Pulse


Pulse

By GCN Staff


Can fuel cells integrated into server racks power data centers?

In a recent blog post, Microsoft senior research program manager Sean James shared the findings of a research paper on fuel cell powered data centers.

This study described the “collapse of the entire energy supply chain — from the power plant to the server motherboard — into the confines of a server single cabinet.”

The researchers show that by integrating fuel cells with IT hardware, they can cut much of the power electronics out of the conventional fuel cell system. Advantages to fuel cell powered data centers compared to traditional data centers include:

  • Improved reliability. Points of failure will be limited to a single server rack, and a battery backup is not required, so the system will be more reliable.
  • Lower infrastructure costs. The elimination of electrical distribution, backup, and transformation in the data center, as well as power conditioning equipment in the fuel cell, will reduce infrastructure costs.
  • Improved efficiency. Power effectiveness will increase, and high-efficiency fuel cells will double total system efficiency.
  • A universal data center design can be achieved. The fuel cell powered system design can be mass produced and deployed almost anywhere in the world without the difficulties of purchasing electrical equipment used for traditional systems.

However, there is still work to be done. “With the potential to double the efficiency of traditional data centers, we see tremendous potential in this approach, but this concept is not without challenges,” said James in his blog post. “Deep technical issues remain, such as thermal cycling, fuel distribution systems, cell conductivity, power management and safety training that needs to be further researched and solutions developed. But we are excited about working to resolve these challenges.”

Posted on Dec 04, 2013 at 8:47 AM2 comments


D.C. government sees growth in mobile device program

The D.C. government partnered with Good Technology to improve its mobile device management under the firm’s “Good for Government” program. The firm released a case study this month showing wireless messaging support in the district has grown from 300 to 2,250 in the last three years.

The effort was part of a plan by the city’s government to improve mobile services for more than 80 district agencies,

including Child and Family Services, Department of Corrections, Emergency Management Agency, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Metropolitan Police Department.

The growth in the number of users is “impressive,” says Good, but it still represents only about 5 percent of the government’s total workforce of 39,000.

The company’s Good for Government program supports multiple devices and mobile operating systems, including iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile, which allows agencies to choose the device, carrier and plan that works best for their needs. It also eliminates the possibility of a single point of failure during an emergency.

According to the case study, Good for Government has helped district agencies increase productivity and efficiency with real-time, synchronized access to email messages, calendars and contacts on employees’ devices.

Posted on Dec 02, 2013 at 8:47 AM0 comments


Report lays groundwork for cyber-physical systems research

The Cyber Security Research Alliance released a report that lays out a logical road map for designing security into cyber-physical systems (CPS), which are IP-based systems that support the nation’s critical infrastructure and increasingly the target of cyberattackers. 

CPS manipulate critical infrastructure operations such as power and water, industrial systems, transportation systems, medical devices, security systems, building automation and emergency management. 

The report summarizes findings from an April 2013 workshop where industry, government and academic researchers explored how to address vulnerabilities in the global IT supply chain, government-industry information sharing on cyberattacks and CPS vulnerabilities, and approaches to CPS product assurance and trustworthy operational readiness.

CSRA is working on specific research topics associated with the report. Institutions and individual researchers interested in learning more about research opportunities may contact the CSRA via the CSRA website.

Posted on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:50 AM0 comments


FCC releases its own mobile performance testing app

The Federal Communications Commission recently released its eagerly anticipated Speed Test phone app, which will measure mobile broadband performance for Android users. Developed in cooperation with SamKnows Ltd., the app performs periodic tests when the phone is not in use, and it also allows for manual tests by the user. If the app gets enough users, the FCC will be able to gather speed data on cellular carriers nationwide.

With this information, the FCC intends to release an online interactive map that will detail how well each data provider does in different locations, including network performance, upload and download speed, latency, packet loss and other performance factors. All four major wireless carriers have agreed to participate in the app, and the FCC has stated that no personally identifiable information will be collected. 

While this is a first for the FCC, the broadband speed test is not a new concept. Speedtest.net, launched in 2006, is a popular website and app from Ookla. It allows users to test data connection speeds and publishes all available data on its website. The FCC is following suit with this crowdsourced mobile performance testing, which is in line with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s goals to ensure adequate competition in the wireless and broadband markets. 

"Knowledge about how various mobile broadband providers compare, at specific locations in a geographic market, will aid [mobile users] in choosing the provider that best suits their needs," FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said in a statement. "Transparent information about service performance does not just enable consumers to select among service offerings in a meaningful way. It also creates incentives for providers to improve those services." 

The app works by collecting user location, device type including operating system, time of data collection and cellular and broadband performance characteristics, such as signal strength and speed, FCW reported. An iPhone version of the app is expected to be released in January 2014.

Posted on Nov 22, 2013 at 9:09 AM0 comments


Less malware predicted for 2014 but new tactics emerge

Cybersecurity was a hot topic in 2013 with agencies increasingly focusing on insider threats, attacks from nation states, and compliance. Last week Websense Security Labs released its cybersecurity predictions for 2014, suggesting areas IT managers should monitor: 

Advanced malware volume will decrease. Research has shown that the quantity of new malware is beginning to decline. However, this means cybercriminals will rely less on high-volume advanced malware because over time it runs a higher risk of detection. They will instead use lower volume, more targeted attacks to hack into networks. 

Attackers will be more interested in cloud data than networks. Because critical business data is increasingly stored in cloud-based systems, criminals will focus their attacks more on data stored in the cloud than data stored on the network. 

Java will remain highly exploitable and highly exploited. Organizations that continue to use older versions of Java will remain extremely exposed to exploitation. In 2014 criminals will devote more time to finding new uses for tried-and-true attacks and crafting other aspects of advanced, multistage attacks. 

Attackers will compromise organizations via professional social networks. As the business community continues to increase its social media use, attackers will increasingly use professional websites, such as LinkedIn, to get in touch with executives to gather intelligence and compromise networks.

Criminals will target the weakest links in the “data-exchange chain.” Attackers will target the consultants outside the network who have the most information. This includes contractors, vendors and others who typically share sensitive information with the large corporate and government entities. 

Read the full report.

Posted on Nov 21, 2013 at 9:15 AM0 comments