Podomere's Blog

Our Exoskeleton Revealed

Local Green Packets

Podomere's mission is to bring permaculture to the field of IT.
Part of this interconnected and interdependent distributed future is in some ways strangely and increasingly localised with more edges! When we thought about our web footprint for Podomere we wanted to begin to embody the permaculture ethos as best we could. We realised that there was a distinct lack of metrics relating to the power footprint and environmental impact of not just our servers - but our storage, networks, and all their associated packets travelling across the planet. In choosing the Icelandic provider GreenQloud as our primary IaaS(Infrastructure as a Service) platform we embraced a service and data centre that ran on 100% carbon neutral geothermal and hydro power (whilst improving our data sovereignty position). We embraced their service early on safe in the knowledge that their IaaS cloud was created with solid and responsible fundamentals not just in regards to their Truly Green™ environment, but with respect to the increasing global financial costs of power generation and cooling. For the year 2013 our GreenQloud energy usage for our web server instances and storage was a total of 86kWh and 0Kg of CO2. Harm minimisation begins with the realisation and awareness of ones current and future impact.


We then sought to distribute our content via an innovative CDN(Content Delivery Network) called CloudFlare which operates a collaborative consumption model that is close to our hearts. Only if a client requests our main page, wiki, shop, or blog does CloudFlare ask GreenQloud, Shopify, or GitHub Pages for (and retains a copy of) a requested resource in one of its worldwide caches. This means that when there is no active demand we are not utilising fossil fuels. When a page is requested, or demand arises from a region on the planet, the actual content (once in cache) is served to the client from a local or regional hub. Objects in the regional or local cache do not actually traverse the globe each time thus reducing the distance actual packets travel.

Notwithstanding precious earth minerals used to build computing devices, we're consciously trying to reduce our global impact whilst improving the experience across our whole digital supply chain. Our business logic, code, and important artifacts also live in distributed version control that allow for offline editing using git and subsequent committing to GitHub. We have also distributed most services to partition out our failure domains thus decreasing risk. This also frees us up to focus on our own core offerings (where MTTR → 0 or MTBF → ∞ are still goals for all discrete services!).

Podomere itself builds large scale private and public IaaS platforms for enterprises yet we intentionally focus on helping small to medium sized organisations (as we see them as the true backbone of a community and economy). Whether for specialist advice, design, or experienced second opinions, Podomere offers simple and cost effective pre-paid hourly consulting services. Podomere also builds pre-integrated smart data pods which, as you grow and become more successful, allow you to simply scale your technology footprint and keep pace with your ever evolving environment. Podomere essentially puts all the capabilities of a large enterprise network within reach of smaller organisations. This allows you to focus on exceeding at your core without the usual growing pains, risk, and/or disadvantages when compared with seemingly better resourced competitors.
When we looked at the accelerating new wave of collaboration spaces and the growing coworking movement (a movement and community we were already a part of), we saw an opportunity to bring enterprise grade architectures and easily managed network services to an important audience at a lower cost. Many coworking spaces host startups, small businesses, freelancers, and social enterprises all under the one roof and members rely heavily upon SaaS(Software as a Service), VoIP, and videoconferencing to run their own organisations. Albeit difficult to enumerate risk totally and 100% accurately, the network connectivity and radio space upon which these spaces rely is paramount. Risk itself is a factor of dependence and these spaces are highly dependent not just upon the network availability but the inherent network quality. It is crucial to maintain the ability to enforce fair-use policies across all clients who Bring Their Own Devices (BYOD) to avoid these finite shared resources falling foul to a Tragedy of the Commons. In providing highly reliable and resilient connectivity for thousands of freelancers and hundreds of small organisations we see ourselves as a force multiplier for these innovative new workspaces. Many coworking spaces also require the ability to generate actionable insights about how their members and clients use their spaces and resources over and above operating and scaling seamlessly (many without permanent IT staff!). With ubiquitous wireless technologies, handheld/wearable devices, and the burgeoning Internet of Things(IoT), opportunities for engagement and collaboration abound (e.g. hyperlocal marketing and realtime location services).

At a typical client space the average Podomere high availability smart pod (with all related infrastructure running on PoE) serves about 800-1000 unique Wi-Fi clients per month with a total of ~1TB worth of Internet data while seeing anything up to 19,000 passersby in busy locations (yet only costs $29 AUD for electricity using 100kWh which equates to 91Kg of CO2 monthly). Albeit our smart pod can scale to much greater numbers of wireless users and access points, we can now accurately talk to clients about per user metrics relating to their power, packets, and associated IT costs. One of our next goals is trying to help our clients lower or neutralise their data carbon footprint.

All suggestions and queries welcome!

Podomere's patterns.

So we thought we'd begin this blog by sharing some of our design patterns for networking, storage, and security in a series of Open Network Designs (all lovingly brought to you using GitHub pages here: http://ond.podome.re).

If you are interested in talking to or requesting any content just say hello on twitter @podomere or drop an email to [email protected]