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Monthly Archives: November 2014

18
Nov
2014

Facebook Modular Data Center Fabric Changing Server Network Architecture

by Bill

data centerFacebook is announcing a new modular way of serving information and they are calling it “data center fabric.” The details of their new system architecture are explained thoroughly in this blog post penned by Alexey Andreyev, the lead engineer on the project.  Moving away from the very expensive top tier switches supplied by Cisco and Juniper, Facebook and others are now rethinking their entire networks and moving toward a much more modular approach that groups data into ‘pods’ and removes the tiers older systems relied on to replace them with a map that is much more robust and affordable because it spreads the load far more evenly across all available data channels.

Since the new network is divided into “pods” Facebook system engineers can add more pods whenever it makes sense, and it also means Facebook can move much more data internally from one part of the network to another. Contrary to the expectation of many onlookers, the amount of internal data Facebook processes has become ‘an order of magnitude larger’ than the amount of information the company sends or receives from external user client accounts according to recently published interviews.

Relying on a complex system of bottlenecks that require the newest, best and most expensive switches from third-party vendors has proven to be costly and inefficient.  Industry pundits have long questioned whether or not tech giants who laid the foundation of the modern Internet as we know it would adapt to a more flexible way of handling data, but so far Cisco and others appear to be moving slowly and clinging tightly to the revenue streams they have optimized over the years.

This new move by Facebook, similar moves by Google and public sentiment among several other service providers of a shift in momentum toward modular data delivery is the kind of big news that the public often misses entirely. However, the implications for data speeds and bandwidth requirements in the coming months or years are significant.

The Server Pods, Spine Planes and Edge Switches approach is too new to be utilized in a cost-effective manner by Fully Managed Hosting clients presently, but with tech behemoths like Facebook and Google paving the new data highway (for their own benefit), the obstacles along the road will likely be smoothed over quickly and the existing pipes pushing your own data may soon be able to accommodate far greater capacity with even better reliability and speed than was ever possible with earlier IT frameworks. As always, NationalNet will diligently track these technological breakthroughs and continue to provide our customers with the most effective means of delivering data anywhere it needs to be received.

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14
Nov
2014

Humans Land A Spacecraft On A Comet – Yes, Really!

by Bill

Comet LandingThe NationalNet Blog is intended to keep all of our readers informed and up to date on all businesses and technology matters that affect the Internet and your web hosting or managed hosting decisions. However, there are some stories that transcend Hosting as a topic and this is definitely one of them. At approximately 1:03AM PST the European Space Agency (ESA) successfully landed the Philae spacecraft on the surface of a comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Many important technology breakthroughs have come from the desire for space travel, including everything from WiFi and GPS satellites to Velcro and Teflon materials. While the specific knowledge that will be applicable from this mission is not fully known yet, the awesome magnitude of the calculational complexity necessary to deploy the Philae craft from the Rosetta craft that carried it to its destination and successfully land it on a piece of rock as old as our solar system says a lot about the nature of human intellect and the passion for pushing technology to new points of mastery across a wide spectrum of disciplines.

The actual descent took more than 7 hours of painstaking calculation and recalculation as the craft positioned itself before it touched down on the surface. “This is a big step for civilization” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, the Director General of the ESA. To give you a sense of how complex a step this is, Philae landed 28 minutes earlier than the reported time here on Earth because it takes that long for the signals to travel 300 Million Miles from the comet to our planet. Now the lander’s instruments will begin work, taking pictures and analyzing the chemical composition of the comet by drilling for samples and studying the comet’s magnetic field.

Challenges remain as the harpoons intended to anchor the craft to the comet did not fire properly and are being recalibrated in the hope of preventing the craft from falling off its perch. However, now that the ESA has proven the landing itself can be done, the sky is no longer the limit and the vast wealth of information available from our Universe may finally be ready for more detailed analysis by humans and our best inventions.

At a time when so much media news is dedicated to wars and strife here on Earth, it’s vital that organizations like NASA and ESA continue their important work lifting all of our eyes and our expectations toward the stars.

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07
Nov
2014

Municipal Broadband Wins Big In Midterm Elections

by Bill

The midterm elections received plenty of media coverage, but most of the political punditry focused on the ‘horse race’ mentality of who would win which Congressional seat or Governors’ election. In reality, many states now rely on extensive ballot initiatives to help dictate the way their local governance will work, and with the well-documented gridlock in government, those referendums often matter even more than party politics or majority status. This year citizens voiced their opinion on municipal broadband at the ballot box.

Colorado is one of 20 US states that impose limits on cities and towns seeking to build their own broadband networks. ISPs have lobbied long and hard to prevent ‘competition’ from government entities, or from anyone else for that matter. While the Colorado restriction is much less severe than in other states, it does prevent any municipality in the State from offering broadband to residents without passing a specific ballot question.

Seven counties and towns did that during Tuesday’s election alone. As reported by local news radio KUNC 91.5 on their website “The towns of Boulder, Cherry Hills Village, Red Cliff, Wray and Yuma were all seeking to override a 2005 state law that prohibits them from constructing or operating broadband or telecommunications infrastructure or services. That law, SB05-152 [.pdf], which was pushed by large telecommunications companies, can be overridden by a majority of voters. Rio Blanco and Yuma Counties also had similar measures on the ballot that would have the effect of allowing those counties to get in the broadband game. All of these overrides passed handily, with margins of 70 percent or more in favor of giving authority to local governments to improve broadband access.”

This does not guarantee that any of those municipalities will undertake the expense of creating municipal broadband options for residents, but it does show convincingly that if the matter was left up to the people (rather than their elected representatives) there would be much more competition and even direct competition from government entities in the broadband marketplace. Exit polling reportedly showed that residents favored a tax increase if necessary and viewed internet connectivity as a necessary utility similar to gas, electric and water rather than as a luxury service.

For those who believe this is a local anomaly only indicative of Colorado citizens, keep in mind that Oregon just followed their lead, as Washington did previously with regard to what was once considered an extremist point of view on marijuana legalization – and same sex marriage has been bubbling up to National public acceptance from a State by State campaign of earlier political success. Municipal Broadband may soon be commonplace as citizens continue to circumvent the gridlock and glad-handing of their own elected officials to reshape the legal framework we all live within today.

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04
Nov
2014

IBM and Twitter Ink Deal to Data Mine Tweets

by Bill

Social Media on the looseMany may recall the IBM supercomputer nicknamed Watson, which has bested many of the world’s greatest game show contests with lightning-fast searches of seemingly unrelated facts for the television program Jeopardy. Now that same technological prowess is being put to use on a massive data set as part of a new endeavor that brings hardware giant IBM together with digital media darling Twitter in an attempt to make sense of the massive amount of minute to minute communication taking place across their global social platform.

Twitter now serves up more than 500 million tweets per day and they cover just about every conceivable topic from the innovative and extraordinary to the utterly inane and pointless. Sifting through that much noise to find commercially viable trends or actionable business intelligence for clients is something that has been on Twitter’s business plan for a while, and IBM expertise should help to shorten the timeline between the spawn of a great new idea and the ability of clients to act on the new information about it.

Twitter vice president Chris Moody, reportedly remarked that a deep fryer maker might analyze tweets about Soggy French Fries to learn about problems with its new line of products, or to explore opportunities based on feedback before making any significant investment in a new market.

The venture will be focused on “applications that can help improve business decisions by combining twitter data with our analytics and industry expertise in areas like marketing, customer service, HR, supply chain and more” according to Alistair Rennie, IBM General Manager of Business Analytics, who spoke candidly at an IBM customer event on Wednesday morning.

IBM will also include Twitter data in its existing ExperienceOne portfolio of sales and marketing software products and their cloud development platform Bluemix. “Ten thousand IBM global services consultants will be trained and certified in becoming the very best in helping you apply Twitter data” Rennie said and that may open the floodgates of companies seeking to use Twitter as a true method of instantaneous direct contact with existing or potential new customers.

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