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Green Grid creates more metrics for energy efficiency in data centers
The Green Grid consortium, which developed the widely used PUE metric for measuring energy efficiency in data centers, is developing two more metrics to address carbon emissions and water usage, it said Thursday.

A paper describing the new CUE, or Carbon Usage Effectiveness, metric was due to be posted on The Green Grid's Web site Thursday morning, the group said. Materials describing the WUE, or Water Usage Effectiveness, metric will be posted by March next year, it said.

PUE, or Power Usage Effectiveness, has been adopted widely in the past few years. Google and Microsoft often boast about their PUE numbers, and more enterprises are starting to calculate their PUE as a starting point for energy efficiency projects.

PUE measures how much of the total electricity used by a data center goes to the IT equipment, as opposed to being lost on cooling systems or inefficient power supplies.

"CUE will help managers determine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated in delivering work from the IT gear in a data center facility," the Green Grid said in a statement.

"WUE will help managers determine the amount of water used by the facility, and the amount used to deliver work from IT operations.," it said. A more detailed explanation wasn't available at press time.

Data centers are under pressure to be more environmentally responsible. Greenpeace has targeted cloud computing as a source of global warming, and in Europe there are already carbon taxes for big energy consumers. Most data centers use vast amounts of water for cooling, making it another logical area to tackle.

The issue jumped to the forefront in the U.S. after a report to Congress estimated that data centers accounted for 1.5% of the total U.S. energy consumption, and that the figure could double by 2011.

The new metrics will be discussed at The Green Grid's Technical Forum next March in Santa Clara, California. The consortium is comprised mostly of IT vendors, including Microsoft, Oracle and HP, as well as a few end user companies, such as Target, which are trying to come up with ways to improve data center efficiency.
 
Posted by James Niccolai on 12-02-2010
(Read More...)
 
Microsoft tool now roots out Zeus malware
Two weeks after law enforcement broke up one of the criminal gangs behind the Zeus malware, Microsoft has taken steps to make it harder for criminals to install the software on PCs.

On Tuesday, Microsoft started detecting Zeus with its Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) -- a widely used virus removal program that's free for Windows users. That should make it harder for the many criminals who use Zeus to keep running their software on computers that don't have antivirus software installed -- often an easy target up until now.

According to a September 2009 study by security vendor Trusteer, 45 percent of Zeus-infected machines have either no antivirus software or an out-of-date product. On the other hand, Zeus has been effective at avoiding the type of detection that Microsoft is now adding to its MSRT. According to that same report, 55 percent of Zeus infections were on machines that did have working antivirus programs installed.

Microsoft wasn't available to talk about the MSRT by press time, Tuesday.

In a series of raids starting Sept. 28, authorities in the U.K., U.S. and Ukraine arrested more than 100 members of the largest-known Zeus gang, but there are still probably dozens of smaller gangs in operation. Zeus is very easy to obtain online, and it has been adapted by many different criminals since it first popped up four years ago.

"Underground forums are teeming with questions ranging from the very basics about configuring the malware to people boasting about the size of their botnets," said Matt McCormack, a Microsoft spokesman, in a blog posting. "Even the botnet controllers are themselves quite varied, from apparent hobbyists to those that likely have more nefarious intent."

The software is best known for stealing online banking credentials, but recently security experts have started to worry that it could be used to steal corporate secrets as well.

Microsoft's decision to add MSRT protection has had a big effect on some malicious programs. It's credited with pretty much knocking the Storm Worm offline in 2007, for example.

Microsoft clearly hopes to have a similar effect on Zeus, also known as Zbot. "[W]e find ourselves knocking on Zbot's door this month, and we're glad we are," McCormack said.
 
Posted by Robert McMillan on 10-13-2010
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Samsung starts mass production of densest NAND flash memory
Samsung is now mass producing the industry's first 3-bit-per cell, 64Gbit NAND flash chip, which uses circuitry that's about 14% smaller than before. The new chips pack twice as many bits as Samsung's current NAND flash offering.

The NAND flash also offers better performance by applying Toggle DDR (Double Data Rate) 1.0 specifications to the new chips. Samsung had been producing 30nm-class NAND chips using SDR (Single Data Rate)-based specifications.

The company claimed it is the first to begin production the new class of flash memory using 20 nanometer (nm) class circuitry. The flash chips will be used to create high-capacity USB flash drives, SD memory cards, as well as smart phones and solid-state drives (SSDs).

Until this year, multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash enabled up to 2-bits of data to be written to a memory cell. Single-level cell (SLC) NAND has always been considered "enterprise-class" quality because of its higher native life expectancy and performance. However, more sophisticated wear-leveling software in drive controllers has enabled MLC memory to be used in higher-end products.

In August, IM Flash Technologies (IMFT) - a joint venture between Intel and Micron - also announced it had created a 3-bit-per-cell NAND flash chip using 25nm lithography, as the process of laying down circuitry is called. IMFT's chip also holds 64Gbits. IMFT, however, has yet to begin mass production.

According to a slide leaked to the press, Intel expects to eventually double the capacity of its consumer-class SSDs utilizing the 25nm process. That means its X25-M SSDs will grow to 160GB, 300GB and 600GB capacities. The company would also be able to double the capacity of its more affordable X25-V entry-level drive, which is targeted at the netbook and tablet market. The current X25-V offers 40GB capacity. That would be replaced with an 80GB model.

Samsung would not reveal the exact size of its lithography technology, saying only that it is somewhere between 20nm and 29nm in size. Since November, Samsung has been using 30nm lithography technology to develop NAND flash chips with 32Gbit capacity.

At 25nm, the NAND flash circuitry is 3000 times thinner than a strand of human hair.

The new, denser NAND technology makes it possible to build products using fewer chips, allowing for smaller, higher-density designs. The 64Gbit chips are combined to create 8GB NAND flash dies. The dies are then combined to create larger multi-chip products. The change also cuts the overall cost to produce mobile products, savings that can be passed down to consumers.

In an e-mail response to Computerworld, Samsung officials said the new high density NAND chip is being targeted for use in USB flash drives and memory cards. Adoption of the new chip will raise the minimum density level of those devices from a typical 4GB to 8GB. The maximum density would be 64GB.

"By now entering into full production of 20nm-class, 64Gbit, 3-bit devices, we expect to accelerate adoption of our high-performance NAND solutions that use Toggle DDR technology, for applications that also require high-density NAND," Seijin Kim, vice president of Flash Memory Planning/Enabling at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.
 
Posted by Lucas Mearian on 10-13-2010
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Symantec adds service-level templates to Storage Foundation
Symantec Corp. today announced Veritas Operations Manager 3.1 and Veritas Storage Foundation High Availability 5.1, the company's next generation family of storage management software.

Symantec said it has added "storage templates" or service levels that allow administrators to automate the type of storage -- based on performance and protection level -- allocated to applications.

Symantec has defined three templates of storage: Gold, Silver and Bronze, each of which is used to determine the type of disk, RAID level and whether storage is allocated through thin provisioning or through more typical common over-allocation methods.

For example, if an administrator sets a policy that all e-mail that does not contain company sensitive financial information is to receive Bronze-level storage, it might be stored on serial ATA (SATA) drives on a network-attached storage (NAS) system with RAID 6 protection. The administrator could also set up a gold policy for all SQL databases that would automatically store any data generated on expensive, high-performance solid-state drive (SSD) arrays, with replication and RAID 10 protection.

Niraj Zaveri, a Symantec senior product marketing manager, said system administrators typically have to provision storage to a host application server, then map those servers back to application requirements in a database, then create a storage volume or file system for it on an storage area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS) system. The process, particularly in virtualized server environments, requires a lot of manual scripting.

"The point is that you can now just define the set of storage services available to your applications," he said. "This automates the identification of storage devices matching the storage services ... and automates the handling of the underlying SAN complexity."

In most data centers today, there are no policies for what data gets which storage, Zaveri said. It's mainly a ticket process where business units request a particular type of storage and capacity and administrators fill the ticket, often by over-allocating storage, which can waste capacity.

With Symantec's latest offering, server and storage administrators can decide on the importance of an application type and then set policies to handle that need each and every time.

"It's about using templates as much as possible," he said. "The new functionality in Veritas Operations Manager bridges the gap between server, database and storage administrators to increase storage utilization, scale operations, maintain compliance and ensure uptime and availability across Unix, Linux, Windows and VMware environments."

It also blurs the line between storage and server administrators.

"At the administrative level, we've seen [a] shift from being a specialist as a storage administrator toward a more general role where you may be [a] Unix administrator and your task [is] to tackle both [storage and Unix] systems," he said.

Symantec also added a reporting tool to its Operations Manager software. That tool is a set of built-in reports to automatically identify under-utilized storage resources, tracking utilization within database files and mapping that to disks and RAID groups in storage arrays. Storage not being used can then be returned by an admin to an available pool.

Among the new tools for active monitoring is one called "Fire Drill," which allows admins to simulate a system failure in order to test configurations for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Symantec's Fire Drill feature takes a snapshot of a physical or virtual production server and moves the data to a disaster recovery system, bringing the data online for testing.

Veritas Operations Manager 3.1 is available now and Veritas Storage Foundation HA 5.1 will be available in November. Symantec customers who purchase Storage Foundation HA can receive Veritas Operations Manager at no additional charge.
 
Posted by Lucas Mearian on 10-12-2010
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Hadoop pitched for business intelligence
While it began life as a tool for indexing Web pages, the open source Hadoop framework is being marketed as a tool that could house and analyze vast amounts of data with the kind of proportions that would quickly overwhelm traditional database systems and data warehouses.

Tuesday in New York at the Hadoop World 2010 conference, a number of organizations plan to discuss how the framework could be used within the enterprise. Among the possible uses being discussed: Business intelligence (BI).

"Hadoop is a phenomenal number-crunching engine," said Jake Cornelius, who heads up product management at Pentaho, a BI software provider. He admits it wouldn't be used in all cases of BI, but for really large or complex ones, it could come in handy.

"There really is a small subset of scenarios that we think of as big data problems, where you really have to start looking at Hadoop to solve these big problems," Cornelius said.

Others agree. "If you look at large corporations today, they are dropping data on the floor because they don't have a place to put it," said Eric Baldeschwieler, Yahoo's vice president of Hadoop software development. Running on commodity hardware, a Hadoop cluster could provide a low-cost expansive platform for just such data.

An increasing number of software companies are offering more support for the technology, which could attract more business users. For instance, Yahoo has just released a number of enhancements to make the technology more palatable for enterprise use. On Tuesday, Pentaho released an integration suite for enterprise BI users, called Pentaho for Hadoop.

Yahoo, in fact, is one of Hadoop's biggest users. The company uses the technology in a variety of ways, including as a sort of a very large data warehouse, Baldeschwieler said. Hadoop clusters hold massive log files of what stories and sections users click on. Advertisement activity is also stored on Hadoop clusters, as is a listing of all the content and articles Yahoo publishes.

"It is a hugely varied set of stuff, and the challenge is that when you try to build new products it often makes a lot of sense to ask questions that combine all those different things," Baldeschwieler said.

Recently, Yahoo released a number of enhancements to Hadoop to make it more of an enterprise-ready BI platform. For instance, Yahoo has added security features in its own distribution that would allow Hadoop to span across multiple firewalls.

"Before our engineering, the only way you could put sensitive data onto a Hadoop cluster would be to firewall the cluster and control access," Baldeschwieler said.

The company's engineers have also updated a Hadoop workflow scheduler called Oozie and Pig, a high-level programming environment for running MapReduce jobs.
 
Posted by Joab Jackson on 10-12-2010
(Read More...)
 
HTC CEO talks on business behind new Windows Phone 7 OS
Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC joined a number of rivals in launching new handsets with Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 OS on Monday, a feat HTC's CEO says came together very fast.

The business behind the Windows Phone 7 launch, including negotiations for network operators to offer handsets or win exclusive handset deals, was the result of cooperation.

"I'll say everyone cooperated very fast," said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, during a press briefing in Taipei ahead of the Monday launch.

He declined to say what role Microsoft played in negotiations with network operators but said that the business of the Windows Phone 7 OS, including advertising costs, will be borne by operators, handset makers and Microsoft, together.

The three groups each have a stake in seeing the new operating system succeed.

"We Chinese really value partnership and we have been partners with Microsoft for many years and this relationship is valuable," said Chou. He said he values Microsoft's strong software capabilities and assets as well as its marketing power.

"Microsoft is a powerful company," he said.

One area where larger smartphone makers such as HTC diverge from smaller phone makers when it comes to Windows Phone 7 is on the licensing fee for the OS. Google's Android mobile software is licensed freely, a factor that has made handset makers large and small build handsets. But some smaller companies, including Innocomm Technology of Taiwan, say the can't be bothered paying a licensing fee to Microsoft for Windows Phone 7 when there is an excellent alternative in Android.

Chou said,"I don't think the licensing fee posture is a critical factor" for his company.

It's more important to build handsets around major OSes, he said. Consumers can decide which ones they like.

"Right now we have Windows Phone 7 and Android, and focus the same on each, but let the market decide," he said.

He said HTC does not plan to offer any additional Windows Phone 7 handsets this year beyond the five announced Monday. Next year, the company will launch more but he doesn't have a specific number in mind yet.

The Windows Phone 7 OS "is very smooth, it really has its own style." With the Microsoft mobile Office suite, Xbox Live and Zune music software on board, he said it offers "a very attractive package."
 
Posted by Dan Nystedt on 10-12-2010
(Read More...)
 
Microsoft pulls plug on Live Spaces blog platform
Microsoft has partnered with WordPress to move the millions of blogs hosted on the Windows Live Spaces blog publishing platform, which will be closed, the companies announced Monday.

As of today, users who try to create a blog on Windows Live Spaces will be directed to WordPress.com.

Windows Live Spaces publishers, of which there are about 30 million, will be able to transfer their blogs and accompanying photos, posts and comments to Automattic's WordPress service using an import tool. Spaces URLs will be redirected automatically as well.

In addition, publishers will be able to tie the blogs they move to WordPress to Microsoft's Messenger instant messaging service and automatically ping their Messenger contacts whenever the blog is updated.

Spaces publishers will have a six-month window to transfer their blogs over to WordPress.

The announcement was made at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

Wordpress is the platform behind 26 million websites. More than 250 million people visit WordPress-hosted sites every month, according to the companies.

As Microsoft bows out of the blog publishing and hosting market, WordPress.com continues to face competition from several rivals, including Google's Blogger and from the various products and services developed by Six Apart, which was acquired last week by VideoEgg.
 
Posted by Juan Carlos Perez on 09-27-2010
(Read More...)
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