Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Derek Weeks, Mehdi Daoudi, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Microservices Expo

Microservices Expo: Article

Data Centers: The Next Wave of IT Innovation

Industry poised for electrical, mechanical and architectural innovations

Energy has been one of the largest variable costs for large technology companies and today is becoming increasingly material for large enterprises of all kinds.  Last week at the FIRE Conference I heard Ford's CTO talk about how Ford wanted to be seen as a technology company.  As I listened to Paul Mascarenas talk about smart cars I couldn't help but to wonder how many of the world's largest companies have at least discretely considered evolving into more technology-centric products.

The data center is the factory of the new cloud economy and is a major inflection point for enterprise profitability.  Those who deliver the most apps, services, etc. per kilowatt/hour have a competitive advantage.  And with data centers accounting for close to 1.5% of electricity consumption in the U.S., increasing energy efficiency in the data center is becoming a strategic business and community imperative.

Since before the dotcom era, enterprises have built their own data centers with a keen focus on availability, or uptime.  Many of those data centers have now outlived their usefulness and are substantial burdens on their IT teams.  As new data centers are built, uptime considerations need to be combined with efficiency considerations.  They must be addressed together.

Increasing demands for IT resources, rising rack densities, and increased power and cooling requirements are exposing tired designs, and increasing power requirements. Simply adding more space is a shortsighted approach to what promises to be a longstanding issue: the efficient use of company resources, especially those strategic to the bottom line.

Today's modern data centers are, on average, 30%+ more efficient than data centers built even five years ago, due to rising densities and the impact on electrical and mechanical innovation.  Well-capitalized tech companies (including Google and Facebook) have invested billions in data center innovation, from sophisticated water-cooling to internal rack architectures optimized for efficient airflow.

Many enterprises, however, are suspended between the cost and risk of building innovative data centers and leasing wholesale data centers.  The traditional wholesale data center industry (including Digital Realty Trust [DLR], Dupont Fabros Technology [DFT}, and regional player CoreSite [COR]) has been very successful in building standardized designs that address a subset of the enterprise data center market.  Innovation, in a nutshell, has been limited to those with the deep pockets and courage to build their own.

Today wholesale data centers can be classified as innovative (engineering-optimized for specific enterprise goals and local resource abundance/scarcity) or traditional (from pods to containers, once type of space serves all).

With Vantage Data Centers entering the market (see highlights from our Smart Data Center Revolution event on Earth Day 2011), expect to see some changes in an otherwise transaction-centric industry.

Increasing Reliability and Efficiency

As wholesale data center providers evolve you can expect more campus-scale projects with:

  • dedicated substations and higher voltage distribution from the substation to the data center floor;
  • elimination of PDUs;
  • redundant backup generator power with 2N electrical configurations to the floor;
  • high efficiency UPS units; and
  • pre-provisioning of data centers for additional load (vertical scalability) including skid-mounted generators and UPS and preprovisioned switch gear.

Enterprises that continue to operate or lease traditional data center space (where only about half the electricity entering the building is used to power and cool the data center facility), put themselves at a competitive disadvantage. They pay significantly more for the operation of every server.  Increasingly what is good for business is good for the environment, and vice versa.

The problem was starting to appear as early as five years ago (from Computerworld):

Data centers "are becoming more and more swollen," IDC analyst Vernon Turner said today at the IDC Virtualization Forum here. Most of the servers purchased today cost less than $3,000. And while that may sound inexpensive, the annual power and cooling bill for 100 servers is about $40,000. In total, for every $1 spent on a server, $7 is spent on support, he said.

-          Patrick Thibodeau, Servers Swamp Data Centers as Chip Vendors Move Ahead, Feb 6, 2006

After the energy consumed directly by the servers, routers and switches within a data center, power distribution and cooling provide significant opportunities for energy conservation.  New, high efficiency data centers -from the innovators- are bringing power closer to the data center at utility distribution 12 kV to 34.5 kW. Stepping it down close to 480 V conditioned power loads results in less loss of power.

Cooling is the other major area where energy savings are being achieved. Where geography and climate permit, data center owners and operators are taking advantage of free cooling via airside and water side economization. Supplementing this form of cooling with chillers only in hot months and operating the data center at higher overall temperatures is also positively impacting energy consumption.

You can therefore expect to see more data center customization based on location, including climate, humidity and air and water quality.  Efficient data centers will be designed for the optimum use of both scarce and plentiful local resources, instead of the "one design fits all" approach common today.   There will always be a robust demand for traditional data centers, but expect more of the tech-centric enterprises to shift to highly-customized solutions engineered for specific needs and locations.

Recent advancements in specialized mechanical architectures will also optimize the flow of air and enable granular visibility and control of cooling with real-time data and power metering.

With these electrical, mechanical and architectural innovations campus-scale wholesale data centers are matching or closely approaching the best Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) numbers for enterprise-owned data centers by the likes of Facebook and Google.  With the closing of the innovation gap, the decision then becomes one of whether to build or lease.

Here is a recent (April 2011) article in InformationWeek on How to Build a Modern Data Center.

Upgrading, Consolidating or... Leasing

By understanding the critical elements of a high efficiency data center and the options, and by looking at metrics such as PUE plus Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE) which looks at the carbon emissions associated with operating a data center (not its construction) and Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE) which measures how efficiently a data center is using water, enterprises can make better decisions about whether or not their existing data center(s) can or should be upgraded.

Per IDC (2010) the average data center in the U.S. is 12 years old, meaning it cannot be upgraded economically because of inadequate electrical systems and other physical and site limitations. A site's power distribution features for example, are not something that a company can readily go back and replace to save energy.

Every business will need to assess for itself the difference that leasing a more efficient building could make compared with owning an older building that is wasting increasing amounts of power and cooling every year as power demands increase.

If it is not possible to upgrade a data center, the build/lease question should be addressed.

What is the capital expense and risk involved in building or expanding data center capacity and what is the lost opportunity cost in time and potential unrealized return in making a decision to build? As innovation accelerates how reasonable is it to expect internal teams to keep up?  What will be the ongoing operating expense to run the new data center and what is the TCO over the 10-15 year lifespan of a modern, optimized data center that offers more IT capacity (more services, applications, etc.)  per kW?

What are the costs, advantages and others considerations of leasing data center space?

The ability to quickly access secure space and scale economies with operational service levels as needs evolve has strategic competitive implications, as does being able to reduce OPEX while preserving ownership and control of critical IT assets.

Smart data centers, whether they are owned or leased, offer significant environmental benefits and measureable cost savings.  For example, a 20k square foot space in a smart data center can reduce power and cooling by more than $1 million per year.  Data center innovation will become a critical inflection point, especially for technology-centric organizations, in the next 5-10 years.  And the location of those data centers will drive the location of strategic jobs, economic growth and the efficient stewardship of environmental resources.  The innovations being designed into these new catalysts of innovation will similarly drive additional IT efficiencies and innovations in other commercial and even residential construction.

More Stories By Greg Ness

Greg Ness is a Silicon Valley marketing veteran with background in networking, security, virtualization and cloud computing. He is VP Marketing at CloudVelocity. Formerly at Vantage Data Centers, Infoblox, Blue Lane Technologies, Juniper Networks, Redline Networks, McAfee, IntruVerofficer at Networks and ShoreTel. He is one of the world's top cloud bloggers.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
We have Continuous Integration and we have Continuous Deployment, but what’s continuous across all of what we do is people. Even when tasks are automated, someone wrote the automation. So, Jayne Groll evangelizes about Continuous Everyone. Jayne is the CEO of the DevOps Institute and the author of Agile Service Management Guide. She talked about Continuous Everyone at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. She describes it as "about people, culture, and collaboration mapped into your value streams....
In our first installment of this blog series, we went over the different types of applications migrated to the cloud and the benefits IT organizations hope to achieve by moving applications to the cloud. Unfortunately, IT can’t just press a button or even whip up a few lines of code to move applications to the cloud. Like any strategic move by IT, a cloud migration requires advanced planning.
Did you know that you can develop for mainframes in Java? Or that the testing and deployment can be automated across mobile to mainframe? In his session and demo at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Dana Boudreau, a Senior Director at CA Technologies, will discuss how increasingly teams are developing with agile methodologies, using modern development environments, and automating testing and deployments, mobile to mainframe.
“Why didn’t testing catch this” must become “How did this make it to testing?” Traditional quality teams are the crutch and excuse keeping organizations from making the necessary investment in people, process, and technology to accelerate test automation. Just like societies that did not build waterways because the labor to keep carrying the water was so cheap, we have created disincentives to automate. In her session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Anne Hungate, President of Daring System...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory?
Most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes a lot of work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reduction in cost ...
Docker is on a roll. In the last few years, this container management service has become immensely popular in development, especially given the great fit with agile-based projects and continuous delivery. In this article, I want to take a brief look at how you can use Docker to accelerate and streamline the software development lifecycle (SDLC) process.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo taking place Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is ...
Cloud adoption is often driven by a desire to increase efficiency, boost agility and save money. All too often, however, the reality involves unpredictable cost spikes and lack of oversight due to resource limitations. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO and Founder of CloudHealth Technologies, tackled the question: “How do you build a fully optimized cloud?” He will examine: Why TCO is critical to achieving cloud success – and why attendees should be thinking holistically ab...
DevOps is good for organizations. According to the soon to be released State of DevOps Report high-performing IT organizations are 2X more likely to exceed profitability, market share, and productivity goals. But how do they do it? How do they use DevOps to drive value and differentiate their companies? We recently sat down with Nicole Forsgren, CEO and Chief Scientist at DORA (DevOps Research and Assessment) and lead investigator for the State of DevOps Report, to discuss the role of measure...
While some vendors scramble to create and sell you a fancy solution for monitoring your spanking new Amazon Lambdas, hear how you can do it on the cheap using just built-in Java APIs yourself. By exploiting a little-known fact that Lambdas aren’t exactly single-threaded, you can effectively identify hot spots in your serverless code. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Dave Martin, Product owner at CA Technologies, will give a live demonstration and code walkthrough, showing how ...
If you are part of the cloud development community, you certainly know about “serverless computing”, almost a misnomer. Because it implies there are no servers which is untrue. However the servers are hidden from the developers. This model eliminates operational complexity and increases developer productivity. We came from monolithic computing to client-server to services to microservices to serverless model. In other words, our systems have slowly “dissolved” from monolithic to function-by-func...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, discussed how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He also discussed how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
IT organizations are moving to the cloud in hopes to approve efficiency, increase agility and save money. Migrating workloads might seem like a simple task, but what many businesses don’t realize is that application migration criteria differs across organizations, making it difficult for architects to arrive at an accurate TCO number. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO of CloudHealth Technologies, will offer a systematic approach to understanding the TCO of a cloud application...
Many organizations are now looking to DevOps maturity models to gauge their DevOps adoption and compare their maturity to their peers. However, as enterprise organizations rush to adopt DevOps, moving past experimentation to embrace it at scale, they are in danger of falling into the trap that they have fallen into time and time again. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before, and we know how it ends: badly.
API Security has finally entered our security zeitgeist. OWASP Top 10 2017 - RC1 recognized API Security as a first class citizen by adding it as number 10, or A-10 on its list of web application vulnerabilities. We believe this is just the start. The attack surface area offered by API is orders or magnitude larger than any other attack surface area. Consider the fact the APIs expose cloud services, internal databases, application and even legacy mainframes over the internet. What could go wrong...
With Cloud Foundry you can easily deploy and use apps utilizing websocket technology, but not everybody realizes that scaling them out is not that trivial. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Roman Swoszowski, CTO and VP, Cloud Foundry Services, at Grape Up, will show you an example of how to deal with this issue. He will demonstrate a cloud-native Spring Boot app running in Cloud Foundry and communicating with clients over websocket protocol that can be easily scaled horizontally and coordinate...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Carter, CEO of Approyo, discussed the basic set up and solution for an SAP solution in the cloud and what it means to the viability of your company. Chris Carter is CEO of Approyo. He works with business around the globe, to assist them in their journey to the usage of Big Data in the forms of Hadoop (Cloudera and Hortonwork's) and SAP HANA. At Approyo, we support firms who are looking for knowledge to grow through current business process, where even 1%...
The goal of Continuous Testing is to shift testing left to find defects earlier and release software faster. This can be achieved by integrating a set of open source functional and performance testing tools in the early stages of your software delivery lifecycle. There is one process that binds all application delivery stages together into one well-orchestrated machine: Continuous Testing. Continuous Testing is the conveyer belt between the Software Factory and production stages. Artifacts are m...
From manual human effort the world is slowly paving its way to a new space where most process are getting replaced with tools and systems to improve efficiency and bring down operational costs. Automation is the next big thing and low code platforms are fueling it in a significant way. The Automation era is here. We are in the fast pace of replacing manual human efforts with machines and processes. In the world of Information Technology too, we are linking disparate systems, softwares and tool...