Next Up In The Data Center - InformationWeek

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9/27/2007
11:30 AM
Art Wittmann
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Next Up In The Data Center

As systems continue to draw more power per square foot, new approaches must be taken to data center design. In the analytics brief, we look at two best practices around raised floor designs and the use of DC powered systems in the Data Center.

It's not your father's data center.That sums up both the recommendations of our Data Center report as well as the findings of our survey. Roughly half of those we polled say it's either certain or likely that they'll have to upgrade their data center power and cooling systems within a year, and another quarter are on the fence. The conundrum facing most organizations is just how to go about that upgrade. Dad's data center might not do the job for modern servers, storage, and networking gear--all of which continue to consume more watts per square foot--but building a new facility can be eye-poppingly expensive.

For most organizations, there's little choice. The need to store and process ever-larger quantities of data in new and more complex ways shows no sign of abating, and while we've preached the value of server consolidation and storage management, sooner or later Moore's Law catches up with you and it's time to remodel or build new.

chart -- Space Constraints: Which of the following best describes your current data center facilities?

While power and cooling systems continue to be a primary concern, two interesting facts came to light when we asked about space constraints. First, well over half of respondents report having sufficient room to grow in their existing facilities. This is as expected; servers and storage systems continue to pack more into less space, so increasing raw floor space isn't the driving factor in data center improvements. What we didn't expect was that almost a quarter of respondents say they're using facilities that aren't data center grade to meet their needs.

While we didn't explore the issue further, it seems likely that these respondents either work for smaller companies or are telling us about facilities in remote offices. It appears that the "data center in a box" products--those refrigerator-sized systems that contain the necessary cooling and uninterruptible power supplies sufficient for 30 or so 1U systems--may have significant appeal.

That statistic may also hint at what's really driving data center consolidation. A variety of concerns, ranging from compliance to security to reliability and availability, require better system management that comes from moving departmental and remote servers back to the data center.

chart -- Building Costs by Tier

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