As a technical starting point of this research Patrick Keller already wrote two posts on hardware standards and measures: The Rack Unit and the EIC /ECIA Standards (other articles including technical overview are the 19 Inch Rack & Rack Mount Cases). Within the same intent of understanding the technical standards and limitations that shape the topologies of data centers we decided to investigate how the racks can be packed, shipped, and gain mobility. The standards for server transportation safety are set by the Rack Transport Stability Team (RTST) guidelines. Of course, custom built server packaging exists based on the international standards. We’ll start by listing them from the smallest to the biggest dimensions. First off, the pallet is the smallest measure. Once installed on pallets, the racks can be disposed in standard 20′ or 40′ shipping containers. The image below depicts different ways of arranging the pallets within the container:
Note: would you like to install your personal open source cloud infrastructure, maintain it, manage your data by yourself and possibly develop artifacts upon it, like we needed to do in the frame of this project? If the answer is yes, then here comes below the step by step recipe on how to do it. The proposed software for Cloud-like operations, ownCloud, has been chosen among different ones. We explained our (interdisciplinary) choice in this post, commented here. It is an open source system with a wide community of developers (but no designers yet).
We plan to publish later some additional Processing libraries — in connection with this open source software — that will follow one of our research project’s objectives to help gain access to (cloud based) tools.
Would you then also like to “hide” your server in a traditional 19″ Cabinet (in your everyday physical or networked vicinity)? Here is a post that details this operation and what to possibly “learn” from it –”lessons” that will become useful when it will come to possible cabinet alternatives–.
At a very small scale and all things considered, a computer “cabinet” that hosts cloud servers and services is a very small data center and is in fact quite similar to large ones for its key components… (to anticipate the comments: we understand that these large ones are of course much more complex, more edgy and hard to “control”, more technical, etc., but again, not so fundamentally different from a conceptual point of view).
Documenting the black box… (or un-blackboxing it?)
You can definitely find similar concepts that are “scalable” between the very small – personal – and the extra large. Therefore the aim of this post, following two previous ones about software (part #1) –with a technical comment here– and hardware (part #2), is to continue document and “reverse engineer” the set up of our own (small size) cloud computing infrastructure and of what we consider as basic key “conceptual” elements of this infrastructure. The ones that we’ll possibly want to reassess and reassemble in a different way or question later during the I&IC research.
However, note that a meaningful difference between the big and the small data center would be that a small one could sit in your own house or small office, or physically find its place within an everyday situation (becoming some piece of mobile furniture? else?) and be administrated by yourself (becoming personal). Besides the fact that our infrastructure offers server-side computing capacities (therefore different than a Networked Attached Storage), this is also a reason why we’ve picked up this type of infrastructure and configuration to work with, instead of a third party API (i.e. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) with which we wouldn’t have access to the hardware parts. This system architecture could then possibly be “indefinitely” scaled up by getting connected to similar distant personal clouds in a highly decentralized architecture –like i.e. ownCloud seems now to allow, with its “server to server” sharing capabilities–.
See also the two mentioned related posts:
And now that the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) has become the Electronic Components Alliance (ECA) and has then merged with the National Electronic Distributors Association (NEDA), its new name is ECIA, standing for Electronic Components Industry Association. That’s where you can buy (for $88.00 usd) the norm EIA/ECA-310E that regulates the 19″ cabinets standard.
Acting like a building block, this modular standard ultimately gives shape to bigger size data centers that hold many of these racks and cabinets.
Virtualization, in computing, refers to the act of creating a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, including but not limited to a virtual computer hardware platform, operating system (OS), storage device, or computer network resources.
Virtualization began in 1960s mainframe computers as a method of logically dividing the mainframes’ resources for different applications. Since then, the meaning of the term has broadened.
… it continued and now this concept and technology is widely used to set up system architecture within data centers. Virtualized (data) servers populate physical servers. A well known company that is specialized around these questions is VMware.
In the context of the workshop being held by Matthew Plummer-Fernandez this week at ECAL, Raspberry Pi’s will be available to students.
The Pi’s have already been set up with a basic layer of software / harware, the OS installed is Raspbian (on 8Gb SD’s for the Raspberry Pi B and 16Gb SDxC for the Raspberry Pi B+), the keyboard system is standard International Mac US and the wifi-dongle enables to access the Pi via SSH from another machine. Here’s how we did it from scratch:
While setting up our own small size data center and cloud infrastructure, we’ve tried to exemplify the key constitutive ingredients of this type of computing infrastructure, as of November 2014. But we’ve also tried to maintain them as much open as we could, for further questioning, developments and transformations.
The first key ingredients are software parts and we’ve described them in the previous post about the same topic.