[LINK] Green web servers with netbook components

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Wed May 20 08:43:50 AEST 2009

At 11:15 AM 19/05/2009, Adrian Chadd wrote:
>On Tue, May 19, 2009, Tom Worthington wrote:
> > The conventional thinking on servers has been high density
> > specialization ...
>The conventional thinking is "write crappy software, run an untuned OS,
>and only scale by adding boxes."

Yes. I did find it curious at the ACS Victorian Branch Green IT 
conference to hear a series of speakers talking about a wonderful 
"new" invention: Virtualisation. This is what we used to do back when 
multi-user, multi-tasking operating systems were used on mainframe 
computers. You only had one computer so you had to carefully balance 
the load. It seems that the PC generation are having to relearn how 
to do this and repeating the mistakes of the past, having not learnt 
from history.

It seems very odd that someone would take an application designed for 
a single user operating system (such as old Microsoft Windows) and 
try to virtualize it. The obvious thing to do instead is to get a 
version of the application designed to run on a multi-user, 
multitasking operating system and then run that on a multi-user, 
multi-taking operating system. You might then still decide to 
virtualize the machine that is running on, but will have fewer 
problems because the application will be designed to cohabit with others.

If you have some legacy application you may be stuck with trying to 
virtualise it. But that should be the last option and used for 
important enterprise applications.

>... how do you think you'd run an always-up webserver for a small 
>remote rural community?  ...

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a company which provides servers 
for health centers in small remote rural communities of Northern 
Territory <http://www.convergence.com.au/managedservices>. They 
provide thin client hardware with satellite links to virtualised 
hardware in a remote data centre. The thin clients are cheap laptops 
and the servers are hosted by AC3 at the ATP in Sydney <http://www.ac3.com.au>.

It is claimed they can virtualise a Microsoft Windows application and 
have it running at a reasonable speed using specialized software 
<http://www.netleverage.com/Technology_Portfolio.html>. I saw a demo, 
but this was in a city over ADSL and so not useful for judging the 
speed via satellite in remote areas. This arrangement reminded me of 
a dog playing the piano: it is not that it plays well, but that it 
can play at all.

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617                      http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University  

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