While you’re tweeting about Robert Green’s fumble or England’s wonky midfield, spare a thought for the FIFA data centre team keeping you and the World Cup networked. An army of staff are carefully tending 75 supercomputers expected to serve more than 5.5 billion page views over the contest, 1.3 billion more than the last World Cup in 2006. And a gigantic two petabytes (2,000 gigabytes) of storage have been allocated to satisfy fans’ appetite for video streaming.
By Helen Beckett
Matt Stone, head of new media at FIFA, said: "This is the first social media World Cup, where ordinary fans can become instant pundits from their living rooms. Slough was the natural choice for FIFA.com to house its additional bandwidth requirements. The state-of-the-art venue offers security and will ensure rapid delivery of the online experience to fans".
Hewlett-Packard is also reflecting on the present and future skills requirement of its data centre staff as it embarks upon a global consolidation. With data centres getting smarter and moving to a ‘lights-out’ automated model, HP is cross-fertilising the skills of its software development team and operations team internally.
Today’s data centres are a unique blend of workflow and manual effort. In the future, more workload will be done in fewer square feet which means that the technical architecture becomes more important. And as they become more intelligent environments, the level of automation will be greatly enhanced. This means injections of new skills in three places in the lifecycle according to Chris Moyer, Chief Technologist of HP Enterprise Services, EMEA.
1. Design skills will always be needed
"At the front end of the building process, a lot more thought is going into the technical architecture. The new architects and designers require a mindset a little like that cultivated by the pioneers of artificial intelligence and rules-based systems”, says Moyer. "It’s a question of working out all future scenarios and building rules.”
However, not every situation and problem can be anticipated up-front and so the level of sophistication of data centre operators has to be upgraded, too. “Trying to automate the tasks conducted in data centres is not as straightforward as trying to automate a mortgage process, for example,” explains Moyer.
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2. Operators to handle more complexity
Operators are going to have to get very good at handling unexpected conditions as well as routine tasks, such as simply allocating more memory to server on a server farm. "The world is already highly virtualised and operators are used to having one layer of abstraction between them and their servers. The next generation of data centre will take abstraction and complexity up another level," confirms Moyer.
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3. Project managers
The HP consolidation will require a huge data migration. Good project managers and programme managers will be in demand in order to synchronise and coordinate work schedules.
HP said that the data centre skills upgrade will permeate through UK and Ireland sites, as well as its three centres in the US that have been designated for consolidation.
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