Data Center Design – Looking Forward to the Next Decade

Predicting the evolution of IT hardware has proven elusive beyond about 5 years. Fortunately, relatively inexpensive IT hardware is typically exchanged within 3 to 4 years, but the center infrastructure is orders of magnitude more expensive and should be a focus of data center design. Here’s 4 critical factors to consider when planning your new center.

Power Consumption Is the Driving Force

Data centers use roughly 2% of global energy output. For large operations, data center design is about obtaining affordable power. The largest centers are built around generating electricity, which has allowed companies like Apple, Google and Amazon to invest heavily in energy independence so they can hyperscale as needed.

Your Next Consideration is Cooling

With legacy hardware, the biggest energy sink was cooling. This is gradually changing, as solid-state storage and other technologies have reached critical mass. Not only far more energy efficient, they are much faster and require less cooling. And many data centers are being built around the free cooling concept or using geothermal cooling when available.  

Data Theft Can Only Be Mitigated, Not Blocked

Heartbleed and Spectre/Meltdown have convinced the hardest skeptics that data theft will happen. Careful strategies should be built into data center design to both increase security and mitigate damage when a breach has happened. DDoS, SQL injection and CSRF attacks happen daily, and all must be carefully planned for during design.

Hardware Convergence Is Rapidly Evolving

As PFMs and system-on-a-chip become the norm, edge computing will play a greater role. Both will reduce the computational, power and cooling demands on the center while reducing required space. Docker containers and CaaS help reallocate hardware on an as-needed basis for maximum server utilization.

Most IT professionals have long experience with what works in data centers and what doesn’t. However, an IT implementation specialist must be consulted when designing a new center. They’ll have the greatest knowledge about trends in infrastructure, where a very minor change can have massive long-term consequences. Look for a consultant with long experience designing both large and small data centers who is also very active, so you know they are current.  

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