Insight into the technology behind Goldman Sachs

December 17, 2013

Last week I attended the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas.  I went to talk to customers, do booth duty (I talked about the app-centric world and how IT can best respond to it) and check out a few sessions.

The best session I attended was a power-point-free discussion with Don Duet, Co-head of Goldman Sach’s Technology division.  Below are a few of the things that Don talked about and comments he made which I thought were particularly interesting.  It’s not just web companies that are pushing the technology envelope.

Goldman’s Technology

  • Goldman Sachs’ has 36,000 employees, 6,000 of which are developers (10,000 people in tech overall).  They have 30 PB’s of data.  They support their employees with half a million cores.
  • Goldman builds their infrastructure around their applications
  • Goldman’s four Big Bets
    • Commodity computing
    • Software defined everything
    • Drive everything in infrastructure from an application perspective
    • Open Source and Open Standards
  • Don and team do an exercise where they talk about how they would architect Goldman if they were starting fresh today (“Goldman 2.0”)
  • “It’s harder and harder to tell where the business stops and IT begins”
  • “Most of our infrastructure should be able, over time, to migrate to the public cloud (once security gets better)”

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…

Gartner on Extreme Data Centers

December 14, 2010

One of the best sessions I went to at the Gartner Data Center conference last week, was entitled Extreme Data Centers – Attaining Massive scalability – in the minimum space at the lowest cost.

The talk was given by David Cappuccio who is a managing vice president and chief of research for the Infrastructure teams with Gartner, responsible for research in data center futures, servers, power/cooling, green IT, enterprise management and IT operations.

Dell's Modular Data center, mentioned in David's talk, a few days before it went live at Tier 5 in Australia.

Here are my notes from the talk:

The Extreme Data Center definition

  • Designed for efficiency first
  • Designed for optimal performance per kilowatt and or per square foot
  • They leverage new design principles to attain the biggest benefit

An example he then gave was supporting 2,107 servers, 18,300 images and 19 petabytes of storage in 2,600 sq. feet of IT space

New data centers are designed around efficiency

  • In power utilization
  • In space allocation
  • In capital expenditures

Three ways to solve your problem

  • Build your own datacenter from the ground up — greatest control but most expensive
  • Retrofit what you have to extend its life – greatest potential risk but least expensive
  • Use modular ideas to build and expand later
    • Reduce capital upfront costs
    • Simple growth when needed
    • Can use existing land or building

Emerging Design trends

  • Build small, build often
  • Build for density
  • Scale vertically and then horizontally
  • Build and rebuild pods (or sections of your data center)
  • Build density zones (group your systems by how dense they are – high, medium or low– and then match the power and cooling at the zone level.  Density is usually based on the workload mix)
  • Consider multi tiered designs (all apps aren’t created equal)
  • Use free air and reuse heat
  • Design for the unknown

Modular Designs for sustained growth/The evolution of pre-built solutions

  • David felt this approach was a really good idea and made sense
  • He felt the drawback was that there weren’t any reference accounts: he mentioned HP at Purdue and “some company down in Australia” (which dear readers is the Dell MDC down at Tier5, pictured above).
  • He cited Azure as the poster child for containers
  • Besides citing Sun’s “Black Box” as the granddaddy of all these, the pre-built solutions he mentioned were:
    • HP Flexible data center
    • IBM scalable modular datacenter
    • I/O anywhere
    • Dell Modular Data center

Energy consumption and efficiency

  • PUE, DCiE are defacto standards – use them
  • But PUE is not the goal – it’s the beginning
  • PPE: performance and capacity per kilowatt are key

Three examples of some cool new designs

  • Yahoo Computing coop: outside air cooled, minimal fans no chillers and a PUE of 1.08
  • Microsoft containers:  8×40 feet versions, 8-12 weeks for delivery, 2K servers per container
  • Net App: Slab-based w/overhead air design: first energy star rated data center, 25 megawatts

Stay tuned for more

The extreme data center space is an “extremely” hot one.  Watch this space to learn more about how Dell plays here going forward. 🙂

Pau for now…

Extra-credit reading:

The Data Center ecosystem of players

December 12, 2010

As I mentioned in a recent entry, last week I attended the Gartner Data Center conference where I learned a ton.  One of the folks I learned a lot from was Dave Ohara who consults in the data center arena.  Dave is uber connected in this space and pens the blog, Green (low carbon) Data Center blog.  Dave provided a bunch of introductions while I was there and sat down with me to do the following short video on the ecosystem of data center players.

Some of the ground that Dave covers:

  • What he covers in his blog Green Data Center
  • How do you go about building a data center and who are the players in each phase e.g site selection -> architecture/engineering design -> construction…
  • What are some of the key disruptions coming to this long standing industry e.g. cloud, Google

Pau for now…

Extra-credit reading

Welcome to the Wild and Wacky World of Data Centers

December 8, 2010

I got back last night from the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas which runs through the end of this week.  Although one of the biggest topics of conversation was cloud computing, I was most interested in learning about what’s happening more generally in the world of data centers.  I’m pretty up to speed on the cloud yet the intricacies of the data center are still new to me.

A couple of great presentations

There was a great presentation yesterday morning from Ebay’s VP of technical operations, Mazen  Rawashdeh, talking about their “Northstar” project and how they have completely  redesigned their data center strategy to support the business (I hope to do a short post on that soon).   The other presentation that I found very educational was “Extreme Data Centers – Attaining Massive scalability” by Gartner’s David Cappuccio (something else I hope to do a post about).

Learning from those in the know

The other way I got up to speed about the wild world of data centers is by talking with a couple of the folks who cover the field.  The first person I met with was Rich Miller, founder of Data Center Knowledge.  Here is what Rich had to say:

Some of the ground Rich covers:

  • How the interest in data centers seems to grow every year
  • What are the current hot topics that he see’s
    • Energy and efficiency
    • Data center design and thinking outside the box
    • Some of the funkier designs people are coming up with

If you’re interested in data centers, stay tuned for a few more entries based on the Gartner Data Center conference.

Pau for now…

Extra-credit reading

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