The Modern Data Center – Challenges and Innovations
This blog is the first installment of a
six-part series discussing data center challenges and solutions.
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
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.
Where does the data center go next?
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.
Taking the data center forward
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
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. The next generation data
center is here and I’ll talk more about where I see it going in the next blog.
you have a question about the challenges and innovations for the modern data
center? Leave a comment below and I will be sure to respond.
About the Author
As Director of CommScope’s Data Center Practice in Asia Pacific, James provides leadership to a broad based field team providing engineered solutions for data center facilities and data networking systems in the region. James has been involved in sales, marketing and operational roles for communication solutions working with Tyco Electronics/ AMP, Anixter, Canadian Pacific and TTS in Canada. James has gained extensive experience in the sale of OEM products, network solutions and value-added services through direct and indirect channel sales environments. His sales experience includes electronic transmission components, telephony systems, network systems, LAN infrastructure products and fibre transmission system products. James has garnered substantial experience in OEM and Channel marketing as well as network operations as Assistant Director of CP’s computers and communications group. James graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Western Ontario. He is a registered Communication Distribution Designer (RCDD) and certified Data Center Design Expert (CDCE).
2 comments for "The Modern Data Center – Challenges and Innovations"
Tuesday, September 27, 2016 10:27 AM
Edward J Forrest, Jr says:
John, there are so many incumbent facets of a data center. One of the least discussed, or let's say often passed over, is the need to properly clean and inspect end face connections. No wonder, with possibly over 100,000 end faces surfaces, no one wants to think about it!!
When one does "think about cleaning" we tend to migrate to a lowest common denominator: a.) if there is a problem, clean it, b.) there is a special on a cleaning tool, buy it, c.) it's not something we worry about because we are short run or looking at new expanded beam types!
The reality is that how the connection is actually cleaned is more significant than the actual product itself. The industry gravitated to begin with a "dry process" and when that does not work, use a "wet-to-dry". Neither have sufficient process definition. The "dry process" can create a static field that attracts additional contaminants and "wet-to-dry" can flood the surfaces.
The other aspect is that it seems unlikely that each and every one of the (theoretical) fore mentioned 100,000 ens faces are actually inspected! So, there is too much "blind cleaning". In 2011 Telcordia published the most recent cleaning standard that introduced a 3rd technique that uses a small amount of fiber optic cleaner with a non-paper wiper. The result was dissipation of static as well as better removal of all types of contaminants...perhaps even without 'blind cleaning'.
It's a topic I have researched and studied for nearly 20 years...it's my technical limit regarding fiber optics...except to understand clearly that a contaminated end face will create reflectance, block the signal and in some instances actually damaged the end face. Precision cleaning isn't a product...it's a process.
Should you have interest, please let me know.
Marietta, GA. USA
Sunday, October 02, 2016 11:48 PM
James Young says:
Ed, your comments are most welcome. Cleaning and optic performance are very closely related. As time goes by DC optics are facing the same challenges that carrier networks have faced for many years. Single mode, multi mode will both require best practices to provide for the capacity and reliability that DC application will require.
We focus on overall link performance- so your experience would certainly be very helpful. While Carriers seem to have developed a disciplined cleaning practice- the DC world seems to be trying to catch up.