a point where it is cheaper just to use a Data Center.

Re:Missing info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16396743)

Somehow I have a feeling that this is going to be a post to which I will link a few years down the road (in a told you so vein) when what Schwartz said might be coming true.

Remember, if it looks too easy, it probably is the wrong solution, or in this case, a wrong interpretation of the article. After all, Google has proved that immense apps can be run on a bunch of commodity servers. If this would have been prdicted a few years ago, I think it would have elicited the same negative response that this post is getting.

APPS run locally. Data? On the network. (3, Insightful)

Ahnteis (746045) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396807)

I think we'll see a lot of network-based applications. However, the data has to reside somewhere central, otherwise you're gonna have to replicate it a lot.

I think that as network availability and bandwidth increase we'll see larger computing centers with smaller (physically) and more ubiquitous clients.

No need for datacenter to go away -- just change a bit.

Re:Missing info (3, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396545)

It's like the myth that computers will create a paperless society. Computers just help us create more stuff to put on the paper. Sure you could bring a computer with you everywhere, and distribute everything on the internet, so we wouldn't need to use paper. It sounds like a nice idea, but in reality, it never ends up happening that way.

Re:Missing info (2, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396771)

What, no paperless society? Where's my flying car? We still have mainframes?

The future isn't what it was predicted to be, and this is just another prediction. I noticed this in the article - "Perhaps a more interesting question should be - why bother with datacenters at all? Surely it's time we all started revisiting some basic assumptions..."

Of course, the author then fails to do that; maybe in his next "blog". This is a throwaway article trying to sound "visionary".

Paper is for old people (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396789)

Seriously - I am 26, and I use a pen to write something on paper perhaps once every 3-4 days. I also use the printer at my office or home maybe once every 3 weeks at the most.

Any time I have to do something over the phone or by mail, that I know as a programmer I could be easily be doing online, it pisses me off to no end.

I know I am not in an uncommon age group either. As I see my nieces and nephews go through school, they use less and less books. They hand in their assignments in USB keys.

The only people I know of who use paper in any amount are people who are 40+, the type of people who like to print off any website longer than a page because "it is easier to read". How is reading paper easier on the eyes than reading a TFT LCD? Answer? it isn't - it's all psycological.

The whole "myth" of the paperless world is not a myth, it was just misconstrued - you can't create a paperless world until all the people who are used to using the paper everyday are gone.

Re:Paper is for old people (1)

GuyverDH (232921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396957)

The only people I know of who use paper in any amount are people who are 40+, the type of people who like to print off any website longer than a page because "it is easier to read".

You're forgetting the corporates that are financial institutions, insurance brokers, or those that deal with medical information.

There are all sorts of mandates which REQUIRE hardcopy printouts of all sorts of inane, dare I say it, anal retentive information.

Individuals may choose to go paperless, but many companies have no choice in the matter.

Re:Paper is for old people (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397201)

which is kind of reenforing the parents point, when the lawmakers are no longer the people from before the internet age that kind of thing will start to change.

Paper's for the thoughtless and lazy. (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397049)

I agree, but I think at least right now, for every person who's like us, there's some asshole out there who insists on printing out 60+ pages of single-sided PowerPoint slides and distributing them to everyone in the audience at their presentation, because it's "the thing to do." Sure, 90% of them end up in the trash near the door within five minutes of the end, but they do it anyway. Somebody might want them, right? (And this is in an office where everyone -- down to the last clerk and secretary -- has a computer and an email address, and where the presenter probably sent the meeting invite via email and thus has the entire distribution list already.)

Computers made it easier to use up paper thoughtlessly. While going to the Xerox machine and photocopying a 100 page document at least requires you to stand there while it prints, you can print a 100-page Word document pretty much by accident. I know people that make a point of just printing entire 40+ page specification drafts when they only need a page or two, because "it's faster to just print it and pull the pages out later than figure out which I want." There no way they would be that cavalier about it, if printing required more than a "Control-P, Enter", and then picking up the sheaf of output the next time they're headed out to the water cooler.

People aren't logical. People are dumb. People are thoughtless. Computers make being thoughtless easier. When you make something wasteful easier, it happens more often.

Re:Paper is for old people (3, Informative)

avalys (221114) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397053)

" How is reading paper easier on the eyes than reading a TFT LCD? Answer? it isn't - it's all psycological."

Are you kidding? I'm all for getting rid of paper, but at the moment, it has better contrast and better resolution than even the most high-end LCD screens.

Re:Paper is for old people (1)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397079)

How is reading paper easier on the eyes than reading a TFT LCD? Answer? it isn't - it's all psycological.

I'm with you there, but I don't think any of my former or current bosses can deal with that. They've always wanted reports printed out from systems that I've built, even though it would be easier to have them get their reports by email or directly from the system online. Then they can filter, correct, annotate, etc. right in the same place that everyone else is looking, or keep it secure if it's that type of information.

I think it has something to do with their process of dealing with tasks. If they have a pile of paper to be dealt with, they can start on it in the morning, and hopefully have their desk cleared off by the end of the day. Dropping off a note at their desks often ensures it gets done better than sending them an email.

I'm the exact opposite, though. When I'm given paper, I forget to do anything with it much more frequently than if I have an email sitting in my inbox. I try to get follow up summaries emailed to me after meetings, to add to my list of tasks, just to avoid forgetting about something.

So I guess I can understand their predicament. Mine is just flipped. But they should still be just like me. ;-)

Re:Paper is for old people (2, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397111)

Actually, I do find paper easier to read than a TFT LCD. It's a question of DPI: 600 on a page vs. 70-100 on a screen. It's also a question of total surface area: at a comfortable font size (to compensate for that low resolution) you have to scroll a screen, where you can just scan a sheet of paper.

Like you, I only hand-write or print every few weeks. I won't print off a web site to read it, but I will for papers published in PDF, which have a paper-oriented bias. I'll stop doing that, too, when screen resolutions double.

Re:Paper is for old people (1)

refitman (958341) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397135)

I believe it will be quite a while till we all stop using paper. In my job I find it much easier to pass on phone messages to colleagues using a pen and a Post-It. I draw up merchandising designs for shops, and it's much easier to draw the initial designs on paper, and reading a 50x100 cell spreadsheet on the move is much easier on A3 paper than on a PDA or laptop.

Until there is a method of data entry as quick and versatile as pen and paper, then this will be my preferred method.

Re:Paper is for old people (4, Insightful)

patrixmyth (167599) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397151)

I'm a few years from your 40+ old cut-off, but I still want to speak up and disagree with you. If you've bought a car or a house, joined a gym, graduated from college or been married, then you should be well aware of the importance of physical representations of data. It's great to be able to look up facts on wikipedia, but do I trust my military records to the digital archive? No. Is that because of my age? No. It's because of my experience. My parents have albums that they no longer can listen to, because they don't own a record player. I have lost touch with friends for months at a time when my cell phone died and took their numbers with it. I have gone to a store to show them a cancelled check that their computer system claimed they never cashed (after my bank's dispute resolution process had sided with them.) I can keep going with examples, some of them from wartime experience where 3 guys standing around a six year old map have saved hundreds of lives. Historians are studying written documents that are thousands of years old. We will only be a paperless (or vellumless, parchment, etc) society when a more reliable form of data storage is available. That day is a LONG WAY off.

Re:Paper is for old people (4, Insightful)

phil reed (626) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397257)

How is reading paper easier on the eyes than reading a TFT LCD?
Depends. Is the power on?

Re:Paper is for old people (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397313)

The only people I know of who use paper in any amount are people who are 40+, the type of people who like to print off any website longer than a page because "it is easier to read".

Heh heh, my boss just did this yesterday, with an email I sent her.

How is reading paper easier on the eyes than reading a TFT LCD? Answer? it isn't - it's all psycological.

don't forget artists. computers are getting better but natural medium is still, uh, more natural.

I did just score a Wacom Digitizer II for $10 at a yard sale though. I have an inutous (I know that's not how you spell it, but after about ten tries I gave up and I'm not going to go look it uo) artpad 5x7 but, uh, it's 5x7. This is at least a little bigger. My lady love, who is quite the artist, is tickled by the very concept. We sat down and played with the gimp together for a while (boy does that sound wrong... programmers shouldn't be allowed to name applications apparently) and she's pretty well enthralled.

Re:Missing info (1)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396583)

And does anyone know where I can get a toolbox with redundant power and cooling?

Exactly. The datacenter can, and should, provide the reliability, redundancy, and centralization that computing needs.

More computing will move to the datacenter, with companies like Google providing ever more complex services built on top of each other, while the computer-like devices that we each use will become ever smaller.

or are the computers going to be placed where they are really needed?

They're not really needed anywhere. Just a small screen, input device, sensor, handheld device, or network terminal is really necessary in most locations.

Re:Missing info (1)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396589)

Who keeps the backups? Call me paranoid, but if I were, say, a bank, I'd want to make damn sure that I had at least two functioning redundant centres AND an off-site data repository (which may just be tape or disk backup).

Re:Missing info (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396775)

Definitely. Even if you could pack teraflops into a mote-sized computer that was powered by ambient radiation in its environment and communicated wirelessly via some sort of never-down communications medium, participating in a giant private grid computing array, you'd still need storage and backup. And even if you could get effectively infinite storage in some sort of molecular-memory device the size of a paperback book, you still have to replicate that data for site-based disaster (I work in the Portland, Oregon World Trade Center. We pay attention to such things), not to mention device-based failure (at least mirror the thing).

So data centers may shrink, but they will be around longer than any of us will. At least that's my prediction. Go ahead, someone prove me wrong.

Re:Missing info (1)

roster238 (969495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396919)

Does Veritas even have a drill bit agent?

Drill Bits are an interesting example. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16396825)

Back when electric motors were relatively new, analysts predicted that "someday every home would have a large electric motor in the garage; and pullies and gears to drive washing machines; sewing machines; and all sorts of appliances throughout the home".

I think the article's a perfect one - just like electric motors got distributed; computers are too.

Uh (3, Funny)

Skynet (37427) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396371)

So where are they going to put the WoW servers?

Re:Uh (3, Funny)

SuperStretch (1005515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396481)

Duh! In the drill!

Re:Uh (4, Funny)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396617)

How boring is that?

Re:Uh (4, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396671)

Your comment is both insightful and penetrating.

Re:Uh (1)

farker haiku (883529) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397003)

Great... another pun practice drill. I bet we could all go 'round and 'round on the subject, but I think it'd be better to just chuck the whole thing.

Re:Uh (1)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397213)

Well, without regular practice, how can we improve?

Re:Uh (1)

SuperStretch (1005515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396695)

But just think, you'll have to pay that drill each month, whereas the Guild Wars server in my hammer is a pay-once deal.

Sun Logo? (2, Insightful)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397309)

My gut reaction when reading the headline and seeing the Sun logo was "Stupid Slashdot - Sun's never made any headway in the Data Center". Then I see it's Schwartz's blog. I guess Sun's datacenter strategy now is just to declare it dead.

An interesting question would be "Hey Sun, do YOU still have a data center?" Of course they do.

uhmmm ... huh? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396385)

While it is true that computers and microcontrollers are showing up everywhere, that doesn't mean that stringing together a line of cubes with built-in ARM-9 controllers will replace that beefy database server in the data center. While the promise of 'the network is the computer' is coming true (to an extent; thank you Google), it will not end in a meshed network of small computers all talking to one another. At least I hope not, god what a security nightmare that would be!

Re:uhmmm ... huh? (4, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396477)

"While the promise of 'the network is the computer' is coming true (to an extent; thank you Google),"

Really? And what does Google have a lot of? Data centers you say? Huge ones beyond my wildest dreams? Google made very large and efficient data centers and this enabled them to do many things. "network is the computer" my ass, it's just outsourcing the data for someone else to manage in a different data center.

Re:uhmmm ... huh? (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396853)

... it will not end in a meshed network of small computers all talking to one another. At least I hope not, god what a security nightmare that would be!

What is the Internet, then? Yes, there lots of data centers on the internet, but there are the Windows Zombie networks.

Huh? (4, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396395)

With more and more embedded computers, and easier and faster networks, datacenters could become more important than ever. Many trends today require expanding and larger datacenters -- how do you think Web 2.0 applications manage their data.

I wouldn't find it terribly surprising to find things like drill bits and their "computers" relaying performance data which eventually ends up in some manufacturers datacenter. What better way to determine the use, reliability, and performance of a product?

I also could imagine the information in datacenters spawning meta-datacenters where data mining and other analysis is performed.

Distributed computers and distributed computing are different animals. Datacenters will go away much like the disappearance of the world of mainframes (which, btw, was predicted and discussed as early as 1983 (by my experience)).

Re: Huh? (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396927)

Yeah, this is just more dumb hype. Sure, tiny chips will continue to advance in computing power, and continue to take over tasks that used to require a room full of computers to use. That's great.

But as the capabilities of computers has continually increased, people have continually found problems that require large amounts of hardware to solve. No matter how much data someone manages to cram into a 3" disc, someone's going to pull together a pile of data that requires thousands of those discs. That much hardware will need significant amounts of energy, cooling, security, monitoring, etc. Spreading them around all over the place won't make those issues go away, it'd make them worse.

As distributed computing takes off, datacenters will become even more important, because more and more data will be generated, and having centralized places to store, control, utilize all that data makes tons of sense.

Re: Huh? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397123)

I agree. People used PCs to suggest that mainframes would be dead, and they are still around. Radio was supposed to kill newspapers, TV to kill radio and the Internet is supposed to kill everything else. The market for newspapers and other media may be diminishing, but I don't think any of them are going to be dead any time soon. Some quack even suggested that radio is dead because of the iPod, but there are far more radio listeners than iPod owners. Something like around 90% of people listen to at least some radio every week, I would be surprised to see if 10% of the population used iPods.

Re: Huh? (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397167)

With more and more embedded computers, and easier and faster networks, datacenters could become more important than ever.

Bingo! Just as with more and more books being more widely distributed the need for public libraries as a central repository grows, not shrinks.

Now the fact is that most datacenters, as they are spoke, are almost literal clusterfucks, but it is most often because the data technology clueless CEOs make decisions about issues they know nothing about. Even relying on the technologists no longer works in most cases, because most of the technologists are now "trained" at the bequest of . . .CEOs, who belittle "theory" in favor of "pragmatism."

So how clueless is this particular CEO? Let us examine the record:

". . .the feature most requested by buyers in their fastest growing geography (India) was an LED flashlight. Edison would never have guessed (obviously). Nor that electricity would one day be on airplanes, lunar landers or deep sea submarines. "

The fuck he wouldn't have. Edison made flashlight bulbs, batteries and portable generators: a novel was published (perhaps you've heard of it) in 1870, when Edison was only 23 years old, that had an electric submarine as its primary subject. Edison built submarine engines and electric generators for WWI. The First Men in the Moon was published in 1901, the protagonists relaying their situation back to Earth by radio; and it became a commerical movie, using Edison technology, in 1919, more than a decade before Edison's death.

Good Lord, Edison not only guessed these things, he was instrumental in making them happen. That's why we know his name.

I don't care what company Schwartz is the CEO of (how are they doing, by the way?), he's either clueless, selling something . . .or both.


I still work in a mainframe datacenter (1)

lucaq99 (898345) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397221)

There goes that theory..."as early as 1983"...I have a green MVS console right next to my PC right this second...

Re: Huh? (1)

nkeeter (82283) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397255)

Datacenters are more than just that. These places offer redudant power, redundant networking, and oodles of bandwidth available at the drop of a hat. it really has nothing to do with the size of a computer. With the computer becoming smaller, that just means you'll require less space at the datacenter for the same thing.

More then Ever. (3, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396405)

With more and more small clients communicating wirelessly you really need a datacenter to keep things organized, as well as backed up. So we have lost a Disney Stuffed animal, now we need to find its last location. With it communicating with a data center until it lost communication we can check the datacenter and see were it was last, and then we can check out the last spot and see that it has A. Broke down and still there or B. gone but there is a rouge kid dissecting Mickey's head. C Gone for ever. But now we know that it is gone and we record that it has been stolen and adjust the inventory accordingly. Without the datacenter we see that the mouse is gone but with no central data location finding the data is much more complex. Also in a normal business model it is easier for programmers and the business to connect to a single Database server (Or clustered but they are logically in the same place) vs. having hundreds of separate excel or access files, in which when a program needs the data it needs to hunt for the file and if the persons computer crashes chances are that it hasn't been backed up. Just Peer to Peer communication is a not a robust method because it looses a central point of administration leading to problems in the future.

Re:More then Ever. (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397271)

I think I want to take what you're talking about and make it short and glib: As you have all these small devices generating and gathering more and more data, you're only increasing the need for a central point where that data can be gathered, processed and made useful. Hence, a data center.

Right. (1)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396407)

It was the same kind of comments that heralded the capabilities of central servers. I've read science fiction stories where there's one gigantic mainframe, to which every citizen connects. Alas, no such thing.

Similarly, it's never going to be pc's only. There's always a need for much computing power and secure storage arrays you just can't do in an ordinary box.


Re:Right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16396633)

Oh man I hope the guys at Google didn't read those Sci-Fi Books or boy are we ever in trouble.

/Tounge Firmly in Cheek

Not yet (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396753)

Centralized databases are growing in importance. What is developing is all citizens are connected to these mainframes but not voluntarily; databases are collecting all their personal information and are monitoring their calls. In essence, many mini-gigantic mainframes are "connecting" to citizens, involuntarily.

There's also pseudo-"mainframes" (in function, at least) like MySpace, etc., which connect millions of people at once, voluntarily. I'm of course describing one major website digital community with a central database, as the modern equivalent of a mainframe...

Data centers evolve and change too (2, Interesting)

saboola (655522) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396409)

Just like everything under the sun having a processor and a piece of storage space, so too will the data center evolve and get better at what it does. There will always be a need for a centralized place with higher than average processing and storage capacity. Just because todays technology runs well on your cell phone/pda (which for the most part, as an avid mobile user, things are not exactly "great") does not mean the next generation will.

Both! (1)

also-rr (980579) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396419)

Adding intelligence to small items has benefits - in that it enables you to make decisions close to the center of activity.

Adding intelligence in a centrallised location has benefits - in that it enables you to lower the cost per flop (support, redundancy etc).

None of this will change unless instant point to point communications of infinite bandwidth are invented - ironically exactly what you would require to make *both* perfect centralisation and decentralisation a reality.

In the mean time we will stumble on with a mix depending on the job, just as we have done for the last 20+ years.

Re:Both! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396781)

Adding intelligence to small items has benefits - in that it enables you to make decisions close to the center of activity.

Adding intelligence in a centrallised location has benefits - in that it enables you to lower the cost per flop (support, redundancy etc).

To use an analogy, it's the difference between the motor control centers of the brain, and the nerve bundles running throughout your body. The brain has the processing power necessary to make the best decisions, but many common reactions are pushed to the nerve centers to allow for faster responses to critical stimuli.

As such, all these embedded microprocessors can be thought of as the network extending its control rather than decentralizing. Sure, my cell phone could mesh with other phones in an attempt to be a major cell router, but the experiment would be likely to create nothing but a mess of unreliable, disconnected networks. To say nothing for attempts to receive voice mail.

Then there are the smart drill bits. Smart enough to "feel" the world around it (like our nerves do), but lacking the processing power and communications relays to be a major web server. So distributing the data from the bit to millions of interested users or systems would likely result in a shutdown of the drill's computational abilities. Yet paired with a dedicated webserver (drill bit: I'll tell you; web server: I'll feed back that information the rest of systens/world) the two would have more than enough power to do exactly that.

Just as you can survive by loosing a bit of communications to outer nerves, so can computers survive by exposing embedded processing to dangerous areas. But you brain is a sensitive thing and is thus protected by a very strong skull cap. Just as the key networking resources are protected in high-security, underground bunkers.

He's right! (5, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396423)

As long as you're not concerned about minor issues like physical security, data and communications security, maintainability, scalability, and availability.

Security (4, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396435)

Security requires control and restriction of physical access. Unless and until you can secure those drill bits, security will always be an issue.

One good reason...Security (1)

Zorandler (931867) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396451)

Although there is much to be said for putting computing power where it is needed, there is most certainly a need for security for machines and the data contained on them that necessitates if not an entire data center at least a secure area for most companies/institutions.

Simplistic answer (4, Insightful)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396453)

No, data centers aren't doomed. They are only doomed if they fail to see this change and don't adapt to it. Sure, the types of data centers we saw 10 or 20 years ago may be rare relics in 2020; that doesn't mean data center businesses will be gone. Current centers need to focus on security, ease of storage, or whatever else is important to their customers. These values will go beyond the spec sheet of what type of servers you have. In two years or in ten years, the servers and technology will be different. The value you provide, hopefully, will not.

Short answer: Yes (1)

Nijika (525558) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396465)

I don't know what sort of Mesh he envisions here, but I doubt a vital e-commerce site will be running off of some guy's pen in China... Datacenters fill the role of redundancy and reliability. When you (or your customers) need to be able to access a computer system at any time, under almost any condition, a rag tag group of computers scattered everywhere simply will not do.

Re:Short answer: Yes (1)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396895)

I doubt a vital e-commerce site will be running off of some guy's pen in China... Datacenters fill the role of redundancy and reliability.
Duh. It will be running off of a few of that guy's pens. Pens with 99% uptime!

Re:Short answer: Yes (1)

jforest1 (966315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397031)

Yeah, p2p networks are always down...

two words (2)

mls (97121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396473)

Information Security

If you don't care about physical security, then...

bandwidth (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396497)

datacenters also have a lot more bandwidth to the internet then you can get at home. It cheaper and easier to have a lot of bandwidth in one place. Then it is to string it out to lots of homes.

Re:bandwidth (1)

joe_cot (1011355) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396925)

On a similar note, many home broadband providers have blocked port 80 for consumer broadband. Simple google searches for how Verizon [] and Comcast [] spell out how they approached the matter (blocking port 80 across the board, but not actually telling anyone about it). This seems to be the case for many US broadband providers, whether or not you've paid for business-class service (which many businesses find out the hard way [] while trying to save money) -- and let's not even talk about reliability, off-site redundancy, etc. For most people, buying hosting from a data center is slightly cheaper than buying a t1 for yourself.

The only innovations that could possibly support this kind of prediction are p2p nets, such as Freenet [] . Let me know how reliable you think that is.

Wireless computer distribution? (3, Funny)

SoTuA (683507) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396501)

With computers becoming so small and easy to distribute over a wireless network

I'd love to see how.

Re:Wireless computer distribution? (0, Offtopic)

revlayle (964221) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397137)

... also I want one, when they are available.

In addition, I will pay good $$$ for the Brooklyn Bridge.

It depends... (doesn't always?) (1)

andcal (196136) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396509)

do we really need data centers to house computers or are the computers going to be placed where they are really needed?"

It depends on the purpose of the computer(s) in question, and on the value of the (combined) data they contain. Money has been small enough to carry around for a long time, but we still have banks to house large sums of them. Ironically enough, banks may eventually be nothing more than a data center one day.

Duh (2)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396511)

Archangel Michael Asserts that Blogging CEO should stick to blogging, and not pontificate and prognosticate about computer and data centers.

1)Data centers are not drill bits, and Disneyland Toys.
2)Data Centers are for centering Data (central location).
3)Data Centers are for Centralization of Management.

Herding Cats is fun in the beginning, they are so cute and all, but after a while, you just wish they would bunch up and be like the sheep.

Data > Bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16396513)

Until our bandwidth catches up to our storage capacity, we'll need centralized data storage.

how do we reconcile this with the "thin client"? (2, Insightful)

Montecristo6 (398332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396535)

It's rather odd that the end of the datacenter is supposed to be brought about by ubiquitous, small computers, since a few years ago everyone was looking forward to "thin clients" - these very same ubiquitous, small computers that would serve as *interfaces* to ... the mighty, on-demand power of the datacenter. The latter vision still makes more sense to me, at least for the foreseeable future.

Exact opposite (4, Interesting)

wamatt (782485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396547)

From what I've seen in the datacenter sector is growly rapidly. More and more data is being stored online in server farms. Online apps are more prevalent than ever (eg Gmail).

With ever increasing network capacity data storage on the PC will become redundant.

DUH! (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396549)

I bitched for weeks when the idiots at AT&T broadband forced all of us to ship our servers to the new data center. Taking a distributed system that worked great and putting it all on one spot is incredibly stupid.

What happened? every time you have a network leg go down that office ore offices are 100% dead. no printing, no files , no services. network problems went up 50 fold and all pipes had to be increased because instead of having a BDC, print server and file server local, it was now 1/2 way across the country.

Large Datacenters have always been a stupid idea. distributing your services to locations around your offices is far more efficient and significantly lowers the connectivity needs. that T1 to denver works far better with 90% of the traffic now local to the LAN.

Re:DUH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16396981)

You're right. I'm going to dismantle my datacenter and buy ten thousand PCs. I will scatter them over hill and dale, plugging them in wherever I can find an outlet. Wireless connectivity is so great, I won't need any wires, and having the data closer to the users is obviously better. There's absolutely no possibility that a single simplistic solution won't fit every problem.

I better write the root password on the cases with a sharpie, too, so that we won't have any maintenance issues.

Re:DUH! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397231)

well cince you are incompetent then yeah, do that. Obviousally you do not know that you ca n remotely control all your systems EVEN down to the bios boot screens. this has been doable for decades now, but you do not know about them. Wireless? what moron would use wireless? locked racks in offices work perfect, people cant get physical access and an air conditioned closet with that rack in it works great. Now if the T3 from detroit to Philly does drop off line detroit is still up and running, hell even give them their own exchange server cince 90% of email traffic is internal.

Only idiots interconnect their offices with public network connections... T1's T3's are cheap, locked air conditioned closets are cheap. giving your offices drastically better up times and increasing sales and other employee productivity is far more important than stroking the ego of some IT staff that think they need to physically touch every server they have.

I suggest you get a real education in IT and networking, as you obvoiusally do not understand how this stuff works. I was able to maintain all of my servers from my laptop in the office, if I had a rare hardware failure (buying quality equipment helps here) I have plenty of time to drive to that location to fix it. having competent IT staff in key offices also helps and is far less expensive than paying big $$$ to prima-donna Datacenter experts... 1 good IT guy working laptop and server duty for a cluster of 6 offices is way cheaper and you can pay him far more.

Distributing computers (2, Funny)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396561)

With computers becoming so small and easy to distribute over a wireless network
I can see distributing computing over a wireless network, but I've yet to see anyone distribute computers that way. Would surely cut down on shipping costs, though: just download that new laptop...

Stability and reliability (2, Insightful)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396581)

Data centers provide both, where mobile solutions do not.

Need I say more?

As for people walking around in MY data center? LOL!!! Please. Everyone in here is wearing monkey suits. Key card on a plastic necklace and nothing in their pockets except maintenance equipment from the internal shed. Cords go under the floor or through protected pipes into the ceiling - if he ran a data center he'd know that. Our procedures for changing out a computer and making sure something is there to stand in its stead in the mean time is far too complex to discuss here, but "breaking something trying to fix it" is NOT a problem here.

Oh, the ignorance. It's so great it has its own gravity field!

yeah (1)

CiXeL (56313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396593)

tell that to the craploads of companies right now installing Citrix.

i'm working myself out of a job contract by contract.

And... (2, Insightful)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396605)

So swings the pendulum.

Unintelligent Article (3, Insightful)

detain (687995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396613)

This has got to be one of the lamest and most uninformed articles Ive read reacently. We have datacenters because no normal person or small business can afford things like huge internet connections from multiple providers, or afford to have network administrators and noc monkeys watching over the systems 24/7, or the expensive routing equipment used. While there is much more to a datacenter my point is already made so i dont need to delve into other reasons we need datacenters.

Nobody need storage (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396625)

With large increase in SF of both retail and residential spaces, and all the JIT methods of modern processesm, I foresee the end of central warehouses.

Oh, you mean they can't seem to build enough mini-storage sites? What, they're putting up enormous retail distribution centers for short term storage and efficient delivery?

Guess what, Einstein - central facilities will always be useful. The exact usage my shift, but the utility will still exist.

Drill bits running linux? (1)

envelope (317893) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396681)

If my drill bit is running linux, can I install MySQL on it too? Do I really need a data center when I can just keep everything on the drill bit?

Hmm, I do have a set of 12 bits in my toolbox. Will I have a copy of my database on each one? Or maybe they will each download the data from the drill whenever I switch bits.

Re:Drill bits running linux? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396815)

I doubt it a bit carries way to small amount of data to store an OS or a database. If you have A couple hundred thousand bits you may be able to get a very small OS on it. :-)

I wanna know . . . (1)

JazzLad (935151) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397225)

how many bytes to a bit?

He's right (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396689)

An email went round from our syadmin group the other day, as they were clearing some crappy, redundant old boxes out to make some new rack space. And so now I have a (not very shiny, six year old) Sun Enterprise E4000 in my bedroom! Seriously... it's at the foot of my bed. Quad Sparc procs, only 20Gb system disks but I should be able to pick up some cheap RAID arrays on eBay, once I've got the bastard thing to either boot from the CD drive, or have worked out how to this "pixie boot" thing works.

Central power generation is doomed... (4, Insightful)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396717)

... with internal combustion engines so small and easy to implement, they're showing up in personal vehicles and even handheld devices like weed-whackers. There's no reason to build all that infrastructure of central powerplants any more -- anyone who wants electricity can just run a small motor to generate it locally.

Come on, get real folks.

Uh... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396729)

Datacenters aren't about space. They're located where they can get cheap power and internet feeds. They're also about uptime, and infrastructure. Even when computers draw 1/4 the power and produce 1/4 the heat they do today you're still going to need to cope with the heat produced and feed them power. If you need a cluster, do you really want to build that infrastructure, or let someone else build and maintain it? Anyway the real point is that a company with a website that gets umpteen zillion hits can put a slower connection at their site to let their users get things done, and not need to get that kind of bandwidth at their site, which might require whole new fiber runs to the telco or other nasty things if one is outside a major metropolitan area.

Data centers are the center of data (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396759)

I started out distributed in our area (rural county), we had POTS for connection and no networking in the begining, so I did what any lazy programmer would do, worked up a distributed DB system among tens of clients in two locations. And it is cool in some respects, but a pain to manage, especially if you have wide ranging changes (yes the updates are automated but updating the updater and other connection issues... ugh).

Now (within the last couple years) we have all the networking of the 21st century (intranet/DSL) as well as the best tools for the job (web based apps, thank the User!) all this reduces the problems of massive redudancy as well as the time and cost of doing/maintining the distributed system. I look forward to a day with a 'honkin huge server managing a bunch of simple thin clients (with the rouge laptop coming and going - replication is great too).

Hello computer (2, Insightful)

Jerim (872022) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396785)

I don't think the blogger understands what a datacenter is for. True, processors are turning up in all sorts of gadgets. By the are usually RISC processors designed for a very specific use. But even processors, don't store data. That is what a recordable media like harddrives or memory sticks are for.

A datacenter is for collecting large amounts of data, running operations on that data and providing that data to others. For instance, there is no way that a small handheld device at the loading docks can store the entire inventory for the company over the past 10 years. It can maybe keep a record of the last 30 days, maybe. And even if it were, how would that device let the main office, over 200 miles away know that the cargo has arrived at the docks? How would this CEO be able to find out how many widgets arrive annualy during the month of October and get the average price on them? The answer is that he wouldn't get it from a small handheld device.

This reminds me of when Scotty said "Hello computer" to the mouse. This guy clearly doesn't understand IT. I sure hope they have a good IT department to keep this guy from sinking the company.

Ironic (4, Insightful)

databank (165049) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396797)

It's ironic that a CEO would have issues with considering a datacenter that is designed for centralization and management considered to be anachronistic. A datacenter will always be needed for centralization and management.

Hey, while we're at it, what do we need a CEO for? Overall intelligence has gone up over the years. I'm sure we're going to evolve to the point that we won't need a CEO anymore. After all, any one of us can do the job just as effectively, right? Let's hear it for true distributed management!

Where computers are needed (1)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396809)

You know where servers are REALLY needed, close to the high speed Internet backbone in well controlled stable secure environments, not wirelessly roaming about the countryside. Hence datacenters.

That's total bullcrap. Don't believe it. (1)

djblair (464047) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396813)

There will always be a need for a secure area to house mission-critical applications. You will --NEVER-- never see an ERP system or core switch/router chilling out in a wiring closet down the hall, even if it's the size of a desktop PC. You need rock-solid infrastructure to support this stuff, and you can't get it outside a datacenter. The environment needs access control, fire supression, water detection, redundant HVAC, redundant power, all the other works. Datacenters may end up shrinking in size, but they will never go away.

"Change" is a better word than "Doom" (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396819)

All this means is that more of the data processing is handled on-site when needed rather than at a central location, which is a smart idea. However, central databases and backup systems could never be done away with, since there will always exist applications for computing require a central hub.

And anyway, it wouldn't destroy a lot of computer-related jobs because computers are still being used. It's foolish to put total faith in a computer without somebody there to be able to maintain/monitor/repair it.

Furthermore, when did drills with computers or stuffed toys ever require datacenters in the past?

Ah, memories. (2, Interesting)

Honest Olaf (1011253) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396849)

This reminds me of the prediction on /. last year that some day in the not-too-distant future we would be using ubiquitous public computer terminals and joking about the old days when people lugged around laptops. Both prophecies are anywhere from 90-100% foolish.

Pretty obvious problems with this (1)

ukpyr (53793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396877)

Where does that leave sun's very large server product line? Or should in 10 years will I be dropping a 'Thumper' into my kitchen to let me know how my groceries are doing (via an AJAX enabled watch I suppose)

I'm not sure datacenters were ever *truly* built for people, I'm not that old. However, datacenters provide a clean, enviromentally controlled area for the VERY EXPENSIVE computing power to live. The way I see it, need for computing power is only going to increase (out on a limb, I know) and while prices trend down, the fancy server grade stuff is still going to cost lots of money.

I can see the point : "someday" grid computing is going to be pervasive and the norm in terms of development. That will enable organizations to utilize the spare processing power of their "cloud of devices" (very scifi!). But honestly, if you need to add X power to that, are you going to buy 15 toy bunnies that talk? no, you'll buy a server and put it in your datacenter :)

His generator analogy is flawed to boot. They go outside because they are smelly and/or loud. Computers don't have to be either of those.

Shapeshifting? (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396961)

I don't think the datacenter is going to go away ever. However the form of the datacenter may change significantly. Imagine a virtual datacenter where instead of a centralized architecture, the storage and processing functions are distributed - decentralized - across multiple units. The only setting where this could be practical is if people allow their house systems (the Desktop is dead already ;) ) to host and process information with some small compensation offered for the bother like free net access. Of course there is some magical security module that prevents people from accessing any private information.
The kernal of the article is very valid however - computing is going to become ubiquitous - You won't have distinct units such as an XBox or a PC. Instead I believe the functions provided by said units will become as standardized as electrical sockets in a house. Your house will provide web browsing, gaming, productivity, entertainment, and everything else by standard.

Whew! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16396967)

What a relief this is...I will just tell the boss we can deploy our new hosted application on the stuffed animals at Disneyland for free!

Some interesting logic (1)

aiken_d (127097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396985)

By this way of thinking, as more and more people get HDTV's, HDTV production studios will become obsolete because people will just watch HDTV wherever they are.

There are some really weird people out there, you know?


Data storage demands keep rising. (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 7 years ago | (#16396997)

I work in a law firm. Originally we held all our data here. Now we outsorce it to a vendor.

The reason is that while our data capacities doubled every year, our data needs tripled every year.

And I don't see it changing. As soon as people make data storage cheaper, we decide we can now afford to store more of it, for longer periods of time.

So no, I don't think data centers are going away. But I do seem them as becoming less of a vital, growing industry and instead turning into a slow growth business.

Data Centers aren't just for storing data... (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397007)

With new complex applications running on platform architectures that are constantly changing (for such things as convergent applications), decentralizing your platform would be insane.

Your costs to change the system would go up. Your security would be exponentially more costly, and your telemetry and other time sensitive aspects of the management solution would go through the roof!

I would also hazzard a guess that removal of the datacenter would probably violate SOX (it would probably be a bad thing for Johnny in accounting to have physical access to the server housing his data).

Wow and he is a CEO heh (1)

niola (74324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397043)

I find that blog post to be amusing considering it is from the CEO of a company whose business has pretty much revolved around datacenters.

Datacenters are going to be even more important with Web 2.0 applications, and if anything I see the opposite happening - more features/services WILL be centralized for the various benefits a datacenter has to offer.

Some of the more appealing features of datacenters:

1. Physical Security
Most have some kind of physical security - alarms, bio-metric/proximity cards, multiple locks, surveillance cameras, etc. Some facilities are fortified to withstand the extremes of nature, and other facilities designed for mission critical purposes might even have case-hardened walls to withstand bomb blasts. I have even seen some facilities with gyroscopic racks to mitigate risks from seismic activity.

2. Redundant Power
Most of the datacenters I have dealt with have multiple layers of redundancy in their power systems. Many have power feeds from more than one sub-station, they have high-volume UPS systems, and as last resort diesel generators.

3. Redundant Bandwidth
Not uncommon for a datacenter to get it's bandwidth from two or more seperate backbone connections for fault tolerance.

4. Climate Control
Many have excellent air conditioning and air handlers to keep the air clean. One datacenter in Pennsylvania I had done work in even had moisture sensors so sensitive if you spit on them it would set off an alarm

The pros to centralized datacenters are just too numerous.

I'll take the CEO job! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16397057)

Um, right.... The blogging CEO is way off base on this one IMO...

Corporate control of data (3, Insightful)

Mr Krinkle (112489) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397091)

After reading the blog, I'm not really following his theories.
His networked drill bits, are sensors at the tip of HUGE deep sea oil rigs. That's not my happy 24 volt cordless drill. It's financially sound to stick a few thousand dollars of sensors on the end of something that can make you millions.

As for data centers going away? It sounds more like he's saying the large hoards of mainframe operators are going away?
True. Most of them have. Or have been centralized into ginormous data centers hosting boxes for tons of companies. (IBM's huge computer rooms come to mind. I know there are quite a few companies in the one I have to go to regularly)

But as for getting rid of centralized servers?
Insane. Thanks to SOX (bleh *#@(#(*@# etc etc) IT groups are being hit with requirements to control more and more data. We need to keep stricter tabs on everything. NOT farm more and more of the computing out. With things like the DAV laptops getting stolen, there should be a push for MORE centralized servers/file storage and FORCE the users to keep all the data up on controlled servers. I KNOW that my servers, inside of my network, behind my firewalls, etc etc are safer than Jimmy the sales guys laptop that he forgot sitting on the table at Starbucks for the 100th time. (Or the nifty Irish pub that has free wifi. But they're pretty good about remembering you and holding your lappie for you. :) )
About all the data I keep on my local laptop is a contact list of phone numbers, and a pst file. My email might be amusing to someone? But if they REALLY want to see the 32423423423 backup notifications and all trouble ticket notifications, they have more free time than I have. :)

In summary, if the guy is saying centralized servers/file storage is going away, he's wrong. If he's just saying the hordes of mainframe operators are going away, then yea, he's probably close to accurate. Or at least getting congregated into larger facilities where fewer people manage more boxes.

(BTW sorry for the completely incoherent path this took, to much allergy medicine)

Neat trick (0, Redundant)

cain (14472) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397121)

With computers becoming so small and easy to distribute over a wireless network...

How do you distribute computers over a wireless network? It's a series tubes, not a dump truck.

utter nonsense (1)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397145)

Nothing in the article that I can see supports the supposition that datacentres will become obsolete.
At most it suggests that there ought to be fewer humans in datacentres and that money could be saved by not making them human-friendly environments.
This appears to be nothing more than a case of poor reporting by m0smithslash and CmdrTaco.

Schwartz misses the point (again) (1)

BigLinuxGuy (241110) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397153)

If the data center becomes extinct, so will most of Sun's revenues. Since Sun is busy "open sourcing" all of its software, what would it have left?

Computers != Data (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397193)

And data is what counts. Do you think Google bought YouTube's Computers, or were they after their data? Do you think the value of computer companies in general is based on their hardware? Or their data?

And data is fleeting. A head crash, a power switch thrown at the wrong moment and it's gone. So you need backups. Backups are hard to decentralize because, well, it becomes very uneconomic to decentralize backup systems.

Next, security. Data on a laptop is already a security headache. Sensitive data has to be stored where it remains under your control at every moment, something that is virtually impossible with mobile devices unless you go to grotesque lengths to protect it.

And the list goes on.

So yes, computers become very portable. But what data centers are for, i.e. data, is something that's hard to make portable, safe and secure. So my bet would be that they're here to stay. They may not be interesting for some, certainly not for home users (they never were, seriously), but companies will not do without in the forseeable future.

Jonathan, just go away. (1)

debus (751449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16397281)

I used to be a big sun supporter. They hardly seem relevant any longer.

Sun needs something, I am pretty sure Jonathan Schwartz is NOT it.
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