Data Center Design — 11 December 2014

Ganesh Bhat, Head of Data Centers at eHosting DatFort, says:

The modern data centre is very different from what it used to be, and the design strategies continue to evolve in the face of new computing trends such as big data, cloud computing and mobility. In fact, data center infrastructure is no longer only brick and mortar walls and data that was once considered sensitive and not allowed to leave the organization boundaries is today being hosted with external service providers. Increased data volume, faster data accessibility requirements and data longevity are the key drivers for the changing data center blueprints.

Drivers for the change

Cloud computing is one of the main technologies driving the transformation of data centers. It offers solutions that facilitate faster business operations. With cloud-based services, users get the flexibility to scale their infrastructure capacity on demand. With the continuing trend of cloud computing, data centers are being transformed to utilize these new technologies to enhance their performance. Moving forward, we will witness dramatic changes in the structure, software and control processes of data centers.

Also, a few years ago, applications would sit on individual servers and were supported by their own storage. This was one of the key reasons why data centers were simple in design and limited by physics—more applications meant more servers and storage. However, this expansion was dependent on the actual physical space of the data center. This started the era of virtualization as we know it today. This approach required a much more elegant and robust network infrastructure to provide performance, management and flexibility to deal with the increase in traffic and this has greatly impacted the modern data centers.

Features of the Data Center of today

The modern data center has considerably improved in efficiency and cooling. This has greatly affected energy management, taking it a step closer to becoming a sustainable green data center. Companies that have adopted cooling best practices have noticed the following benefits:

  • Better reliability of IT equipment
  • Increased cooling unit efficiency
  • Increased cooling unit capacity
  • Reduced operating expense

You would also notice that today’s data centers have raised flooring, which ensures its robust performance. Also, some data centers have flexible power feeds under the raised flooring which leads to uniform and un-hindered air flow, directly impacting the temperature.

Lowering Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is another feature that the data center operators of today aim to achieve through improved cooling, hot aisle- cold aisle segregation, overhead structured cabling and air containments.

Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is also rapidly catching up. Asset management, change and configuration management, billing, PUE monitoring etc. have now become available on dash boards to the operation team and management. This allows access to accurate and actionable data which can be analyzed to measure the current and future needs of the data center.

Modern data centers also have to deal with greater volumes of data and should be able to service more users. This arouses a need for better flexibility and greater scalability. At the same time, tougher security, 24/7 network accessibility and resilience has become more critical than ever.

Today, data centers demand 24×7 onsite physical security, including security guards, motion detectors and security cameras. In addition, entry control through access card and biometric access systems has become mandatory. Also, visitor registrations, visitor escorts by authorized personnel, employee badge access and CCTV monitoring are some of the other features of a modern data center.

In essence, data centers are rapidly evolving to better meet current and future business requirements. Having said that, it is imperative for IT professionals to keep up with the pace of change and ensure that their data centers are upgraded constantly year on year.

About the Author: Ganesh Bhat has 18 years of collective experience in consultancy, design, project management, governance and operations and 8 years of specific experience in the field of data center. He is the Head of Data Centers at eHosting DatFort, a leading Managed Hosting and Cloud Infrastructure services provider. Ganesh regularly writes in-depth articles with a focus on the data center industry and technology responsible for changing the face of the global data center market. He can be reached at ganesh.bhat@ehdf.com

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