Are US Data Centers Too Outdated to Handle Current Needs?

March 3, 2014
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ImageOne of the largest challenges facing the US data center market is the age of the country’s facilities.

ImageOne of the largest challenges facing the US data center market is the age of the country’s facilities. According to a Brocade survey, a number of data centers are operating with outdated infrastructure technology. This creates significant challenges for facility operators as they struggle to keep up with the system requirements of today’s enterprises.

“Many data centers that exist today are based on 20-year-old technologies, and the simple fact is that they can no longer keep up with demand,” said Jason Nolet, Brocade vice president of data center switching and routing. “Virtualization and cloud models require greater network agility and performance, as well as reduced operating cost and complexity.”

However, there are a few other cost-effective measures that facility owners can implement to modernize their older data centers and help combat these issues.

Adjust the Data Center Layout
A main obstacle experienced in older computing structures is reaching system capacity. Because these data centers have been supporting technology needs for a longer period of time, they likely have had to add servers to address scaling needs. This problem can be addressed in several ways, including balancing the workloads on individual servers to ensure they are functioning optimally. Additionally, facility operators can also rearrange the physical location of server racks for efficient use of the vertical space in the data center.

TechTarget contributor Stephen Bigelow pointed out that the rack layout can be changed to provide for cooling system and power consumption optimization. Servers can be placed in a hot/cold aisle arrangement for better airflow, allowing the building draw less electricity to support the demands of the cooling technology.

Enhance Maintenance Efforts
In addition, Schneider Electric suggested reviewing the maintenance plan of an older data center, and updating these efforts for improved facility functionality. During this upgrading process, administrators should establish goals for the maintenance staff and ensure that records are kept up-to-date.

Plan for Energy Efficiency
Decision makers should include plans for boosted energy efficiency, as these structures likely consume more energy resources than their newer counterparts. By taking a benchmark power usage effectiveness rating, administrators can work to improve the rating and be able to measure their progress.

Bigelow advised raising the data center temperature and updating the cooling system as part of sustainability efforts. New studies have shown that IT equipment can still function optimally at higher temperatures, and this strategy also reduces the amount of energy needed for cooling purposes. Furthermore, an up-to-date, advanced cooling arrangement can add to the power savings and ensure that servers do not overheat in a higher temperature environment.