Designing The Modern Data Center

Businesses are expanding, consolidating, and building modern new data centers to handle new computing demands.

Darrell Dunn, Contributor

March 31, 2006

2 Min Read

Intel's Consolidation
Then there's Intel. The world's largest producer of chips for PCs and servers is just starting to plan for a multiyear consolidation project for its data center. Intel has around 70,000 servers in about 100 facilities worldwide, including 50,000 servers in about 50 data centers dedicated to meeting the demands of local engineering groups. It wants to combine most of those operations into a more manageable group of around 12 data center hubs, while still keeping enough computing resources locally to help engineers with delay-sensitive applications.

Consolidation is designed to let Intel cut equipment purchases, increase server utilization rates, and develop standardized systems and database management platforms. "The goal is to drive down the number of applications in the environment, consolidate out some old stuff, and drive standardization across different parts of the company," says CIO John Johnson. It also should let Intel boost server usage rates in the engineering environments from about 60% to 80%.

The first part of the process was recently completed in Albuquerque, N.M., where Intel repurposed an old 68,000-square-foot processor manufacturing plant into a data center hub. The plant offered floor space as well as existing power substations and cooling infrastructure.

Intel plans to expand in phases, the first of which created an 8,400-square-foot area for about 1,500 blade servers. The company plans to add 6,400 blade servers soon; a second phase would provide capacity for another 12,000 servers.

"We're looking at this as a blueprint," says Elwood Coslett, director of strategic capabilities in Intel's IT organization. "Today we use a lot of localized and internally written tools, but as we move toward a grid environment, we will need more robust types of services we can operate and manage across the environment." It will take as long as four years to identify and implement standard processes across the hubs as they're built.

Once several large hubs of grid computing are established, Intel will seek to break down the computing demands into small tasks. The majority would be done on the grid, while certain tasks--those most vulnerable to delays--would continue to be completed locally.

Johnson estimates Intel will spend between $5 million and $10 million over the next two years developing the grid computing environment's design.

Other companies are developing similar plans. In the AFCOM survey, 37% say they plan to implement some form of grid computing or virtual processing within two years, 17% within five years, and 4% within 10 years.

Illustration courtesy by Stone

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