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Dell Vostro 3400 Battery www.all-laptopbattery.com

Which brings us to storage. Now, my preference is for my servers to boot from a pair of mirrored on-board hot-swap disks, for two simple reasons: it doesn’t cost much more than a diskless machine, and it means you can boot the beast even when it is not connected to the core storage.Ah, the storage. I mentioned that as part of the server infrastructure, but in fact some kind of shared storage is the order of the day in most organisations to give best bang for the buck.Storage is an interesting paradox. If you go for on-board storage you will waste money whatever you do. Buy a server with modest capacity for disks and you will kick yourself when you run out and have to move to a bigger box (or do a bare-metal rebuild having swapped out all the small disks for bigger ones).Buy a server with spare disk slots that you don’t fill and you will take up rack space that costs you money. Buy a server with plenty of disk slots and fill them with disks and you end up with puddles of unused storage all over your data centre.The alternative, though, is to use shared storage to minimise wastage. The problem is that this resource has to be fast enough to keep up with the servers that are sharing it. That means three locations for the potential bottleneck: the SAN, the storage chassis setup and the disks themselves.Disk technology is progress is relentless, with new and faster stuff appearing every few months
There is no reason why the SAN should be slow. 10GbE (or even bonded Gigabit links) should easily keep you going with the average storage array, and as we have said this type of networking is cheap. And if you like Fibre Channel, a 16Gbps implementation is not the cheapest but it works well and is fast.

The disks are another thing. Disk technology is the most prominent area where progress is relentless, with new and faster stuff appearing every few months or at worst years. The price of the new stuff remains high for a long time before the technology becomes sufficiently commoditised.Think of how the cloud works: all the big providers let you choose solid state disk for a premium price or spinning disk for much less – you get to limit your systems’ throughput in the interests of cost management.Everything else is pretty scalable without breaking the bank, partly because of modest unit costs and partly because in a pay-as-you-go model you can crank the processing and CPU power up and down and pay only for what you use.The same logic applies to your on-premise infrastructure. I have already noted that by using a virtualisation layer on your server hardware you can make the most of the CPU and RAM resource available: you can over-provision your virtual machines so that when machine A pauses to think about what to do next, machines B, C and D can nick the resource and use it.But those machines will seldom be able to shift their disk usage up and down in the same way: regardless of how much I/O happens, most of the content of the output from the servers to the storage will sit on the disks for days, weeks or months.

Realistically, then, storage is always going to be the pinch point. Why do you think the storage vendors make such a big deal about the quality-of-service features of their storage subsystems?“You can guarantee your database server the IOPS it needs,” they proclaim, meaning: “Your storage will be so contended that you need to be able to make some guarantees that your core systems will have fast enough access.”And upgrading storage is not a trivial task: while you can whack in a new CPU card and add it to your ESXi host in minutes, or stuff in some 128GB DIMMs and have them immediately available, upgrading storage is a far more involved and much longer process (and it needs extra rack space and power into the bargain).There is absolutely no excuse for having the pinch point of your infrastructure in the LAN. Insight (other kit vendors exist) will sell you a two-port 10GbE LAN card for £350, and a 24-port 10GbE switch for less than £4,000. So if the network is slowing you down, you are doing something wrong.

Server power is also very cheap to expand when things start to get congested, starting with memory. Assuming you have bought kit with a bit of expansion in mind (particularly with regard to spare RAM slots) then expanding is a ridiculously cheap thing to do. Just £1,500 for a 128GB DDR-4 module? That is less than £12 per gigabyte. No excuse for a bottleneck there either, then.And even if you have to add to the processing power of your server estate, you are not breaking the bank there either. Adding a twin-processor server to the estate won’t need you to grope down the back of the company sofa for stray 50p pieces, particularly if you maximise the use of the hardware through virtualisation and dynamic resource allocation.The SAN? Well, if it is iSCSI then the 10GbE costs mentioned above apply; and if it is Fibre Channel then there is a cost but not a vast one (£1,000 for a two-port 16Gbps HBA, for example, is not that hideous).

Which leaves us with the storage. The vendor has given you the opportunity to share out the IOPS, which means it knows it is never going keep up with demand.If you want to add this year’s technology then you have either to pull out the old storage, put in the new, and restore from a backup in a socking big downtime period; or find the space and power to put in the new stuff, copy the data while online, then either decom the old stuff or more likely demote it to less critical tasks.Worse still, the problem is compounded by storage being the fastest-evolving technology. You are not going to sit with your Gigabit Ethernet LAN or SAN, waiting for the successor to 10GbE, as it is not imminent and anyway stuffing 10GbE in its place is easy.Similarly few people wait for the processor after next from Intel or AMD, at least not at a server level. You just go with the most sensible of the current options.Maybe with Fibre Channel you will wait for the new 32GB or 128GB variants, but on balance you probably won’t because although they are projected for 2016 nothing is certain and they will be expensive. So if Fibre Channel is your choice you will whack in the 16Gbps flavour right now.

But with storage: do you go for SAS or SATA, or 7.2k, 10k or 15k spinning disk, or one of today’s flavours of SSD, or one of the new flavours that are promised for a few months’ time?The temptation to stick with something slow and likely to be a bottleneck instead of leaping too soon into the next generation is strong. It is something I used to see 20 years ago: the team I supported were always agonising between keeping their crappy PowerBook and waiting for the next whizz-bang colour/hi-res Duo, or upgrading and gaining speed but living with low-res greyscale.Storage, then, is where your infrastructure bottleneck is inevitably destined to appear. Spend your money ensuring that the other, much cheaper areas of your world are kept up to speed because if you don’t, you are doing something wrong.And learn to make the most of your analysis tools and the features the vendors give you to tune and customise the I/O of the kit. Although the data river narrows when it hits the storage world, it is probably still wide enough for your purposes if you use it wisely.

Before we finish, let me sow a little seed of an idea about where all this disk I/O comes from: applications.There are some amazingly well-written applications. Take the popular database management systems: SQL Server, Oracle and even the likes of MySQL and PostgreSQL are tuned wonderfully, with super-efficient code layers for accessing memory and disk storage.Yes, they take a lot of memory and processor cycles, but the reward in terms of number and data crunching power is immense.And then we let developers write code on them. SQL Server uses its indexes brilliantly – until some numpty of a developer writes code that misses the indexes and does half-million-row table scans.Oracle PL/SQL is an elegant, usable language that lets you do unbelievably funky things, even writing order-n-squared nested loops-within-loops because nobody taught you how to design algorithms.

There are some brilliant developers in this world. I have had the privilege of working with several. But my goodness, there are some awful ones whose code takes hopelessness to new levels.It is said that there are more stars in the universe than there are in all the grains of sand on Earth. This may be true, but I’d warrant that across the planet there are even more misused IOPS and CPU cycles than that.So yes, your storage is rightly the bottleneck in your infrastructure. But I bet that is being exacerbated by crap code. Computex 2015 Computex day zero kicked off in Taipei today, and after some pleasantries got down to business with an ASUS keynote that pitched style over substance as a good thing.Taipei is ASUS’ home town and the company is arguably Taiwan’s most famous export, so chairman Jonney Shih likes to put on a show before the rest of the vendors get too rowdy with their own announcements. This year Shih started with a video of nature in all its splendour. I almost expected a gravelly voiceover to start reciting homilies about the importance of family and how I can protect it with some very affordable insurance.

Shih instead declared that “Inspiration is what surrounds us, like the mesmerising beauty and power of nature. The fusion of simplicity and peace. The perfect balance between beauty and strength” before exhorting us all to “Join me on this journey to Zensation!”The first step on that journey turned out to be the ZenAiO, “A fusion of art and technology” in the form of an all-in-one PC with a Corei7, GTX 960M gaming graphic that Shih reckons will make your home more beautiful and make you a fragmeister to reckon with. Voice recognition and Intel’s RealSense both get guernseys, the better to help you chat with Windows 10′s Cortana personal assistant or play controller-free gamesWe are inspired by life. I collect memories. Why? Because the most important memories in life do not rewind or repeat.
We’ll spare you the rest, and move on to the products she introduced, starting with what looks like a perfectly good but dull 4K monitor. Next came the “Zenfone selfie” which Chuang reckons means you’ll “See the perfect you”. That slogan reflects the fact that Chuang told ASUS’ packed press conference “I’m not the only narcissist in the room.” The 800-odd journos present, mostly male, t-shirt-wearing and perhaps grazing a less-than-optimal BMI, didn’t seem convinced by that statement.

The new phone has image enhancement softwaere Chuang likened to “digital makeup” and 13MP front and rear cameras so you can always look digitally selfie-tastic. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 makes the 5.5 incher hum.Shih returned with a new range of ZenPad fondleslabs which he deemed “The perfect fusion of fashion and technology.”“Just like carrying a bag or a wallet that is both stylish and practical, a tablet can serve as a loyal companion that hosts all your essentials in style,” Shih said. The new range therefore comes with lots of lovely new finishes and cases. There’s also a new “Zen Case” that “comes in a range of colours so you can mix and match with your outfits”, thereby making the ZenPad “the most customizable tablet.” There’s also a battery inside, capable of providing 15 hours of power. Another new case sneaks in six speakers, including a subwoofer.The #ZenPad is the perfect fusion of fashion and technology. #Zensation at #computex15 pic.twitter.com/Njlhw9Syd1

And that was it. Which was a little disappointing, because last year Shih had the decidedly odd five-in-one Windows/Android/phone/tablet/laptop to show off. And this year he didn’t bother to mention the ZenWatch 2, a new ChromeBox or new mini-PCs that will give Intel’s NUCs a run for their money.That such fare was overlooked, and that ASUS used a designer to emphasise style, shows the company is currently most concerned with how you’ll look toting a gadget, with a nod to the stuff that makes them go fast and a promise that the user experience has been improved. That experience, however, is now expected to include feeling good when your fondleslab makes your friends envious. And that’s not something to which Intel or Qualcomm make obvious contributions for most buyers.

IT has come a long way in the last few years. Traditionally, the IT department lived in an ivory tower, but commercial pressures forced it to change its stance. IT service management (ITSM) tools and techniques helped to reposition IT within the business, making it more accountable and more responsive to departmental needs.For years, ITSM was something unique to the boys in the engine room. But now, companies are gradually rolling out service management software to other departments.If ITSM helped IT to better serve the rest of the business, then perhaps it could offer the same benefits to departments including legal, finance, and HR. After all, these departments have to serve employees too.In an age where cloud services are proliferating across organisations often without IT input, service management software can potentially provide a sane cloud delivery platform for the entire business.It’s high time that ITSM got rid of the ‘IT’ and looked at service management as something that can be used far outside the IT department. So, how do we take the best parts of ITSM and apply it elsewhere? Some of the answers lie in software, and some lie in technique.

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