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BLOG: Taking a modular approach to managing data centre lifecycles

Peter Adcock | Nov. 18, 2013
A modular approach provides you with flexibility and efficiency for existing and future data centre needs.

As the demand for cloud services, virtualisation, and big data analytics snowballs in Asia Pacific, so does the demand for data centres and their services. In Digital Realty's 2013 study of the Asia Pacific data centre market, we found that 83 percent of the IT decision-makers surveyed, plan to expand their data centres before the end of 2014.

However, despite the growth in data centre demand, lifecycle management has not received much attention in what has otherwise become a well-discussed, dynamic industry. Very few customers want to talk about the issue, even though nearly every enterprise has to manage this problem at some point. In our experience, the end-of-life issue is one that customers struggle with the most. As enterprises plan to expand their data centres, particularly in Asia, it is necessary for them to consider the proper lifecycle management of their facilities.

Taking a long-term view

Rather than taking a reactive approach, we encourage customers to take a long-term view about data centre lifecycle management and to confront, head-on, questions that should be asked in the pre-sales or planning stages. Do you have a production data centre that's near the end of its life? Is there a plan in place? Do you have a solution? Moving forward, how do you plan to extend your data centre lifecycle?

The traditional technology- and design-centric approach to data centre lifecycle management is increasingly evolving into a more lifecycle-centric approach. Here, the focus is on long-term continuous improvement. This requires a more flexible, efficient view of data centre expansion or building new facilities, where key considerations include how the data centre may need to change in the future.

A modular approach

One solution, particularly for existing 'old' data centres, is to take a modular approach to lifecycle management. Using this modular approach, companies can shut down a section of its system, and change the tiering or technology, without interrupting the entire network. By doing this, customers are able to avoid shutting down completely to reconfigure the entire system, therefore reducing downtime.

The modular approach to lifecycle management also generates savings for enterprises when relating to energy efficiency. By building in modules that only allow organisations to use what they need, companies can reduce the underuse of facilities, better manage their Power Usage Efficiency (PUE) and save money by operating an under-capacity data centre.

Using the lifecycle approach, while planning a data centre expansion, means considering capacity planning and design to reduce power waste. Designing data centre space with energy efficiency in mind gives companies greater confidence that they won't need to worry about losing efficiency as their data centres progress through their lifecycle.

Adopting a long-term view of data centre lifecycle management means planning for the data centre you will need sometime, instead of just the data centre you need now. Taking a modular approach to building data centres provides  you with both flexibility and efficiency, not just for existing data centre needs, but also to accommodate future requirements.


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