Data Center Efficiency and Agility to Prevent Getting Burned

Marc Naese, VP-Data Center Business, Panduit
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Marc Naese, VP-Data Center Business, Panduit

Today’s business demands are putting a strain on both IT and facilities teams. Data traffic in data centers is growing at an unprecedented rate. According the Cisco Visual Networking Index, network traffic is growing at an increasing rate, with global IP traffic expected to surpass the zettabyte threshold in 2016, and 2 zettabytes in 2019. In addition, at a recent Data Center World Conference, it was revealed that data center power costs typically comprise 28 percent to 30 percent of the total cost of running a facility. There is no shortage of challenges. However, there is one common thread that can either make or break attempts to support these challenges, the physical infrastructure.

"Improved capacity management is the best possible outcome of optimizing operational efficiencies, and offers the greatest opportunity to maximize resources as effectively as possible"

To be most succesful, IT and facilities teams need to focus on building or transforming the data center infrastructure to enable agility and scalability through operational efficiencies, ultimately ensuring readiness for future business requirements.

TAKING THAT FIRST STEP

Optimizing operational efficiencies within the physical Infrastructure is a natural first step, and likely the quickest route to success in building an agile and scalable data center. Building or transforming the data center to utilize all available power, cooling, space, and even asset and connectivity resources as efficiently as possible, organizations begin to see immediate returns on their investment, while building the roadmap to agility.

Improved capacity management is the best possible outcome of optimizing operational efficiencies, and offers the greatest opportunity to maximize resources as effectively as possible. Data centers are repeatedly being asked to support increasingly growing business and data needs, while at the same time being challenged to maintain or reduce expenses. The solution for many is to maximize their existing data center capacity or identify ways to reclaim capacity. There are multiple ways to accomplish this.

The most obvious method is for data center managers to invest in physical infrastructure solutions, such as thermal containment, air sealing solutions, ducting, or other solutions that can help to ensure hot and cold air separation. Optimized energy efficiency and capacity utilization typically begins with improved sealing.

Even small air leaks within a cabinet will impact data center energy efficiency, regardless of the heat load. Leaks allow hot air recirculation forcing IT equipment inlet fans to work harder and consume more energy, limiting per cabinet power use, which will negatively impact power and cooling capacity. An effective thermal containment solution can allow higher data center set points and reduce cooling system energy consumption by up to 40 percent.

MAKE THE DCIM LEAP

At a more prescriptive level, the integration of Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) into data center operations can provide more specific actionable information regarding how and where to make improvements.

By monitoring and measuring power, cooling, space utilization, as well as asset and connectivity tracking, DCIM can provide clear visibility into the true utilization of allocated resources within a cabinet or room, helping to pinpoint very specific opportunities for improvement that would not be visible to the naked eye.

For example, one might be able to identify a cabinet that is at the maximum threshold for power, but still has an abundance of space and cooling reserves. This imbalance represents stranded capacity of space and cooling that is not being fully maximized. Here lies an opportunity to potentially redistribute or swap out some of these power hungry devices to another cabinet that shows an abundance of available power, but not yet fully utilized space and cooling, bringing these two different cabinets into greater harmony. With an effective DCIM solution deployed, the system can make this redistribution a simple task by quickly identifying that optimal placement location, potentially automating the work order for that move and then documenting the new asset location and connectivity information in real-time.

The implementation of DCIM to drive action, combined with services and physical infrastructure solutions (such as thermal containment and sealing) that delivers those actions, offers data center managers a complete end-to-end solution to support three critical areas that every data center manager should be concerned with, 1) Strong Capacity Management; 2) Optimal Energy and Operational Efficiencies; and 3) Data Center Resilience against downtime or interruption to business continuity.

LAND THE JUMP

After improving operational efficiencies and deploying a comprehensive DCIM solution, the foundation is in place for IT to achieve greater agility and scalability to increase IT speed, productivity, and planning capabilities that can help IT support business applications that drive revenue. End to end, physical infrastructure solutions help to drive greater IT speed and productivity through innovative product designs that ease installation or maintenance. For example, industry-leading fiber connectivity solutions now allow easy conversion between male and female gender, and between key-up and key-down polarity in the field, as needed to ensure the right cable assembly is on hand. Likewise, pre-configured options and integrated infrastructure solutions can reduce time to production up to 80 percent by reducing assessment, planning, design, fulfillment, and deployment times.

Where the IT improvements really nail the mark, however, is through the implementation of DCIM to deliver visibility into asset and connectivity management to help streamline capacity management efforts, as well as accelerate work order management tasks. DCIM intersects all points between the facility infrastructure, (where it can help to monitor, manage and control allocated resources such as power and cooling) and the IT stack. It is here at the IT stack level that DCIM can help the IT team accelerate IT deployments, maintenance, and in some instances, automate certain operations.

A full-featured DCIM system enables your IT organization to support your business more efficiently so it can move more quickly to embrace new opportunities. An organization that does not have to spend as much to merely keep the lights on will be able to spend more on innovation to move faster, embrace new ways of doing business and gain a competitive edge.

PLAN YOUR NEXT MOVE

As business demands change, the data center must adapt to meet these new challenges. Whether these involve consolidation initiatives to maximize an existing data center footprint, considerations to outsource the data center, or perhaps migration to cloud technologies, there is one common thread that can either make or break attempts to support these challenges, the physical infrastructure.

An agile and scalabe infrastructure allows for quick adapatability to changing technologies and allows IT to respond faster to urgent business demands. DCIM provides the complete and accurate information on power, cooling, space, and connectivity resources to help both IT and facilities teams better execute predictive data center planning, indicating where it is possible to add data center equipment in the future and how the supporting infrastructure should be changed to accommodate.

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