Another day of failed electrical equipment, diesel generators not starting, overheating in data centers, and water leaks. All problems overcome, now it is time to take a break and recharge your mind for the challenges queuing up for tomorrow.
A drive down the ‘5 from Los Angeles, and 20 minutes later back in Burbank. Burbank, home of half the world’s entertainment community, a regional airport, several major highways, and of course the Verdugu Mountains.
Of Course the Verdugu Mountains?
Los Angeles is unique. Not a single city, but a hundred cities all clustered together in a social eco-system that provides cultural diversity unlike any other area in the world. Each city has a different personality, each city has features making it attractive to whatever ethnic or cultural background you may come from. From Long Beach, to Malibu, to Arcadia, and of course Burbank.
Of all the features Los Angeles offers, perhaps the most compelling for those with a high stress lifestyle is the ability to get out of the city, from virtually anyplace within the city. You are never far away from the ocean, mountains, large parks, or the high desert. In the case of Burbank, we have the Verdugu Mountains, with a web of several dozen miles of trails crossing a mountain range between Burbank City and the 210 Freeway.
The easiest way to get into the mountains is through trail gateways, either via Stough Park, or Wildwood Canyon. Wildwood Canyon also has numerous picnic areas, in addition to hiking path entries directing hikers though a variety of ridges and valleys. From the top of each ridge you will see a panoramic view of both the San Fernando Valley, as well as the skyline of downtown Los Angeles.
There is nothing quite like a sunrise or sunset from atop of any ridge peaks the Verdugus have to offer. After a long day at the office, it is impossible to carry a grudge, frustration, or anger once you hit the top, and start to see the horizon rushing to meet the sun.
Fire Trails or Jogging Trails
Of course Southern California is also known for epic wildfires. To help the fire fighters limit damage to communities during fire season, most urban mountain areas also have fire roads carved into the hillsides. Indeed, this tears up the landscape a bit, but it also provides miles of jogging and hiking trails in a protected environment. No cars, trucks, motorcycles, or skateboards to annoy runners after a rough day at work. Your only companions are deer, rabbits, coyote, red tail hawks, lizards, and an occasional snake.
Hikers are always welcome, and it is also a fact your human encounters are always friendly. A couple words about the coyotes seen further up the trail, a word or two about the beauty of chaparral, or the sunset. Of course the early bird runners can easily make the same statements on sunrises over the Los Angeles basin, but sunset is the best time of day in the Verdugus. Peaceful, calm, and far away from the stresses of life.
But not too far, as the trails are near enough for runners starting from anyplace from anyplace east of the ‘5, and for drivers there is ample parking in the area for those coming from further out in the city.
Back Down the Hill
Another perfect run, another coyote sighting, a small snake, lots of rabbits, and I have forgotten everything thing I know about diesel generators, UPSs, automatic transfer switches, and computer room air conditioning.
Back home, and a message on Mr. Android. “A customer is complaining his cabinet is over heating. He has done everything right, including adding 2 inch spaces between all servers and alternating them intake/exhaust through the cabinet to ensure proper airflow and cooling. What should we do?”
“The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Internet Inventions, Bob is a true Silicon Valley entrepreneur, raconteur and original. Bob has combined his technical ingenuity, entrepreneurial ability and team building skills to found successful companies time and again over the past 20 years.” (Silicon Valley Business Television)
Bob Evans always has ideas. Ideas to make his work, and the work of others, more useful and efficient, as well as easier. We first met Bob when he asked if it was “OK” he develop a route server for our young Internet Exchange Point (Any2 Exchange), which would allow the small to medium Internet access and content provider community to find Internet peering easier, and help with introductions within the community that would make Internet interconnections a utility – rather than a high priced value-added service. That little utility now drives one of the largest Internet Exchange Points in the world.
We met Bob this week as he was giving a data center tour and professional advice to a delegation from Ramallah, which came to Bob for mentoring based on his extensive background in all things network and Internet.
For the entire audio interview – click HERE
Pacific-Tier: Bob, please tell us a little about yourself, your background, and how you got into this business.
Bob Evans: Well, it was a long time ago, when there was no world wide web. I ran one of the first Veronica Gopher servers. I was teaching grandmothers how to do email, so they could email their kids in college.
At that time colleges had the first ARP connections, TCP/IP started working right, and that was way back when… That’s how I got started.
I’ve got a high school education, dropped out of college, so generally every time I start a business and build it up, sell it to somebody with lots of money and VCs, they (eventually) ask me to leave because I don’t have a degree. Then they usually do quite well. I’ve been doing this a long time.
But when I started the Fiber Internet Center, what happened was, people kind of thought I was crazy, because I had just had a very successful, one of the first cable modem companies in the US, and by starting the Fiber Internet Center/FIC at a time when the “Dot Bomb” occurred everybody thought, you know, “how are you going to make a living doing that?”
The real key was making the deals. Because all of the (network) providers, and the people with fiber and stuff like that, didn’t really have a lot of customers. So, they were willing to listen to me and cut me some deals. So that’s how I got started with the Fiber Internet Center.
Pacific-Tier: Tell us a little about the FIC. What is the vision, or what is the mission of FIC?
Bob Evans: Well. Its primarily,… like you find colo (colocation) facilities that are “carrier neutral,…” I like to look at us as a network company that is carrier neutral. Although we do sell circuits and services like IP transit (Internet network access), it is kind of a necessary evil, because we only have about 8 or 9 other ISPs (Internet Service Providers) currently serving our market.
So they use our network in the market place to service their customers. So we’ll build a network within our network to service other companies.
Pacific-Tier: So the FIC is present in Northern California, the San Francisco, San Jose, the bay area, as well as Los Angeles. What value does the FIC, or a company like the FIC bring to a market like California that is not available through another carrier like Level 3, an XO Communications, an AT&T, or that scale of carrier?
Bob Evans: Well, most of those companies will go ahead and install their circuit in the basement of a building, or in the MPOE (main point of entry), and then only allow you to use their IP (Internet network access).
For example, Level 3 isn’t about to go ahead and market the fact that I could have VLANs in that building like I would have and connect them to ISPs. That’s the real advantage. A customer could buy a circuit from us, then they can buy Internet transit from us too, then they’ll turn around and say “gee, you are over at the PAIX (Palo Alto Internet Exchange), over at places like Market Post Tower, One Wilshire and everything,…”
Then they’ll say “there’s this other company we’re working with, and we’d like a connection direct to their office. They’re using Cogent bandwidth (or something like that), could you make that come in here on another port?”
And we’ll do it. Most (other) companies will say “no.” But that’s actually part of our business strategy.
Pacific-Tier: Well, that’s a great utility, for both the enterprises and other carriers within your area. Where does the FIC go from here? What is in the future of FIC?
Bob Evans: Lately it’s become one of the discovery that most of these business now feel a critical need to not have their mail server, or other types of critical databases remain on their campus. Or they want to have a backup of it someplace else. So we’re now creating a service in other data centers where you get a circuit from us, then we’ll give you another port that gives you a layer 2 connection back to your rack or your server in those facilities, or one of our facilities.
This gives you the added benefit of having your own private network to the back side of your server, then it gives you the advantage of maybe having your server connected to other Internet providers in one of those other colo facilities, or maybe you could even carry that Internet back to your place and have two Internet providers.
So I think the advantage is, if you get a circuit from us you get the flexibility.
Pacific-Tier: Well that’s great. I think it is a great utility for the community. The final question is, you’re an entrepreneur, in tough economic times, with lots of graduates hitting the street, what advice do you have for people who are considering starting their own companies, or emerging entrepreneurs?
Bob Evans: Well, that’s a very good question.
During bad economic time I always find that not to discourage me, and I wouldn’t let anybody discourage them either. The reason is because in the midst of chaos, there’s usually always opportunity. And as soon as you explain that opportunity to somebody else who’s got money or can help you, or needs a service that you have, it’s actually easier to make business deals.
Pacific-Tier: That’s great advice.
Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to visit the FIC again, and thanks for your time.
Bob Evans: You’re welcome – thank you
“If everyone purchasing a room air conditioner in 2009 chooses an ENERGY STAR qualified model, it would save 390 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. That would prevent more than 600 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year—equivalent to taking more than 50,000 cars off the road—and save consumers over $43 million each year in energy bills.” (Pickens Plan Fact of the Day, 8 Oct 09)
California has always prided itself as being a leader in alternative energy innovation. Driving through the hills around Livermore, Palm Springs, or between San Diego and Yuma bring skylines full of wind turbines. The California Energy Commission claims that wind turbines generated 6,802 gigawatt-hours of electricity – about 2.3 percent of the state’s gross system power. By the end of 2009 California actually expects to hit nearly 5% energy production from renewable sources.
While the wind turbine program has slowed down a bit due to animal rights groups objecting to bird casualties due to propeller strikes, California has not slowed down at all in the state’s aggressive goals for green energy production. While it is probably a bit too aggressive, California’s Energy Commission has set a goal of hitting 20% by the end of 2010 (Senate Bill 107), and 33% by the end of 2020 (Executive Order S-14-08).
The US Congress is shooting for 20% renewable energy production nationwide by 2010 – a far lower threshold than desired in California.
Energy Programs and Incentives in California
Each state has some level of renewable energy initiative supporting energy efficient homes. California’s program falls under the “The California Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership” (NSHP). This is a great resource not only for existing home owners in California, but also those persons planning to build new structures. The objectives of NSHP’s program include:
In the Home
A solar home with high energy-efficiency features offers homeowners:
- Clean, renewable energy
- Utility bill savings
- Predictable utility costs
- Protection against future rising electricity costs
California is also offering financial incentives to homebuilders to design energy efficiency and the potential of renewable energy planning into the new home. Solar energy “is one of the most significant personal actions one can take to cut air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, while helping to conserve precious energy resources for future generations. Plus, it reduces the need for costly new power plants” according to the NSHP.
All California homeowners implementing solar panels in their homes also qualify for the federal tax credits up to $2000.
An unscientific jog around the Sunset Canyon Drive area of Burbank on 17 Oct 2009 tallied around 1 of every 5 homes observed supporting some level of solar panel on the property, visible from street level. Using guidelines from the National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL) you will see the average family in the Los Angeles area will save nearly $714 a year with solar panels supplementing their electrical supply.
For us apartment and condo-dwellers, that could almost pay 100% of our energy requirement during normal conditions, if we have a means of storing energy during evening hours and period of bad weather.
Don’t forget our earlier discussions on other simple things such as painting your rooftop white, or using solar reflective material on your roof to reduce the amount of heat in your home during the summer. By the way… you also get a one-time energy credit for that simple task.
“More than 50% of the energy used in a typical American home is for space heating and cooling. Much of that conditioned air escapes through poorly sealed, under-insulated attics. Only 20% of homes built before 1980 are well insulated. Properly sealing and insulating your attic can save you up to 10% annually on energy bills.” (Pickens Plan Fact of the Day7 Oct 2009)
In Commercial Sites
Companies such as the Bank of America (in Riverside, California) have built their facility with solar covering the entire rooftop of the building. Not only do they enjoy a tremendous savings in energy costs, but with a commercial property the BoA will receive a 30% federal construction tax credit, accelerated equipment depreciation, and additional financing support to help defray the cost of installing renewable energy resources.
California will tack on an additional incentive of $1.90 per watt up to a 1Megawatt solar panel system.
All focused on getting us to that 20% milestone in 2010, and the world-leading 33% renewable energy target for 2020.
Some Resources to Look at During Energy Awareness Month (October)
The State of California, California’s energy utilities, and the US Department of Energy have great resources to guide us in meeting our energy awareness and energy planning goals. Here is a partial list, but a great start. The Internet and Google searches will help lead you further.
- The California Energy Commission Home
- California Renewable Energy Handbook
- Go Solar California Home
- California Solar Initiative
- SoCal Edison solar initiative website
- PG&E solar initiative website
- State of California CSI rebate calculator
- US Department of Energy Solar Initiatives
- The Pickens Plan
What Are You Doing?
Share your energy stories with us. What has worked for you? What has failed? Are you an alternative and reneable energy skeptic like Texas’ Governor Rick Perry? Are you an energy leader? Let us know.
John Savageau, Long Beach