Expert Advice

Data storage evolution keeps rolling along

Data centres have changed dramatically since their inception. Alongside the evolution of the Internet, data centres have had to expand to accommodate the increased demand for data storage facilities.

Related IT services are the backbone for most modern organisations, as companies rely on online operations and services to keep business processes running. The increasing popularity and influence of cloud computing has put even more emphasis on online functionality.  Many businesses are now totally reliant on network availability.  Hence, today’s data centre managers must be concerned with reliability, power, efficiency and security. Companies demand optimum uptime for their websites so that nothing impinges on business operations, security and privacy, plus a constant stream of power to ensure the facility is reliable.

Storage solutions with power and efficiency

Traditional data centres tend to be inefficient energy consumers. One way IT departments have evolved has been to monitor their racks for optimal operating temperatures. Design improvements have been a major factor in ensuring better efficiency in the sector. For example, cooling server racks is one of the most power-hungry elements of a data centre, often using up to 80% of the total power required for the data centre. It’s a data centre professional’s job to develop intelligent designs for cooling the facilities in order to reduce power consumption and create

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a more cost-effective and reliable data storage service. 

Another way to implement efficient design is to bring cold corridors into play. Old data centres cooled entire rooms, but modern, efficient data centres have developed systems that cool the servers from inside sealed corridors, reducing the amount of energy lost because the systems aren’t cooling an entire server room.

Continue data storage evolution

Traditional data centres are often hindered by their structure. They were built at a time when little thought was given to the physical design of the building, and vast concrete buildings were simply filled with servers. As new data centres have been constructed, design has become more important. 

Because they need to cater to a wide variety of enterprise demands, data centre managers must understand the needs of their particular business. Different departments have very different data storage needs when it comes to cost-effectiveness. Green energy and a low carbon footprint are major priorities in some companies, while reliability and the opportunity to double in size in a week if needed are key requirements for others.

Data centres, instead of being large monolithic, purpose-built facilities, are now evolving into modular facilities. A modular configuration means that companies can better phase expansion and manage capital investments, while also building data storage facilities that exactly accommodate the latest user requirements. This, in turn, is more efficient and more economical and scalable.

Many start at a PUE of 1.2, which will become increasingly more resourceful as the technology develops over time.  They only use the exact amount of power necessary, with very little waste. 

Eric Boonstra is the managing director of data centre provider EvoSwitch and a contributor to SearchVirtualDataCentre.co.UK.

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This was first published in April 2011

 

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