Can IT rise above the data deluge?
Data center teams face one crisis after another, but at least one has remained constant over recent years. The tidal wave of data, especially related to the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data, continues to grow at phenomenal rates, threatening to overwhelm operations for many enterprises. IT teams are struggling to keep their heads above this deluge of digital information, scale storage and processing resources to handle the data, and simultaneously provide the ubiquitous connectivity required for today's Internet of Things.
Fortunately, data center equipment providers have been evolving the data center foundations. IT and facilities teams have the life vests and rafts that they need, if they know how to use them.
Data Survival Tactics
Ironically, gathering more data can help data center teams avoid drowning in data. A new class of management consoles can provide IT with a holistic view of data center resources. The leading consoles take advantage of middleware that taps into real-time equipment status parameters. The IT teams gain intuitive views (real-time maps) of the power consumption and temperatures for every server, rack, row, or room full of data center equipment. The monitored data can also be logged for trend analysis and capacity planning.
Monitoring and extracting insights about energy patterns in the data center can yield significant cost savings. Instead of provisioning servers based on worst-case manufacturers' power supply ratings, IT can calculate the number of servers per rack based on actual power consumption in their own environment. Many data center teams use this approach to gain significant increases in capacity, thereby avoiding unnecessary rack purchases and minimizing floor space.
The same monitoring consoles can be used to spot "ghost" or idle servers, and help avoid wasted energy associated with under-utilized assets. Putting idle servers into power-conserving sleep mode or redistributing workloads can trim 15 to 20 percent from the data center utility bill.
Besides reacting to monitored conditions, a holistic approach to energy management can put IT and facilities teams in a much more proactive stance. For example, hot spots can be clearly identified, which makes it easier to redistribute workloads and avoid conditions that shorten the lifespan of equipment.
Since real-time monitoring makes it possible to safeguard against equipment-damaging conditions, many data center managers are turning up the thermostats and embracing higher ambient temperature operation. Increasing ambient temperature by one degree Celsius has been shown to result in a two percent decrease in a site’s power bill.
Power capping, another feature available with best-in-class energy management platforms, is also a valuable tool for battling data growth. IT can prioritize servers and workloads, and allocate power to guarantee optimal operation and performance for the most critical services. This feature also makes it possible to build in protection from power spikes, and to ration power during disaster recovery phases.
Bring it On
Smart devices and the Internet of Things are here to stay, as is the challenge of keeping up with the associated growth of data. Energy and thermal management represent an exciting advancement for data center management teams, giving them the visibility and control to ride out influx of data. Immediate savings from driving down energy and cooling costs put the consoles and middleware within reach for organizations of any size. Energy costs may have been dropping recently, but budget pressures have not, and managing energy can be a lifesaver in terms of both capital and operating expense control.
Jeff Klaus is the general manager of Data Center Manager Solutions, at Intel Corporation, where he has managed various groups for more than 13 years. Klaus's team is pioneering power- and thermal-management middleware, which is sold through an ecosystem of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software companies and OEMs. A graduate of Boston College, Klaus also holds an MBA from Boston University. He can be reached at Jeffrey [dot] S [dot] Klaus [at] intel [dot] com.