Bob Mobach, Practice Director, Data Center Solutions, Logicalis US argues today’s data centres are struggling to keep up with the sheer pace of change in enterprise technology – and that a new, more strategic approach to data centre planning is required.
There’s no getting away from it, the pressures on today’s data centers are building. Mergers and acquisitions are packing more technology into tighter spaces, growing computational demands are creating crowded equipment racks, and staggering power and cooling requirements are crippling budgets.
On top of all that, a high percentage of data centers are reaching the end of their lifecycle and are becoming increasingly expensive to maintain.
The fact is that all too many data centres are increasingly struggling to cope with the demands of today, let alone get fit for tomorrow. For CIOs everywhere, then, there is an increasingly urgent need to re-evaluate the data centre, based on a clear transformational roadmap.
As ever, it’s a map that must start with an appraisal of where you are now.
So start by taking an inventory of where your data centre is now, then look then and where you want your data centre to be in the future – creating that roadmap. Make no mistake this is an essential first step in safeguarding not only your computing resources, but your company’s future.
With careful planning, your data centre assessment will roll seamlessly into tomorrow’s design and build, which may ultimately involve relocation and migration or a move to the data-centre-as-a-service (DCaaS) model.
But whatever route you end up taking, I believe there are four keys to designing and building a high-performance data centre, and which should guide every decision along the way:
- Location: More and more, data centres are moving to places where they can have large areas of space, reduced energy costs and high-transport fibre-optic networks. The key here is to assess traditional IT spaces, redeploy those IT spaces as needed, and consider alternative options like data-centre-as-a-service in the cloud. A geographically dispersed footprint with good access to low latency fibre networks through diverse carriers is key
- Conservation: Data centres are amongst the largest consumers of energy in the world, so taking a proactive approach to the organisation’s data centre strategy can save significant costs. Cooling alone, for example, makes up nearly half of the total energy spend in the data centre. Beyond first steps like aisle containment, good practice includes reviewing legacy cooling systems to assess the potential to upgrade to high-efficiency systems that can adapt to changing computing loads and provide free cooling capabilities
- Automation: Simplifying maintenance in the data centre is also growing in importance – whether that simplification is achieved by outsourcing backed by an SLA or an on-premise solution. It is also becoming increasingly important for data centres to be lights-out, which requires automation through the use of web-based tools that can control and operate the data centre. Investing in Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software is the key to building a proper online Configuration Management Database (CMDB) capable of interacting with IT Service Management (ITSM) and operation platforms
- Communication: It is equally important to close any communication gaps that exist between the facilities team responsible for the physical data centre and the IT team responsible for the technology inside. Once conversations are underway, it’s often a good idea to involve the CFO as well, so everyone is on the same page about the company’s IT future from the start. Integrating functions between facilities and IT can better align the business and manage operating costs.
In short, delivering a data centre that is fit for today, and for the future, means taking a proactive approach – it means defining and delivering a data centre strategy based on a clear roadmap, as summarised in this short video below. It also explains the link between data centres, solar energy and the Mojave Desert…