|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.
As the software delivery industry continues to evolve and mature, the challenge of managing the growing list of the tools and processes becomes more daunting every day. Today, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) platforms are proving most valuable by providing the governance, management and coordination for every stage of development, deployment and release. Recently, I spoke with Madison Moore at SD Times about the changing market and where ALM is headed.
May. 1, 2016 08:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,496
Struggling to keep up with increasing application demand? Learn how Platform as a Service (PaaS) can streamline application development processes and make resource management easy.
May. 1, 2016 08:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,079
If there is anything we have learned by now, is that every business paves their own unique path for releasing software- every pipeline, implementation and practices are a bit different, and DevOps comes in all shapes and sizes. Software delivery practices are often comprised of set of several complementing (or even competing) methodologies – such as leveraging Agile, DevOps and even a mix of ITIL, to create the combination that’s most suitable for your organization and that maximize your busines...
May. 1, 2016 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,835
The goal of any tech business worth its salt is to provide the best product or service to its clients in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. This is just as true in the development of software products as it is in other product design services. Microservices, an app architecture style that leans mostly on independent, self-contained programs, are quickly becoming the new norm, so to speak. With this change comes a declining reliance on older SOAs like COBRA, a push toward more s...
May. 1, 2016 06:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,372
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, 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. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
May. 1, 2016 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,139
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, 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. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
May. 1, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,569
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, 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. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
May. 1, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,323
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
May. 1, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,491
Digital means customer preferences and behavior are driving enterprise technology decisions to be sure, but let’s not forget our employees. After all, when we say customer, we mean customer writ large, including partners, supply chain participants, and yes, those salaried denizens whose daily labor forms the cornerstone of the enterprise. While your customers bask in the warm rays of your digital efforts, are your employees toiling away in the dark recesses of your enterprise, pecking data into...
May. 1, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,047
Wow, if you ever wanted to learn about Rugged DevOps (some call it DevSecOps), sit down for a spell with Shannon Lietz, Ian Allison and Scott Kennedy from Intuit. We discussed a number of important topics including internal war games, culture hacking, gamification of Rugged DevOps and starting as a small team. There are 100 gold nuggets in this conversation for novices and experts alike.
May. 1, 2016 06:45 AM EDT Reads: 641
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics 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. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
May. 1, 2016 06:30 AM EDT Reads: 2,500
With DevOps becoming more well-known and established practice in nearly every industry that delivers software, it is important to continually reassess its efficacy. This week’s top 10 includes a discussion on how the quick uptake of DevOps adoption in the enterprise has posed some serious challenges. Additionally, organizations who have taken the DevOps plunge must find ways to find, hire and keep their DevOps talent in order to keep the machine running smoothly.
May. 1, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,411
Call it DevOps or not, if you are concerned about releasing more code faster and at a higher quality, the resulting software delivery chain and process will look and smell like DevOps. But for existing development teams, no matter what the velocity objective is, getting from here to there is not something that can be done without a plan. Moving your release cadence from months to weeks is not just about learning Agile practices and getting some automation tools. It involves people, tooling and ...
May. 1, 2016 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,513
Between the mockups and specs produced by analysts, and resulting applications built by developers, there exists a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral, and applications disappoint. Methodologies like Agile attempt to address this with intensified communication, with partial success but many limitations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Charles Kendrick, CTO & Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a revolutionary model enabled by new technologies. Learn how business and devel...
May. 1, 2016 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,743
The notion of customer journeys, of course, are central to the digital marketer’s playbook. Clearly, enterprises should focus their digital efforts on such journeys, as they represent customer interactions over time. But making customer journeys the centerpiece of the enterprise architecture, however, leaves more questions than answers. The challenge arises when EAs consider the context of the customer journey in the overall architecture as well as the architectural elements that make up each...
May. 1, 2016 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,966
Much of the discussion around cloud DevOps focuses on the speed with which companies need to get new code into production. This focus is important – because in an increasingly digital marketplace, new code enables new value propositions. New code is also often essential for maintaining competitive parity with market innovators. But new code doesn’t just have to deliver the functionality the business requires. It also has to behave well because the behavior of code in the cloud affects performan...
May. 1, 2016 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,403
In 2006, Martin Fowler posted his now famous essay on Continuous Integration. Looking back, what seemed revolutionary, radical or just plain crazy is now common, pedestrian and "just what you do." I love it. Back then, building and releasing software was a real pain. Integration was something you did at the end, after code complete, and we didn't know how long it would take. Some people may recall how we, as an industry, spent a massive amount of time integrating code from one team with another...
May. 1, 2016 12:15 AM EDT Reads: 809
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
Apr. 30, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,732
I had the opportunity to catch up with Chris Corriere - DevOps Engineer at AutoTrader - to talk about his experiences in the realm of Rugged DevOps. We discussed automation, culture and collaboration, and which thought leaders he is following. Chris Corriere: Hey, I'm Chris Corriere. I'm a DevOps Engineer AutoTrader. Derek Weeks: Today we're going to talk about Rugged DevOps. It's a subject that's gaining a lot of traction in the community but not a lot of people are really familiar with wh...
Apr. 30, 2016 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,584
APIs have taken the world by storm in recent years. The use of APIs has gone beyond just traditional "software" companies, to companies and organizations across industries using APIs to share information and power their applications. For some organizations, APIs are the biggest revenue drivers. For example, Salesforce generates nearly 50% of annual revenue through APIs. In other cases, APIs can increase a business's footprint and initiate collaboration. Netflix, for example, reported over 5 bi...
Apr. 29, 2016 09:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,575