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The cloud is scalable but are data centres?

Darren Lee, Segment Leader – Mission Critical (Asia Pacific), Cummins Power Generation | Oct. 20, 2015
As workloads grow heavier and more complex, data centre design must treat the scalability of physical infrastructure as a core focus, instead of taking it for granted.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Darren Lee, Cummins
Photo: Darren Lee

Southeast Asia's explosive rate of growth has been underpinned by the region's quick adoption of the latest technological trends, enabling it to leapfrog other regions in terms of developmental milestones. A recent McKinsey report identified five key disruptive technologies that it estimated would potentially produce US$220 billion to US$625 billion in annual economic impact for Southeast Asia by 2030: the mobile Internet, big data, the Internet of things, the automation of knowledge work, and cloud technology. Most of these trends, with the exception of the automation of knowledge work, require massive amounts of data, which has led to an accelerating demand for data centres.

Fortunately, one of the greatest advantages of cloud computing, which is the backbone of the other trends identified, is its scalability — the ability to allow businesses to provision new workloads with the flick of a switch. Such virtual agility has allowed data centres to keep pace with demand, but business leaders now need to take into account the physical aspects of data centre design as well. As workloads grow heavier and more complex, data centre design must treat the scalability of physical infrastructure as a core focus, instead of taking it for granted.

Space efficiency is increasingly important
The McKinsey report also estimated that the growth and development of the cities themselves in Southeast Asia would drive US$7 trillion of investment in infrastructure, housing, and commercial space. The Singapore government's drive to make the country the world's first Smart Nation through a nationwide array of sensors is one such initiative, aiming to improve the lives of its citizens through data collection and analysis. In this manner, city development often increases the demand for data centres, but at the same time increasingly dense cities means that there is less space than ever for physical infrastructure. Indeed, retail colocation space pricing in the Asia Pacific region is already 2.75 times higher than that of U.S. pricing, making it more essential than ever that business leaders design their data centres with space efficiency in mind while leaving room to grow.

Modularity ensures scalability
At the same time, it makes little business sense to over-provision infrastructure far in excess of current needs. Instead, the physical equipment within data centres, such as racks, networks and power systems, should be designed to be modular which then allows businesses to scale up or down as necessary. Compared to the use of monolithic systems, smaller systems working in tandem also provides additional redundancy, increasing the reliability of the whole data centre.

 

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