Guest author: Paul Miller, Senior Solution Architect, Data Centers

The days of many current data centers are numbered. Companies are packing more technology into tighter spaces, growing demands aren’t being met and infrastructure requirements are taking a toll on budgets. A high percentage of data centers are reaching the end of their lifecycle.

Shutterstock/nmedia

Shutterstock/nmedia

The following are four keys to designing and building a high-performance data center:

Location
Expanding data centers are moving to larger spaces with reduced energy costs and high-transport fiber-optic networks.  Where should your company be headed? To determine the best location, assess traditional IT spaces, redeploy those IT spaces as needed, and consider alternative options like data center as-a-service in the cloud. A geographically dispersed U.S. footprint with good access to low latency fiber networks through diverse carriers is key.

Conservation
Data centers are one of the largest consumers of energy in the world.  Cooling alone, for example, makes up nearly half of the total energy spend in the data center, so the amount of energy used in the data center is fast becoming one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to IT and planning an organization’s IT future. Beyond first steps like aisle containment, good conservation includes reviewing legacy cooling systems for potential updates to high-efficiency modern systems that can adapt to changing compute loads and provide free cooling capabilities to bring the PUE down.

Automation
Simplifying maintenance in the data center is also growing in importance – whether that simplification is achieved by outsourcing or an on-location solution. It is also becoming increasingly important for data centers to be lights-out, which requires automation through the use of web-based tools that can control and operate the data center. Investing in Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software is the key to building a proper online Configuration Management Database (CMDB) capable of interacting with IT Service Management (ITSM) and operation platforms.

Communication
Assessing a company’s data center means examining its present location, level of automation, and energy consumption. It’s equally important to bridge any communication gaps that exist between the team responsible for the physical data center and the IT team responsible for the technology inside.  Once conversations are underway, it’s often a good idea to involve key decision makers as well, so everyone is on the same page about the company’s IT future from the start. Integrating functions between facilities and IT can better align the business and manage operating costs.

Hype or ripe: Are data centers headed for significant change?