Data centre managers need to plan and create the 'infinite data centre' as demand for computing and storage capacity soars, according to analyst firm Gartner.
But organisations that plan well can adjust to this rapid growth without having to increase data floor space, cooling or power levels to realise a substantial competitive advantage, Gartner said.
Gartner research vice president David Carpuccio said the first mistake managers make is basing their estimate on what they already have, extrapolating out future space needs according to historical growth patterns.
"This seemingly logical approach is based on two flawed assumptions: that the existing floor space is already being used properly and usable space is purely horizontal," he said.
To ensure maximum efficiency, data centre growth and capacity should be viewed in terms of computing capacity per square foot, or per kilowatt, rather than a simple measure of floor space, according to Gartner.
As an example, a fairly typical small datacentre of 40 server racks at 60 percent capacity, housing 520 physical servers and growing in computing capacity at 15 percent each year, would require four times as much floor space in 10 years.
Carpuccio said with conventional thinking and the fear of hot spots at the fore, these 40 racks, or 1,200 square feet of floor space, becomes nearly 5,000 square feet in just 10 years, with associated costs.
"A data centre manager who rethinks his organisation's floor plans, cooling and server refreshes can house the increased computing capacity in the original floor space, and help meet growing business needs indefinitely," he said.
"We will witness small data centre environments with significant computing growth rates maintaining exactly the same footprint for the next 15 to 20 years."
In this scenario, Gartner recommends upgrading the existing server base to thinner 1U (one unit) height servers or even sleeveless servers, while increasing rack capacity to 90 per cent on average by using innovative floor-size designs and modern cooling methods, such as rear door heat exchanger cooling (RDHx), to mitigate concerns over hot spots.
Implementing an RHDx system can also reduce the overall power consumption of a data centre by more than 40 per cent, since high volumes of forced air are no longer required to cool the equipment.
The evolution of cloud computing adoption will also provide relief.
As the technology becomes more established, an increasing proportion of data centre functions will migrate to specialist or hybrid cloud providers.
This further increases the likelihood of an organization making use of the same datacentre space in the future, generating significant cost savings and competitive business advantages.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.