Data Center: Stages of a Great Life

    Today we decided to pay attention to the topic of the “life cycle” of data centers, to talk about what it is and how to properly manage it allows companies to reduce not only current but also capital costs. Given the current trends in the implementation of ever new solutions (including hyperconverged systems) and services, significant difficulties in this process can be associated with changing and adapting the physical infrastructure of data centers.

    The life cycle of the data center includes a phased process for the development of engineering infrastructure in accordance with the tasks of the business and IT processes and can be divided into several stages:

    1. Preparatory : understanding of the goals of creation, formation of a solution concept, site selection;
    2. Designin accordance with the chosen concept and characteristics of the site;
    3. Construction ;
    4. Operation ;
    5. Conformity assessment and performance analysis.



    Business requirements for IT services are constantly changing, and the completion of this cycle, conformity assessment helps to understand how efficiently the data center can solve current problems, and whether it is able to cope with new ones, is it ready for growth. This is followed by planning for completion or modernization of the site for new tasks and all subsequent stages - the circle closes.


    Design and construction


    In the Russian market, considerable competence has been accumulated in the design and construction of data centers, there are specialists with the appropriate qualifications, however, it is not always possible to complete the project in accordance with the KPI specified by the client. Already during the implementation of the project, business requirements may change and are further incorrectly formulated and reflected in the terms of reference. As a result, the construction of the site is carried out efficiently, but the main difficulty at the design stage is to understand what tasks the facility faces and how exactly the data center should be designed and equipped to meet all the requirements of the business, which is not always possible.

    Today it is required to clearly formulate the terms of reference, describing in it the correct and optimal solutions that meet the objectives of the business in the long term for at least 5-8 years. The Vendor Training Center with relevant competence can help in the training of competent specialists. So the task of the Schneider Electri c Training Center is to familiarize partners and customers with the technically complex products of the company, the features of its application, installation and operation in real conditions.
    The data center, as a rule, is not physically attached to the consumers of its services, however, it is important to consider that placing it in an unsuitable building will drastically increase the cost of the site’s infrastructure. It is worth remembering that the environment of the data center can affect its reliability.

    Typical mistakes made at the preparatory stage:

    1. Designing a data center as an office, while it is an industrial facility;
    2. Errors in the reservation of systems, components, communications;
    3. Errors in calculating the size of the allocated area for engineering systems and auxiliary rooms, with an assessment of the weight of the equipment and its dimensions, with ensuring the autonomy of the facility.

    It is important to understand the key metrics of the data center, the prospects for its development, since engineering systems must “survive” 2-3 generations of IT equipment. The maintenance service is rarely involved in a project during the construction phase. Meanwhile, specialists in power supply and cooling systems should be involved at the stage of design work and be present in working groups.

    Exploitation


    No matter how well the project was thought out and correctly implemented, a lot of problems arise during the operation phase. One of them is organizational in nature and relates to the interaction between the administrative and IT department. When there is no such connection, the solution as a whole may work inefficiently or not function at all.
    In practice, administrative and business units are sometimes very far from understanding what a data center is and what are the requirements for it, and sometimes they simply become an insurmountable bureaucratic barrier, so it’s advisable to show this service the concept of building a data center at their facility, to explain the principles of work engineering systems and approximate parameters of equipment.

    The IT department may have its own internal problems. When different IT departments are responsible for different components (servers, storage, network equipment, cooling systems, etc.) and at the same time do not have clear rules and separation of responsibilities, chaos occurs on the site.


    In this case, it is easier to “move” to a new site than to carry out a deep modernization of the old one, and only then redo the existing data center without disrupting the operation of IT services operating in the new place. Another option is to rent space in a commercial data center for the period of “overhaul”. The optimal solution is chosen in each case.
    In modern data centers, as a rule, a separate team of specialists is responsible for the continuous and efficient operation of the infrastructure. To automate monitoring, management, reporting, movement management and performance monitoring, they use tools that are commonly referred to as DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management).


    The tasks of monitoring events, the state of equipment and the environment are often solved in the first place - for this, tools such as NetBotz controllers and the Data Center Expert monitoring system are used. But now the most urgent tasks are the efficient use of resources - from electricity to space in engine rooms. Timely implementation of effective regulations and control of the use of electricity can not only reduce very significant operating costs and return on investment earlier, but also plan new acquisitions or construction, taking into account assessments of the real, rather than “paper” equipment efficiency. As a platform for organizing such an approach, you can use Data Center Operation - a modular solution with a set of all the necessary functions.


    This Schneider Electric solution allows data center operators to control and more efficiently manage data centers and perform current tasks, and the integration of third-party IT services allows the exchange of relevant information between systems of different vendors, resulting in a better understanding of the performance and availability of the data center to increase its reliability and operational efficiency.

    Evaluation and optimization


    Optimization - improving the parameters of data center subsystems - requires a preliminary assessment stage — an audit, an analysis of their performance, the creation of a mathematical model of the site and the elimination of problem points based on monitoring data.
    A high-quality monitoring system, created specifically for solving data center operation problems, a system for simulating equipment operation, which allows to obtain an understandable model of data center functioning, are important tools due to which operation specialists can track the data center status in real time.

    Various improvements, such as the construction of air corridor insulation systems, the reorganization of raised floor slabs, the elimination of racks in places with improper air circulation and the subsequent reconfiguration of air conditioning systems, can reduce the data center energy consumption in real projects by 10-20%. Such optimization pays off (if we take into account only energy consumption) for 3-3.5 years.

    Another optimization effect is an improvement in the operation of cooling systems when equipment previously installed is used more efficiently , for example, it becomes possible to install more servers in a rack. “Data Center Utilization Rate” can be brought up from 70-75% to 90-95%. Such optimization pays off in about six months.

    Data analytics helpsfind a specific solution to reduce the cost of operating devices on the customer’s site, choose the most energy-efficient mode or optimize the use of resources. Or understand that the time has come for modernization.

    Modernization of the data center does not always mean the installation of new equipment and, in the first place, is an increase in the efficiency of systems and the efficiency of their use.

    An assessment of the situation helps to understand what needs to be done so that the data center works again effectively. At one of the customers, this problem was solved by creating closed cold corridors and blocking air flows where they reduced the efficiency of heat dissipation. Moreover, the work was carried out without stopping the data center systems.

    In many projects, work is carried out at the junction of the stages of operation and evaluation. Today, many customers have new IT challenges, there is an informatization, digitalization of the business, it is necessary to solve various operational problems. The help of experts at the assessment stage and the audit of the data center helps to cope with them. The Regional Application Center, created by Schneider Electric in Russia, is engaged in integrated solutions for data centers. Its main task is to create and support the sustainable and efficient functioning of the data center at all stages of its life cycle.

    Schneider Electric specialists take part in the design, construction, comprehensive testing and commissioning of facilities, in the subsequent support and modernization of the data center. At each stage, the customer is provided with fault tolerance and data center efficiency. With the growth and scale of digital technology, our solutions will help companies, providers of cloud, telecommunication services and commercial sites to look ahead with confidence.

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