I was just contacted by Processor.com for my thoughts on this topic and thought it might be useful to share some information about it with you all here.
If data center operators had only one wish, it would be this: build me a dark data center.
Many of the daily problems that affect data centers have less to do with the design of a facility and more to do with variables introduced by human involvement. For most data centers, not only does the IT staff have access to the facility. Facility staff, other employees, outside consultants, contractors, and mechanics may enter the data center for a whole host of reasons. As human traffic increases within the data center, so do the risks, amount of clutter, and the number of potential technical problems.
Despite expert design and planning, people do not always follow preset procedures and may meddle with equipment that they are not qualified to use. This is a nightmare for IT professionals. The mistakes are difficult to trace and are a drain on a business’ money and the time of its IT staff.
The ideal solution is to design a dark data center, a remotely monitored IT environment, in which computer systems analyze and correct problems with minimal human involvement. To achieve a completely dark data center, your IT infrastructure, support infrastructure, and software systems need to be autonomous. The majority of companies are no where near this point and most data centers will never be able to run without any human interaction, but technology is quickly taking us closer to this design goal.
Not-So-Dark Data Center Design
Cutting the human element entirely out of the picture may be out of our current reach, but you can reduce foot traffic and the number of unmanaged changes within your data center. “Dim” data center designs are a realistic goal for most companies.
The dim data center approach focuses more on preventative maintenance than on reactive problem solving. The most effective dim data center designs are secure, can independently troubleshoot most problems, can be managed remotely, and implement processes and procedures to control the who, what, where, and when’s of the events taking place within the space.
Dim data centers remain a sought-after solution for IT professionals and users, and an attainable design goal for most companies. Although the dark data center is still a dream, the dim data center is a happy reality.