Four ways to save money and boost the resilience of your IT datacentre
Highly performing IT is more than a must for modern business. As organisations embrace the opportunities of digitalisation, they must wield IT as a competitive weapon.
The datacentre – every organisation’s life support system – must operate as close to 100 percent uptime as possible, while delivering all of its services as reliably and efficiently as required, and coping with regulatory pressures motivated by environmental concerns. The challenge is to achieve all this without breaking the bank!
Let’s look at four key ways to operating a data centre efficiently, saving you money and improving the resilience of your IT.
1. Needs Analysis
The most obvious costs are incurred by the infrastructure itself, but this raises the question: How much of it do you actually need? How many physical servers? How much storage? The answers can only be provided by a detailed requirements analysis of the current and future IT load and the level of service expected of the datacentre – considerations which are required both at the start of operations and throughout its life.
2. Right-Sizing UPS
UPS – uninterruptible power supply – protection is essential to guarantee the continuity of power in the datacentre. It would be highly inefficient to have 500kW capacity available on tap if, after ten years, the datacentre was only running at 250kW or less. As per the ‘Needs Analysis’ stage, making an accurate assessment of likely load can be difficult, so seek professional support from qualified experts.
To avoid unnecessary costs, the best approach is to ‘right-size’ UPS infrastructure by deploying them in modular, scalable increments. This supports increases and decreases in capacity to meet ever-changing business demands, while maximising reliability and efficiency alike.
3. Cooling Considerations
Cooling is another costly function which is also dependent on the IT load of a datacentre, making it a critical consideration at the design stage as well as something to keep an eye on as needs change.
A great example of where careful planning, coupled with ongoing monitoring and measurement of operations, resulted in major efficiency improvements is the high performance datacentre at Cardiff University: Installing high-efficiency chillers at the design stage, plus the implementation of a specific software module dedicated to efficiency monitoring allowed highly granular insights into how control changes affected the operation of the datacentre. The result was a significant reduction in PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness, a metric used to determine the energy efficiency of datacentres) and immediate savings in energy costs.
As with UPS there are scalable technologies, such as In-Row cooling to separate warm and cold air via containment, which can play an important role in delivering significant cost savings as well as improved resilience.
4. Datacentre Infrastructure Management (DCIM)
A common assumption as regards cooling is that raising the temperature of a datacentre environment will improve cooling efficiency and deliver cost savings. In practice, however, this may be offset by an increase in the energy consumption required to operate IT systems at such temperatures, as well as the total consumption of energy required by the cooling infrastructure. You only get this kind of insight with DCIM software tools.
To match power and cooling functions to the IT load on an ongoing basis requires continuous monitoring, measurement and management of all operational aspects. This should also feed into providing as accurate a prediction as possible concerning initial and future IT loads.
DCIM software suites such as Schneider Electric’s StruxureWare for Data Centers™, can measure the effectiveness of power and cooling systems, whilst communicating seamlessly with IT infrastructure and traditional IT management tools from leading vendors including Cisco, HP, Intel and Microsoft.
As well as helping to reduce the immediate costs of operating power and cooling systems, such tools can reduce the overall IT load in the first place – with knock-on benefits for the amount of infrastructure required.
You could be sitting on untapped efficiency gains – and not even know it!
With the increase of convergence and virtualisation, the ability to run numerous virtual machines on a single server enables the identification of stranded capacity, and means applications can run at their most optimal level.
Ultimately, as you turn off more servers while delivering the same amount of applications and data, you reduce the power and cooling load that is required. The information collected here has to be fed back to those responsible for future planning and change management, providing an ever more accurate picture of capacity and supporting more efficient designs for future generations of datacentre deployments.
Audit your datacentre infrastructure for quick wins and long term improvements
Leading organisations regularly audit their evolving datacentre/comms room infrastructures to locate potential money-saving improvements, as well as opportunities to enhance performance and resilience. These commonly support corporate social responsibility initiatives and environmental commitments.
With metrics like PUE, one can see an immediate benefit to implementing a more efficient datacentre. However, in order for a datacentre to remain truly efficient, it needs to be designed with the input of key business stakeholders such as IT, Facilities and Finance.
The Comtec Datacentre Assessment (CDCA) is delivered by the UK’s leading experts in datacentre design and consultancy, following a robust, non-disruptive methodology detailing power, cooling, management and security status and requirements. The results pinpoint immediate ROI opportunities and an action plan for enhancing the efficiency and resiliency of your mission critical IT environment.