The Year of Green Storage


If you work in a data center, you're probably familiar with green storage, environmentally friendly storage that uses less power and physical space than conventional technologies. Gartner predicts green storage will be the most hyped datastorage trend in 2007. I talked to Pillar Data Systems' (http://www.pillardata.com) Senior Director of Marketing and Strategy Russ Kennedy and Director of Worldwide PR Chris Drago, to learn more about why it's important for companies to start thinking about green storage.

Drago and Kennedy provided some astonishing statistics: In 2005, Gartner reported that US companies spent $6 billion powering data centers. Gartner also predicts that by the end of 2008, nearly 50 percent of data centers worldwide won't have sufficient power or cooling to support high-density equipment.

Kennedy and Drago stressed that companies need to use their storage more efficiently and think about consolidating multiple storage platforms. "The proliferation of different boxes can't continue," warned Kennedy; Pillar Data Systems asserts that the limitation of physical space is one of the largest challenges facing IT pros today, especially those working in densely populated regions. Insofar as every company with a growing need for physical space (or Information Lifecycle Management—ILM—storage tiers) increases power consumption, the need for energy efficiency will drive the green storage movement.

Pillar Data Systems' goal is to make green storage as simple as possible and to help users understand what efficiency is all about. Attaining this goal means maximizing application performance and data capacity with the most efficient use of floor space and power consumption. To determine the efficiency of Pillar Data Systems' storage products, the company uses an efficiency quotient (EQ), where EQ = capacity (GB) × performance (I/O operations per second—IOPS) / power (watts) × space (square meters). When Pillar Data Systems compared its EQs with some of its competitors' products' EQs, it found that its products were often twice as efficient. The relatively high EQs of Pillar's products stem from the company's ability to consolidate multiple applications and tiers of storage into single platforms. Additionally, the company is able to deliver multiple storage technologies such as Fibre Channel and Serial ATA (SATA) from just one platform. Going forward, be sure to think about green storage, and talk with your vendors to help you determine how efficient your storage really is.

Is storage efficiency a concern in your organization? Does your company plan to address this concern in the next couple of years? Tell us your thoughts at our storage forum: http://forums.windowsitpro.com/web/forum/messageview.aspx?catid=46&threadid=83847&enterthread=y.
—Blake Eno

On-Demand, Any-Level Training for SQL Server Users


Just-in-Time ( JIT) learning is always a tall order to fill. As the technology industry moves toward a business model that demands smaller workforces utilizing broader, cross-disciplinary skill sets, on-demand technical training is increasingly necessary to properly mobilize business. This trend is industry-wide, but it's especially pronounced in the SQL Server arena. Anecdotal evidence gathered by SQL Server Magazine editors concludes that many DBAs and network administrators using SQL Server are new to the database. Because of SQL Server's increasing back-end ubiquity, users who have no previous experience are suddenly staring at a SQL Server 2005 interface and being asked to make it work with anything from Microsoft Office Access to SharePoint technologies.

Even when CFOs want to spend the necessary money to train these users, options are limited. "In the tech training industry, your delivery options are usually either a three-day seminar or a thin-content, e-learning solution," counsels AppDev Products (http://www.appdev.com) President and CEO Craig Jensen. He says the problem with seminars is that they tend to be expensive and time-consuming, and that the information is "too much, too fast" to be retained. The problem with most e-solutions is that they're low-bandwidth, don't cover information deeply enough, and have no reinforcement mechanisms.

Jensen believes AppDev has developed an alternative that will let SQL Server users customize training programs to their specific needs, rather than choose a solution according to its delivery mechanism. AppDev has produced an updateable series of training modules that can be delivered in a variety of formats, and customized to fit specific job descriptions and learning styles. The service package, called KSource, is a collection of high-bandwidth, rich-content video modules led by industry experts, and reinforced with interactive labs, pre- and post-module exams, and instructor-led coursework. AppDev offers KSource as both an updateable hardware appliance that can be installed behind the company firewall, as well as a broadband, high-bandwidth stream originating from its headquarters' servers. Check out http://www.appdev.com/rs_entry.asp for a free trial run to judge the quality of the content yourself.
—Sam Davenport