Modular DCs and DCIM in vogue


4 March 2015
Data centre insights2

The modular data centre is often mentioned in the same breath as energy-efficient design. These integrated solutions are preconfigured with power, thermal management and infrastructure management and monitoring solutions in accordance with design best practices and optimised for the efficiency and availability needs of today’s data centre, said Kong of Emerson Network Power. They are also designed to be quickly implemented, often in spaces without existing IT infrastructure.

IO is another strong proponent of modular data centres. It believes that the next generation modular data centre is “one of the most innovative solutions” that can alleviate sustainability concerns. “Not only does it consume 28 per cent less energy and water compared to the traditional data centre, but it is also 40 per cent more efficient,” said Slessman. “The standardised, energy-efficient units offer excellent speed to market, cost-effective use of capital, and allow providers to expand incrementally, with predictable costs for each new unit of capacity.”

Another technology that is garnering plenty of attention in the data centre space is Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM).

DCIM optimises enterprise energy by collecting and managing data on a facility’s assets, resource use and operation status throughout its lifecycle, said Sharma of Schneider Electric. “We recommend this solution because it not only enables customers to identify hot spots, overloaded servers, and adjust them accordingly; it also gives data centre owners and operators better control over their data environment. This control empowers smarter management choices that contribute to greater energy efficiency and alignment to business growth strategies.”

Kong of Emerson Network Power noted that visibility and monitoring of both hardware and software is now a crucial part of many data centre operations, and many organisations today deploy DCIM technology as a common platform for managing IT assets and facilities holistically.

“By consolidating and managing vital data centre insights, DCIM helps enable businesses to optimise energy efficiency and cut unnecessary expenditures in the process,” he said. “For example, while Singapore and some other Asian country do not get the luxury of optimising efficiency by leveraging on free cooling during winter, DCIM helps companies identify where power is most needed, without compromising high levels of performance and availability.”

In an earlier article, Young of CommScope also spoke about how developments in DCIM can help to ensure that data centres are operating optimally and efficiently while keeping up with green standards for data centres.

He believes that going forward, DCIM suites will evolve to integrate the data available from different sources such as facility management or building management systems and combine this with many other rich sources of data such as server, network and storage management systems to facilitate information management and pave the way for greater automation. 

Enhancements in DCIM technologies will also provide a boost for service delivery, which is another important issue for the data centre industry. “Managing a major data centre in this day and age, with minimal potential service disruption, is a big challenge,” said Joseph Lim, vice president of FNT Software Asia Pacific. “Specific to Singapore, and especially in the co-location services segment, the speed of service delivery is critical for both customers and service providers alike, which affects customer satisfaction and has a financial impact.”

According to Lim, most data centre operators are still using legacy planning and documentation software tools which do not provide a transparent view of the entire data centre from facilities and physical devices to logical connections and applications running in a virtualised environment. “More often than not, Visio or CAD drawings are the graphical representations of the infrastructure complemented with excel spreadsheets for the logical connections and other information about the network. This leads to slow recovery of services, when infrastructure does inevitably fail at times.”

In his view, the solution lies in smart process thinking surrounding resilience, reliability and recoverability.

To achieve resilience, the organisation needs to review the functionality and scalability of its systems periodically to ensure optimal performance all the time. The key to building resilience is to have a solution that "strings" all IT components together and implement a new paradigm in managing information to ensure service continuity, said Lim.

In terms of reliability, one key aspect is the monitoring of business activity and service levels. “Reliability is attained when system solutions are able to connect and ‘communicate with’ monitoring systems, keeping an eye on what is going on, and ready to pinpoint shortcomings when crises flare up,” he said.

The third and perhaps the most important component relates to recoverability. “It should be assumed that systems can fail, and they will fail at the most inopportune time,” he says. “To ensure quick recovery under these circumstances, organisations must have a strategy in place to ensure that they have a bird's eye view of the IT infrastructure and are able to source for information on where the disruption has taken place.”

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