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Minimise physical space usage with virtualisation

Jack Loo | July 23, 2013
Virtualisation is an important element of Resorts World Sentosa’s server and desktop strategy

Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) CIO Yap Chee Yuen only had a small space allocated for his data centre during the construction phase of the integrated resorts more than three years ago.

In fact, Yap estimates that his data centre only took up less than 0.1 percent of the 49-hectare development that is located on the island of Sentosa south of Singapore.

"As with any other business entity, most of the floor area will typically be given to revenue-generating entities first and then allocated to the rest, in that sense, the data centre has to compete for space," says Yap who is also Executive Vice President, Corporate Services, at Resorts World Sentosa.

A survey on data centres in the region by Datacenter Dynamics published in the first quarter of this year indicates that the average size of data centres is 1,235 sq m. In comparison, the data centre space in Resorts World Sentosa takes up less than half of that measurement.

The challenge for Yap and his team was to design a data centre that maximises server housing capacity, and in the meantime, keep floor space usage at a minimum.

One solution involved having higher racks for slots in more servers. At seven feet high, an average server rack can accommodate 42 units of server equipment, and the industry term is 42U. The racks in Resorts World Sentosa are of the 52U standard.

"Our racks are 10 percent higher than normal so that you can put more servers into the racks," says Yap. "At the same time, we have open frames because when you have doors to the rack, it will have to take up space so therefore we remove the door," he adds.

To help save further space, data patch panels on cable baskets are placed above the server racks, instead of the usual practice of being installed within the racks. Instead of the standard static UPS, the IT team deployed an UPS system that had alternate power sources including flywheel-based technology. This method does not require an air conditioning environment, thus saving energy costs.

Virtual Servers

Another method employed by Yap's team to better utilise data centre space is virtualisation technology. "In order to minimise and optimise the space that we have, virtualisation is one of the key principles and strategies that we need to do for this project," says Yap.

Six hundred out of the 1000 servers in Resorts World Sentosa are virtual servers running on VMware's ESX server virtualisation platform, allowing the IT team to optimise the use of physical space and help reduce energy consumption.

According to Yap, his data centre has 10 virtual servers running on one ESX server. This means a server consolidation ration of 10 to one, says Matt Hardman, Senior Product Manager for Cloud Infrastructure Solutions, ASEAN & India, VMware.

 

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