Data Center

How Thin is your Client?

With companies hosting applications and operating systems in the data center instead of on desktops, there’s a big push to move toward Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and explain why everyone’s doing it. The answer is easy. Smaller, simpler, centralized.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is the practice of hosting a desktop operating system within a virtual machine (VM) running on a centralized server. VDI is a variation on the client/server computing model, sometimes referred to as server-based computing. The term was coined by VMware Inc.

In the process of evaluating the options and working on an affordable and scalable solution, we found this device.

Houston Data Center Thin Client VDI
Android Mini PC

This is a $20 HDMI stick that runs Android. It includes a micro USB connector for power and operating your mouse and keyboard. It runs Microsoft Remote Desktop flawlessly and is an incredible solution for the price.

It has 4GB of storage and a built in WiFi adapter. It’s essentially a Chromecast for half the cost and twice the functionality. The only downside is that it only supports one monitor.

If you’re in the market, or just want to play around with VDI, this is a no-brainer as a cost-effective proof of concept device.

Data Center

How to Sell Value to a Skeptic


We all live in the day where quantity often goes above quality. In today’s corporate environment it’s no different. Many business strategies are to make as much money, as quickly as possible, with the largest margins.

Lower consumer pricing requires lower product overhead. This often results in lower quality products, such as clothes for an example.

Consider this. Finding a reasonably nice-looking piece of apparel that is priced at an unbeatable deal sounds too good to be true… and most likely is! We don’t always like the price tags of the higher end merchandise, but over the course of time, you tend to have to replace your “amazing deal” item several times due to lack of quality materials and poor assembly. Typically, a higher priced item with the proper care holds up for years to come.

In the long run, you invest more time, money and energy on the lower-end items than you would if you had originally invested in the higher quality item. This applies for many areas in today’s industries, especially technology.

Pricing does play a key role in any decision-making component, but that should not be the only factor when making key strategic decisions.

In the following example, I identify some components that are of top priority when deciding on a disaster recovery data center location and strategy: What are your priorities?

  • Price
  • Security
  • Connectivity options
  • Location
  • Onsite support
  • Uptime
  • Growth capability

These play a part in identifying what options are on the top of your list and will help you determine what type of quality or quantity solution best fits your needs. Not all quality solutions will be the most expensive just as not all low-quality will be the most cost efficient. If you value a long lasting positive relationship with your data center, finding the appropriate balance in cost vs. value and quantity vs. quality is key.

It’s an age old lesson, while choosing price over value sounds like a win-win situation in the short-term, you will quickly realize that the only way to have a long lasting partnership, product and or company is to put quality and value as your top priority. As they say, measure 2-3 times and only cut once.


A Slave to the Grind


I honestly believe that most of you will agree that you’re chained to a list of endless tasks. It’s no secret that I am. As I write this, I’m looking down at my list of Must do today and my list of Will do one day this year when it’s the second Tuesday of the month, the stars align properly and I have some free time. In the time it took me to write that sentence four emails just came in…*sigh.*

I’ve gained some insight recently through reading a few professional development books. Let me stop you before you begin neigh-saying. I thought there would be little to gain from reading self-improvement books. I’m a 30-something bald man in the technology field…how much better does it get?

I’ve gotten over myself and given it a try. There are kernels of good information in each of them. One of those truths is You can get more capital, you can hire more people, but you can’t buy more time. I’ve found this to be very true.

You need to focus on a small handful of tasks and complete them before moving on to the next. Often a good way to do this is to clear your head. Get some distance from where you’re currently sitting and review what you should be doing and what you should NOT be doing. It’s interesting to think about the things we do that are time-wasters, which others could adequately do in our stead. The best way to review is to go someplace neutral.

Something else I’ve learned is that you are not alone. Bounce your ideas off people and you’ll often be surprised by what comes back. They may not have the answer, but can shake something loose in your own head. Remember, we are all on the same team…the A Team. I’m calling dibs on B. A. Baracus, “fool!”

Pick up the phone or open your email and tell me, “I’m coming to the data center on X day, and I’d like to borrow your conference room.” I’ll take you to lunch. You’ll have a quiet place with distance to review. You can bounce a few ideas off of our technical team, and you can write off the whole trip as a business expense (we happen to do this data center thing you can check out while here).

As the venerable Col. John ‘Hannibal’ Smith said, “Give me a minute, I’m good. Give me an hour, I’m great. Give me six months, I’m unbeatable.”

Data Center

How to Determine Data Center Power Requirements

Power delivery is the most critical part of any data center upgrade. Top tier data centers provide multiple power feeds into their facilities, which most likely isn’t a financially viable option for a data center located in an office building.

You’re first step is ensuring the electrical services to your building are capable of supplying the amount of power necessary for your needs, while giving you room to grow your infrastructure.

Determine your Power Requirements

How much power you require is the single most important part of your data center upgrade.  Everything that follows is based off of this calculation…no pressure, right?

If you have a UPS or metered PDUs you can collect the amps/wattage currently in use. If you don’t have metered power distribution equipment you will have to do one of the following.

Option 1: Estimate power consumption based on equipment make and model.  Most manufacturers have power calculators that allow you to build your infrastructure online to discover the total wattage.

Option 2: Have an electrician come in and clamp one of the phases of your power. They can then average the usage going to your IT infrastructure.

If estimation is the only means you have available, remember not to use the rated sticker readings. The sticker on a power supply gives the potential maximum output and not the nominal wattage the device uses. Often the supply is capable of providing twice the power required to run the equipment. If you go purely off these numbers, you will overbuild your power infrastructure…CFOs tend to frown on this.

Calculating Wattage

If only amperage information is available to you, then you’ll need to calculate wattage on your own. Wattage is expressed as Amps x Volts = Watts.

If your supplied voltage is 120V and you’re using a total of 40 amps, it would be: 40 x 120 = 4,800 watts (often represented as 4.8 kilowatts or kW).

If your supplied voltage is 208V single-phase and you’re using a total of 40 amps, it would be: 40 x 208 = 8.3 kW.

Once you calculate required wattage, you can size your UPS equipment, remember that isn’t the entire IT load. If you’re building an application-specific environment, you also need to consider cooling requirements. HVAC equipment isn’t run on UPS, but it will be connected to your generator. This will be a key consideration when determining generator requirements.

Download The Essential Guide to Upgrading Your Data Center for an extensive guide.