In the data centre market, change is inevitable. New technologies are constantly developing, both inside and outside the data centre.
This means that the demands on data centres are not only constantly increasing, but also changing in nature.
Inside the data centre, new technologies are forever disrupting the way in which sites are operated, maintained and optimised. Developments in IT systems, as well as cooling techniques and UPS engineering, mean that data centre managers can also improve efficiency well beyond what was previously considered possible.
As reflected in the priorities of the wider IT community and society as a whole, advancing data centre efficiency is now one of the highest considerations on operators’ set of priorities.
Data centre efficiency isn’t just about being ‘green’ and ticking a box, data centre operators need to be aware that certain aspects of the green data centre revolution are distorted and many may find themselves focussing on the wrong things – the obsession with PUE, for instance, is well documented as being potentially misleading.
Data centre efficiency savings
If played wisely, data centre efficiency can mean huge budgetary savings, and one way to achieve this is through ‘smart’ systems, like DCIM, simulation, predictive analytics and advanced HVAC systems.
Take cooling which plays a major part in the efficiency of a data centre, and if energy is being wasted in the wrong part of the facility, and in the wrong way, money is being thrown away. As noted by Clive Longbottom of Quocirca, ‘if you are cooling down the whole of the data centre, then there is a massive volume of air that is being cooled for no reason.’
This is where companies with smart technologies can come in. Firms like Future Facilities look to overcome thermal design challenges by taking advantage of data and taking an intelligent, modern approach to cooling and data centre design.
By using tools that create a virtual copy of the physical data centre space, and then inputting detailed information about cooling and where heat and energy is being wasted, customers are able to gain invaluable insight into how their data centre is operating and what improvements can be made.
And these tools are truly modern. Data centres fuel the most advanced and intelligent technologies known to man – so why shouldn’t these tools be used in the data centre itself?
VR and smart tech for the data centre
Future Facilities, for instance, uses virtual reality to help customers take a walk through their data centre. But, because they’re using virtual reality, they can explore different situations – trying different troubleshooting fixes, looking into ‘what-if’ scenarios, and assessing the state of the site, all in a safe and consequence-free environment.
And according to Mission Critical Power, who explored the virtual reality system, the ability to really experience the data centre, rather than simply looking at a series of representations, makes all the difference.
‘The first time you use the virtual reality program, you are struck by the immersiveness of the experience,’ writes Louise Frampton of Mission Critical Power. ‘It feels very different from seeing an image on screen; you can ‘walk’ through aisles of three-dimensional racks, choose which direction you want to go in, while viewing the assets and crucial information such as air flows – it certainly feels like the dawn of a new era.’
And that’s crucial as we enter a new era in data centres. We’re hitting the age of the edge, where innumerable data centres will be placed all around the country, in order to better serve the people using them.
With the constantly increasing hunger for data, created by new developments like the Internet of Things and less new developments like Netflix, means that this new ‘tier’ of data centre is inevitable. But having so many distributed micro data centres dotted around the country, and indeed the world, means that they clearly can’t all be manned.
The majority of these sites would be too small to be fully manned anyway – often they may be just a single server or rack. But the sheer volume is the real issue here. It simply isn’t practical for so many sites to be physically looked after – they have to become far more independent.
The way to do that is with smart technologies that use data. By doing this, teams in charge of data centres, whatever size, will be able to make smarter decisions, build more efficient sites and create more value for their customers. The edge may not yet be here, but thinking smart benefits us all – now.
This article is sponsored by Future Facilities.