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Deprecating the Datacenter? 367

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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Deprecating the Datacenter?

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  • by nizo ( 81281 ) * on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:01PM (#16396357) Homepage Journal
    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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Thansal ( 999464 )
      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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:10PM (#16396545) Homepage
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by El Torico ( 732160 )
        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".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DeadChobi ( 740395 )
          I don't think the prediction of a paperless society is wrong. I just think the timeframe was wrong. Analysts have a tendancy to severely overestimate the effect a new piece of technology will have on something. As a result, instead of the 15 years needed for something to start taking hold, they'll say "It'll be widespread within 3 years." I do see a paperless society becoming more mainstream, especially with the significant reduction in price of LCDs and especially of pressure-sensing LCDs. There's a guy wh
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Ucklak ( 755284 )
            Todays teens not wanting to own the physical media for music is really the first step to a paperless society.

            We're slowly moving away from `gotta have it` to `I can get it anywhere so I don't need it` mentality that the younger generation has.
      • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:21PM (#16396789) Homepage
        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.
        • 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 choi
          • 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.
        • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot,kadin&xoxy,net> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:33PM (#16397049) Homepage Journal
          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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by PFI_Optix ( 936301 )
            Quick rant on printing slides, and PP use in general:

            Power Point does NOT by default enhance your presentation. In fact, the vast majority of PP "enabled" presentations I've seen have sucked because the speaker simply read off the slides; this means either the slides would have been better off as a Word document because they're so wordy, or the speech is more of an outline. Write your speech, THEN make your slides to match your speech.

            If you're going to give a handout, copy the text of your slides into an o
        • by avalys ( 221114 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:33PM (#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.
          • Is it now? My understanding was that ordinary black ink on ordinary white paper gives you a contrast ratio of 50:1 to 100:1. LCDs manage ratios of several hundred to one. Unfortunately, they have to do this by being fairly bright, as they can't manage super-pure blacks.

            As to the resolution, of course you're right, even a crappy old laser will pull 180dpi and most printouts are higher; however, digital displays are improving in that department too. Used to be 72ppi was common, then 96 or 100; now there's a r
          • by dpilot ( 134227 )
            Everybody's missed the obvious one...

            Sure you can take a TFT LCD to the john, but when you have to do your paper work, hardcopy conveniently tucks behind the dispensor or can be jimmied between the coathook and the side wall. I tend to prefer not to do something so precarious with a laptop. Laptops might break when they fall 5 feet, paper won't.
        • 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 typ

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jfengel ( 409917 )
          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 re
          • 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.

            I'm laaaazy. I read /. by flicking my scroll wheel after clicking one of my extra mouse buttons to increase the font size 3 times. It's freakin huge, but it's easy to read and the scroll wheel is right there anyway. It's much easier to lounge around doing that then hunched over a piece of paper and actually having to move my arm to flip(!) the pages.

          • VERY Minor nit: I personally have a 133 ppi LCD screen (15" 1600x1200 on my IBM Stinkpad A21p.) IBM has actually had 120+ PPI LCDs for many years.
        • by patrixmyth ( 167599 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:38PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            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.

            While it will take awhile to prove, I suspect that digital representations can be more reliable and less forgeable than paper. The problem is, computers are some of the most mishandled tools around.

            I wouldn't trust paper either if clueless people were always accidentally burning them ("I thought you could set a book down anywhere! How was I to know the sto

            • by merreborn ( 853723 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @04:09PM (#16398741) Journal
              Anyone who's done any serious research into long term archival media will tell you the same thing. If you want access to your records 100 years from now, put them down on acid-free paper, and store them in a controlled environment. CDs, hard drives, floppies -- all crap, in the long run.

              However, paper currently serves many purposes other than archival. There's no need for the phone company to send me a bill every month, for example. I can take care of it over the phone and/or internet; and I do. And us young folks are looking to eliminate *that* paper.

              For archives and books, paper's still the way to go.
        • by phil reed ( 626 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:42PM (#16397257) Homepage
          How is reading paper easier on the eyes than reading a TFT LCD?
          Depends. Is the power on?
        • 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

        • by hal2814 ( 725639 )
          I'm 27 and I use paper quite a bit. I too am a programmer and I don't use paper for the heck of it, but when it's more convenient I'll opt for paper every time. Sometimes I'll print out a reference sheet for an API (or subsection of an API) I'm not familiar with so I can thumb through it without having to tab out of whatever editor I'm running. I also make extensive use of scratch paper when debugging. It's just faster than tabbing back and forth between a scratch pad and an editor. When it comes down
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kent_eh ( 543303 )
          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 pagebecause "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.

          Hmmm. Let's see what I've printed off recently..

          - A couple of pages from a work order so I can take them into the racks with me - I want to connect everything correctly.
          - Some sheet music. Because that laptop doesn't fit on m
    • 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 anyw

    • 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).
      • by jdray ( 645332 )

        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

    • by Anonymous Coward
      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.

    • Not to mention, it's far easier to consildate network security and such to s data center than to hundreds of amorphous wireless devices spread over, say, a city scape.
  • Uh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Skynet ( 37427 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:03PM (#16396371) Homepage
    So where are they going to put the WoW servers?
  • 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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:07PM (#16396477) Journal
      "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.
      • Not to put words in his mouth, but I think Google is providing that "network is the computer" concept when it provides web-delivered applications that replace things currently done on the desktop. E.g., Gmail, Calendar, Spreadsheet, Writely, etc. In those cases, you're moving the application into the datacenter instead of the end-user's PC, so it's a net centralization and not decentralization, but to the user it seems as though "the network is the computer."

        If taken to the extreme -- and I'm not sure that
      • On the other hand, with an intelligent enough software design, it should theoretically be possible to stretch your grid out sparsely around the world instead of having it be concentrated. Perhaps the people who replace google will do it by borrowing 5 percent of the execution time on other people's web servers, and convince people to do it by providing superior integration of services? After all, nothing is forever.
    • ... 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? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:04PM (#16396395) Journal

    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)).

    • 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 ha
    • 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 lea
    • Re: Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kfg ( 145172 ) * on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:38PM (#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.

  • More then Ever. (Score:4, Informative)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:04PM (#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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
    • 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 t

  • He's right! (Score:5, Funny)

    by rlp ( 11898 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:05PM (#16396423)
    As long as you're not concerned about minor issues like physical security, data and communications security, maintainability, scalability, and availability.
  • Security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:05PM (#16396435)
    Security requires control and restriction of physical access. Unless and until you can secure those drill bits, security will always be an issue.
  • Simplistic answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:06PM (#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.

  • 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.
    • 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!
    • 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

      I don't have enough computers collected to make it worth it to play with it yet but the idea of clustering products like OpenMOSIX which provides a single-system-image Linux cluster is that if you lose a single cluster node you lose one http transaction, which your application should be able to survive anyway. (Okay, so it may require a reload...) You don't lose the whole s

  • Information Security

    If you don't care about physical security, then...
  • by SoTuA ( 683507 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:08PM (#16396501)
    With computers becoming so small and easy to distribute over a wireless network

    I'd love to see how.
  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:08PM (#16396511) Journal
    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.
  • 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 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wamatt ( 782485 ) * on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:10PM (#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! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 )
    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 acros
    • It must take forever for your printouts to get mailed to you from the data center. Moving *everything* to a data center is a bad idea. Moving most things to a couple data centers is a better idea than having it at all one of your offices (which does not have any redundancy at all).
  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:10PM (#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...
  • by Travoltus ( 110240 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:11PM (#16396581) Journal
    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!
  • by CiXeL ( 56313 )
    tell that to the craploads of companies right now installing Citrix.

    i'm working myself out of a job contract by contract.
  • And... (Score:2, Insightful)

    So swings the pendulum.
  • by detain ( 687995 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:12PM (#16396613) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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. :-)
  • 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.
  • by Dr. Zowie ( 109983 ) <slashdot@ d e f o r e s t .org> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:18PM (#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.
  • 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
  • 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 (in

  • Hello computer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jerim ( 872022 )
    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
  • Ironic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by databank ( 165049 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:21PM (#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!
  • 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.
  • Ah, memories. (Score:2, Interesting)

    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.
  • 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 price
  • 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.
  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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 Jo
  • 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, multipl
  • by Mr Krinkle ( 112489 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:35PM (#16397091) Homepage
    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)
  • 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.
  • 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
  • So I RTFA (first mistake). What Jonathan seems to be blogging is not that the centralized data storage would go out the window, but the glass walled, polished showcase data center on the main floor. You know, the impressive early Hackers [] datacenter. Already, at many companies, the servers are utilities like the generator or the PBX--stowed away in a room somewhere.

    Now if 20 connected server racks in 20 rooms is better than the big room might be a good question. But I don't think anyone seriously suggests to
  • Google runs a data server farm in nearly 30 locations (some not on line yet) with 700,000 servers? If thats not the largest data center in history, then I dont know what is. Plus MicroSoft, Yahoo and others are building these too.
  • The idea that the centralized data storage location will go away in favor of distributed storage is, frankly, ridiculous.

    Asset management is already a challenge in organizations of any significant size - it's bad enough when your employees lose their laptops; if the loss of the physical asset also means the actual loss of company data, the situation is orders of magnitude worse.

    Distributed devices, moreover, are inherently less reliably available. While you may store all the data you commonly use locally, t
  • . . . are the computers going to be placed where they are really needed?

    He's mistaking computation power for data management. Sure, you will have computers all over the freakin' place, where they are needed most: in churches and small pebbles and dentures and flatulent old men and chocolate chip cookies and goldfish. But what are those computers going to do? They're going to monitor things and feed that data back to a, well, central repository of data, where the data can be managed.

    I might have a computer t
  • Wrong conclusion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tancred ( 3904 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @04:17PM (#16398859)
    The proliferation of computers is making datacenters more important, not less. Who needs standalone computers? Of course there are uses for them, but most systems are moving to be more connected, not less. And what do they connect to? Odds are they're tied back to central servers somewhere that need to have high availability, hence the need for datacenters. It's cheaper than every company buying their own redundant power, backup systems, diverse fiber paths and 24/7 support staff.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors