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Data centre asset planning
Regaining control of the data centre
By: Quocirca
Published: March 2008
Logo for Quocirca

After years of uncontrolled growth, many data centres face a crisis as they run into space
and power constraints. While remedies exist, present business practices do not encourage the
prioritisation of power reduction within one of the most power hungry areas of a business-
the data centre

  • Operational issues have data centres at a breaking point The server sprawl that has been taking place for years is still continuing in a lot of companies, putting pressure on data centre managers who have to manage increasing numbers of servers with restricted budgets; the IT budgets of 87% of respondents are not growing in real terms.
  • Data centre management is suffering Under these pressures, data centre management is not as tight as it could be; 28% do not know the exact number of servers they have and 22% said it could take up to a day to find a server that had gone down, and another 20% taking longer than a day. In addition, space and power constraints are beginning to hit; 11% of data centres will run out of space this year, while 14% have already hit a power supply limit.
  • Organisational and human issues contribute to the problem Human factors, such as a lack of communication between different groups, contribute to the crisis. Groups such as facilities, commissioning, infrastructure etc. need to work together if the organisation is going to achieve common goals such as saving power. Organisational barriers also exist-less than one in five data centre decision makers have financial responsibility for data centre power consumption, and 55% are not even aware of what the power cost are.
  • Company executives need to act Companies need to ensure that corporate goals, such as carbon footprint reduction, are communicated to all employees and are passed on to power hungry areas of the business such as the data centre. In addition, the charging structure for power needs to be changed to incentivise the data centre to reduce power consumption.
  • IT management needs to invest in technologies that save power Power-saving approaches, including virtualisation and automation, exist in abundance but they require up-front investment before the savings can be realised. If data centres had to pay for their electricity consumption (and passed it on to the business through chargeback) it would be relatively easy to make a business case for these investments.
  • Data centre managers need to be given the proper tools to manage their domain Data centre managers need all the help they can get with managing the complex environments that exist today. They need to have a clear view of their entire server portfolio-mainframes, towers, racks and blades-as well as storage, networking gear, universal power supplies (UPS) and power distribution systems. They also need insight into the cooling capacity, electrical supply and floor space availability of the data centre. Good asset planning tools help take the guesswork out of managing IT assets and help with planning the future growth of the data centre in a controlled and optimised way. They need to be able to accurately predict when the data centre will run out of resources, whether that is space, electricity or cooling.

Conclusions

All parts of the organisation-from the board and executives through the IT Director and data centre manager to data centre operators-have a part to play in regaining full control of the power and real estate costs that are beginning to run out of control. With power costs rising sharply and increased public and corporate focus on environmental issues, such as carbon footprint, the techniques exist to tackle power inefficiencies in the data centre-it is more a question of if the will exists. The underpinning for all this is asset management tools that maintain good visibility and control of the data centre and all its assets.

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