Like your home, data centers hit a point of no return — when slapping some paint on the walls (or adding additional rack UPS or portable cooling systems (e.g. standing floor fans (you know who you are!)) just isn’t enough to mask inherent issues.
When do you know it’s time to renovate your data center?
- I’m having hot flashes as I traverse the data center. The goal of data center cooling solutions is to drive average cold aisle and hot aisle temperatures. When these temperatures fluctuate too greatly, it may be time to look at Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis to gauge how best to arrange cooling systems and, where necessary, isolate hot and cold aisle containment.
- We’ve fallen behind on the latest technology. Advances in blade servers, storage and networking combine to catapult performance ahead of business needs. Blade servers, for example, have introduced the concept of high-density data centers that pack previously unheard-of performance in a single rack. New rack design and cooling technology provide a new level of control and savings in both cost and energy consumption.
- We’re afraid to go on vacation. This means your IT staff is spending countless hours on mundane tasks just to keep your computing infrastructure up and running rather than focusing on the ways in which IT can help advance the goals of the business. Consider outsourcing some of those functions to a managed services provider; remote monitoring and management are becoming accepted practices in most IT departments today.
- My cable plant looks like this. When troubleshooting cabling issues is beyond your means, or there just isn’t adequate cable management, it’s time to consider new approaches to improving cabling. This will save time and money and improve overall reliability of the data center.
- Sorry, but no room at the inn. When you can’t squeeze a single additional piece of gear or another watt of power into your data center, it’s time to consider a renovation. Like cleaning your basement or attic at home, a renovation will free up rack u-space. Under-utilized or obsolete equipment can be identified and discarded. And, renovation can be used to increase power capacity for those high draw blade servers.
- You worry more about disaster recovery than your peers. Hope is not a strategy. If you’re not really sure how well your disaster recovery plan will protect your data in the event of a flooded data center, an earthquake or any other emergency scenario, then your plan is outdated. The process of a formal data center renovation will address redundancy in power and cooling and begin the process of designing to overcome a disaster.
- Portable fans are in vogue. Fans beget fans. A fan cools a hot rack by re-directing cool air intended for another rack. Now an additional fan is needed to fill the cool air gap. As additional servers are deployed, the cooling needs change. Performing a CFD audit can re-balance your data center hot-aisle / cold aisle air-flow system design for today’s needs and allow you to maintain optimal temperatures in the data center while conserving energy and its associated costs.
- Centralized control can only happen in a large enterprise. Take a serious look at virtualization and Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools. These approaches may require renovation to certain aspects of an older data center but can be worth it if you can gain visibility and centralized control within the environment. DCIM tools come in many flavors and feature sets which are scalable for the smaller data center.
- A Green data center design is only a pipe dream. Visions of Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) under 2.0 need not be impossible. Considering green data center design techniques and improved performance of facility supporting infrastructure can remove inefficiencies in how much power goes to IT equipment versus non-IT equipment. The result can be reduced operating expenses direct to the bottom line.
- When designing your original data center requirements your crystal ball was only good for 5-7 years. Data center designs hinge upon key design criteria to support today’s IT load. Well planned data center designs also consider future IT requirements, organizational growth, applications growth, etc. However, with significant IT design and innovation, it’s extremely difficult to plan for IT requirements 5 or more years in advance.
In the end, renovating a data center is far more complex than renovating a home. Smart home owners, when asked about a major renovation such as a kitchen upgrade, talk of making excellent choices such as checking into a hotel when the kitchen was lost. In a data center renovation, operations must continue on, many times with little to no acceptable downtime during critical renovation phases. Exceptional planning, significant prior experience, and a well conceived and vetted Data Center Renovation process are critical to reduce risk of downtime during a renovation project. With so much riding on day-to-day data center performance as well as the long-term effectiveness of the facility, the stakes are high when planning and implementing any changes. Consider seeking out a professional data center design & build firm.