The Data Stack

2 Posts authored by: Dword

The Mission Critical Innovations Award Celebration is fast upon us. On November 28 in Vienna, Austria, the winners for this worldwide IT competition on groundbreaking work in mission-critical computing solutions will be revealed.

 

As the world progresses, each day the dependence on critical IT infrastructures becomes more apparent. Our tolerance on downtime and interruptions continues to decrease. This innovation award will showcase some of the best solutions in mission critical IT in removing some of the biggest obstacles in high-end computing as well as enlighten us to new and creative ways to solve new and old problems alike.

 

There are many excellent submissions this year, and the competition, sponsored by Intel and HP, is judged by an independent panel using a scorecard that considered results produced, cost/benefit, difficulty of problem addressed, and originality of the solution. Here are the 4 key categories:

 

 

Mission Critical Data  -

Recognizes the success organizations have delivered by implementing a database, data warehousing, or line-of-business solutions.

Finalists:  CMC Limited, Flughafen Wien (Vienna International Airport), and Gravic / Royal Bank of Canada.

 

Converged Data Centre -

Recognizes RISC migrations from a proprietary environment to an industry standard, best-of-breed capability based environment, and/or utilizing blade servers for mission-critical computing.

Finalists: PinkRoccade (Dutch), RI-Solution, and Steelcase.

 

Humanitarian/Environmental Impact -

Recognizes an organization that is making a considerable, positive impact upon society or the environment.

Finalists: Enagas, Purvis Systems, University Health Hospitals.

 

Best New Application  -

Highlights the software solutions being developed that best fulfill an industry need.

Finalists: EnterpiseDB, Lusis, and Secure64

 

Details of the finalist solutions can be accessed on the Mission Critical Innovation Award website.

 

On behalf of Intel, congratulations to all the finalists! You can find the full list from HP.  If you follow IT solutions, you don't want to miss out on learning about some of the most innovative solutions the industry has to offer. Stay tuned to this blog, and on HP’s Mission-Critical Computing Blog to see which of these worthy finalists take home the top prizes in Vienna!

 

 

- Lawrence

"The computer says 'No'," I was told as I was turned away from a tram ride at a nice ski resort that had recently upgraded its ticketing to an advanced, automated system.  The system could track everything from a person's season pass status to the roster of all the people taking the base to peak tram ride at any given time. I later found out that that everything was fine except that one of the resort’s systems went down, which made me think - what if the computer had said 'No' midway up on my ride?

 

Similarly, enterprises today demand reliability in their datacenter for operations ranging from customer facing CRM for the call centers to the backend databases cranking out account settlements. Reliability and availability are essential to our perceptions of quality, yet there are still many who often appreciate power and performance the most in choosing the servers for our datacenters.

 

Yet most computer circuits are susceptible to what are called soft-errors. These are non-permanent data or operation errors that originate from random environmental alpha particles, cosmic ray radiation, or other thermal neutrons. Computers work with binary signals, and the energetic particles can cause a signal change from '1' to '0' or '0' to '1' in submicron circuits, resulting in errors that can sometimes be observed in calculations. While engineers strive to minimize these types of errors by adding additional checking and correction circuits, there is also an important feature we should look for in mission critical servers: Error prevention.

 

An error prevented is one that never has to be detected, corrected, logged, and recovered from. A high-end server processor such as the Itanium processor 9300 series based on the EPIC architecture is conceived with error prevention as a design goal. It makes extensive use of soft-error hardened and resistant latches and registers (memory elements) that are 100 times and 80 times more resilient respectively than their non-hardened versions. In fact, over 99 percent of all latches in the system interconnect functional areas, the highways within the Itanium 9300 processor, use the soft-error resilient latches.

 

There are many RAS features to consider on a mission critical processor, such as advanced machine check architecture (MCA), physical (electrically-isolated) partition handling, and Cache Safe Technology. The following whitepaper, link here, is a good start for those interested in these advanced features. Yet it’s also important not to overlook the role error prevention plays to improve reliability and availability in silent ways. Combined with a mission critical system design and hardened operating system, it means companies will be much less likely encounter a catastrophic event that they cannot recover from, which equates to increased savings to their bottom-line.

 

As a final thought, by preventing more soft errors, the best RAS feature becomes the one that you seldom notice, but that means all your computers will more often correctly say 'Yes'.

 

Till next time!

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