Best Practices in Building a New Data Center (cont.)

Posted 04.18.11 in Feature Story by Nlyte Software

Data center challenges continue to be the lack of space, power and cooling.

As IT demand continues to outpace the ability of facilities to adapt to it, facilities cannot adequately plan for future demands nor adapt quickly to the current environment. Sacco says that he has surveyed data center managers he works with, and 80 percent of them say they’ll run out of space, power and/or cooling within two years.

But if he were to ask the same group what the causes are, they would all say the same thing, “I’m deploying blade servers; I’m virtualizing.” Sacco believes that many data center managers think that virtualization saves energy because it compresses functionality down into a limited number of servers. He adds, “We’re putting more densely-powered servers into the empty spaces, with more power and cooling demands. So we overtax our facilities; that’s why we’re running out of space, power and cooling.”

Mission-critical facilities have a finite life span.

Today, data center operators face not only overtaxed facilities, but also older buildings that suck power and energy. Because data centers have a finite life span, the management team needs to make a decision. They can use a collocation facility, upgrade existing facilities or build a new data center.

Sacco says that the number one consulting task he faces is the client who calls and says, “Hi, I have a data center somewhere in the world. I’m running out of space, power and cooling, and I need to know what to do. Should I fix it in place, build it brand new somewhere else or go co-location?”

Sacco has an answer for each of these questions. First, he believes that once a data center reaches its maximum capacity, it’s better to build new space next to it with additional capacity. “Because data center managers are inherently risk averse, doing an upgrade of a data center in place may not be the best idea; it’s a fairly chancy proposition.”

He continues, “Once you build a data center to be a maximum of something, it’s almost always better to build space next to it with additional capacity, rather than try to modify the existing space to increase capacity.”

Regarding co-location, it may work for some but not for others. Sacco says, “Ultimately, it will always cost more to put my equipment in someone else’s space than to build my own space. Since a data center manager is in the business of making money, which means a 40 percent gross margin, he’ll pay a premium to be in someone else’s data center, probably about 40 percent, so it might not be a logical choice.”

Excerpt from The DCIM Advisory interview with Peter Sacco, founder and CEO of PTS Data Center Solutions. Check back later for more on this feature.

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