* Posts by Kate Craig-Wood

14 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Oct 2008

BCS trustee threatens rebels with libel action

Kate Craig-Wood

BCS is still relevant

It is really sad to see BCS in-fighting so much. While it has its flaws, it is still a good organisation and for the most part it is about serious, expert professionals coming together and sharing knowledge for wider societal benefit.

An exemplar case is the Data Centre Specialist Group (dcsg.bcs.org) of which I am an officer. We have over 1,000 members, many of which are over seas, who have been able to work together to create global thought leadership in energy efficiency in the data centre.

The main outputs of the group are our vital contributions to the EU Code of Conduct for data centres, and more recently the open source cost and energy simulator which has been developed in partnership with the Carbon Trust. Britain has truly world-leading expertise in this field, and that is thanks in no small part to the DCSG.

I think this is a storm in a teacup over a minority not liking their old 'club' evolving. There is fault on both sides I'm sure, but the bottom line is that this is doing real harm to an organisation that does do good work.

Kate Craig-Wood, aka. Famed skydiving hosting-biz queenpin

MD, Memset

Mystery startup uncloaks 512-core server

Kate Craig-Wood
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Still not cost effective...

In theory we should be an ideal customer for this sort of thing, but I would not buy one for the following reasons:

1) They have got the RAM-CPU ratio wrong. RAM is by far the most important resource these days, especially when using mass virtualisation. Needs twice the amount of RAM per CPU ideally (then it would be better than what we can currently buy).

2) I can buy 43 quad-core 2.5GHz xeon servers (probably a little more CPU than 512 atoms), with 24GB RAM each (1TB total) for half that price tag (£50k).

3) The 43 pizza boxes would use about 5kW. Over a 3 year lifetime, in a modestly efficient data centre the 3kW would cost me an extra £13,500, so the power saving is dwarfed by the additional cost.

4) Their "magic" clustering and resource partitioning stuff does not sound any more impressive than what we currently use to glue together our large clusters and virtualised grid.

Oh, and before someone goes "but space is expensive" - space is only expensive if you're in the tiny minority of people who really, really must be inside the M25. Otherwise, power is the limitier.

Good idea to use standard hardware interfaces (PCI etc) though. Double the RAM or halve the price and this would be useful.


MD, Memset.com

Will cloud put traditional hosters out of business?

Kate Craig-Wood

Agreed: Not out of business, but will change us

No, the Cloud movement (aka. centralisation or IT-services-over-the-wire) will not put hosting companies like us (Memset) out of business, but it will change who our main customers are.

For example, we are seeing a lot more business from companies who want to use our infrastructure as the back-bone for their SaaS - we can run the IT layer much more effectively than most operators, since for almost all applications the actual required hardware is fairly small in terms of number of machines these days (thanks to Moore's Law).

Further, although Amazon EC2 & co. are appealing to a niche market (those few online services that have very peaky loads) the vast majority of people we speak to that want some hosting for just a single virtual machine (or a resilient pair), to carry on running a legacy application that used to be on a physically dedicated server which is now out-dated hardware.

Personally, I think the threat of 'Cloud' will be to the premium hosts like RackSpace who have made lots of money exploiting the view that "good hosting is expensive". We, on the other hand, are embracing the commoditisation of hosting and have already taken the fat out of our prices (hey, any excuse to turn the knife in my arch-rival, mmkay? ;)



Kate Craig-Wood (aka. Famed skydiving hosting-biz queenpin)


Fellers at Dell ditch Della?

Kate Craig-Wood

Was it something I said? ;)

Sweet! I complained to them back on the 13th:


On the 14th the offensive elements I highlighted were removed (the "tech tips")....

> 2. Get healthier: Use your mini to track calories, carbs and protein with ease, watch online fitness videos, map your running routes and more.

> 3. Eat better: Find recipes online, store and organize them, and watch cooking videos.

> 4. Get organized: ‘Remember the Milk’ is a free, tweakable online task manager that’s easy to use.

...and now they've canned the whole thing!

Maybe I should complain more. ;)


MD, Memset

Dell taps VIA Nano chips for custom mini-servers

Kate Craig-Wood

CPU is not the limiting factor

@Anton No, I'm not confused, and my point still stands; these things are redundant in the age of virtualisation maturity.

Having spoken to Dell it does appear that they are aiming these boxes at corporates who are phobic about sharing their precious tin with other users; I guess there will always be a market for people with an intractable belief that you should run one app per server.

As for them running a more useful chipset for hosting type tasks, well that is a step in the right direction, but again I cannot see how these would be more efficient than normal x86 chipsets. Sure we don't need all that floating point processing ability for most tasks, but we don't use Niagara chipsets either because CPU is not the limiting factor!

Earlier today we release an inside look at our own virtualisation strategy, which is rather pertinent to this debate:


Have a look at that, and at Amazon's EC2 instances, and you'll see that - for now - CPU is not what is in demand. Moore's law has been applied so relentlessly to CPU that there is now an abundance, and what we need is more RAM and more disk I/O TPS.


Kate Craig-Wood
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Step back to Cobalt days?

At first glance this sounds like a giant step back to the days of the Cobalt Raq. They were in large part killed by virtualisation (specifically in the form of VPS/VDS services like our Miniserver VM). These little boxes would only useful for dinosaur customers who refuse to believe in the security and viability of virtualisation.


"Dell can give hosting companies a 64-bit Nano server that has from 1 GB to 3 GB of main memory and that has an idle power draw of around 15 watts and that draws somewhere between 20 and 29 watts under peak loads. That is about one-tenth the power used by a standard two-socket 1U box that is not running at a particularly high utilization."

That is just, plain wrong. You have to go back 3 years to the days of Dual Xeon rack burners like the Dell SC1425 (165W idle, 230W full chat). That is not a good comparison with modern 1U machines, like the quad-core Dell PowerEdge R200/R300 which idles at 90W and is only 150W when thrashing the disks & CPU.

We will be getting some of these to play with / test, but in the mean time I would estimate that one them is about as much horsepower as a modern 1U quad core box. At high load capacity (which would be a 'mare to mange on these little blighters) 4 of them would use 120Watts, which is 75% of our trusty friend the quad core Dell R200/R300 at max load, but quite a bit more CapEx (you can get quad-core R200's with 8GB RAM and 2x1500GB disks for £700).

Also, I bet the embedded carbon of those is still a significant proportion of that for a normal 1U server since most of the energy-cost of a server is in making the chips! Green argument definitely does not seem to add up.

As for your statement, Chris, why are you fiddling about owning your own boxes at all?? Just rent VMs from the cloud a lot cheaper, more reliable, and no faffing with virtualisation systems (we do all that for you!). Of course, I suppose then you don't get to to fondle the shiny servers. Sorry. ;)



Kate Craig-Wood aka. Famed skydiving hosting-biz queenpin

MD, Memset Dedicated Hosting


'Della': Dell's very special site for women

Kate Craig-Wood

What. The. Hell?!

I thought this was a joke when someone mailed me the link. Dear Gods, what are they playing at?!

I was going to send out a major press release, which in part recommends Dell as a virtualisation platform. I certainly don't want to sing their praises now!!

Right, time to give some of their senior people a serious earful.



Kate Craig-Wood aka. "Famed Skydiving Hosting-Biz Queenpin"

MD, Memset


HTC Vodafone Magic

Kate Craig-Wood
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Love my G2 :)

I got my Andriod G2 on Sunday and have been using it intensively since. I absolutely love this phone! Android is designed with the Google-mentality of "keep everything remote" which fits neatly with how I operate (Business Wiki & online tools, Trac for project management, IMAP email, Google Calendar & Google Contacts for address book).

The battery life is enough for a heavy day's usage, so it needs charging each night. No problem there.

I wanted a G1 originally (for the keyboard) but am a loyal Voda customer. Despite my reservations, I have been pleasantly surprised by the G2's on-screen keyboard. Now that I've got used to its predictive word selection I find that I can almost touch-type.

As for charges, it was a free upgrade for me (18 month re-commit obviously), and I'm now paying something like £40/mo for ~1000 anytime mins and more data than I can use in a month on a phone (ie. GBytes).

@Ian Ferguson The trackball is useful when editing text; precise placement of the cursor is a PITA with the high-res, small font, but the track ball makes it simple.

The iPhone is probably a bit better at music if you are one of those people who can still be bothered to copy tunes between devices, but I just stream my music from the last.fm via WiFi/3G so no issue there either. I've not yet plugged my G2 into my Air, and currently see no need to; I keep everything I need on a phone online anyway.

All in all, as a serious business user who is both a Mac-head and a Google-user, I am confident that choosing the G2 rather than an iPhone was the right choice.



Kate Craig-Wood


Fasthosts' market leadership claims banned

Kate Craig-Wood
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Not just numbers...

Stating "the number one's Web host" implies that they are best for value / quality too.

*polishes her collection of the three latest PCPro Best Web Host awards*

*looks smug*




Kate Craig-Wood

Da Boss


McKinsey: Adopt the cloud, lose money

Kate Craig-Wood
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I had to remove the links back to my site before they let it through (PS. Thanks El Reg mods ;)

The bottom line is that "Cloud Computing" is a rubbish term; what people really mean when they say it is "Buying IT resource on-demand from someone else's bigger data centre" in most cases ("utility computing" is a better term), and that busines model most certainly does work.

Companies like mine (Memset) are much more efficient at running a data centre and lots of servers than, say, a non-IT company's IT dept thanks to economies of scale and being specialists. Thus we can do it for half the price while still being profitable enough to a) grow fast without debt and b) pay me enough to have a ridiculously fast toys (I am a simply creature at heart ;)

The other view is that "Cloud" is just the new name for the same-old approx. 7 year cycle of IT insourcing/outsourcing.


Kate Craig-Wood

That is because Amazon are a rip-off!

The reason the report concludes that Cloud costs more is because

Amazon are massively overcharging for their resources! We (Memset) are as little as HALF the price for comparable virtual machines and dedicated servers to the EC2 service.

S3 is even worse! Amazon charge $0.18/GB-month ) which is about £0.13 /GB-month

A 22TByte storage array from Memset costs £499/mo, which is £0.02


McKinsey need to realise that all "Cloud Computing" is, is what we

dedicated hosts have been doing for years but on smaller time frames.

If you want a decent definition of Cloud, see the BCS Data Centre

Specialist Group Web site : http://dcsg.bcs.org/

Cloud/Utility computing of the likes of Amazon only makes sense for

people with dynamic load profiles. If you just need to outsource a

bunch of servers, then go to a normal IT host like Rackspace or Memset.


UK IT should 'fire men first', says Kate Craig-Wood

Kate Craig-Wood
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From the horse's mouth...

To those making overtly sexist comments, thank you! I have been struggling to demonstrate just how bad the sexism within the ICT industry is, especially when presenting/talking on the topic to industry leaders and politicians who don't tend to just "take my word for it".

This is a goldmine though! These comments will give me all the evidence I could wish for. :)

Also, a sincere thank you to those making serious, considered comments and who made an effort to engage in the debate.


PS. Also, if you want to hear my whole reasoning (where I make it clear I'm not being sexist myself - merely an advocate of good business sense), this is the original article: http://katescomment.com/fire-men-first/

Memset CEO gets female biz-leaders' award from IBM

Kate Craig-Wood

From the horse's mouth

I was expecting some comments like these. ;) What most people fail utterly to understand is that transexualism is an innate biological condition, in other words I have always had a female brain even though I was born a boy (see http://www.gires.org.uk/ for more info and research on the subject).

Further, I openly admit that I feel I have been advantaged by my male upbringing since i was encouraged towards computing, whereas my sister was not (see http://kate.craig-wood.com/girls-into-it.php ). I could be regarded as what you get if you take a girl and socialise them towards stereotypically male interests.

The fact that I am now winning business awards merely shows that women can do well when given equal opportunities!


PS. @AnonymousCoward#1 The award is for entrepreneurial women, not those who have risen through the ranks of a mega-corp.

Hosting biz-queenpin parachutes Everest

Kate Craig-Wood

From the horse's mouth...

Re Law: 1) The trip was a holiday and as such the jet fuel burned would have been burnt if I was going somewhere else, and anyway I offset all my emissions (I'm a carbon neutral citizen) - yes not perfect but the best solution in the short term until fusion is working and planes run on hydrogen! 2) The kit was carried up the mountain on foot mainly (and the other jumpers and I also walked most of the way) and 3) the jump ship (a Pilatus Porter) was selected in part because it has one engine and a fairly low carbon footprint.

Re. Ralph B: Actually, I agree with you; I feel that I am advantaged over other women in IT because of my being brought up as a boy and being encouraged to do stereotypical "boy things" like computing - that is in part why I am so keep on CC4G since I feel it is helping to redress the issue of girls being less encouraged towards IT than boys, despite the fact that we badly need more women in technology.

Shameless plug: Since my own gender transition Memset Dedicated Hosting has won PCPro's Best Web host 3 years running and I attribute that in no small part to the good gender balance at the top (ie. me and my brother! :).