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Gathering data centre forces an opportunity for change: Gartner

Gathering data centre forces an opportunity for change: Gartner

IT managers should start planning for green IT, Cloud now says analyst

Better design, Green IT, high density environments and Cloud computing will help to shrink the data centre by 2018 according to a new report from analyst firm, Gartner.

The report, entitled Shrinking Data Centres, suggested that data centre managers would need to plan for environmental efficiencies that were not present in older data centres.

Gartner US chief of research for infrastructure, David Cappuccio, said in a statement that these factors would have an impact on data centre costs, size and life span.

“In the world of IT everything has a cascade effect and in data centres the traditional methods of design no longer work without understanding the outside forces outlined above, that will have an impact on data centre costs, size and longevity,” he said.

However, these influences could be used by data centre managers to design and plan for the future as well as apply better design, reduce capital cost and increase long term scale.

According to Cappuccio, the traditional method of designing data centres dated back to the mainframe era of the 1980s and '90s.

Due to high costs, many mainframes were targeted for average performance in the mid-90 per cent range during production time slots.

"As a result, there was minimal variation in the operating temperature or power consumption during long periods of time,” he said.

Different demands on mechanical and electrical systems such as workload mix meant new designs were needed.

“Zones within the data centre might employ directed cold air, or even in-rack cooling to support very high density workloads with minimal disruption, or impact, on the rest of the floor,” he said.

Green IT concerns, such as the Labor Government’s proposed carbon tax in Australia, mean there was more attention being paid to energy consumption in data centres.

Cappuccio said the development of power utilisation efficiency (PuE) by international consortium the Green Grid has gained ground in the market.

“Many new data centres are being developed with specific PuE targets in mind for the energy-efficiency advantages and the public relations impact,” he said.

The pressure of Green IT and design changes mean data centre managers and designers need to focus on space, as Cappuccio said most data centres are woefully under utilised in terms of compute space.

“The physical floor space may be nearing capacity, but in many cases the actual compute space within racks and servers is very poorly used, with average rack densities approaching just 60 per cent worldwide,” he said.

However, optimal rack density can mean 85 to 90 percent on average while the advent of private Cloud environments and resource pooling would provide methods to enhance vertical scalability in the data centre.

Cloud computing could also be used to aid data centre shrinkage, said Cappuccio, such as moving workloads to a Cloud provider.

“This is not new – many companies use collocation facilities as an overflow mechanism. However, with collocation the compute resource is still owned and managed by the application owner,” he said.

Shifting services to the cloud meant ownership and management of IT assets could be outsourced to the provider.

All these factors mean only core business functions would remain in the primary data centre and the analyst firm is predicting that by 2018, data centre space requirements would shrink to 40 per cent of what they are now.

“The focus of these data centres will be on core business services and as those services continue to demand more IT resources, the shrinking size of servers and storage (and telecom equipment will more than offset that growth,” said Cappuccico.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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