Rise of the white box

The rise of the white box server

White box from the beginning

First, let us define a white box server. A white box server (sometimes referred to as a beige box) is a machine without a well-known brand name associated with it. White boxes are usually made en masse by Asian original design manufacturers (ODMs) such as Quanta, Wistron, Inventec and Wiwynn. They are also produced by system integrators who build systems assembled from parts purchased separately to create bespoke systems.

OK, so where do black boxes come from? In the traditional IT procurement model, enterprise customers buy from original equipment manufactures (OEMs) such as HPE, Dell and IBM. The OEMs in turn outsource the manufacturing of hardware to the ODMs. It is at this point you are buying a branded, closed, black box server.

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Jason Taylor gives the keynote presentation at the OCP U.S. Summit 2016

OCP Summit US 2016 summary

OCP Summit news

2016 marked the seventh OCP Summit and was held in San Jose, California. It attracted over 2000 people this year including many industry leaders. Jason Taylor, President and Chairman of the Open Compute Project (OCP), and VP of Infrastructure for Facebook, highlighted the continued growth of the OCP community. He also discussed the OCP momentum seen among large web, financial technology, and telecommunications companies, during his keynote presentation. Continue reading

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Azure Stack - From Appliance to Pack to Stack

Azure Stack – From Appliance to Pack to Stack

Third time’s a charm. Microsoft, back in May 2014 at the Ignite Conference, announced Azure Stack (or Azure, but from the safety of your own home datacentre). Stack will be the third evolution of their Azure for on-premises offering and will now overshadow the existing Azure Pack (which is more like a wrapper around System Center) and non existing Azure Appliance. This having been said, Microsoft will be running the Stack and Pack side by side, so you are not forced to jump ship to the next shiniest thing. Continue reading

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Do OpenStack users say yes or no?

OpenStack bi-annual report just in. Users up, NPS down.

The SUSE Linux vendor runs a six-monthly survey on OpenStack users’ attitudes and deployments. The results of this bi-annual report, completed by some 1315 individuals across the planet, are just in.

Headlines include that 60% of deployments are now in production, compared to 32% under two years ago, and twice as many users filled in the survey this time. Over half the community works in cloud operating, which I guess is no surprise. What was more surprising to me was that the size of organisations using OpenStack (in terms of headcount) is fairly evenly distributed. For example, the number of OpenStack-using companies with 1 to 9 employees was similar to those with 100,000 or more. Although, as a trend, the uptake in larger companies is increasing survey to survey, maybe they are having a slower incubation time to get OpenStack into production. Continue reading

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Dell starts DSS a new business unit

Sub-hyperscale is a thing, thanks to Dell

2015 saw Dell strengthen its commitment to hyperscale customers, well ‘almost’ hyperscale customers. Before we go into that, first a tiny bit of history. Eight years ago Dell created Data Centre Solutions (DCS). DCS set about designing and building solutions tailor-made for scale-out datacentre environments: hyperscale. This has set them up as a major player in this arena and today DCS supports some major hyperscale customers like Amazon, Google and Facebook.

Dell love you, even if you are not the biggest hyperscaler

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MaaS logo

Canonical MaaS installation

Recently we had the need to install a number of Ubuntu boxes for a client. Whilst our usual home-grown scripts with Kickstart and Salt work just fine, they are not the most intuitive to hand over or maintain. So we used Canonical’s MaaS or Metal as a Service. We are talking tens of machines, not thousands, so we created a single node MaaS installation. This gives flexibility for future deployments, as MaaS can install a number of different operating systems.

This is a walk through of what turned out to be a very quick and easy install. Now we can install servers on mass maas. Continue reading

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XMAS corrected to say X MAAS

Merry ChristMaaS

Today we are looking at MaaS from Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu. MaaS, which stands for Metal as a Service, promises to automatically and dynamically provision your servers. It’s the same idea as cloud provisioning, but now with your own bare metal servers. Very exciting indeed, so we thought we would give it a try. Continue reading

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Push once for hyperscale monitoring

Monitoring hyperscale environments

Chances are, if you have thousands of servers, you are running some sort of hyperscale environment. But is your monitoring hyperscale-friendly?

In the beginning you might well have had 10 servers all running business-critical applications. You dutifully monitored everything on the server. Well, you dutifully monitored after you have had too many issues with no monitoring at all.

Then, over time, each new outage brought you a new set of checks and before you knew it, your boxes became extremely monitored. They have a multitude of ways to set the pager off. Your monitoring strategy continues like this as your server farm grows. Before you know it, you have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of machines with very basic false positive monitoring. Continue reading

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