Companies are designing server environments with significantly more electrical capacities than before. Major data centers I worked on 10 years ago involved 50 or 60 watts per square foot, today they have 200 watts and more.
Fortunately, during the past decade there have been efforts across the data center industry to develop more efficient designs. Metrics have been created to evaluate how server environments consume energy, water and other resources, and there are several tools on the market for data center operators to monitor and manage their infrastructure.
Several design and operations best practices have emerged, too, to make data centers greener. Modern designs incorporate higher voltage power distribution, outside air for cooling and isolated hot- and cold-aisle containment and many other strategies to optimize energy efficiency.
What are some of the features a modern data center can’t do without?
A reliable standby infrastructure system to ensure high availability. Monitoring tools to manage system efficiency. Flexible infrastructure to accommodate technology changes in the future. The green best practices I just mentioned, such as isolated airflow distribution. Security measures and change controls to protect hardware and applications from intentional threats and accidental downtime.
Virtualization and unified computing are important, too. People might not think of those as data center design elements, but they have a big influence on a room. You increase CPU utilization and get more computing done through fewer devices, which reduces energy consumption and can allow you to dramatically streamline your infrastructure.
What start-up advice would you give to an organization interested in building a small data center?
Plan ahead. Whatever your initial requirements are for data center space, power and cooling they’ll increase over time. You’ll want to have strategies in place to accommodate future demand.
Understand how you want to use your data center, too. Do you need a highly available, lights-out room that few people enter and where changes rarely occur? Or do you need a dynamic environment where hardware is frequently swapped out and changes happens all the time? Those very different operationally, and you’ll want to design the data center appropriately.
Also, build the room to be as flexible as possible. New technology is going to come along and you want your data center to be adaptable.
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