Tag Archives: server

Cloudy Server Growth

Infoworld recently posted an interesting article (The numbers don’t lie — cloud computing boosts server sales) about how server market revenues have increased by around 11 percent in the second quarter of 2010, with quarterly revenues coming in around $10.9 billion for the quarter. In fact, if you look at IDC’s 2Q10 press release, unit shipments were up 23.8% year over year which is impressive, reportedly the fastest quarter over quarter growth in 5 years. Much of this can certainly be attributed to recovery of the server market segment, but as David Linthicum discusses, shouldn’t overall server growth start declining in the face of server virtualization and cloud computing? Hm… good point.

In many ways, growth in the face of a technology shift caused by more efficient cloud and utility based computing models should not be that surprising given we’ve seen a similar phenomenon before. We lived through it in the early broadband communications days where the concept of an overlay network was used to introduce new services non-disruptively i.e. rather than replace the old network, a new one was built along side hence the term “overlay”. So it is not an unlikely scenario in the cloud age where both corporate and public computer-storage networks are effectively overlaying new systems on top of their existing systems to minimize disruptions and in many cases, testing this stuff out incrementally before they turn it all over to cloud and virtualization – be it internal or externally hosted.

This definitely seemed to be the case when I recently called my hosting provider to ask why FrontPage extensions could no longer be enabled for a website I was putting together as a temporary placeholder for another project. Turned out that all new customers were being steered to the new “grid computer system” which doesn’t support FrontPage extensions anymore, so I had to be moved back to the “legacy” systems. Bingo…. two networks, one for old and one for new. Reminded me of a tour of a central office in Austin, Texas we were given when developing the early broadband network technologies. We were there to review how they planned to roll out DSL when it eventually arrived. I was surprised then to see a lone Siemens digital switch in the corner providing ISDN services purely for data as an overlay service instead of using the already huge installed base of AT&T switches they’d been using for mainline customers and installing ISDN line cards. The technology and switch could handle it, but for service and disruption reasons it was not the preferred way to roll out an infant service.

Bottom line. Traditional models always stick around much longer than us technologists think for usually non-technical reasons, even when there are many advantages to ditching the old stuff for the new. Another reminder of the hype curve age we live in.

Rollback using Windows Home Server

I’ve been running a Windows Home Server for about 2 years now using a low cost VIA based home built system, and I’m very happy with it. Just a few examples of how useful it’s been:

  • I’ve used it to rescue my laptop twice from a corrupt C: drive
  • Temporarily rollback my laptop to a point 9 month earlier to find a lost email
  • Restore the family gaming machine more than once due to excessive build up of internet “plug ins”
  • Create a set of bootable images for my various test servers so I don’t have to update to the latest OS as my master CD/DVD is getting old

Though the backup capability is nice (I have a lot active PCs in my house), the real value of WHS came home to me when I needed to find some old emails from 9 months back that I thought I’d kept when upgrading my laptop from Windows XP to Vista. My home server had been configured to keep both the old XP backups I’d been making regularily up until Nov 2009, then it was keeping  a new set (under the same PC name) for the newer Vista Operating system I’d installed.

Here’s the steps I went through to get my now Windows Vista laptop temporaily reverted back to it’s Nov 2009 Windows XP state:

  1. Manual/instant backup of my current laptop
  2. Insert WHS provided Home Restore CD and reboot my laptop
  3. Let the restore program boot up (which can take up to 5 minutes….)
  4. When asked to select which machine, select the version of my laptop that contained the Nov 2009 Windows XP backup
  5. Click restore and let it run through it’s 1.5 hr process of copying everything back to my hard drive (blowing the exiting Vista copy away)
  6. Reboot the laptop back to it’s Nov 09 state and recover the needed files onto one of the WHS network directories I needed
  7. Reboot again with the Home Restore CD and restore the Vista backup I’d made earlier

A long winded process that took several hours (actually left some of it running over night on the last restore step), but it did the trick and worked pretty nicely. Of course, not as nice and instant as the Apple Time Machine (which wouldn’t have been able to go back to a prior OS install), but achieved the same functionality.