Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Feed Post

Behind the Scenes, SANta Claus Global Cloud Story

There is a ton of discussion, stories, articles, videos, conferences and blogs about the value proposition of cloud computing

Cloud Expo New York

There is a ton of discussion, stories, articles, videos, conferences and blogs about the benefits and value proposition of cloud computing.

Not to mention, discussion or debates about what is or what is not a cloud or cloud product, service or architecture including some perspectives and polls from me.

[Santa Photo Via ABC news]

Life in the clouds

Now SANta does not really care about these and other similar debates I have learned.

However he is concerned with who has been naughty and nice as well watching out for impersonators or members of his crew who misbehave.



In the spirit of the holidays, how about a quick look at how SANta leverages cloud technologies to support his global operations.

Many in IT think that SANta bases his operations out of the North Pole as it is convenient for him to cool all of his servers, storage, networks and telecom equipment (which it is).

However its also centrally located (See chart) for the northern hemisphere (folks down under may get serviced via SANtas secret Antarctica base of operations).

Just like ANC (Anchorage International Airport) is a popular cargo transient, transload and refueling base for cargo carriers, SANta also leverages the north and South Pole regions to his advantage.

Great Circle Mapper

[Photo: SANtas Global Reach via Great Circle Mapper]

Now do not worry if you have never heard about SANta dual redundant South Pole operations, its one of his better kept secrets. Many organizations including SANtas partners such as Microsoft that have global mega IT operations and logistics centers have followed SANtas lead of leveraging various locations outside of the pacific northwest. Granted like some of his partners and managed service providers, he does maintain a presence in Washington Columbia river basin which provides a nice PR among other benefits.

Likewise, many in business as well as those in IT think that SANta leverages cloud technologies for cost savings or avoidance which is partially the case. However he also leverages cloud, hosting, managed service provider (MSP), virtual data centers, virtual operations centers, Xaas, SaaS or SOA technologies, services, protocols and products that are transparent and complimentary to his own in house resources addressing various business and service requirement needs.

What this has to do with the holidays and clouds is that you may not realize how Santa or St. Nick if you prefer (feel free to plug in whoever you like if Santa or St. Nick does not turn your crank) extensively relies on flexible and scalable resilient technologies for boosting productivity in a cost effective manner. Some of it is IT related, some of it is not. For example, from the GPS and Radar along with recently added RNP and RNAV enhanced capabilities to his increasingly high tech bio fueled powered sleigh, not to mention his information technology (IT) that powers his global operations, old St Nick has got it together when it comes to technology.

SANta Bio Fuel Powered Sliegh

The heart or brains of the SANta operation is his global system operations center (SOC) or network operation center (NOC) that rivals those seen at NASA among others with multiple data feeds. The SOC is a 24x365 operations function that covers all aspects from transportation, logistics, distribution, assembly or packaging, financials back office, CRM, IT and communications among other functions.

SOCs and NOCsSOCs and NOCs
SOCs and NOCs that enable SANta to get those SOCKs above fireplace filled!

Naturally, like the Apollo moon shots whose Grumman built LEM Lunar lander had to have 100% availability in that to get off of the moon, their engines only had to fire once, however it had to work 100% of the time! This thought process is said to have had leveraged principles from SANtas operations guide where he has one night a year to accomplish the impossible.

I should mention, while I cannot disclose (due to NDA) the exact locations of the SOCs, data or logistics centers, not to mention the vendors or the technology being used, I can tell you that they are all around you! The fully redundant SOCs, data and call centers as well as logistics sites (including staff, facilities, technology) leverage different time zones for efficiency.

SANtas staff have also found that the redundant SOCs, part of an approach across Santa entire vast organization has helped to guard against global epidemics and pandemics including SARs and H1N1 among others by isolating workers while providing appropriate coverage and availability, something many large organizations have since followed.

Carrying through on the philosophy of redundant SOCs, all other aspects of SANtas operations are distributed yet with centralized coordinated management, leveraging real-time situation awareness, event and activity correlation (what we used to call or refer to as AI), cross technology domain management, proactive monitoring and planning yet with ability for on the spot decision making.

What this means is that the various locations have ability to make localized decisions on the spot. However coordinated with primary operations or mission control to streamline global operations focus on strategic activity along with exceptions handling to be more effective. Thus it is not fully distributed nor fully centralized, rather a hybrid in terms of management, technologies and the way they work.

For example, to handle the diverse applications, there are some primary large processing and data retention facilities that backup, replicate information to other peer sites as well as smaller regional remote office branch offices close to where information services are needed. To say the environment is highly virtualized would be an understatement.

Likewise, optimization is key not just to keep costs low or avoid overheating some of SANtas facilities that are located in the Arctic and Antarctic regions that could melt the ice cap; they are also optimized to keep response time as low as possible while boosting productivity.

Thus, SANta has to rely on very robust and diverse communications networking leveraging LAN, SAN, MAN, WAN, POTS and PANs among other technologies. For example, his communications portfolio is said to involves landlines (copper and optical), RF including microwave and other radio based commutations supporting or using 3G, 4G, MPLS, SONET/SCH, xWDM, Microwave and Free space optics among others.

SANtas networking and communications elves are also said to be working with 5G and 100GbE multiplexed on 256 lambda WDM trunk circuits in non core trunk applications. Of course given the airborne operations, satellite and ACARS are a must to avoid over flying a destination while remaining in positive control during low visibility. Note that Santa routinely makes more CAT 3+ low visibility landings than most of the worlds airlines, air freight companies combined.

SANtas Sliegh Navigation and GUI Displays

SANtas has GUI and Management Displays in his Sleigh
My sources also tell me that SANta has virtual desktop capability leveraging PCoIP and other optimizations on his primary and backup sleighs enabling rapid reconfiguration for changing workload conditions. He also is fully equipped with onboard social media capabilities for updates via twitter, Face book and Linked In among others designed by his chief social networking elf.

Consequently, given the vast amount of information needed to support his operations from CRM, shipping, tracking not to mention historical and profiling needs, transactional volumes both on the data as well as voice and social media networks dwarf the stock market trading volume.

Feeding SANtas vast organizations are online highly available robust databases for transactions purposes, reference unstructured data material including videos, websites and more. Some of which look hauntingly familiar given those that are part of SANtas eWorld Helpers initiative including: Sears, Amazon, NetFlix, Target, Albertsons, Staples, EMC, Wall mart, Overstock, RadioShack, Landsend, Dell, HP, eBay, Lowes, Publix, emusic, Riteaid and Supervalu among others (Im just sayin...).

The actual size of SANta information repository is a closely regarded secret as is the exact topology, schema and content structure. However it is understood that on peak days SANtas highly distributed high performance, low latency data warehouse sees upwards of 1,225PBytes of data added, one that is rumored to make Larry Ellison gush with excitement over its growth possibilities.

How does SANta pull this all off is by leveraging virtualization, automation, efficient and enabling technologies that allow him and elves (excuse me, associates or team members) to be more productivity in their areas of focus that is the envy of the universe.

Some of their efficiency is measured in terms of:

  • How many packages can be processed per elf with minimum or no mistakes
  • Number of calls, requests, inquiries per day per elf in a friendly and understandable manner
  • Knowing who has been naughty or nice in the blink of an eye including historical profiles
  • Virtual machines (VM) or physical machine (PM) servers managed per team member
  • Databases and applications, local and remote, logical and physical per team member
  • Storage in terms of PByte and Exabyte managed to given service level per team member
  • Network circuits and bandwidth with fewest dropped packets (or packages) per member
  • Fewest misdirected packages as well as aborted landings per crew
  • Fewest pounds gained from consumption of most milk and cookies per crew

From how many packages can be processed per hour, to the number of virtual servers per person, PBytes of data managed per person, network connections and circuits per person, databases and applications per person to takes and landings (SANta has the top of the list for this one), they are all highly efficient and effective.

Likewise, SANta leverages the partners in his SANtas eWORLD Helpers initiative network to help out where of course he looks for value; however value is not just lowest price per VM, lowest cost per TByte or cost per bandwidth. For SANta it is also very focused on performance, availability, capacity and economic efficiency not to mention quality with an environmentally friendly green supply chain.

By having a green supply chain, SANta leverages from a responsible, global approach that also makes economic sense on where to manufacture and produce or procure products. Contrary to growing popular belief, locally produced may not always be the most environmentally as well as economically favorable approach. For example (read more here), instead of growing flowers and plans in western Europe where they are consumed, a process that would require more energy for heat, lights, not to mention water and other resources. SANta has bucked the trend instead relying on the economics and environmental benefit of leveraging flowers and plants grown in warmer, sunnier climates.

Granted and rest assured, SANta still has an army of elves busily putting things together in his own factories along with managing IT related activities in a economically positive manner.

SANta has also leveraged this thinking to his data and information and communications networks leveraging sites such as in the arctic where solar power can be used during summer months along with cooling economizers to offset the impact of batteries, workload is shifted around the world as needed. This approach is rumored to be the envy of the US EPA Energy Star for Server, Storage and Data Center crew not to mention their followers.

How does SANta make sure all of the data and information is protected and available? Its a combination of best practices, techniques, technologies including hardware, software, data protection management tools, disk, dedupe, compression, tape and cloud among others.

Rest assured, if it is in the technology buzzword bingo book, it is a good bet that it has been tested in one of SANtas facilities, or, partner sites long before you hear about it even under a strict NDA discussion with one of his elves (opps, I mean supplier partners).

When asked of the importance of his information and data networks, resources and cloud enabled highly virtualized efficient operations SANta responded with a simple:

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

As you sit back and relax, reflect, recreate, recoup or recharge, or whatever it is that you do this time of the year, take a moment to think about and thank all of SANtas helpers. They are the ones that work behind the scenes in SANtas facilities as well as his partners or suppliers, some in the clouds, some on or underground to make the worlds largest single event day (excuse me, night) possible! Or, is this SANta and cloud thing all just one big fantasy?

Happy and safe holidays or whatever you want to refer to it as, best wishes and thanks!

BTW: FTC disclosure information can be found here!

Greg on Break
Me on a break during tour SANta site tour

Cheers and seasons greetings gs

Greg Schulz - StorageIO, Author "The Green and Virtual Data Center" (CRC)

More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vice president of product management, IoT solutions at GlobalSign, will teach IoT developers how t...
A critical component of any IoT project is the back-end systems that capture data from remote IoT devices and structure it in a way to answer useful questions. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle large data sets, but they are not well suited to many IoT-scale products and the need for real-time insights. At Fuze, we have developed a backend platform as part of our mobility-oriented cloud service that uses Big Data-based approache...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...