|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.
In the rush to compete in the digital age, a successful digital transformation is essential, but many organizations are setting themselves up for failure. There’s a common misconception that the process is just about technology, but it’s not. It’s about your business. It shouldn’t be treated as an isolated IT project; it should be driven by business needs with the committed involvement of a range of stakeholders.
May. 29, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,641
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
May. 29, 2016 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,285
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
May. 29, 2016 06:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,938
When I talk about driving innovation with self-organizing teams, I emphasize that such self-organization includes expecting the participants to organize their own teams, give themselves their own goals, and determine for themselves how to measure their success. In contrast, the definition of skunkworks points out that members of such teams are “usually specially selected.” Good thing he added the word usually – because specially selecting such teams throws a wrench in the entire works, limiting...
May. 29, 2016 06:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,622
Automation is a critical component of DevOps and Continuous Delivery. This morning on #c9d9 we discussed CD Automation and how you can apply Automation to accelerate release cycles, improve quality, safety and governance? What is the difference between Automation and Orchestration? Where should you begin your journey to introduce both?
May. 29, 2016 06:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,445
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...
May. 29, 2016 05:15 AM EDT Reads: 3,269
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 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 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...
May. 29, 2016 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,243
Many banks and financial institutions are experimenting with containers in development environments, but when will they move into production? Containers are seen as the key to achieving the ultimate in information technology flexibility and agility. Containers work on both public and private clouds, and make it easy to build and deploy applications. The challenge for regulated industries is the cost and complexity of container security compliance. VM security compliance is already challenging, ...
May. 29, 2016 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,349
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will exhibit at the 18th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
May. 29, 2016 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,479
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
May. 29, 2016 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,055
Application development and delivery methods have undergone radical changes in recent years to improve scalability and resiliency. Container images are the new build and deployment artifacts that are used to ship and run software. While startups have long been comfortable experimenting with and embracing new technologies, even large enterprises are now re-architecting their software systems so that they can benefit from container-enabled micro services architectures. With the launch of DC/OS, w...
May. 29, 2016 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,489
You might already know them from theagileadmin.com, but let me introduce you to two of the leading minds in the Rugged DevOps movement: James Wickett and Ernest Mueller. Both James and Ernest are active leaders in the DevOps space, in addition to helping organize events such as DevOpsDays Austinand LASCON. Our conversation covered a lot of bases from the founding of Rugged DevOps to aligning organizational silos to lessons learned from W. Edwards Demings.
May. 29, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,514
Just last week a senior Hybris consultant shared the story of a customer engagement on which he was working. This customer had problems, serious problems. We’re talking about response times far beyond the most liberal acceptable standard. They were unable to solve the issue in their eCommerce platform – specifically Hybris. Although the eCommerce project was delivered by a system integrator / implementation partner, the vendor still gets involved when things go really wrong. After all, the vendo...
May. 28, 2016 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,513
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
May. 28, 2016 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,380
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
May. 28, 2016 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,584
While there has been much ado about interoperability, there are still no real solutions, same as last year and the year before that. The large EHR vendors who continue to dominate the market still maintain that interoperability is all but solved, still can't connect EHRs across the continuum causing frustration by providers and a disservice to patients. The ONC pays lip service to the problem, but that is about it. It is time for the healthcare industry to consider alternatives like middleware w...
May. 28, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,709
I have an article in the recently released “DZone Guide to Building and Deploying Applications on the Cloud” entitled “Fullstack Engineering in the Age of Hybrid Cloud”. In this article I discuss the need and skills of a Fullstack Engineer with relation to troubleshooting and repairing complex, distributed hybrid cloud applications. My recent experiences with troubleshooting issues with my Docker WordPress container only reinforce the details I wrote about in this piece. Without my comprehensive...
May. 28, 2016 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,954
SYS-CON Events announced today BZ Media LLC has been named “Media 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. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and Commercial Drone markets.
May. 28, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,651
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...
May. 28, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,368
SYS-CON Events announced today the Docker Meets Kubernetes – Intro into the Kubernetes World, being held June 9, 2016, in conjunction with 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Register for 'Docker Meets Kubernetes Workshop' Here! This workshop led by Sebastian Scheele, co-founder of Loodse, introduces participants to Kubernetes (container orchestration). Through a combination of instructor-led presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on labs, participants learn ...
May. 28, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,013