|By Greg Ness||
|June 14, 2011 11:16 AM EDT||
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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
Sep. 25, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,289
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
Sep. 25, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,510
SYS-CON Events announced today the Kubernetes and Google Container Engine Workshop, being held November 3, 2016, in conjunction with @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This workshop led by Sebastian Scheele introduces participants to Kubernetes and Google Container Engine (GKE). Through a combination of instructor-led presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on labs, students learn the key concepts and practices for deploying and maintainin...
Sep. 25, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,572
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
Sep. 25, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 4,356
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Sep. 25, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,407
About a year ago we tuned into “the need for speed” and how a concept like "serverless computing” was increasingly catering to this. We are now a year further and the term “serverless” is taking on unexpected proportions. With some even seeing it as the successor to cloud in general or at least as a successor to the clouds’ poorer cousin in terms of revenue, hype and adoption: PaaS. The question we need to ask is whether this constitutes an example of Hype Hopping: to effortlessly pivot to the ...
Sep. 25, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 788
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th 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 no time to wait for long dev...
Sep. 25, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 3,374
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
Sep. 25, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,564
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of So...
Sep. 25, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,342
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...
Sep. 25, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 923
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
Sep. 25, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,559
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Sep. 25, 2016 06:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,820
With the rise of Docker, Kubernetes, and other container technologies, the growth of microservices has skyrocketed among dev teams looking to innovate on a faster release cycle. This has enabled teams to finally realize their DevOps goals to ship and iterate quickly in a continuous delivery model. Why containers are growing in popularity is no surprise — they’re extremely easy to spin up or down, but come with an unforeseen issue. However, without the right foresight, DevOps and IT teams may lo...
Sep. 25, 2016 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 910
As applications are promoted from the development environment to the CI or the QA environment and then into the production environment, it is very common for the configuration settings to be changed as the code is promoted. For example, the settings for the database connection pools are typically lower in development environment than the QA/Load Testing environment. The primary reason for the existence of the configuration setting differences is to enhance application performance. However, occas...
Sep. 25, 2016 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 690
When scaling agile / Scrum, we invariable run into the alignment vs autonomy problem. In short: you cannot have autonomous self directing teams if they have no clue in what direction they should go, or even shorter: Alignment breeds autonomy. But how do we create alignment? and what tools can we use to quickly evaluate if what we want to do is part of the mission or better left out? Niel Nickolaisen created the Purpose Alignment model and I use it with innovation labs in large enterprises to de...
Sep. 25, 2016 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,232
SYS-CON Events announced today that Numerex Corp, a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT), will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Numerex Corp. (NASDAQ:NMRX) is a leading provider of managed enterprise solutions enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). The Company's solutions produce new revenue streams or create operating...
Sep. 25, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,942
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Sep. 25, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,046
While DevOps promises a better and tighter integration among an organization’s development and operation teams and transforms an application life cycle into a continual deployment, Chef and Azure together provides a speedy, cost-effective and highly scalable vehicle for realizing the business values of this transformation. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, a Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, will present a unique opportunity to witness how Chef and Azure work tog...
Sep. 25, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,625
Throughout history, various leaders have risen up and tried to unify the world by conquest. Fortunately, none of their plans have succeeded. The world goes on just fine with each country ruling itself; no single ruler is necessary. That’s how it is with the container platform ecosystem, as well. There’s no need for one all-powerful, all-encompassing container platform. Think about any other technology sector out there – there are always multiple solutions in every space. The same goes for conta...
Sep. 24, 2016 08:30 PM EDT Reads: 933
Let's recap what we learned from the previous chapters in the series: episode 1 and episode 2. We learned that a good rollback mechanism cannot be designed without having an intimate knowledge of the application architecture, the nature of your components and their dependencies. Now that we know what we have to restore and in which order, the question is how?
Sep. 24, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,181