Welcome!

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

Related Topics: Virtualization, Cloud Expo

Virtualization: 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
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have spoken with, or attended presentations from, utilities in the United States, South America, Asia and Europe. This session will provide a look at the CREPE drivers for SmartGrids and the solution spaces used by SmartGrids today and planned for the near future. All organizations can learn from SmartGrid’s use of Predictive Maintenance, Demand Prediction, Cloud, Big Data and Customer-facing Dashboards...
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, will discuss the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. The presentation will also discuss how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics to discuss are barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold.
Whether you're a startup or a 100 year old enterprise, the Internet of Things offers a variety of new capabilities for your business. IoT style solutions can help you get closer your customers, launch new product lines and take over an industry. Some companies are dipping their toes in, but many have already taken the plunge, all while dramatic new capabilities continue to emerge. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Reid Carlberg, Senior Director, Developer Evangelism at salesforce.com, to discuss real-world use cases, patterns and opportunities you can harness today.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices – computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors – connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be!
Noted IoT expert and researcher Joseph di Paolantonio (pictured below) has joined the @ThingsExpo faculty. Joseph, who describes himself as an “Independent Thinker” from DataArchon, will speak on the topic of “Smart Grids & Managing Big Utilities.” Over his career, Joseph di Paolantonio has worked in the energy, renewables, aerospace, telecommunications, and information technology industries. His expertise is in data analysis, system engineering, Bayesian statistics, data warehouses, business intelligence, data mining, predictive methods, and very large databases (VLDB). Prior to DataArchon, he served as a VP and Principal Analyst with Constellation Group. He is a member of the Boulder (Colo.) Brain Trust, an organization with a mission “to benefit the Business Intelligence and data management industry by providing pro bono exchange of information between vendors and independent analysts on new trends and technologies and to provide vendors with constructive feedback on their of...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
There will be 50 billion Internet connected devices by 2020. Today, every manufacturer has a propriety protocol and an app. How do we securely integrate these "things" into our lives and businesses in a way that we can easily control and manage? Even better, how do we integrate these "things" so that they control and manage each other so our lives become more convenient or our businesses become more profitable and/or safe? We have heard that the best interface is no interface. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Co-Founder & CTO at Octoblu, Inc., will discuss how these devices generate enough data to learn our behaviors and simplify/improve our lives. What if we could connect everything to everything? I'm not only talking about connecting things to things but also systems, cloud services, and people. Add in a little machine learning and artificial intelligence and now we have something interesting...
Last week, while in San Francisco, I used the Uber app and service four times. All four experiences were great, although one of the drivers stopped for 30 seconds and then left as I was walking up to the car. He must have realized I was a blogger. None the less, the next car was just a minute away and I suffered no pain. In this article, my colleague, Ved Sen, Global Head, Advisory Services Social, Mobile and Sensors at Cognizant shares his experiences and insights.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) irreversibly encoded. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, will look at how this identity problem can be solved and discuss ways to use existing web identities for real-time communication.
Can call centers hang up the phones for good? Intuitive Solutions did. WebRTC enabled this contact center provider to eliminate antiquated telephony and desktop phone infrastructure with a pure web-based solution, allowing them to expand beyond brick-and-mortar confines to a home-based agent model. It also ensured scalability and better service for customers, including MUY! Companies, one of the country's largest franchise restaurant companies with 232 Pizza Hut locations. This is one example of WebRTC adoption today, but the potential is limitless when powered by IoT. Attendees will learn real-world benefits of WebRTC and explore future possibilities, as WebRTC and IoT intersect to improve customer service.
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, will share some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, an Open Source Cloud Communications company that helps the shift from legacy IN/SS7 telco networks to IP-based cloud comms. An early investor in multiple start-ups, he still finds time to code for his companies and contribute to open source projects.
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to create new business models as significant as those that were inspired by the Internet and the smartphone 20 and 10 years ago. What business, social and practical implications will this phenomenon bring? That's the subject of "Monetizing the Internet of Things: Perspectives from the Front Lines," an e-book released today and available free of charge from Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue management.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges.
There’s Big Data, then there’s really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, to discuss how IoT, Big Data and deployments are processing massive data volumes from wearables, utilities and other machines.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Erik Lagerway, Co-founder of Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services to the modern P2P RTC era of OTT cloud assisted services.
While great strides have been made relative to the video aspects of remote collaboration, audio technology has basically stagnated. Typically all audio is mixed to a single monaural stream and emanates from a single point, such as a speakerphone or a speaker associated with a video monitor. This leads to confusion and lack of understanding among participants especially regarding who is actually speaking. Spatial teleconferencing introduces the concept of acoustic spatial separation between conference participants in three dimensional space. This has been shown to significantly improve comprehension and conference efficiency.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, will discuss single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example to explain some of these concepts including when to use different storage models.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace. These technological reforms have not only changed computers and smartphones, but are also changing the data processing model for all information devices. In particular, in the area known as M2M (Machine-To-Machine), there are great expectations that information with a new type of value can be produced using a variety of devices and sensors saving/sharing data via the network and through large-scale cloud-type data processing. This consortium believes that attaching a huge number of devic...