Click here to close now.

Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

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
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing demand and the rapidly changing workspace model.
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
Wearable devices have come of age. The primary applications of wearables so far have been "the Quantified Self" or the tracking of one's fitness and health status. We propose the evolution of wearables into social and emotional communication devices. Our BE(tm) sensor uses light to visualize the skin conductance response. Our sensors are very inexpensive and can be massively distributed to audiences or groups of any size, in order to gauge reactions to performances, video, or any kind of presentation. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Jocelyn Scheirer, CEO & Founder of Bionolux, will discuss ho...
Cloud data governance was previously an avoided function when cloud deployments were relatively small. With the rapid adoption in public cloud – both rogue and sanctioned, it’s not uncommon to find regulated data dumped into public cloud and unprotected. This is why enterprises and cloud providers alike need to embrace a cloud data governance function and map policies, processes and technology controls accordingly. In her session at 15th Cloud Expo, Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems, will focus on how to set up a cloud data governance program and s...
As organizations shift toward IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection &E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships, will discuss how to cut costs, scale easily, and unleash insight with CommVault Simpana software, the only si...
Hadoop as a Service (as offered by handful of niche vendors now) is a cloud computing solution that makes medium and large-scale data processing accessible, easy, fast and inexpensive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Kumar Ramamurthy, Vice President and Chief Technologist, EIM & Big Data, at Virtusa, will discuss how this is achieved by eliminating the operational challenges of running Hadoop, so one can focus on business growth. The fragmented Hadoop distribution world and various PaaS solutions that provide a Hadoop flavor either make choices for customers very flexible in the name of opti...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, had reached 30,000 page views on his home page - http://RobertoMedrano.SYS-CON.com/ - on the SYS-CON family of online magazines, which includes Cloud Computing Journal, Internet of Things Journal, Big Data Journal, and SOA World Magazine. He is a recognized executive in the information technology fields of SOA, internet security, governance, and compliance. He has extensive experience with both start-ups and large companies, having been involved at the beginning of four IT industries: EDA, Open Systems, Computer Security and now SOA.
HP and Aruba Networks on Monday announced a definitive agreement for HP to acquire Aruba, a provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise, for $24.67 per share in cash. The equity value of the transaction is approximately $3.0 billion, and net of cash and debt approximately $2.7 billion. Both companies' boards of directors have approved the deal. "Enterprises are facing a mobile-first world and are looking for solutions that help them transition legacy investments to the new style of IT," said Meg Whitman, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of HP...
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
Operational Hadoop and the Lambda Architecture for Streaming Data Apache Hadoop is emerging as a distributed platform for handling large and fast incoming streams of data. Predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and Internet-of-Things analysis are examples where Hadoop provides the scalable storage, processing, and analytics platform to gain meaningful insights from granular data that is typically only valuable from a large-scale, aggregate view. One architecture useful for capturing and analyzing streaming data is the Lambda Architecture, representing a model of how to analyze rea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Open Data Centers (ODC), a carrier-neutral colocation provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Open Data Centers is a carrier-neutral data center operator in New Jersey and New York City offering alternative connectivity options for carriers, service providers and enterprise customers.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
PubNub on Monday has announced that it is partnering with IBM to bring its sophisticated real-time data streaming and messaging capabilities to Bluemix, IBM’s cloud development platform. “Today’s app and connected devices require an always-on connection, but building a secure, scalable solution from the ground up is time consuming, resource intensive, and error-prone,” said Todd Greene, CEO of PubNub. “PubNub enables web, mobile and IoT developers building apps on IBM Bluemix to quickly add scalable realtime functionality with minimal effort and cost.”
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
In the consumer IoT, everything is new, and the IT world of bits and bytes holds sway. But industrial and commercial realms encompass operational technology (OT) that has been around for 25 or 50 years. This grittier, pre-IP, more hands-on world has much to gain from Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications and principles. But adding sensors and wireless connectivity won’t work in environments that demand unwavering reliability and performance. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ron Sege, CEO of Echelon, will discuss how as enterprise IT embraces other IoT-related technology trends, enterprises with i...
When it comes to the Internet of Things, hooking up will get you only so far. If you want customers to commit, you need to go beyond simply connecting products. You need to use the devices themselves to transform how you engage with every customer and how you manage the entire product lifecycle. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, will show how “product relationship management” can help you leverage your connected devices and the data they generate about customer usage and product performance to deliver extremely compelling and reliabl...