Friday, August 10, 2012

Cloud Computing and Data Center Facilities Design

During the early days of data center design and management, facilities teams were able to run their own environments with only minimal interaction with other IT teams. Over the past few years, however, the sitution has been changed.

Impacts of Cloud

The effects of the cloud take numerous forms. When it comes to data center design and management, cloud computing can be a truly powerful tool. Consider the following:

  • Datacenter consolidation. With advancements in virtualization, IT facilities managers can now reduce the amount of physical data center resources that are directly in use. This means fewer servers and better resource utilization. This reduction in data center space can result in more intelligent computing and better cost management.

  • Monitoring and management. As a direct result of cloud computing, new monitoring and management tools have made the modern data center easier to control. Monitoring features are able to look at metrics such as workload balancing, server environmental statistics and even check for alerts and alarms. Working in a distributed environment settings has created the direct need for better management software. Facilities managers should take this into consideration and see how cloud-ready tools can help their environment.

  • Reconsidering HVAC. With a reduction in the physical footprint as a result of cloud computing and virtualization, facilities administrators are able to create a more efficient environment with better cooling and management practices. With cloud computing, there will be new requirements as far as how much environmental control will be required. This can be either a positive or negative, depending on the cloud approach. If a private cloud is being built onsite with new, integrated architecture, there may actually be a need for more cooling requirements, even if the footprint is less. On the other hand, offloading a cloud platform to a public provider can result in less cooling and power needs.

  • Disaster Recovery. A big benefit of cloud computing is the ability to replicate an entire data center to a remote facility (or numerous remote facilities). The other major consideration is the fact that these cloud-based DR data centers can be provisioned on demand with a pay-as-you-go model. This means facilities administrators won’t have to worry about their remote infrastructure until the time comes for a DR event. Of course, testing and constant monitoring of the secondary environment is always key.

  • On-demand computing. Instead of having systems being in a state of always on – facilities and IT teams can coordinate to ensure that a portion of that infrastructure is cloud-ready and provisioned only on demand. This means fewer data center components and less idle machines. More environments are looking to cloud providers to help them offload certain types of workloads and better their physical data center efficiencies.

  • Data management and warehousing. The conversation around “big data” is growing. More environments are seeking answers and solutions to how they can better manage their ever expanding database needs. Many times this means adding more shelves to a SAN and storing yet more data onsite. With cloud computing, facilities managers can leverage outside, WAN-based resources, to host some of their data needs. This means possible offloading or archiving massive amounts of data for quick retrieval, but making it all cloud-based.

  • Decentralizing the data center. Resiliency, redundancy and efficiency are always at the top of any facilities person’s list. A part of that process is to reduce single points of failure within a data center as well as making data more quickly to the end-user. With cloud computing, facilities can extend their environment and utilize more resources on-demand. This decentralized methodology can help offload hardware from an existing data center, create a more redundant system, and ensure that data can be placed closer to the end-user.

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