February 21, 2008 00:01 ET

IBM 3-D Data Centers Show Virtual Worlds Fit for Business

Real-Time Management of Global Data Centers Made Possible Through Secure 3-D Intranets Can Reduce Cost, Save Time and Help Reduce Carbon Footprint

ARMONK, NY--(Marketwire - February 21, 2008) - IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced new technologies that recreate data centers in a secure virtual world -- bringing real-time data from different facilities into a 3-D environment to visualize hot spots, data flow, server utilization and more, to better monitor and manage the entire IT platform.

Most enterprises have data centers in different buildings, cities and possibly even countries. This is because data center designs have often been dictated by a company's need to scale quickly to meet demand from company growth and the transfer of more business processes to IT. But the job of efficiently managing data centers in Beijing and Buenos Aires from an office in Madrid is not always an easy one.

Implenia, a Swiss construction, building services and real estate company, used the IBM virtual data center solution to extend its existing virtual operations center, which was previously used mainly for the facilities management processes. The virtual data center is a tailored 3-D replica of servers, racks, networking, power and cooling equipment that allows data center managers to experience real-time enhanced awareness of their dispersed resources.

A consolidated view gives operators insight into real physical issues, such as how heat and energy flow through the data center. It also provides an intuitive method for understanding the company's entire computing architecture, and allows Implenia finer control of its HVAC and security systems.

With the IBM 3-D data center, customers can not only monitor and manage live systems, but they can perform simulations and 'what if' scenarios about their enterprise. The modeling and simulation capability can be used for exercises in space, power and cooling planning, training, and disaster recovery scenarios. Users can move assets, interact with them and drive them with real or simulated data.

The key element for Implenia is IBM's virtual world integration middleware, Holographic Enterprise Interface (HEI), to link real-world data center operations in cyberspace to their Building automation interface. HEI has a modular and flexible design that allows clients to customize the desired interactions between real and virtual worlds. Each physical data center linked through this technology has an HEI instance that will transmit messages over the private network using Internet standard protocols to the 3-D virtual world server.

The virtual world platform that renders the 3-D environment is based on the OpenSim Application Platform for 3-D Virtual Worlds.

As companies of all sizes become more global in nature and tap into skills across the world, the mounting virtual workforce needs new tools to be effective. The 3-D Data Center allows experts to manage data center resources regardless of where they are or when these resources need attention, giving both employees and corporations enhanced productivity and freedom. A globally-integrated enterprise can deliver enormous economic benefits to both developed and developing nations, and new technology like this one can help companies seamlessly operate in such a distributed model. This type of collaboration provides much faster cycle times for analysis and decision making, by viewing operations in near real time, instead of exchanging messages and two-dimensional drawings via email.

The 3-D data center is customizable according to the client's servers, applications and monitoring systems. Models of non-IBM equipment are also available.

Executive Quotes

"Viewing information about your data center in 2-D text -- even in real time -- only tells a data center manager part of the story, because our brains are wired for sight and sound," said IBM Researcher Michael Osias, who architected the 3-D data center service. "By actually seeing the operations of your data center in 3-D, even down to flames showing hotspots and visualizations of the utilization of servers allows for a clearer understanding of the enterprise resources, better informed decision-making and a higher level of interaction and collaboration."

"Until working with IBM we only knew the state of our data center from the information we got through the building automation system and our virtual worlds communications interface. We didn't know the state of the server and information that was readily available to us until it was made more accessible via the 3-D visualizations that IBM built for us," said Oliver Goh, Implenia IT Specialist. "We think that by combining this information with the information we had from the building automation side we can, from a building management standpoint, control the data much better and take action to be more efficient."

Related Links

The Emergence of the 3-D Internet

IBM Helps Clients Benchmark Effectiveness of Green Data Centers

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