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Green Tech—The Future of the Data Center

t2-december-2In the past few years, there has been an incredible surge in data center construction around the world. Companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon are spending huge amounts of capital to build them in places like Singapore, Taiwan, and Tokyo. The reason for this unprecedented growth is the expanding global need for both business and personal connections.

However, the amount of energy used to operate data centers is extreme. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, data centers are “the energy hogs of the computing world,” and a study released in June 2016 found that “US data centers consumed about 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2014… representing 2 percent of the country’s total energy consumption… equivalent to the amount consumed by about 6.4 million average American homes that year.”

This type of energy consumption places huge drains on global infrastructures. Therefore, a push to develop energy-efficient data centers is at the forefront of IT concerns.

The Definition of a Green Data Center

Green data centers are those that are designed for maximum performance and efficiency, using a minimal amount of resources. Basically, that means that all of the hardware (the mechanical, electrical, and computing equipment) is arranged and operated in a way that reduces the environmental impact of the data center. There are a number of energy-saving strategies used to reduce consumption in data centers, including:

  • Low emission building materials
  • Water reuse and recycling systems (much water is required for cooling purposes in these industrial-scale facilities)
  • Alternative energy technologies (new cooling systems, photovoltaics, and innovative heating units)

Reducing energy consumption at the data center does more than help our environment; it offers OPEX reductions for the owners.

Current Data Center Condition

Over the last decade, there has been an incredible surge in the need for industrial facilities housing large amounts of server and other hardware equipment. Designed specifically for the needs of electronics, these structures require massive amounts of environmental and security controls. However, their proximity to users does determine certain latency issues. Therefore, the abundance of affordable smart devices and increasing ranges of connectivity, combined with a plethora of new “as-a-service” offerings, has generated high demand for more data centers around the world.

The fact that cloud connectivity presents a number of cost-saving and performance improvement strategies for enterprises has also contributed to data center expansion, and even the number of providers who are “born in the cloud.” According to Gartner, IT is projected to shell out nearly $1 trillion over the next five years transitioning to cloud computing services. That type of infrastructure will depend on more data centers for support.

Green Futures

Data center development has increased, and likewise the energy required for operation. The good news is that the global commitment for developing more green facilities is strong. By investing in conservation and reuse equipment, providers will be able to transfer the savings on to the end user. In addition, although the initial capital expenditure is higher than traditional construction, a green data center delivers measurable ROI and long-term reductions in operating costs.

Finding the Right Provider for a Successful Data Center Migration

shutterstock_328634297There are several steps that businesses should consider when migrating to new data centers. Following are ways to ensure that the right colocation provider is chosen prior to migrating to a new facility.

Learn How the Provider Got Started

A data center colocation provider should have a solid understanding of the industry. Reliable providers that know what they’re doing will have a long record of operating colocation data centers and will be able to demonstrate an extensive knowledge of the industry. A good provider will not have gone through the mergers and acquisitions that other less reliable providers may have experienced.

Providers should also own their own facilities rather than leasing from others, as they may charge customers more to help pay off the facility owner’s costs for additional space.

Make Sure Providers Offer Sufficient Customer Service

Dependable colocation providers usually offer on-site customer service with localized experts. They should also be able to provide a complete track record that proves the effectiveness of their response. Providers with unskilled employees and a history of too much acquisition aren’t as likely to give customers what they need.

Pick a Provider with Consistent Facility Relocation Strategies

If a provider purchases or leases another facility, it may decide to move out of a previous one, which can be inconvenient for customers that benefit from existing local facilities. To avoid this, it’s best to choose a provider that owns its own facilities and puts the needs of customers over relocation needs.

Avoid Providers that Deal with Third Parties

Another important aspect to consider is the use of third parties for multiple capabilities. For example, a provider may partner with another company for network connectivity. If that partnership falls through, customers will need to turn to a different provider for network connectivity. To avoid this headache, it’s ideal to select a provider that offers both network connectivity and facility resources in a bundle on its own, helping to guarantee that dissolved partnerships won’t negatively affect customers.

Check for Vulnerability to Outages and Other Risks

Another element that can devastate data centers is the tendency to experience outages. Customers can suffer from severe loss of revenue if outages are frequent and last long enough. To prevent this issue, make sure providers experience minimal outages by looking at their history. A good provider will also remain transparent about any history of security breaches, fires, and other aspects of their company such as its environmental footprint. Providers with few issues are likely to help customers benefit from effective procedures and innovative systems.

With these elements in mind, businesses can better determine which data center colocation provider is right for them.

Important Considerations When Setting up a Data Center

shutterstock_388249231The requirements for storage and handling of business data have changed rapidly and dramatically over the past decade, and the amount of data and the number of ways in which businesses need to interact with it will continue to increase. This is why data centers are becoming a more vital part of business strategy every day. The decisions made when implementing a data center can mean the difference between success and failure. Following are some issues to keep in mind when setting up a data center.

​Location

There are two location options available for data centers: in-house or off-site. The need to lower costs and increase reliability and security is quickly turning the in-house data center into a thing of the past. Unless a business has specific needs that can only be met by having its data center on-site, there is really no reason to take on the equipment, setup, and maintenance costs that go along with it.

​Reliability

When selecting an off-site data center, make sure to consider the provider’s track record and infrastructure with regard to power supply, networking, and geographic location – both in terms of how likely natural disasters are to affect the data, and how easy it is for IT staff to physically visit and inspect the site. Ask about a service level agreement (SLA) and guaranteed uptime, keeping in mind that 99.999% uptime is an industry standard.

Security

In addition to the standard questions about point to point encryption, firewalls, and other software-based security measures, make sure to look into the physical security employed by off-site data centers. All the network security in the world won’t help if it is easy to gain physical access to a company’s data.

Network Capacity

In addition to looking at current bandwidth needs when setting up data centers, consider future needs based on growth projections. Further, be aware of the possibility of changing needs due to increased functionality.

​Scalability

As the business grows, downsizes, or shifts from one market to another, how easy would it be to make changes to the data center? It is important that data centers are as responsive as possible to accommodate changing needs.

Backup

One of the key components of a data center is data backup. If disaster strikes, are there copies of the data? How many iterations are kept? Are backups stored at a separate physical location?

Every business has its own unique needs that must be taken into consideration. Contact us for more specific advice on how to account for your business’s data center requirements.