Designing the perfect data center

A data center is the technological hub of modern enterprise operations. The data center provides the critical IT infrastructure needed to deliver resources and services to business employees, partners and customers around the globe. The sheer scale involved in enterprise computing demands a large dedicated space that is carefully designed to support the space, power, cooling, management, reliability and security needs of the IT infrastructure.

There are two principal aspects to any data center: the facility, and the IT infrastructure that resides within the facility. The facility is the physical building used for the data center. Although almost any space has the potential to operate some amount of IT infrastructure, a properly designed facility considers the following array of factors:

Space – There must be sufficient floor space to hold all the IT infrastructure that the business intends to deploy now and in the future. The space must be located on a well-considered site with affordable taxes and access. The space is often subdivided to accommodate different purposes or use types.

Power – There must be adequate power to operate all the IT infrastructure. Power must be affordable, clean and reliable. Renewable and supplemental/auxiliary power must be included.

Cooling – The enormous amount of power delivered to a data center is converted into computing and a lot of heat, which must be removed from the IT infrastructure using cooling technologies.

Security – The data center must include controlled access using a variety of tactics, ranging from employee badge access to video surveillance.

Management – Modern data centers typically incorporate a building management system (BMS) designed to help IT and business leaders oversee the data center environment in real time, including oversight of temperature, humidity, power and cooling levels, as well as access and security logging.

An infrastructure represents the vast array of IT gear deployed within the facility. This is the equipment that runs applications and provides services to the business and its users. A typical IT infrastructure includes the following components:

Servers – These computers host enterprise applications and perform computing tasks.

Storage – Subsystems, such as disk arrays, are used to store and protect application and business data.

Networking – The gear needed to create a business network includes switches, firewalls and other cybersecurity elements.

Cables – Miles of wires interconnect IT gear and other gear within the facility space.

Backup power – Uninterruptible power supply (UPS), flywheel and other emergency power systems are critical to guarantee orderly infrastructure behavior in the event of a main power disruption.

Management platforms – One or more data center infrastructure management (DCIM) platforms are needed to oversee and manage the IT infrastructure reporting on system health, availability, capacity and configuration.

The most common feature of any data center layout is the metal frame with standard spacing and mounting options intended to hold standardized IT gear, such as servers, storage subsystems, networking gear, cabling, auxiliary power systems such as UPS devices, and I/O options such as keyboards and monitors for administrative access.

There are numerous perpetual challenges faced by data center designers.

Scalability – Designers must consider ways of handling today’s workloads and services, while also considering how those resources should scale well into the future. The challenge is in providing room for growth in space, power and cooling while mitigating the costs of such capacity until it’s needed.

Flexibility – Equipment is put into place but can be almost impossible to move and change as demands evolve. An inability to move gear and shift aisles can prevent businesses from adapting and changing to meet new business demands.

Resilience – Power disruptions, network disruptions, environmental catastrophes and acts of malice can take down a data center. Designers face the challenge of understanding the most prevalent threats and designing appropriate resilience to meet those threats.

Change – New computing technologies and new requirements are always being developed and introduced. Data center designers must consider how to adapt and incorporate often-unforeseeable changes without the need to fundamentally redesign the IT infrastructure.

Data centers are a strategic asset to continuously process an enormous amount of data with low latency for telecom operators. Hyperscale providers continue to spend billions every year on building and expanding the footprint of their global data centers to cater to the high demand for cloud services. Many telecom players are finding that using the public cloud in many ways provides benefits to embrace and is not a threat to their business.

Glow’s role

Here at Glow, we are experts when it comes to the planning of network architecture, storage and compute, disaster recovery, compliance and documentation. We design modern data center architecture taking into consideration current needs as well as future requirements, resulting in happy clients who become our brand ambassadors. A little planning goes a long way!

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