CyrusOne, a Houston-based data center operator, looks like it’s set to expand further in Austin.
The company has announced the purchase of 22 acres in the MetCenter business park in Austin. The company currently has a 54,000 square foot data center there.
Last year, CyrusOne bought 54 acres in San Antonio and Houston and it owns 24 acres in the Dallas area.
Overall, CyrusOne has 920,000 gross square feet of space in Texas with 560,000 square feet of data center capacity, according to Gary Wojtaszek, president and chief executive officer.
“We estimate that the property we now own in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin is capable of yielding an additional 2.5 million gross square feet and 1.6 million square feet of data center capacity, effectively tripling what we currently offer at our Texas facilities,” Wojtaszek said in a news release. “Securing the ownership of 100 acres in Texas markets where we already have a strong presence allows for construction of what we believe is the largest multi-facility interconnected data center platform in the country.”
The company connects its data centers through its CyrusOne National Internet Exchange, which lets its customers host data at more than one location for backup data.
CyrusOne reports its customers include more than 125 members of the Fortune 1000.
Data centers gobble up energy. But some of the smartest minds in the information technology industry want to change that.
They are meeting in San Antonio today and tomorrow to rethink the old ways of putting together servers, power and cooling units and the rest of the guts of data centers to save energy and increase efficiency.
It’s called the Open Compute Project, launched last April by Facebook with the goal of creating the most efficient computer hardware and software for data centers. Of course not everyone has joined the project. Google, Microsoft and Amazon are not on board. But lots of major players like Facebook and Rackspace are.
And in just a year, the Open Compute Project has made data centers 38 percent more efficient to run and 24 percent less expensive to build, according to the organization. The group comes up with new hardware and software standards and then they share those with everyone else. The entire data center industry benefits from the open collaborative work of the best engineers in a variety of companies.
About 500 data center leaders from Intel, AMD, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Facebook, Rackspace and more met today at Rackspace’s headquarters in San Antonio for the third summit designed to hammer out designs and think up projects to improve the way data centers operate.
Frank Frankovsky with Facebook
Wednesday morning, Frank Frankovsky, vice president of hardware design and supply chain at Facebook, gave the keynote address on the progress made in the last year.
First off, Frankovsky showed a slide listing dozens of new companies that have joined the movement including HP, AMD, Fidelity, Quanta, Tencent, Salesforce.com, VMware, HP and others. Frankovsky wrote a blog post on May 2 providing a full list of new members and detailing all the accomplishments in the past year.
And later on the stage, executives from HP and Dell both unveiled their newly redesigned servers dubbed Project Coyote and Project Zeus respectively.
The objectives of the Open Compute Project are scale, value, simplicity, sustainability and openness, Frankovsky said. That involves rethinking the entire data center from the racks that house the servers to the electrical systems that connect them together.
“We’re ditching the 19 inch rack design,” he said.
A big part of that is creating new 21-inch width standard for racks inside data centers to replace the outdated 19-inch racks, which date back to the 1950s, Frankovsky said.
“We want people to differentiate less and innovate more,” he said. Following Frankovsky, Glenn Keels, HP, director of marketing of its hyperscale business unit, said the reason HP joined the Open Compute Project was because “leaders do not sit on their laurels” and “leaders develop standards.” HP is number one or number two in the data center markets it serves, Keels said. HP powers some of the largest cloud data centers in the world including Facebook, he said.
The cloud market is small but growing exponentially between now and 2020, Keels said.
“HP has begun to think differently,” Keels said. HP is transforming servers and changing the experience with projects like moonshot, voyager and odyssey aimed at improving efficiencies in the data center, Keels said.
“Open Compute Project is the most robust group of problem solvers focused on the data center space and moving from technology and form factors of 1995 to today to reclaim stranded time, space and power,” Keels said.
“We have to reinvent ourselves every time and Open Compute is a fantastic forum for us to do that,” Keels said. “Standardization has the ability to unlock innovation.”
Keels unveiled HP’s Coyote open rack standard at the conference.
Then Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager of Dell’s Data Center Solutions Group, showed off Dell’s new server and storage designs that meet the Open Rack specifications.
“Dell is deeply rooted in our support for open alliances,” Norrod said. “It’s in our DNA…We are very active in our support for open source.”
Rackspace is also active in the open source movement and in creating less expensive and more efficient data centers. Late Wednesday morning, Mark Roenigk, Rackspace’s chief operating officer, detailed the company’s plans in an interview.
Rackspace has nine data centers globally including two in the United Kingdom and one in Hong Kong. Its U.S. data centers are in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and the Washington, D.C. area,.
“We shuttered two in San Antonio in the last six months due to inefficiencies,” Roenigk said. “There’s a great example of how quickly this technology is moving.”
In the last two years, Rackspace has seen a 22 percent efficiency improvement in its data centers, Roenigk said.
Rackspace plans to leverage the Open Compute Project designs for computer servers, storage, network and utilities in its next generation data center, which it plans soon, Roenigk said.
Overall, Rackspace has 80,000 servers online serving 172,000 customers today.
“We want to be influential in the design of the hardware,” Roenigk said.
So Rackspace works closely with original equipment makers like HP and Dell, he said.
“Most recently we’ve increased the density of a rack from 7 kilowatts to 18 kilowatts a rack providing more computing power coming out of a smaller footprint,” Roenigk said. “That means less cost which is passed on to our customers.”
Sustainability and saving energy is a core covenant of the Open Computer Project, Roenigk said.
“We were recently judged by Greenpeace in a report “How Clean Is Your Cloud,” Roenigk said. “We’re pleased that even though we’re a small player in the market, we’re in the middle of the pack.”
“We think we can be a big influencer in data center efficiency and the power used to power those data centers,” Roenigk said.
Those decisions on being green stem from the sources that Rackspace uses to power its data centers. That’s why it has bypassed states, which provide cheap power from coal sources in favor of hydro electric, wind and natural gas sources.
“We’re really about serving customers,” Roenigk said. “They pull us and push us in different directions all the time.”
Two years ago, only one in 25 customers ever brought up the subject of sustainability when talking about hosting, Roenigk said.
“Today it is more like six or seven in ten,” he said. “It is now a real part of the sourcing and procurement process.”
On Thursday, engineers attending the summit will hammer out their ideas in special sessions that go very, very deep, Roenigk said. The Open Compute Project has a formal process for people to bring forth their ideas, he said. The board decides which projects are going to drive the most value to the open source community. Then the engineers meet once or several times a week. When they are done, they publish their design specifications to members of the Open Compute Project to use, Roenigk said.
“Linux took 20 years to become a standard,” Roenigk said. “We will do what Linux did in 20 years in five years or less.”
The following video is from Rackspace and explains its role in the Open Compute Project.
By SUSAN LAHEY
Special contributor to Silicon Hills News
Left: Larry Wikelius, cofounder, vp software engineering Right: David Borland, cofounder vp hardware engineering
As startup stories go, Calxeda’s is pretty dramatic: Mobile tech expert Barry Evans cooks up the idea of trading energy gobbling data server chips with small, efficient mobile phone chips that only need a tenth the power. They’re built to conserve energy when their hardware is idle. It’s a solution that should mitigate the growing global problem that the world demands ever more data but the energy costs to operate mega data centers make it impossible to satisfy them. Evans solution “is obvious… in the sense that every really elegant solution is obvious after the fact,” said VP and principal analyst Richard Fichera of Forrester Research Inc.
Existing data centers–often giant buildings filled with servers that store, analyze and process information for individual companies, the internet and cloud computing systems–pump out tremendous amounts of heat but require cooling to protect the data. Globally they consumed 31 gigawatts of energy last year—roughly the same amount as New York City consumed on its highest peak day back in 2006. Evans’ idea is to switch from giant, sweaty workhorse servers to small, efficient servers on tiny batteries.
At first people tell him he’s crazy. Not only that, but the recession causes all venture capital funds to dry up for early startups and it looks like Evans has a much longer row to hoe than he anticipated. But he and his partners continue to experiment with the idea and two years later, recession or not, his company raises $48 million in venture financing—a huge sum for a startup that doesn’t intend to manufacture its own product. A year after that Calxeda announces who will be handling the server side of its venture: server giant Hewlett Packard.
“Companies were building data centers by rivers, in Finland…everybody was working to solve the issues around the problem but nobody was working to solve the problem,” said Larry Wikelius, Calxeda cofounder and vice president of software engineering . “This is the first time somebody said, ‘We can take power out of the equation.’”
Evans is a 20-year veteran of the semiconductor industry who started Calxeda after leaving his position as vice president and general manager of Marvell’s Application Processing Business Unit in the Cellular and Handheld Group (acquired from Intel). He spent a year talking to end users about using a mobile-type power source for servers, one that would only require a tenth the energy of existing servers and would work better with servers fluctuating energy needs.
His first partners were his cofounders, Wikelius and David Borland, vice president of hardware engineering. The company planned to model the chip somewhat after those being produced by British mobile chip manufacturer, ARM, and made several attempts before figuring out how to do it. It was crucial to the founders to create a solution that could be plugged into existing data centers without major overhauls, Wikelius said.
“Too many companies say ‘If you just remove your software and change all your infrastructure we have a great product for you,’” he said. “We support standards so it’s easy to plug in to the existing infrastructure.”
But it’s not exactly plug and play, according to Fichera.
“ If you mean recompile, reload and it works fine, with some applications it works that way,” he said. “Others will have to be completely recoded.”
Still, Borland said, finding the simplest solution is part of Calxeda culture. “Calxeda is a loose Latin translation of the name we started with—Smooth Stone. “ In the David and Goliath story, he points out, when everybody else despaired in the face of a big problem, David applied the simplest answer, a smooth stone.
“We’re not interested in science projects, ideas that make you say ‘That’s really cool, but how do you apply it” Wikelius said.
Finding the simplest solution, however, has required building a complex network of partners who can speak to all the development issues. And that, too, has become part of Calxeda’s culture. The company has a dozen or so partners it talks about in its Trailblazer initiative. But it has many more it doesn’t talk about. One it has connected with is Pervasive Data Rush, a big data solution of Pervasive Software.
“Calxeda and Pervasive have a shared interest in providing solutions for one of the key challenges of IT today – the economics and energy consumption of data centers,” said David Inbar, senior director of sales and marketing of Pervasive Big Data Products and Solutions. “The problem is, typically only 15 to 30 percent of processor capacity is being utilized at any given time. The rest of the capacity is idle, but still burning energy. Pervasive DataRush technology gives people the ability to build programs that run in parallel, taking full advantage of processors to get lower costs and better energy efficiency.”
That’s the kind of problem Calxeda’s been hashing over with its partners to make sure its solutions work. The founders were deliberate about the order in which they moved forward, building the company for three years before announcing its server partner. They kept their options open as long as they could, Wikelius said, because things change fast in this industry and you may have knowledge and information next year that’s missing this year.
When it did finally announce its server manufacturing partner November first, it put the little Austin startup in a whole new class. To come out of the gate with the most prominent dance partner on the floor sets the company well ahead of competitors.
And it does have competitors. Other companies in the game include Applied Micro which has an intermediate level ARM based chip for servers. But, said Fichera, Calxeda’s offering a lot of different pieces of the architecture on one server which sets them ahead in reducing the footprint and the need for power. Calxeda has other advantages. One was Evan’s experience in the mobile space. Another, Wikelius said, was the company’s intense focus on producing this product for internet and cloud server industries. Big companies couldn’t afford such focus. And finally, Evans said: “You just have to go faster than everybody else.”
Teaming up with HP puts Calxeda on a new playing field. HPs new servers will be called Redstone. They’ll take up a fraction of the space a rack of servers formerly required and will share resources. As a Wall Street Journal story put it they will “sip energy lightly.” HP announced that a typical server project of 400 servers in 10 racks would cost $3.3 million to purchase, install and operate. Redstone runs four times as many servers in half of one rack and draws a tenth the energy, dropping the price to $1.2 million.
In the near future, Fichera said, the impact of Calxeda’s work will be seen more in the transformation of the way the industry thinks about data centers, rather than in big profits. After a few years, however, it’s likely to be lucrative niche.
In the meantime, Calxeda and its partners are thoroughly enjoying themselves. The variety of working with all these partners makes Calxeda a fascinating ecosystem.
“There are a bunch of people who would never work for the same company in our partnerships, it makes a whole ecosystem,” Borland said. “It makes us much more than a chip provider.”
From the partner perspective, Inbar said, “it’s fun (working with Calxeda). We share a lot of culture.”
The partnerships work for a couple reasons. For one, Wikelius said, Calxeda is very transparent with partners and employees. For another, they’ve created a culture that invites people to rethink everything. Just because a server has always been a giant box and a small chip runs mobile phones doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
Working in that environment, with these people is Evans’ favorite part.
“I love it,” he said. “I’m enjoying the ride.”
Calxeda introduced its high-performance low power semiconductors Tuesday to power Hewlett Packard’s servers.
The Austin-based start-up held an event in Palo Alto to introduce its new products along with its partner HP.
But in its hometown, employees, customers, analysts and others gathered to watch a live stream broadcast of the event and to celebrate. They met up at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar in downtown Austin at 2 p.m.
Calxeda, formerly Smooth Stone, closed on $48 million in funding a little more than a year ago. HP’s new server platform, called Project Moonshot, is designed to reduce costs and energy use for data center customers.
The HP Redstone Server Development Platform uses Calxeda EnergyCore ARM Cortex processors. HP plans for future versions to include Intel’s Atom-based processors among others. The platform is expected to be available by June of next year.
The PC market is alive and well.
“We don’t see PCs going away at all,” Michael Dell said Wednesday afternoon, during a question and answer session at a Dell World press and analysts event in Austin.
“There are a billion and a half PCs in the world and that seems to me like a pretty big number,” Dell said. “Estimates are that there will be 2 billion PCs in a few years so it’s a growth market.”
While the industry shifts to more mobile devices like smart phones and tablets, Dell sees those devices as augmenting the PC and not replacing it. He will talk more about Dell’s plans for innovation during an 8 a.m. keynote address to the inaugural Dell World Thursday at the Austin Convention Center. About 2,000 people are expected to attend the sold-out event, which runs through Friday. Dell is also focused on capturing Hewlett Packard’s customers during this turbulent time as HP goes through leadership changes and company realignment.
“I also believe that there is certainly a benefit to us, an opportunity that is created by the turmoil and uncertainty at one of our major competitors,” Dell said.
Dell released a survey this week by Technology Business Research, that showed most of the 130 HP U.S. customers with at least 500 customers, surveyed reported concern with the direction HP has taken.
HP announced plans to jettison its $40 billion PC business and become a software and services company like IBM. But those plans are in limbo since the departure of its old CEO Leo Apotheker. Now under the leadership of its new CEO, Meg Whitman, HP may keep its PC business after all, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday.
To further diversify its business, Dell has also shifted into the data center, solutions and services business over the past several years. It’s not the same PC maker that Dell founded 27 years ago.
Steve Schuckenbrock, president of Dell Services, reported that Dell is number one in services in the healthcare industry and number two in the education space around the world.
“We started out as a product company,” Dell said. In the last decade, Dell has evolved into a solutions company, but one that still cares about PCs, he said.
During the last 18 months, Dell has been one of the most active acquirers of businesses in the information technology industry, Dell said. It has added companies like Compellant, Kace Networks, Force 10 Networks and SecureWorks. Dell looks at more than 250 companies a year to decide which 8 or so it wants to acquire, Dell said.
“In last 12 months, earnings per share grew by 83 percent,” Dell said. The growth is coming from acquisitions and organic growth, he said.
Dell has also made a big push into the data center business and cloud computing. It has made $1 billion worth of investments in data centers this year. Dell just announced the opening of new data centers in the United Kingdom and in Quincy, Washington. This year, Dell has also opened nine Solutions Centers and plans to open three more by the end of this year.
A reporter asked Dell his thoughts on China-based Lenovo, which bought out IBM’s PC business, becoming the number two PC maker worldwide. Dell said that his company focused on profits and revenue and not necessarily number of PC units sold. He called Lenovo a great competitor, but said he didn’t worry about rankings. Research firm IDC reported on Wednesday that Lenovo overtook Dell for the first time to become the number two PC maker. HP ranked first with an 18 percent market share, followed by Lenovo with nearly 14 percent and then Dell with 12 percent.
The total information technology industry is worth $3 trillion and only 10 companies have 1 percent of that market and Dell is one of the companies that has more than 1 percent of that market. But it’s a highly fragmented market and not a single company dominates the industry, he said.
Dell also shared his thoughts on the fast growing tablet marketplace, which he says “is basically an iPad market.” He sees the challengers to the iPad are Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices.
“Those are the two primary alternatives to iPad,” Dell said. Dell appears to be backing the Windows 8 system for the tablet market. It will announce a wide variety of products around Windows 8 when it is released, Dell said.