Data centres remain an integral part of many industries’ success stories in today’s digitally on-demand world. Not only do they help organisations reduce IT infrastructure and operational costs, they also add business value to companies by ensuring that mission critical data is protected and accessible 24/7.
In the Middle East and Africa, IT infrastructure spending – comprising storage, server and enterprise networking equipment – is expected to reach $3.5bn in 2014, largely driven by data centre modernisation efforts and new data centre construction by local and international companies, according to Gartner.
In order to run a data centre efficiently and maximise its full potential, an effective infrastructure management policy and ecosystem must be put in place. For companies seeking to set up their own data centre or existing data centres looking to evaluate their operations, a few guidelines must be considered.
Each data centre has its own technical requirements and contacting a reliable ICT service provider to analyse the scope of the data centre’s needs would be a good first step. It is also crucial to assess the infrastructure that will be installed in the data centre. Make a detailed list of the equipment and technology that will be acquired and cross reference that against those of the ICT service provider.
The following concerns must also be considered when designing a data centre:
Cooling Requirements – This will largely depend on the equipment supplied for the data centre. To determine this, check the BTU Ratings (heat emission) on the datasheet of each piece of equipment as this will provide the capacity of cooling needed in the data centre. A small facility, for example, may require a contained cooling system or a wall mounted cooling unit, depending on the dimensions of the data centre or the amount of cooling required. When a contained cooling system is built, blanking panels can assist with the blocking of the air, whether it is cold or hot.
Other options may include in-row cooling units, which provide localised, more focused cooling for the rows of server cabinets that fill the data centre. Additionally, premium rack enclosures, advanced cooling, cable management and power distribution/monitoring features can also be used to keep critical servers as well as network and telecom equipment running seamlessly and continuously.
Power Backup Requirements – Calculate the total power consumption of all of the equipment to be installed in the data centre by referring to the devices’ datasheets. This will give you an idea of the ideal UPS for your data centre in the event of a power glitch. Ensure, however, that the UPS has at least 20% extra power to accommodate a growing data centre’s future capacity needs.
Redundancy or Fail-Safe Mechanism – There is a need for redundancy for purposes of backing up power, particularly in the case of mission-critical servers which must not shut down. In larger data centre environments, however, cooling might also need to have redundant systems for heat-sensitive servers.
Scalability – When planning a data centre, always allow for future growth. This involves flexible allocation for power backups, cooling systems and failover hosting.
Power Distribution– Determine how many power outlets are required per server rack and install the PDU most suitable for the application. Ensure that the PDU is manageable and accessible remotely. More advanced PDUs can shut down per port and if you know which server is connected to which port, a remote shutdown can be performed and rebooted off-site. For multi-user data centres, the most advanced PDUs can monitor power consumption per port and billing is determined by the power consumption of specific ports.
Multiple Servers – Using a KVM (Keyboard Video Mouse) switch will allow data centre managers to control multiple servers with a single console, minimising clutter on server racks. Most of the latest KVM switches have built-in KVM over IP technology which allows for secure, remote access to servers from outside the data centre.
Not all data centres are created equally, which is why it is important for data centre managers to assess their facilities’ unique requirements and capabilities so that efficiency and reliability can be guaranteed at all times.
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