(Not much of an) Innovation Update

Published on 19th February 2013 by Peter Hannaford


A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog about the apparent slowing down of innovation within our industry (Where’s the Real Innovation? January 15th 2013). I invited suggestions from readers, just in case some outstanding innovation had taken place while I’d been asleep. And I promised to publish them. So here we go.

I had only two responses. So, either no-one read my blog, or, most readers agreed with me. I’m sure it’s the latter. However, one of my ex-Schneider Electric colleagues in Dubai, Umut Kocak, suggested “shutdown software” (by which I assume he meant some monitoring system that shuts down servers when not in use to save electricity  - not only to the server but also to the supporting facilities infrastructure), “centralised management software talking to the IT OS level”, and “active fan control”.

Of course DCIM offerings have been evolving over the past few years and are starting to address the efficiency issue which was sadly lacking in early datacenters. I guess I was thinking more of a “wham bam thank you ma’am” idea. A “light bulb” moment.  Like atomic storage. Of course the day that we have a real DCIM system that runs in autopilot and reduces the total cost of the datacenter (DCUE?) then that would be a great innovation.

The other response was from Raging Wire who cited two of their own patents which dealt with rapid scaling up of datacenter capacity whilst maintaining 100% availability. It’s really great to see a datacenter company thinking about real customer needs – definitely a company to be applauded and follow.

In order for our industry to evolve effectively we need to constantly improve on the last innovation. Patents are supposed to stop copying. But they don’t, and in any case, should never prevent continuous improvement. Savary’s steam engine of 1698 was an adaptation of Papin’s pressure cooker of 1679. Thomas Newcomen improved on Savary’s design in 1712 and James Watt added further efficiencies in 1769. Then Stephenson and others came along, etc., etc. Let’s hope that datacenter innovation continues along the same lines. But not over the same relative time period, hopefully.


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Peter Hannaford is managing director of Datacenterpeople Ltd, a company offering Recruitment, Contract Staff and Consulting exclusively to the data center industry. Hannaford has been around data centers since commercial computing was in its infancy in the early 1970's, first as an operato ... More

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