Special Report: Breathing life into datacentres

Demand for 24/7 availability places new demands on datacentre availability

Cloud and related services such as colocation and managed data centres are leading to the general reduction of enterprise data centres.
Cloud and related services such as colocation and managed data centres are leading to the general reduction of enterprise data centres.

These are heady days for enterprise data centres as various trends converge that will have a tremendous impact on the way data centres are built and managed.

The growth in smart device populations, social networks and other rapidly diversifying applications that now generate terabytes of data has driven data centre architectures to undergo a profound transformation.

Legacy infrastructures, typically built upon multiple hardware and software products from numerous vendors, have become increasingly stretched and inefficient. Each product needs its own interface and user training while being overprovisioned with its own compute and storage components, observed Ashraf Yehia, managing director, Eaton Middle East.

The importance of ensuring business continuity is becoming a growing necessity for companies in every sector.

Optimising power management is crucial in today’s high availability environments

Optimising power management is crucial in today’s high availability environments, where unplanned outages or line quality irregularities can have a detrimental effect on IT applications. Organisations need a robust intelligent power management strategy to fully leverage the benefits of modern IT architectures, drive efficiency and minimise risk to business continuity, Yehia said.

Distributed power architectures that place UPSs in the white space can increase the scalability, availability and flexibility of cloud computing and colocation data centres while lowering capital expenditures. To avail those benefits, however, companies must choose UPSs designed to reduce TCO, boost deployment flexibility and streamline management.

“Though previously unavailable, products with all those qualities have finally reached market. Cloud and colocation vendors with centralised power schemes should therefore investigate switching to distributed power, while providers already using distributed power should consider implementing newer, more efficient white space UPSs,” said Yehia.

Eaton´s Intelligent Power Manager (IPM) software, for example, can be integrated into the most popular virtual machine management systems, including VMware vCenter, Microsoft SCVMM and Citrix XenCenter, giving IT managers a unified supervisory and control environment encompassing both the data and power infrastructures.

A data management strategy must be complemented by a power management policy of equal quality, Eaton's Yehia said.

During utility failures or environmental events, affected IT devices can be shut down gracefully and automatically, saving work in progress and preserving data integrity. Virtual machines can also be migrated to other locations or failover sites. The IPM has an intelligent load shedding feature which can suspend non-critical virtual machines, increasing system uptime while extending battery runtime and minimising the generator load, Yehia said.

“Today’s advanced hyper-converged technology facilitates responsive, cost-effective solutions to demanding and mission-critical IT challenges. Yet for data centres to reliably meet their users’ expectations, even under adverse or disaster situations, their data management strategy must be complemented by a power management policy of equal quality,” Yehia said.

Although energy use is not necessarily a key concern in the region, many data centre customers are investigating energy efficient products which can reduce operational expense by 30-40%. These technologies include server containment systems, and high-performance fibre optic infrastructure, explained Bassel AlHalabi.

AlHalabi is the Middle East and Africa managing director of Trident Technology Services, a sales and marketing representative for manufacturers in areas of networking, infrastructure and IoT.


Eaton datacentre overview

Cloud

Cloud is undoubtedly the most important recent development in the data centres space.

That said, there’s no one-size-fits-all for cloud. How organisations choose to interact with cloud will depend on the corporate compute requirement. For example, a teaching hospital may need to maintain the vast majority of its compute resource in-house and use the cloud as a gateway for data communications and records storage. Whereas an organisation with a mobile workforce can utilise colocation or owned Edge data centres to maintain compute resource where the workers need it, in the region, AlHalabi said.

The major cloud service providers (Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba, etc) will become key players in the Middle East and Africa region

The major cloud service providers (Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba, etc) will become key players in the Middle East and Africa region, AlHalabi observes. A number of them are planning sites in the region and Microsoft has recently launched its Azure and Office 365 services in UAE. “As these services expand across the region enterprise data centres will out-source those corporate applications and new artificial intelligence services that are soon to follow. This will reduce the compute requirement of the enterprise data centre deploying those app-based tasks to Edge or colocation data centres,” AlHalabi adds.

Cloud and related services such as colocation and managed data centres are leading to general shrinking of enterprise data centres.

“It is inevitable that the enterprise data centre footprint will continue to shrink,” said AlHalabi. “This is a positive. As server technology create faster, smaller processors, the density of compute power increases dramatically,” AlHalabi observed.

“High-performance fibre-optic cable is available and allows higher bandwidth and faster data speeds across reduced space spine and leaf network architectures. Key components across the data centre are shrinking and becoming more efficient, in hyperscale and high-efficiency colocation sites utilising OCP (open compute project) reference designs are benefiting from reduced device complexity and reduced costs and format, whilst increasing effectiveness of the systems,” AlHalabi added.

 “We see the demand driver for colocation as the services and applications coming online in our region. ‘XaaS’ (everything as a service) on subscription allows customers to use what they need, when it is required,” said AlHalabi.

It is inevitable that the enterprise data centre footprint will continue to shrink, said AlHalabi.

Edge data centres

Colocation contracts combined with edge capabilities in the region will increase the efficiency available to the enterprise, allowing more agile businesses to gain real advantages in the market.

Enterprises moving from owned to SLA contracts can help drive the sustainability agenda, whilst reducing their own carbon footprint, said AlHalabi.

A number of key demands for edge data centres are response speed and low latency capability which are essential for applications at the edge, observes AlHalabi. “5G rollout will be a massive boost to the development of applications that require super-fast data speeds and high bandwidth to achieve the performance that customers will demand. Edge networks must be highly secure and provide high levels of data integrity,” he said.

“Edge is the architecture of digitalisation and offers the capability to create value from data flows through network-based connectivity. It will allow smart analysis of data to implement machine decision making and operational optimisation, required by applications such as autonomous vehicles, or delivery drones, among many others,” AlHalabi added.

The IT market is being driven in part by disruptions caused by a push to get everything connected and to cater for the market and moving towards edge data centres. Companies can adopt modular data centres because of various business needs. It can be a solution for disaster recovery, temporary need for extended resources or a permanent solution, Yehia explained.

“The trend, however, tends not to replace the traditional design and build projects, rather complement them and address a new and different segment of the market,” he added.

Eaton recently launched a range of modular UPS systems designed to scale with the load. The 9PXM range features online double-conversion technology, promises a 94% efficiency rating at full load and Eaton it delivers the lowest total cost of ownership in the 4-20 kVA range.

“From edge data centres and colocation facilities to commercial and industrial facilities, IT managers need versatile backup power that meets their businesses’ unique requirements,” Yehia concluded.

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