Post number 8 in a series of 12 from one of our provider partners, NTT.
One common reason my customers have for initiating projects—they are running out of space in their current environment. Often times they have had to put their processes on hold in order to consolidate their environment and finish moving equipment to free up space. This is highly common for customers upgrading their hardware. They need the additional capacity and performance of new gear but don’t have anywhere to put it. The most common concerns we hear about are in regards to limited physical space, space that needs to be built out to provide more space, or not having enough power and cooling.
When we talk about space constraints, we are not always talking about the physical capability of a room to hold equipment. Over the years I have been in datacenters where there wasn’t a single U that wasn’t filled. Other datacenters I’ve seen looked like swiss cheese because of open spaces left in the racks. Most of that has to do with power and cooling capacity, and not space. I have worked with many companies in NYC where all buying decisions on IT hardware were stopped because the Utility couldn’t provide more power to the building, or because the cost of putting the power into the building was so great that the company did not want to make the capital investment.
In the eWeek article by Kris Domich that I quoted in my post about Data Center migrations, he talked about space being a major reason for Data Center migrations. Kris stated:
“Planning a data center move often begins within the IT or facilities departments. In recent years, IT growth and the significant increase in power and heat compaction have stressed data centers to the point of exhaustion when it comes to power and cooling. Many data centers have yet to reach physical capacity before the supporting environmental systems reach maximum capacity. This reality is usually the basis for a facilities-driven need to relocate and often to the surprise of the IT department.”
He goes on to say:
“Over the past two years, we have seen a dramatic spike in the frequency of data center relocations. This is expected to continue for at least the next few years because the convergence of increased physical compaction of IT systems and the mean age of a typical data center will continue to force many data centers into early obsolescence. More than half of the data centers Dimension Data has relocated in the past two years are facilities that are 7-10 years old. The typical planning horizon for a commercial building is 20 years, and 7-10 years ago, today’s equipment power densities were not considered. These power densities continue to be on the rise with some analysts predicting >40KW per rack and beyond. Unless your data center could easily handle that density today, chances are you, too, will be moving sometime in the next few years”.
So whenever you talk about space problems, you can’t just assume it’s a physical capacity issue. It comes down to how much equipment you can power and cool per square foot. You may need more physical space than considered in your original designs. Many of the new blade server racks need 5-10 kW per rack. Also, best practices for cooling the infrastructure have changed. Running cabling under the floor to the racks is falling out of favor because it restricts airflow to the racks. Perimeter cooling is being evaluated against in-row cooling to reduce the cost of cooling the entire space, as opposed to spot cooling. If you are not using hot aisle containment, you are wasting energy and money.
To put this into perspective, we recently had a customer who purchased equipment but didn’t install it for over a year because there was no place to put it. The delay was partly due to the fact that the people who were making the purchases weren’t the people in charge of running the datacenter. The facilities group was in charge of making sure all of the electrical and cooling were in place. Part of the planning process for new equipment needs to not only include the speeds and feeds, but what type of connections are needed. How much does it weigh? How much cooling is needed? Etc. Using the cloud to extend your space can make a lot of sense because it eliminates a lot of costs and questions. Cloud computing helps you because:
- When you move the infrastructure to a cloud provider, space becomes their problem. And the beauty of that is they can’t charge you extra if they run out of space. All of the costs of building the infrastructure are their responsibility.
- All of the costs of the infrastructure are calculated into the cost of your services, so if a cloud provider needs to expand because you need to expand, your resource costs will remain constant. This helps normalize budgets so you don’t see a big spike in capital costs for a new build-out.
- There are recurring charges that you will make every month to keep the lights on in your space. If you own the datacenter, you need to continually maintain the entire infrastructure for the life of the assets. At the end of the use of the asset, it’s up to you to figure out how to dispose of it.
- You move your risk. When you are in charge of the assets, you need to make sure they are up and ready all the time to keep your business running. With cloud providers, they manage the risks of many more companies so their infrastructure needs to be as resilient as their most demanding customer.
Using a cloud/colocation provider has many other benefits, as well as precautions. Look at the company’s SLAs for infrastructure. You cannot see how much infrastructure a cloud provider has in place to support you, but you can check to make sure they can meet capacity requirements. Also make sure there is a way to project the growth of your environment with the service provider so they can meet your needs. This can be done on a regular basis with your account team.
Next Post: Moving Enterprises to the Public or Hybrid Cloud Part 9 – Big Data
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About the author: Amy Freeland
As a writer for NTTcom.tv, Amy Freeland scours news from the world of cloud computing to provide stories that are both interesting and important to today’s IT professionals. As a freelance journalist, she has turned out polished original copy on topics that range from tracking down a backhoe on a construction site, to the important role technology can play in securing personal property for insurance claims, to former Nuggets basketball player Marcus Camby’s annual Thanksgiving dinner for deserving children. Amy’s work has appeared in Colorado AvidGolfer, ESPN The Magazine, The Rocky Mountain News and on Glamour.com.
After hours, this certified foodie loves exploring the culinary wonders of New York City (with help from her constant companion, her beloved iPhone, and her favorite new food app, Chefs Feed). Amy holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Colorado State University and a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communication from New York University.