CIOs, who yesterday focused on the highest availability and reliability, are today also looking at reducing financial and environmental burdens through data center infrastructure and design innovations that deliver energy efficiency, reliability and cost reduction. Such innovations take place at a number of points in the modern data center. They include:
Data Center cooling involves the deployment and maintenance of air conditioning to address the fluctuating heat created by the IT load. Chillers are typically the highest consumers of energy, in some cases responsible for more than half of energy use. The flexible use of chillers and free cooling technology can significantly reduce energy costs.
Row-cooling with no raised floor involves close-coupled cooling to reduce energy cost, achieved through a short airpath between servers and air conditioners. Raised floor costs can be avoided when close-coupled cooling is deployed and power and cable distribution run overhead.
Many data centers now use hybrid cooling strategies to drive energy efficiency. This involves deploying row-cooling for the rack-mounted IT equipment and supplemental cooling for ancillary equipment that can’t be rack-mounted.
Power Distribution Units (PDU)
Power Distribution Units (PDUs) increase data center manageability and efficiency by monitoring the power supply to the equipment and allowing data center or IT managers to bill for actual energy use. PDUs can also help managers remotely control the operation of individual equipment in the data centre.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
Intelligent UPS designs now offer reliable power supply at low, medium or high loads, which means they will operate efficiently no matter how busy the data center. Furthermore, current UPS’ approach efficiencies of 97% when operating at full load (compared to 92% efficiency for older models), contributing to data center energy savings.
Today’s racks and enclosures are expected to support a greater number and variety of applications and devices. An emerging trend is a move towards greater width and depth to accommodate equipment of different sizes. Flexibility is key as today’s high-density server and networking applications demand a rack infrastructure that can mount a mix of different equipment and support high-capacity cable management in an efficient, flexible design.
Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) Software
DCIM software manages data center assets, resource use and operation status. This information allows for performance optimisation across all infrastructure – cooling, UPS, racks, PDUs. DCIM automated data analysis and modelling capabilities helps managers understand the cascade effects of new hardware or system demands. By integrating real-time monitoring data into planning tools, managers using DCIM can also identify ‘stranded capacity’ by coordinating assets more efficiently, maximising available resources before having to purchase new hardware.
Data Center managers need to manage beyond the IT floor and DCIM software provides a powerful tool to extend throughout the entire facility for unprecedented operational insight and control.
Innovations in physical design
The way data centers are constructed is subject to innovation, too. New (or improved) developments include:
High energy costs and the need to support higher densities in the rack have forced data center professionals to consider hot-air and cold-air containment strategies. Keeping hot and cold air streams separated allows for the energy efficient processing of hot air by the data center cooling equipment. In addition to energy efficiency, containment delivers uniform IT inlet temperatures and eliminates hot spots typically found in traditional uncontained data centers.