The modern data center is a complex place. The proliferation of mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones, place an ever-increasing pressure on the IT departments and data centers. End-user and customers’ expectation levels have never been higher and the demand for data shows no sign of slowing down. Data center managers must manage all of these elements while also remaining efficient and keeping costs under control. So where does the data center go from here?
One thing I have noticed in the evolution of the modern data center is that the facilities are gaining importance; improving energy efficiency and IT management have come to the forefront. Maximizing the organization’s resources is vital, and that means delivering more to facilities and equipment without expending more on staffing. IDC forecasts that during the next two years, 25 percent of all large and mid-sized businesses will address the power and cooling facility mismatches in their data centers with new IT systems and put a 75 percent cap on data center space used. So there again is the crucial challenge of doing more and innovating while keeping budgets and spend under control.
Another key part of the next generation data center mix is automation. Today’s data center manager is engaged in sourcing the right automation tools that will help them manage energy consumption and add new technology without disrupting normal operations. These are a few of the key challenges in the modern data center—so data center managers and IT departments must find ways to address them.
At the heart of data center evolution is the information technology sector’s rapid rate of change. Many new products and services must be implemented with much less time to value, and data centers need to be agile enough to assess and accommodate them all. If you examine enterprise data centers, then you might observe the ways that cloud computing and hyperscale innovations are displacing traditional enterprise systems, with new paradigms pioneered by innovators like Amazon and Google. With new options being developed, enterprises now have to chart strategies for cloud computing, including public, private or hybrid cloud. Gauging where the technology will go next is difficult to tell. Will the traditional vendors, such as Cisco and EMC, prevail or will new paradigms from Nutanix or Simplivity disrupt and displace these traditional data center dominators?
The race is on to manage the rapid rate of change while also staying agile, meeting end-user expectations and managing costs. For example, data center managers must handle the level of capacity their data center requires while ensuring they don’t overspend on unused capacity. This is where the focus on data center design comes into play.
These specific needs and challenges that the modern data center faces require working with the right tools and solutions. Modular, purpose-built data center infrastructure allows organizations to develop data center services based on need—when capacity rises and where capacity is needed. For example, we’ve observed in Singapore that most data centers operate slightly above 2.1 Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE). This means that companies spend more on cooling their data center rather than on operating and powering the IT equipment. It is a simple challenge—drive efficiency without impacting operations. You want to drive PUE down to approximately 1.06, regardless of where you need to operate, and reap huge energy savings while better serving customers. If done right, there is a positive environmental impact.
Changing the paradigm of the traditional data center enables organizations to reap these rewards. Assessing and establishing business objectives that reflect what is possible, rather than what always has been or what is easier and more comfortable, has led to innovative services and new business models that reset the competitive standards for everyone. Better PUE is a mandatory step in this process. The PUE journey continues as evidenced by Amazon, which had recently taken to harnessing wind to power its data centers. Modular data centers will play a major part in this PUE journey, thanks to more efficient use of energy and greater flexible support for resiliency and compute density.