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  • Fujitsu FMV-S8225 laptop battery www.dearbattery.co.uk

    If you're familiar at all with Google and/or the dism command you can bypass Microsoft's omission of deduplication in Essentials. This lets you test what this system would be like with a full-blown copy of Server 2012 R2 installed with all the bells turned on.The result is actually quite stunning. I was cheerfully able to hammer the system with a consistent 75 megabytes per second of network traffic while deduplication and an active Unitrends [1] VM were both running in the background.The Sentinel took this load no problem. The cores were pinned and the 16GB of RAM was pretty much constantly full, but the system sustained access. It even worked after I put a cardboard box over it to simulate being in an improperly ventilated closet with a bunch of other computer gear and drove the thermals through the roof. It continued soldiering on, right up until it hit thermal shutdown.There is a lot of work to do to confirm this thing is as robust as it seems at first blush. However, it has an impeccable pedigree. The DX4000 reviewed earlier this year was pressed into emergency production service after a minor natural disaster. It has handled workloads way beyond its design capacity for months in an industrial building with notoriously dirty power without even the remotest hint of a complaint

    The DX4000 was a tiny little Atom with 2GB of RAM that I had upgraded to 4GB. The DS6100 has more than 4 times the horsepower and by all accounts is equally well-engineered. I realise it borders on blasphemy to say it, but WD might be on the verge of giving Synology real competition.Naturally, I am not remotely satisfied with what WD has presented. This unit is great, but I want awesome. A filer is just a filer and what I want is a femtoSAN capable of handling file workloads and serving as block-based centralised storage for a VMware Essentials Plus cluster.The DS 6100 is theoretically capable of that – Essentials has both an iSCSI target and a top-notch NFS server, after all - but that's really stretching what you can expect from 4 x 7200 RPM drives.The first thing I did was upgrade the RAM. To do so you have to void the warranty by pulling up the motherboard [2]. You'll find two of the DIMM slots are open; you can now upgrade the system from 16GB of RAM to 32GB of RAM just by adding a pair of 8GB SODIMMs.

    So far, so good ... but this doesn't help us much with our IOPS issue. For this we need to swap our the operating system disks for SSDs. (Don't forget to Ghost your old drives, unless you fancy explaining to WD and/or Microsoft your need to re-activate Essentials because you went fiddling in the thing's guts.) I choose Micron/Crucial M500 960GB SSDs because they are the best bang for your buck currently available.Pop the SSDs in; use the chipset RAID to make them a RAID 1. Ghost the partitions back on (shrink the OS partition to 120GB, if you can) and leave the rest of the SSD blank. When you get into Windows add the blank portions of the SSD as well as your data drives into a new Storage Space. Create a virtual drive and make sure you check the box labeled create storage tiers on this disk. [3]You can't do RAID 5 with tiered Storage Spaces yet, so it will require you to plan how you want to carve up your storage somewhat. The result, however, is dramatic. The system goes from feeling a little anemic for virtualisation to both NICs flattened 100 per cent of the time.

    I'm still trying to convince WD to release a Vulture Edition version of the Sentinel with the above configuration, however, for now you can roll your own if you so desire.World Solar Challenge Although the World Solar Challenge is intended to be a challenge rather than a simple “race”, the quest to be first is one of the things that drives innovation.And, just as F1 gave the world disk brakes, some of the innovations helping to drive the World Solar Challenge will probably end up giving lessons and technologies to the rest of the industry.Meet Alain Chuzel who, with his wife Linda Bozarth, owns and operates SunCat Solar, a maker of specialist photovoltaic modules used not only by Nuon, but by many of the teams.Chuzel doesn't make the solar cells – his speciality is taking cells from companies like SunPower, and packaging them up with two aims in mind: giving them a surface coating that maximises their ability to gather sunlight, and creating a structure that's suitable for the vehicles (the right stiffness, and light weight).

    A consumer photovoltaic, Chuzel explained to The Register, is built with protection from the elements in mind. Hence the heavy layer of glass on the front, and the need to give the panels a standoff from the roof, so that air can circulate and keep the solar cells cool.Cells that are too hot suffer a voltage drop, which limits their power output – which is why every team was spraying the panels with water at the control stop.But Chuzel had another interest in this year's race: keeping an eye on a new structure he designed for team Nuon. The image below clearly shows two module types on the car. The newer modules have an orange substrate.The modules showing an orange background are the new modules. So new are they that SunCat didn't have time to manufacture a whole car's worth of modules.What's different? The 10/1000ths of an inch coating on top of the solar cells, which has a tiny structure designed to capture more sunlight. Here's a close-up of a sample that Chuzel brought along for show-and-tell.

    One of the engineering challenges, Chuzel explained, is to design a coating that doesn't reflect sunlight the way a consumer-grade glass-coated panel will. So for the Nuon modules, he's designed a transparent coating (“It's more fun to call it a goo”, he noted) that doesn't reflect light.“Because we know that solar cars move a lot, we also wanted to make sure that no matter how these were oriented on the car, and no matter how the car moves around, we wanted it to have really good anti-reflection properties no matter what the angle.“Previous texturing-type products are a little more sensitive to the angle.”The structure – microscopic three-dimensional pyramids on the surface of the coating – is what causes the “cross-hatch” pattern visible in the image. The reason there's a cross-hatch pattern is a compromise: it indicates textures aligned in different directions.“There is inherently a compromise whenever you do geometrical texturing. Because my target was solar cars and moving vehicles, I wanted the best average no matter what angle … and this design was what I came up with,” he told The Register.

    For the Nuon team, the new modules made up around 40 percent of the total solar panel surface of the vehicle. Chuzel said measurements made by Nuon concurred with his own pre-race measurements: the experimental modules are about 1-2 percent more efficient than the other modules used on the car.World Solar Challenge The “Dutch oven”, Nuon Solar Team, is tantalisingly close to claiming Challenger-class line honours from its shadow since Darwin, Team Tokai from Japan.Passing the Atfinish of timing of the World Solar Challenge at 10:03 am Darwin time, at Angel Vale in Adelaide's suburban north, Nuon maintained its lead over Tokai. The Japanese team maintained a pace close to that of Nuon for nearly the whole race, which is a remarkable achievement over 3,000 km.There's still one last aria to be sung in this particular opera, however. From the end of timing point, vehicles still have to reach Hindmarsh Square in central Adelaide. This run is rather like the last day at the Tour de France: it's procession rather than competition, except that if a team hasn't retained enough power to reach the finish, or if it suffers a mechanical breakdown, a follower is allowed to pass.

    A few hundred kilometres – and therefore a few hours – behind the leaders are Challengers Team Twente, Stanford, Punch Powertrain, Solar Energy Racers, and Team Arrow. UNSW's Sunswift is currently in front of the Cruiser class on the road, but with more than 600 km to travel, there's plenty of time for things to change (not to mention that the cruisers will still be awarded points for the practicality of their designs after they reach Adelaide).Your correspondent for this report is happily indoors in Sydney, with APAC editor Simon Sharwood currently streaking carefully obeying South Australia's 110 km/h speed limit as he heads southwards away from Coober Pedy. Update: The weather still has a hand in events. At just after 10:30am, race organisers Tweeted that Tokai has had to pause just north of Wild Horse Plains to take its array off and try to get some extra charge, due to bad weather in Adelaide.The unscheduled stop is regrettable, since the finish won't reflect the race. Most of the 3,000 km distance, Tokai has been within striking distance of Nuon.

    However, with around 200 km between it and the third-placed Twente - and with everybody likely to suffer in the cloud - Tokai is unlikely to give up its second place.Review It seems an odd paradox that the more a company tries to hide something, the more publicity it attracts. Apple certainly uses this notion to good effect, knowing that it can't keep those secrets indefinitely, but also knowing that when it eventually lifts its kimono, what's new in the garden customarily causes a commotion among the brand faithful.Apple is not alone in this scripted sensationalism, but when it comes to what's inside a product, hiding some of the basics any mildly curious buyer might be interested in knowing usually suggests that what is being hidden certainly doesn't have a wow factor about it.So here I am with Samsung's slim, attractive and could-be-cheaper Ativ Book 9 Lite. At a glance, it could easily be mistaken for an Ultrabook, but at £500, this 13.3-inch touchscreen Windows 8 notebook is hiding something that its Lite moniker hints at.OK, so at 1.44kg, it could be lighter, but that's not it. It measures up as quite respectable really – Samsung has been busy with the tape measure to ensure the Ativ Book 9 Lite is fractionally smaller than a MacBook Air at 324 x 224 x 16.9mm – yes, it's 0.1mm thinner than the 13-inch Air (324 x 224 x 17mm).

    There's nothing particularly unusual about the 4GB of DDR3 1066MHz RAM (albeit slightly slow) or the 128GB SSD. Perhaps it is a bit Lite on RAM, but Apple wouldn't give you any more in a standard configuration.Moving on, there's an AMD Radeon HD 8250 GPU in there and quad-core processor that apparently goes up to 1.4GHz. Well that's informative. Even the x4 Quad Core sticker on the palm rest doesn't want to flag up the fact that there's no Intel Inside.The AMD GPU does rather give the game away though. So there's an AMD chipset in here, what's so bad about that? The company makes some decent low-power, low-cost chippery that keeps the Lite end of the market very well fed.Maybe the issue isn't so much to do with what AMD is making, but more to do with what Samsung is doing with it. If you nose around the Ativ Lite with anything from System Settings, to CPU-Z to PCMark 8, you'll find no specific reference to the chip inside.There are clues though, and the biggest one is the graphics chip, as currently the HD 8250 appears on only one AMD APU (accelerated processing unit). It's part of its Elite Mobility APU platform – formerly codenamed Temash – and unless there's something very tricky going on, it's the A6-1450 APU. The four cores run at 1GHz, peaking at 1.4GHz in Turbo mode.

  • Dell Inspiron 15 Battery www.all-laptopbattery.com

    Back in October Cisco moved to take control of the 1Mainstream assets, just a few months after Sky had put its last tranche of cash into the fledgling OTT start up and it looks now like Sky saw the chance to take control of its underlying OTT technology by partnering with one of its all-time favorite technology firms.Remember Cisco bought NDS for $5.0bn in 2013, a company which had been hived off only a year earlier from 21st Century Networks, and which originally had its relationship with Sky in the UK, managing encryption for it.Cisco bought 1Mainstream in October last year, not only to please Sky, but also because it needed a more flexible, more recently written, end to end OTT system.1Mainstream has always written pure iOS, Android and TV apps, and has existing DRM relationships with Widevine and PlayReady, and already plugs into multiple CDNs. It comes with its own subscriber management and entitlements databases, and offers an online promotions system and its own CMS based analytics engine. In the past, it has worked with Envivio encoders although Sky is now pretty much exclusively Elemental, and it uses the Wowza streaming engine, and offers support for the Freewheel programmatic advertising system.

    1 Mainstream was acquired by Cisco alongside (in the same week) ParStream, a big data analytics firm, and Lancope, a cloud security firm, but we’re not sure if either of those are significant to OTT delivery.Prices of the OnPrime services vary from the lowest at around £8.99 ($11.50) in Hindi, to £17.99 ($22.75) and each come with a free month trial. We suspect now that Sky will partner with local MNOs and operators to do the marketing on these, in operator partnerships right the way across Europe and even beyond. It is even possible that Sky could engineer their sale in the US, although we imagine that such a move would come directly from Fox.In the meantime, the UK’s BBC has teamed up with the UK independent broadcaster, ITV to bring a British based service to US viewers, based on much the same logic. They are calling it Brit-Box, and it is advertising-free, paid SVoD, which will launch early next year. AMC Networks, which operates BBC America in the US, as a joint venture with BBC Worldwide, is likely to take the lead in bringing this to US viewers. BritBox will make British TV available as soon as 24 hours after being first broadcast in the UK.

    On-call Welcome again to On-Call, our weekly column in which we recount readers' tales of jobs gone wrong, often at times or for reasons that are just plain wrong.This week, meet “Aaron”, who once worked for a construction company he says “didn't need in-house IT but had delusions of grandeur and so employed me.”The company had just one server and about 30 users. Aaron says “most were former builders and mostly clueless when it came to technology.”“One such user had climbed the ranks from bricklayer to contract manager and was constantly finding fault with IT where there was none. Then one day he came in to the office declaring that he could solve all of his problems. He had seen something on TV that he claimed would make him much more efficient.”“Said item was the IBM Transnote, which our very own Lucy Sherriff covered at the time of its launch in the year 2001.

    It has a digital notepad attached, for making handwritten notes. IBM says that the digital pad can be used to fill in customised forms so will be marketed at industries where there is a lot of form filing - for example, insurance firms. "Anywhere where there is a lot of duplication," an IBM spokeswoman said. Lucy quoted the price of the machine at £2,059. Aaron remembers that price tag as rather excessive at the time, so when the chap asked for one “I laughed and said that there was no chance of us purchasing this for him.”But this user had leverage and “the call came from above that he absolutely needed this and we were to order it in immediately.” So Aaron swapped it for his perfectly functional laptop and got on with other things.Until a couple of months later when “the magical machine was placed before me with the claim that it was faulty and its fan must be broken as it was so noisy.” Aaron was pretty sure the user just couldn't figure out how to work IBM's magic digital notepad, but assured the user he would take a look at it immediately.Two weeks later Aaron told the user he'd sent the machine to IBM for repairs. But it was really still on the shelf.

    But the many disadvantages of the Tandy 200 included slow operation, a liquid crystal screen that was hard to see, and minimal storage capacity. Articles which had not yet been used by the paper - and could therefore still go astray - had to be deleted to make room for the next one.It was tempting, then, to contemplate the next generation of portables. They had virtually limitless memory compared with the Tandy, their backlit screens were easy on the eye and they ran much faster. But they were power-hungry: they had hard disks and built-in fans to keep the works cool, not to mention fancy software such as Windows. They needed heavy nickel-cadmium battery packs, but could not do without mains power for long.If you avoided using the hard disk too often, and switched off the machine while you thought, a battery pack could last four hours. That might seem plenty of time to finish one's work, but it was never that simple.Unless nickel-cadmium batteries are charged up fully, then drained fully, they lose their ability to retain any charge at all. Short of carrying a battery charger and spare packs, the peripatetic computer-user sooner or later has to use the mains to power the machine in the middle of a work session, with the kind of consequences described above.

    Enter the next generation of portables, which attempt to return to the virtues of the Tandy 200 while retaining the advantages of its successors. My Hewlett Packard Omnibook 300 weighs 3lb, eschews backlighting and uses 'flash card' technology, which requires scarcely any power, instead of hard or floppy disks. The small nickel-metal-hydride battery pack can be partially recharged without ill effects and can keep running for five hours. And it can run on four AA batteries as well.But the main reason for giving up on portables was last year's launch of the Amstrad NC100 Notepad. This is the size of a skinny A4 road atlas and uses four AA batteries which give up to 20 hours of use, foregoing the need for frequent traipsing to the Ladies in search of a hairdryer socket for recharging purposes. This activity becomes vital when your computer's four-hour battery gives up after two hours and ten minutes, a fact of computing life always overlooked by computer designers.The Amstrad can take the punishment meted out by casual transportation in my shoulder bag, where it jostles with a small tape recorder and a Swiss Army knife. The pruning attachments in the knife were once needed to repair fingernails brutalised by the short-travel keyboards of laptops and notebooks, but it is no longer needed as the NC100 is blessed with a decent full-size keyboard. This has knobbles on the 'home' keys, put there to tell you that the NC100 is not a toy in spite of its Fisher-Price appearance.

    And I can even work the Amstrad without recourse to those multicoloured 'dumbo' keys. Once you have got the hang of the thing the red, yellow, green and blue function keys serve only to remind you of how computer-illiterate you were: 'To use the word processor, press Yellow and Red, stupid.'The NC100 is ludicrously easy to get started as it does not require you to undergo the tyranny of learning Dos or Windows - the PC-compatible operating systems - before you can write your first letter. It even prints to almost anything you can find that fits the sockets on the back. This is How Computers Should Be.The Amstrad stores up to 150,000 words at a time on its one megabyte PCMCIA storage card. This card is battery-backed and removable and one card can carry the manuscript of a full-length book. These devices are the size of a Barclaycard and less of a liability than floppy disks.When the computer world eventually catches up with the Amstrad, I will be able to buy a PCMCIA Card Drive to grab the data from the cards directly - at the moment I need a null-modem lead to transfer data to the PCs and Macs I use whilst deskbound. And the computer knows just enough about communications to be able to send and receive text documents via the telephone, so a small battery operated modem lives alongside it.

    I did dally recently with a Dell 325SLI notebook PC and for a while was besotted with its VGA screen and slim-line looks. But the Amstrad is much closer to the ideal machine for a peripatetic scribbler as it does not have a hard disk to suffer the slings and arrows of daily misfortune. Previous experience confirms that hard disks and mobile authors only work well together until the day after the warranty expires. Then all is irretrievably lost as a matter of course.Naturally, the NC100 lacks some features. It does not have a 120-megabyte hard disk, there is no spreadsheet for charts of accounts and it does not run Windows.Nor does it have a VGA colour display and it consequently does not impress people on trains. This is extremely useful as I can work away undisturbed without some suit leaning over my shoulder proffering advice on Windows Swapfile settings. The Amstrad has zero street cred. People leave you alone when they find out you have one.To celebrate its splendid non-standardisation, the NC100 has the words 'User Friendly' printed above the screen in small affable letters. If you decide that you do not agree after five minutes of use, then Alan Sugar will give you your money back, no questions asked. This is the sort of heavyweight guarantee that should come with all computers, regardless of size.

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    The cloud is a fabulous concept. If you want to try something out, or prototype your latest idea, or give yourself a relatively inexpensive disaster recovery setup, get in there and run up a cloud-based installation.There's something that the cloud lacks, though: it's just not fun or cool. Lists of virtual machines in the Azure management GUI aren't sexy. Neither is the pop-up on AWS that tells you the settings you need to paste into your router to get your VPN up and running. And incidentally, Microsoft and Amazon, I'm not having a pop specifically at you – they're just random examples that apply to the cloud in general rather to than any one supplier in particular.One of the things that has to stay in your data centre, assuming you have one, is the infrastructure that runs it. There's nothing quite as impressive as a spankingly tidy cabinet, every cable run perfectly along the cable management tray, perhaps colour-coded for important connections.I've had managers and auditors become wide-eyed and gasp when I've opened the cabinet door on a particularly sexy collection of flashing lights and cables (not, I hasten to add, my own cabling handiwork – happily I used to have a colleague called Chris who was amazing at that stuff).

    And if your hardware vendor does cool kit, that's a bonus. My favourite was 3PAR's (now HP's) funky racks with yellow flashes across the doors. A colleague once referred to the yellow rack and the humming of the disks therein as “a box of angry bees”. What I do know is that everyone commented on it.Sadly, of course, the best any vendor can hope to achieve is second best, because the best-looking piece of kit ever devised has been out of production for years.Someone told me only this week of her experience rather a lot of years ago when she was a trainee accountant at the UK Atomic Energy Authority … and she went to see the Cray in its data centre. If you think anything can beat a proper Cray (the Cray-1, not one of those poncey 19-inch-rack-with-funky-doors ones they do these days), you're welcome to submit challenges in the Comments section of this page.

    I come from a world of running resilient global infrastructures. This tends to mean a global network connected to a bunch of kit at each location that largely follows a standard architecture, since if everything's the same it's a breeze to manage. So you have the same firewalls, same family of switches, the same remote management servers, the same fileservers, the same storage devices, and so on at each site; the only thing that will usually change was the number of switches in the stack, reflecting the fact that some offices are bigger and have more users than others. And of course the only real way to test the resilience of your kit is to have a real setup to play with.Doing it for real has two key advantages. First, you're proving conclusively that it does what you expect. Yes, you can emulate a link failure by downing the port on (say) the WAN router, but it's still electrically connected in some cases. I've seen instances where downing the port didn't cause the link to go down entirely, but pulling the cable did – handy to know when you're testing your failover design.Second, though, is when you're trying to sell the idea of the CFO, or the company's investment committee, so they'll give you the money to actually do it.Take a bunch of senior managers to the data centre, open up the rack on your test network, run up a funky streamed music video on your laptop, and invite them to do their worst. “Pick a switch and pull the power on it,” you can tell them, and the video keeps on humming.

    Stuff the power back in and watch the monitoring alerts all turn green when the switch is back on line. Invite them to pull the cable from the primary (simulated) WAN connection in the knowledge that it's supposed to be resilient; see the video pause for a few seconds while BGP re-converges and then pick up where it left off without you doing anything.If you're a techie, you think this is cool and you feel smug; if you're a manager you think the techie is some kind of wizard who does weird magic because until this point they thought this whole resilient technology was unfounded bollocks that you made up.Of course you could have demonstrated this from a distance by electronically downing ports, but being there in person and seeing it for real is worth a thousand semi-artificial demos.In these days of cloud computing, auditors can be a royal pain in the arse. Particularly the younger ones who are sent to do the initial on-site interviews and whose sole contribution to the process is the ability to write down what they're told.I love taking auditors to data centres. They're so used to people saying: “Oh, that's in the cloud” or “It's in our service provider's premises … here's a photocopy of their ISO27001 certificate” that they spend their lives with a suspicious look on their face.So it's great when they ask: “Can you tell me where XXX is stored?” You email the data centre receptionist surreptitiously to tell him to be particularly pedantic about ID, then shepherd the auditors outside, hop in the car, drive down to the data centre, go through the (now overly onerous) entry procedure, open the door of cabinet C23, point to the third disk shelf down, and say: “It's on there.” Even better, you nod to cabinet D14 and mention: “Oh, it's in there as well, and I won't bother showing you the other data centre as it's a long way away, but it's there too.”

    Beancounters like boxes you can point at, particularly when they have big black-and-white labels saying “CORP-MailServer-01”. Auditor-baiting is a great game, and you can only do it if you have core stuff in your DC.You may, of course, end up deciding to move your entire production application world into the cloud. It's inexpensive, security isn't regarded as an excessive problem, and support costs generally go down markedly when someone else has to look after the hardware and the software upgrades.Even if you do, though, the data centre remains the ideal place to do your architecture tests and prototyping – trying things out and seeing how they behave. The example I gave earlier about inviting people to pull the connection out of the simulated WAN link is exactly what I'm talking about: a platform that physically exists but isn't part of the production infrastructure. It's got routers, servers, switches, storage, bits of cable, its own internet connection, and preferably additional tools such as a WAN emulator, dedicated PC for network monitoring, and so on.The cloud has a fairly core problem: it's the cloud. You have no idea of the underlying hardware, or how far server A physically sits from server B. You have high-level monitoring but nothing below a very abstract set of statistics, so although you could use something like PerfMon/TypePerf at the Windows level (or the Linux equivalent if you're an Open Source kind of person) you have no idea what's going on on the network.

    Particularly for an application specialist this is a big deal: in any networked application each contact between endpoints has several phases, from the initial DNS lookup right at the end of the delivery of the results to the user. In the cloud you just can't see this – so research on how your apps perform in this regard needs you to have some kind of data centre presence with some real, physical equipment in it.And the beauty is that you can often equip your R&D “lab” without costing the earth. After all, you didn't throw out those end-of-life switches or routers, did you? In most cases you replace kit not because it's completely unusable but because the vendor no longer supports it and hence it's no use in a business-critical infrastructure. So if you gave me a few Cisco 2600s routers, 3750G switches, ASA5510s, four-year-old Dell servers and the like I'd be perfectly happy. Although you'll need to buy some stuff, it won't be an expensive ground-up purchase.And the point is I'd be able to let my gang run riot with them and practise stuff. Flash an ancient copy of the ASA firmware onto a 5510 and let them figure out how to upgrade it to the latest release without breaking the VPN connection. We can unplug things and see how the database copes, and whether it manages to get its bearings and pick up where it left off once the connection comes back.

    Engineers are like children: we like stuff that's new, and we like trying stuff out and finding things out for ourselves Buy some assorted hard disks – SATA and SAS spinning disks and various types of Flash drive – and do real benchmarks and show yourself just what the difference is. Record what you see, because when you then look back to the cloud for your production systems you'll be so much more convinced that (say) the extra performance of the SSD storage option is worth it – because you'll remember that “Holy crap!” moment when you saw how fast the benchmark was on your own physical box, run by your own fair hand.The cloud abstracts everything too much to be useful for infrastructure research and testing, and so an in-house alternative is the obvious way to go.And the thing is, engineers are like children: we like stuff that's new, and we like trying stuff out and finding things out for ourselves. And if this can involve real engineering, with real metal boxes (preferably with the lids off where possible), and flashing lights, and bits of electric string, all the better.And this means physical kit. On our premises. Combine this with the undeniable fact that experimenting is fun, and it's the obvious way of getting the fun stuff back into the data centre.