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Microsoft has found itself in something of a conundrum with its data centers in Ireland. It received the necessary build permits, but now, notification comes from the country’s electric utility, EirGrid, that Microsoft might need to generate some of its own power until an upgrade to the power system in the Dublin area is completed. Evidently, Redmond doesn’t want any dead time, so it’s heeding that advice.
The story comes by way of The Irish Independent, which reports that Microsoft will be installing 16 gas-powered generators to provide up to 18 megawatts of electricity to one of its data centers, enough juice to power about 18,000 homes. A company spokesman has said that the generators will only provide temporary power to the center “if necessary.”
Related: Microsoft Moves Away from Data Center Containers
The Grange Castle Business Park in suburban Clondalkin, about 5 miles or so west of Dublin, is already home to four Microsoft data centers, as well as data centers operated by Google, Interxion, and others. Last year, Redmond received approval to build four more at the location, at an estimated cost of $1.08 billion.
Other large US-based companies operate data centers in the Dublin area as well, most notably Amazon.
Related: Latest Microsoft Data Center Design Gets Close to Unity PUE
“Space at Grange Castle Business Park is in high demand from international business customers,” the Irish

 

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As a massive clean-up effort continues in Texas from Hurricane Harvey—expected to be the second most costly storm in the US behind Hurricane Katrina with total losses between $45 billion and $65 billion—residents and businesses, including data center operators, in Florida are bracing for yet another cruel blow by Mother Nature.
Now a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 175 mph, Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida late this weekend after ramming the Leeward Islands in the West Indies, according to the National Weather Service. The Caribbean and all of the Sunshine State are now under a state of emergency.
Related: Harvey: Hurricane Preparation Tips for Data Center Managers
Forecasters fear the worst, saying total losses from Irma could exceed those suffered at the hands of Katrina.
Only time will tell if data centers in Florida come out as unscathed as those in Texas. While more than 100,000 homes and businesses in the Houston area lost power as a result of Hurricane Harvey, torrential downpours and flooding, data centers in the area did not get flooded and were largely spared major utility power interruptions.
Related: After Days at Work, Houston Data Center Staff Finally Went Home
While one of the major data center providers, CyrusOne, switched to on-site generator power at one point, that appeared to be the only adjustment needed by the four companies with data centers in the area.
Equinix, Data Foundry, Digital

 

With October marking Energy Awareness Month and with World Energy Day having taken place on October 22, energy efficiency is at the forefront of many data center managers’ minds. Although it’s an important consideration for professionals across many industries, it…

The post Meeting the Energy-Efficiency Challenges of the Data Center appeared first on The Data Center Journal.

 

Industry Outlook is a regular Data Center Journal Q&A series that presents expert views on market trends, technologies and other issues relevant to data centers and IT. This week, Industry Outlook asks Patrick Donovan about lithium-ion batteries and their potential…

The post Industry Outlook: Lithium-Ion Batteries in the Data Center appeared first on The Data Center Journal.

 

Microsoft has dished out about $6 million for a chunk of land in West Des Moines, Iowa, for its next data center build-out.

The post Report: Microsoft Buys 100 Acres of Iowa Land for Data Center appeared first on Web Hosting Talk.

 

Microsoft has dished out about $6 million for a chunk of land in West Des Moines, Iowa, for its next data center build-out.

The post Report: Microsoft Buys 100 Acres of Iowa Land for Data Center appeared first on Web Hosting Talk.

 

If you think that headline is far-fetched, think again. According to more than 800 data center professionals from around the world, that’s where we’re headed.

This spring, Emerson Network Power set out to capture the industry’s vision of the data center ecosystem in the year 2025. In addition to the overwhelming global response to the Data Center 2025 survey, experts from across the industry checked in to provide context and perspective. The results are presented in Data Center 2025: Exploring the Possibilities, which covers the future of data centers—from size to technologies to staffing and management.

In many cases, the results surprised us. Although we don’t agree with the predictions in every case, the optimism of the industry is encouraging. The feedback, viewed collectively, indicates most in the field remain bullish on the data center industry and on continued innovation in the IT space and beyond.

data center

Respondents fell into three categories, technologically speaking: conservatives, moderates and progressives. While the respondents differed in rates of change, there is broad alignment on the direction of change pointing to a very different data center environment in 2025.

The progressives, as you’d expect, envisioned the most dramatic departure from the data center we know today. Making up roughly a quarter of all participants, progressives envision data centers that are much more energy efficient than those of today and as much as 90 percent smaller. These data centers would be self-optimizing and self-healing and would be supported by a robust cloud computing infrastructure that delivers 81 percent of necessary computing and storage capacity. Thirty percent of the power they consume would come from renewable sources.

Looking at averages among all three groups, the picture remains dramatic in many areas.

After a long plateau, density will spike drastically: Rack densities have been relatively flat since peaking around 6 kW nearly a decade ago, but the experts predict average density in 2025 will climb to 52 kW per rack. That would radically change the physical environment of the data center, even if the density rise is only half of what the survey projected.

Big changes in how data centers are powered: The experts believe a mix of sources will provide electrical power to data centers, and 65 percent believe that the largest hyperscale facilities will be powered by private generation. Solar will lead, with the expectation that it will account for 21 percent of data center power (versus 1 percent of power generated in the U.S. today), followed by a nearly equal mix of nuclear, natural gas and wind. Asia Pacific and Latin America were more optimistic than the U.S. and Europe on the potential for solar energy, with each of those regions predicting 25 percent of power coming from solar. Western Europe (18 percent) and the U.S. (15 percent) projected lower use of solar. It’s clear that the respondents are counting on significant technological advancements to drive these types of gains.

Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) will play a prominent role: Twenty-nine percent of experts anticipate comprehensive visibility across all systems and layers, whereas 43 percent expect data centers to be self-healing and self-optimizing. Taken together, that would indicate nearly three-quarters of the experts believe some level of DCIM will be deployed in 2025—significantly higher than most current estimates of DCIM adoption. Asia Pacific and Latin America were the most bullish about the possibilities in this regard, with about half of respondents predicting an evolution to self-healing data centers.

data centerUtilization rates will be higher: Increased visibility is expected to lead to more-efficient performance overall, as most industry experts expect IT resource utilization rates to be at least 60 percent in 2025. The average projection is 70 percent. That compares with estimated averages today as low as 6–12 percent, with best practices somewhere between 30 and 50 percent.

Established talent will be in short supply: Nearly 50 percent of the 241 U.S. respondents don’t see themselves in the industry in 2025. The U.S. stands to take the biggest hit from retirement, with 37 percent of professionals expecting to retire by 2025. This drain of experience and institutional knowledge creates a significant management dilemma, increasing the need for automation as well as training.

Other findings were less dramatic.

Cloud forecasts are somewhat conservative: Industry experts predict two-thirds of data center computing will be done in the cloud in 2025. That’s actually a fairly conservative estimate. According to Cisco’s Global Cloud Index, cloud workloads represent around 46 percent of current total data center workloads, and will reach 63 percent by 2017.

Efficiency will improve: A significant majority (64 percent) believe it will require less energy in 2025 to produce the same level of data center computing performance available today. This is surprising only in the sense that the number isn’t higher, especially when you consider that 84 percent of survey participants believe data center infrastructure equipment will become more efficient, and 67 percent believe IT equipment will become more efficient. It seems likely that some participants were answering this question about relative energy consumption in terms of total energy consumption.

Looking at the overall landscape, the middle-size tier of data centers seems to be thinning out, while more mega data centers are emerging along with small, possibly specialized data centers on the network’s edge, closer to users.

“The data center of 2025 certainly won’t be one data center. The analogy I like to use is to transport,” said Andy Lawrence, vice president of Datacenter Technologies and Eco-efficient IT at 451 Research. “On the road, we see sports cars and family cars; we see buses and we see trucks. They have different kinds of engines, different types of seating and different characteristics in terms of energy consumption and reliability. We are going to see something similar to that in the data center world. In fact that is already happening, and I expect it to continue.”

Learn More

The complete report, “Data Center 2025: Exploring the Possibilities,” as well as expert videos from across the industry and a mechanism to share your thoughts is available at www.EmersonNetworkPower.com/DataCenter2025.

About the Author

data centerSteve Hassell is president of Emerson Network Power’s Data Center Solutions business in North America, where he is responsible for delivering integrated solutions across facilities and IT in the data center. Previously, Steve was the president of the Avocent business of Emerson Network Power after Emerson acquired Avocent Corporation in January 2010. He successfully integrated Avocent into Emerson Network Power, commercialized the Trellis platform for real-time, dynamic optimization of the data center infrastructure and positioned Emerson Network Power as the number-one data center infrastructure management (DCIM) global solution provider. Steve joined Emerson in February 2004 as Emerson’s vice president and chief information officer.

The post Will the Data Center of the Future Be Covered in Solar Panels Powering 52 kW Racks? appeared first on The Data Center Journal.

 

Where exactly are data centers going in the next few years? The rise of the cloud and the ubiquity of high-powered computing is rapidly increasing the volume of data being processed by networks and IT systems.

The data center has become critical to the efficient operation of the modern enterprise.  Internal projects, external applications, user data and everything else are now entrusted to data centers. Increasing reliance on the cloud, by both consumers and businesses, and the continued expansion of the Internet has bought with it fresh challenges for data centers and the staff that manage them.

From provisioning to cooling, the data center today has to deal with issues faster, while also doing more on less hardware. Virtualization and blade servers are allowing data centers to squeeze more and more processing power into racks, but at the same time driving up the requirements for energy and cooling.

From software-defined networks (SDNs) to big data, the data center will need to rise to the occasion of a number of challenges in 2014 and beyond.

1. Maintaining Legacy Systems

Although certain technologies continue to drive data centers forward, problems may remain with legacy systems, potentially adding more complexity to an already complex infrastructure. The forerunners to enterprise data centers—storage, compute and network layers—are still seeing growth, meaning IT teams face the prospect of managing new and legacy systems in tandem.

2. Energy Efficiency

Regulations and the need to become energy efficient are driving companies to find new and innovative ways of controlling costs and power use. For instance, some companies are building facilities in areas where electricity is cheaper or even where climates are cooler, as Google’s recent $608 million investment in a data center in Finland demonstrates.

3. Outsource or On-Premise?

Outsourcing to the cloud has driven businesses to give their data to others. Though outsourcing is on the rise, concerns surrounding privacy and security are strong enough reasons to keep company data behind bricks and mortar. The rise of the modular data center may entice businesses to deploy scalable solutions closer to customers. Speed should always be a priority, and being able to deploy one hop from customers can give businesses far more flexibility than being stuck at six hops.

4. Cloud Services

Amazon’s cloud platform has led IT managers to look at hardware as no longer the physical restraint that it once was. Instead, they view it as a platform that can be rapidly deployed and then used more effectively through virtualization. This shift has led to hardware vendors having to differentiate themselves on services and extras, as the hardware has increasingly become a commodity—which can only be a good thing for data center teams.

5. Software-Defined Data Centers

The shift from hardware to software-defined systems has made the data center more business focused than ever. The CIO is now becoming a key component of any business strategy as technology drives companies to focus more on using technology to meet their needs.

It’s too early to tell if software-defined data centers (SDDCs) will be the ubiquitous architecture of the future. Critics dismiss it as marketing talk; advocates see it as the final frontier for IT provisioning.

A true SDDC will be autonomous, able to offload workloads effectively and able to deal with failures to minimize service downtime. The hardware will still be there, but it will be used in new ways as virtualization of all layers allows for more control and higher agility and streamlines the SDDC around business strategies.

Although “software defined” may have an uncertain future, it’s still important to understand where it may lead and to act on the changes if they happen.

6. Big Data

Software-defined networks will help make big data a reality, allowing companies to collect, analyze and act on data faster than ever, placing the data center at the very heart of the long-term strategy and goals of the business.

7. Standards and System Integration

Widespread adoption of the cloud will require industry virtualization standards across not only the network virtualization but also storage, if it comes into fruition. There are currently a few competitors in the space, however OpenStack appears to be a front runner and has support by major vendors—Cisco and HP, to name a few. Given more industry standards in place and enhanced compatibility between systems, data centers will be able to benefit from deeper system integration and improved efficiency.

One thing for certain is that the future of the data center lies in having closer ties with business goals, in efficiency, consolidation and the power of the software-defined future. Removing the physical limitations implied by hardware and allowing software to define networks is a clear step in the direction of future data centers.

About the Author

Brian King is digital marketing manager at Opsview, a leading network monitoring company.

Image courtesy of Acoustic Dimensions under a Creative Commons license

The post From SDNs to Big Data—7 Challenges Facing the Data Center in 2014 appeared first on The Data Center Journal.

 

Internet-connected devices like smartphones and laptops have expanded our capabilities and enabled us to work more remotely than ever before. In many ways, we’re no longer tethered to old IT devices and practices. But the decentralized, cloud-based tools that have transformed the way we work pose new security challenges that didn’t exist when data was under close watch within a data center.

 

It seems logical that simpler would equate to easier in all situations. In the data center, however, oversimplifying a task may actually lead to failure. For example, if the facilities staff focuses only on power, cooling and air movers for the site, and IT focuses primarily on server workloads, it is impossible for either team to optimize energy efficiency in the data center. As a result, IT and facilities are often challenging each other. IT needs to build out the data center to keep up with user demand, and the facilities team is being told to get site power costs under control, among a host of other objectives.

Fortunately, emerging technology solutions and approaches are bridging the gap between systems and site management. Armed with the right tools, both organizations can collaborate and tackle the complex challenges relating to energy allocation and optimization.

Visibility: Helping Both IT and Facilities See the Big Picture

Keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) solutions are nothing new for IT teams, and although they have been essential to IT services, the classical solutions hamper cable management, increase power consumption and require specialized training/maintenance. To provide the value and reduce these issues, KVM implementations have come a long way from the first attempts at simplifying endpoint deployment and management by using embedded firmware and software solutions, thereby making it possible to introduce virtual KVM capabilities without adding a layer of hardware to the infrastructure.

As it relates to energy management, the latest KVM solutions enable an expanded feature set for IT asset monitoring, as well as potential for integration into data center infrastructure management (DCIM) consoles and platforms. These capabilities provide what the IT operator needs in a way that reduces the impact to data center operations.

Best-in-class KVM solutions support today’s extensive range of intelligent endpoints that can include kiosks, video surveillance systems and a broad range of other specialized servers. The migration away from hardware KVM switches has made it easier to keep up with connectivity standards, with firmware-based KVM features embedded in many servers, and firmware downloads replacing more-costly hardware upgrades.

In essence, the latest KVM implementations have turned this category of network and system tools into a versatile window into the data center. IT and facilities can more easily use the new KVM solutions to monitor distributed assets and optimize infrastructure and data center operation. As a result of the enhanced feature sets and advanced integration with DCIM, a KVM solution can appeal to the IT and facilities teams by giving them a common platform for negotiating energy policies that work for both and therefore for the organization or business as a whole.

Tackling Connectivity

The emergence of software-based KVM solutions takes simplicity—and therefore cost of ownership—a step further. The software designs make it possible to deploy virtual KVM solutions. This latest evolution in the KVM world is also yielding solutions with greatly expanded monitoring options, including viewing user-defined groups of blades, servers or racks. Software implementations offer the easiest upgrade path, with the ability to quickly roll out support for future interface standards and devices through software patches.

Versatile Enough to Bridge the Gap in the Data Center

Centralized monitoring of individual and groups of servers, from anywhere, makes virtual KVM technology a valuable resource for both IT and facilities. IT, in particular, can benefit from the ability to access and control more than one server at a time, and both teams will gain deeper understanding of asset-usage patterns over time. With cross-vendor support, the centralized monitoring also saves time and enables much higher levels of task automation.

Because it offers benefits to both IT and facilities, virtual KVM technology creates an opportunity to bring the two teams together. Ignoring the opportunity means that energy costs may continue to create contention and conflicts between these teams. Alternatively, it is relatively straightforward to move to a single monitoring solution that better equips both sides of the house to do their own jobs and collaboratively improve energy efficiency in the data center. The new virtual KVM technology does not require ripping and replacing existing KVM hardware, and capabilities can be introduced gradually.

To get started, look for a virtual KVM solution with broad server-vendor support, and carry out a trial to evaluate how increased visibility and control over servers can reduce overall site utility costs, or allow for increased data center workloads without increasing energy costs. The right solution should be able to pay for itself surprisingly quickly, and that will definitely please both IT and facilities—and their management teams.

About the Author

data centerJeff S. Klaus is the general manager of Data Center Manager (DCM) and Virtual Gateway Solutions at Intel Corporation, where his team is pioneering power, thermal and access-management middleware solutions.

Image courtest of Dell’s Official Flickr Page

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