Archive for Green IT

A new (media center) PC test – the Tranquil ixL i5 Power PC…

Something we rarely talk about on the blog but enthuse and evangilise to many is Windows Media Center. I’ve been building and using Media Center for our primary entertainment system since the days of Window XP Media Center Edition beta’s c.2002-03.

I’ve built several systems for various friends and family over the years, but when our main home media center based on a Shuttle SG36M died due to a PSU failure (also took out the motherboard – a bummer!), it was time to be looking for a new machine (the brightside to the failure I guess! ;-))

As a long time listener of Ian Dixon’s podcast at http://thedigitallifestyle.com I’d heard of Tranquil (http://www.tranquilpc.co.uk) who are based in Manchester. Tranquil produce fanless pieces of highend exotica covering Media Centers, Home Servers, and powerful new Intel i5 based PC’s…

Now Tranquil don’t produce ‘cheap’ kit and fortunately I’m a believer in ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ so £459 + VAT later I’d ordered the ixL i5 Power PC with an Intel i5-650 (and a CD/DVD optical drive).

I got my order in late on Tuesday, and this morning a very nice looking box arrived..

..with a complimentary Boost bar! – how they knew my hangover needed a sugar fix I don’t know, but the experience certainly started great! 🙂

Over the weekend I’m looking forward to getting a couple of gigs of 1066Mhz RAM, a Corsair 128GB SSD, and my Hauppauge dual DVB-T in there and seeing how she flys with some test builds.. likely Win7 32-bit and Windows Server 2008 R2 (for testing as a Hyper-V platform plus 64-bit driver support), but first work and clients to see… 😦

Returning at the weekend for my first test built I grabbed a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate (32-bit) which installed painlessly enough, but did list the following as needy of drivers:

Display adapter driver – http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&ProdId=3144&DwnldID=19099&lang=eng
Ethernet (network) driver – http://downloadcenter.intel.com/download.aspx?url=/19059/a08/PROWin32.exe&DwnldId=19059&lang=eng
PCI Serial Port –
PCI Simple Communications Controller (read IR RX) –

With no documentation or driver media in the box, if you’ve ordered anything but a pre-built system you will need to go and find driver support from the web, however as the sytem is based on a current Intel desktop motherboard, the Intel® Desktop Board DH57JG, this is a fairly trivial task.

A visit to http://www.intel.com/products/desktop/motherboards/dh57jg/dh57jg-overview.htm will get you covered with 32 & 64-bit drivers for Windows 7, Vista, XP Pro, plus 32-bit for XP Home, and even Windows XP Media Center Edition (one day I might restore an image of XPMCE as I still have the Compaq D510 SSF PC I used in the first builds back in 2002-3!).

Going for the lazy option I grabbed the network driver first so I could let Windows Update do its worst on the rest – 35 updates later, inc. Intel HD Graphics (Intel listed 15.17.4.2119 as , Microsoft Update provided 8.15.10.2119 – the last digits being significant, the same) and a restart resulted in still needing the PCI Serial Port & Communications Controller (likely the same driver)

At the same time, I’d recommend:

http://www.intel.com/p/en_US/support/highlights/dsktpboards/dh57jg – which includes a link to Automatically detect and update drivers and software
http://www.intel.com/support/detect.htm (the really lazy option – but it works really well, after I’d been struggling getting the audio outputs to work, bar SPDIF)

http://www.intel.com/design/motherbd/software/dolby/index.htm

Chipset: Intel® Chipset Device Software for Intel® Desktop Boards – http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=10884&lang=eng
(this one may also address the PCI Simple Communications Controller / IR reciever, but I’m having no luck just yet…)

Intel® Desktop Utilities for 4 & 5 Series Desktop Boards – http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=18934&lang=eng

Intel® HD Graphics Driver for Windows* Vista and Windows* 7 15.17.7.2141 – http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&ProdId=3144&DwnldID=19099&lang=eng

Audio: Realtek* ALC Audio Driver – http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?DwnldID=19018

I mentioned performance updates coming soon, on Windows 7 32-bit with the above drivers the Performance Information and Tools (Windows Experience Index) gave a rating of 4.8, comprised of:

Processor: 6.9
Memory: 5.5
Graphics: 4.8
Gaming graphics: 5.3
Primary hard disk: 5.9

Thermal performance and other hardware monitors curtousy of the Intel Hardware Monitor application:

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Inframon presents: The War on Cost

Inframon Presents The War On Cost
HMS Belfast, London

 

 

System Center Service Manager 2010
Nigel Cain, Senior PM, nigelc@microsoft.com

Service Manager – front end/management, reporting, SS portal to CfgMgr & OpsMgr.. e.g. a end-user could request an app, and CfgMgr would deploy… no manual intervention req’d! J

Solutions to automate common IT processes, integrated with rest of SC suite,

–          Beta 2 is available on Connect now, go download it!

–          no extra agents required to populate CMdB

–          engineer/activity tracking built in for measuring against SLA

–          service level management, differing service levels across customer

–         

SCVMM 2008 R2

Single pane of glass view, all orchestration is performed through PowerShell hence powerful scripting, etc.

–          How to manage VM sprawl..

–          PRO tips to manage the Hyper-V host environment

 

SCDPM 2007 & 2010
Jason Buffington, jbuff@microsoft.com (jasonbuffington.com)
blogs.technet.com/DPM

–          DPM 2010 x64 bit only

–          Use the Exchange & DPM storage calculator

–          SQL sizing using perfmon to capture write bytes/min, run for a day then extrapolate

–          LCR dropped for Exchange 2010…

–          DPM DR, run the tapes at the backup site – compliance with off-site, they are already!

–          All Exchange replication technologies are for HA, not archive – DPM is for archive!

–          2010 will auto protect new databases when they come online

–           

 

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VMware Virtualisation Seminar – 12th November, Global Knowledge, London

Wednesday 12th November, 2008

As founder and CTO of a London based IT consultancy ‘Full Circle Technology Limited (aka The Full Circle – www.thefullcircle.com) I often attend various trade shows and events, however these are often complimentary or supportive of our position as a Microsoft Gold partner.

Virtualisation has always been hot on our agenda, indeed it is in the business plan from when we launched our consulting business in 2003.  It has continued to be a growth technology we have implemented for several clients over the years using Microsoft Virtual Server, and more recently Hyper-V (www.microsoft.com/uk/hyper-v).

I’ve also been an early user of PC based virtualisation since 2001/2, where as CTO of a technology services company I’d insisted that our support & engineering team use virtual machines (VMware workstation at the time) for testing in relation to support & development (the main reason being to minimise the impact of breaking their production machines by ‘playing’ with flakey software! ;-))

Anyway, today I went along with a keen new associate of ours, Will Darbey, to an excellent seminar event hosted by a leading UK training organisation, Global Knowledge (www.globalknowledge.co.uk).
The seminar was exclusively about a technology that could be viewed as just ever so slightly competative to Microsoft in the virtualisation space… VMware (www.vmware.com).

It must be said, that if in the market for VMware training and certfication, then Global Knowledge is well worth a serious look in… (http://www.globalknowledge.co.uk/courses__certifications/vmware_training.aspx).

A most excellent use for the corner of the BSG building (City Road, London)

The agenda for the day was split into two halfs:

AM Session: Business Briefing-Aimed at people who are considering virtualisation for their business and the benefits it can bring to an organisation.

  • 10:00 – 11:30 Management Briefing
    Introduction to VMware
  • Virtualisation the Datacentre Initiative
  • VMware Infrastructure
  • Virtualisation Benefits
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Green IT
  • Government Legislation
  • Virtual Desktop
  • VMware lower total cost of ownership
  • 11:30 – 12:00 Q & A
  • 12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

PM Session: Technical Briefing –The session is for technical people responsible for evaluating VMware ESX Server and VirtualCenter; including IT managers, system architects, and system administrators.

  • 14:00 – 15:30 Technical Briefing:
  • Reliable Foundation
  • The Hypervisor
  • Architecture
  • The Management
  • Create, Convert, Deploy, Patch, Protect, Deliver
  • Guided Consolidation, Upgrade Manager, SRM Shared Services
  • Resource allocation
  • Live Migration
  • High Availability
  • Resource distribution, Power management Integration
  • Hardware and Guest OS support
  • Conversion and Capacity Planning
  • 15:30 – 16:00 Q & A

Speakers:

  • David Day –David comes from a 10 year Cisco and Microsoft background, and currently manages the technical delivery program for VMware Authorised Training Centres. Originally from South Africa, David is now based in the UK, and has been with VMware for four years.
  • John Churchhouse –John leads the VMware Strategic Partners team which covers all OEM and System Integrator/System Outsourcer relationships in the UK and Ireland.  Prior to VMware, John worked for Sun Microsystems where he managed the System Integrator partner sales team.

As usual I made a few scribbles from the day…

“Virtualization will be the highest-impact trend changing infrastructure and operations through 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. Virtualization will transform how IT is managed, what is bought, how it is deployed, how companies plan and how they are charged. As a result, virtualization is creating a new wave of competition among infrastructure vendors that will result in considerable market disruption and consolidation over the next few years.”
– Gartner

 

The day was split into two parts, the morning session with John Churchhouse on the business angle, and the afternoon a technical deep dive and demonstration with David Day.

Morning session: John Churchhouse, Manager Strategic Partners, VMware

VMware by the numbers..

Founded 1998

2007 rev. $1.33B projected $1.8-1.9B

6100 employees (almost doubled since Jan, current hiring freeze)..

50% year on year growth for last 8 years, limited

120,000 customers, 87% deployed in production, 43% standardising on VMware Infrastructure (i.e. VMotion, HA, Backup, etc.)

 

3rd software company to maintain 50% revenue growth after reaching $1B (other two being Microsoft & Oracle)

 

reasons/uses for virtualisation (with VMware of course! ;-)) 

 

Server Consolidation & Containment – eliminate server sprawl by deploying systems into virtual machines…

Infrastructure Provisioning – reduce time to provision new infrastructure to minutes with sophisticated automation capabilities and standardised machine templates.

Business Continuity – reduce cost and complexity of BC by encapsulating entire systems into files that can be replicated and restored to any server

Test and Development– rapid provision and re-provision of test & dev environments; store libraries or pre-configured test machines

Enterprise Desktop / Virtual Desktop Infrastructure– secure unmanaged PCs. Alternatively, provide standardised enterprise desktop environments hosted on secure, reliable, centrally managed servers.

Legacy Application re-hosting – migrate legacy O/S & apps to virtual machines running on faster and newer hardware for better/improved reliability.

 

TCO on server consolidation typically 6 months… ?!? http://www.vmware.com/go/calculator

 

Greenness– Qualcomm – reduced 900+ servers, 11.2 tonnes of CO2 per server saved!

 

ESXi / VMware Virtualisation Layer – 32MB, free download – smaller, tighter, less to go wrong!

Can be specified and shipped pre-installed with servers from HP & Dell..

 

Trigger points for VDI… hmmm I missed that one…

 

2008: the year of automation!

Automation = Business Agility

Automate IT processes (Lifecycle management from machine birth through death/retirement)

Create resource pools

Capacity on-demand

 

Disaster Recovery

DR in the virtual world is orders of magnitude simpler in the virtual world.. e.g. hardware and firmware levels can be different across DR sites as the virtual layer is consistent

Turn manual recovery run books into automated

 

Test & Development

Developer productivity – >75% reduction in server to staff ratio, 10x reduction in system config time, 20% acceleration in system development lifecycle time

 

A UK ‘small’ business example..

BT consolidated 1503 servers, est 375 racks of x86 ay 5 sites replaced with 30 at 3 sites

4509 network ports down to 168!
 

Afternoon session: David Day, Technical Services Director, VMware
David’s session was a fast paced, technical deep dive into various aspects of VMware virtualisation, including some complimentary technologies.  He also ran through some demonstrations including an unplanned, unrehearsed demo (always a brave thing to do) – everything worked like a dream! (its good stuff this VMware ;-).

I’d love to give more detail other than David clearly knows his stuff and then some!, however and unfortuantely I was against the clock getting our EBS 2008 PR submitted – had to be out of the door for a 16:00 release… see https://reubenjcook.wordpress.com/2008/11/12/windows-essential-business-server-2008-launch/

Will & I did, however, have a chance to look somewhat confused with VMware… (before the event of course!! ;-)).

 vmware-will  vmware-reub2

 

 

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Green IT Expo – London 5th November

Wednesday 5th November, 2008

As founder and CTO of a small IT consultancy & Microsoft Gold partner ‘Full Circle Technology Limited – www.thefullcircle.com – I often attend trade shows and events.  On Wednesday I went along to the Green IT Expo (www.greenitexpo.co.uk) at the Barbican Center in London, and made a few scribbles from the day…

“Gartner predicts that Green IT will be the No.1 Strategic Technology for 2008, accelerating and expanding the focus that came to the forefront in 2007.”
Source – Gartner Inc

I had some very interesting conversations with various vendors and attendees on various things Green IT related, and some not so… I also attended some very interesting seminars, these stood out for me:
 
Virtualisation as an IT Optimiser

Hosted by Tikiri Wanduragala, Modular Systems Senior Consultant, IBM

Today’s enterprises are confronted by a rapidly growing stream of disruptive forces, e.g. globalisation, mobile devices, new collaboration models, energy management and emerging economies. At the same time, information technology is rapidly expanding to make many new applications economically viable. However, the cost of managing IT has doubled since 2000, putting the datacentre at risk. As corporations intensify their focus on delivering innovation and globally integrating their business design, pressure to improve datacentre efficiency and agility will continue to grow.

Virtualisation, the de-coupling of resources from the physical environment, offers a solution through greatly improved resource management and will render non-virtualised IT obsolete over the next 3-5 years. Successful organisations will make virtualisation an essential part of their data centre optimisation plans. IBM will outline four specific actions you can take now to help improve efficiency and agility through virtualisation.

x86 systems are the driver, simply because of the numbers involved.

25 new x86 servers coming on-line every minute and they are switched on 24×7!

A play station has 8 cores, more powerful than most x86 servers!
Why? Because we all demand faster, quicker, shorter…

Centralised computing is back in as opposed to the 80’s-90’s distributed dream

Server consolidation is just the start, the desktop will happen, further centralisation.

If you virtualize you have to do the lot! I/O and storage, otherwise you loose the resilience benefits

Start thinking about servers or desktops as a file then the architecture changes accordingly

Virtualization 1.0
test & dev
slower than the real thing

Virtualization 2.0
business continuity – HA / DR
performance improvements – load balancing, resource streamlining, etc

Virtualization will drive architectural advancement – servers no longer being 10% utilised, but 80%+ utilised, however…

Your eggs will be in one basket, so it had better be a good basket!

Think Different! 😉

Virtualization enables consolidation, the more you consolidate the better the returns!

Management needs to be strong – people, process and technology

High Availability is critical!

Virtualization introduces standardization and therefore allows repeatable, scriptable systems management, deployment, etc.

However, if you do it badly it is a rope to hang yourself, and it will be a much swifter end!

Akin to moving from a relationship to a marraige!

 

Why Green IT & Virtualisation Should be Top of the Financial Director’s Agenda
Hosted by Adam Ryan, Strategic Services Director, Ben Stollard, Director of Consultancy Practise, VirtualizeIT

GreenIT and Virtualisation have become the latest IT buzzwords and every product or service is clamouring to establish its green credentials, VirtualizeIT will cut through the hyperbole to illustrate that the green revolution utilising Virtualisation is actually saving organisations hundreds of thousands of pounds whilst also enabling greater corporate environmental responsibility.

VMware’s EMEA consultancy partner of the year 2008

Cost benefits of server virtualization

Finance sector led the way

Ave IT spend 2.3% of turnover unlikely to change (costs per user relatively unchanged) – Gartner

VDI objection – reduction in local processing power is least popular…

Perception of utlisation is much higher than the reality!

No other company asset would be tolerated that is only used 3% of the time!

Industry ave for server utilisation is less than 9%

AIB had 450+ servers and haven’t bought a new server in 18months, now 43 servers but could be halfed although now fully FT DR capability with c.20 servers split across 2 DC’s

49 x DL380 c. 465w to 6 x IBM virtualized env. Saving £39K PA

The change has to be seamless – changing the engines of an airliner in flight analogy

Use your D/R estate also for test & dev to ensure utilisation numbers

Making a compelling investment case

Consultancy costs to virtualized…
S/W isn’t the main cost!

MS reckon on 10m virtual servers in the market within 18 months

Desktop revenue is falling! The move back to centralised computing is underway

VDI provides great opportunity for security enhancements

Difficult to justify on a basic utility an hardware cost is difficult, the management costs is where it’s at.

Although economies of scale factors – larger the estate, greater the returns

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Why virtualise when a server costs less than a desktop… (bar ‘green IT’ of course!)

 

As part of our business – an IT consulting firm called “The Full Circle” www.thefullcirle.com – and as a Microsoft Gold Partner that likes to ahead of the game by being an early adopter, we are always playing with new software and that means building and rebuilding boxes.  Clearly virtualisation can make huge savings, especially in time but not always is virtualisation suitable (such as testing the latest 64-bit drivers and support packs).

However recently I came across an HP Proliant ML110 G5 server (dual core Xeon 2.33GHz, 1GB RAM expandable to 8GB, 250GB SATA, Gigabit Ethernet) for only £220 + VAT which is about £100 cheaper than HP’s value DX2300 desktop range and better spec’d (well bar the 8MB Matrox GPU! ;-).

I sent a mail to my colleages titled “An HP server for less than a desktop?  Virtualise when you can have a physical?”

 

Bonkers!

 

HP ProLiant ML110 G5 Xeon 3065 2.33/1333 Dual-Core, 1x1GB, Non Hot Plug SATA

250 GB, DVD±RW (+R double layer), Gigabit Ethernet – £220 inc VAT

 

I’m in the process of building a new ML110 G5 with Windows 2008 Server Enterprise Core (x64) which is now RTM with a view to this being a Hyper-V platform for a number of other guest VM’s including my main desktop which may or may not prove a little optimistic re: things like driver support, etc. we will see…

 

Note – you need to enable the CPU VM support before installing, it is disabled by default.

 

will aim to get a physical Vista platform built to test suitability for normal desktop use and may even try restoring an existing XP image just for the hell of it but won’t be spending too much time troubleshooting if it doesn’t play nicely for obvious reasons.

  

In the meantime some interesting & essential reading below if you are thinking of Windows Server 2008 virtualisation…

 

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/default.aspx

 

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/virtualization-consolidation.aspx

 

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/hyperv-install.aspx

 

I’d say the RC1 ref’s re: Hyper-V support are now out of date as I’ve successfully installed it on the RTM platform I built this morning, although already running into issues with ‘core’ that may have me reinstalling with a nice GUI such as:

 

Enabling Hyper-V in a Server Core deployment

The following steps will replace steps 4-7 above for a Server Core installation.

1.Type “Start /w ocsetup Microsoft-Hyper-V” to enable Hyper-V role.

2.     Restart when prompted.
Note: To Manage Hyper-V, you can remotely connect to the server from an existing Hyper-V Manager MMC on a different system.

 

I think without training (I’ve re-included the recent WS2008 links) it may be too much to learn/dig around with not enough time (other priorities!) trying to pursue the core build, I can feel a shutdown /c “rebuild with GUI” /f /r coming on… 😉

 

 

 …since writing that mail in mid-February I’ve been on the UK Hyper-V RDP training with Microsoft and have learnt lots about server-core and just how difficult it currently is to remote manage… will be posting some findings and tips n tricks soon… (althojgh next job building a T61p laptop to be a Hyper-V host for some Centro / Essential Business Server work we are doing… 🙂

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