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
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the...
In the next forty months – just over three years – businesses will undergo extraordinary changes. The exponential growth of digitization and machine learning will see a step function change in how businesses create value, satisfy customers, and outperform their competition. In the next forty months companies will take the actions that will see them get to the next level of the game called Capitalism. Or they won’t – game over. The winners of today and tomorrow think differently, follow different...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue an...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
SYS-CON Events announced today that Streamlyzer will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Streamlyzer is a powerful analytics for video streaming service that enables video streaming providers to monitor and analyze QoE (Quality-of-Experience) from end-user devices in real time.