The Challenges of Data Center Virtualization

Virtualization brings the potential to deliver dramatic savings in terms of server count, footprint, power consumption and cooling requirements for data centers. For all its advantages though, virtualization also brings some unique challenges:

  • Overall power consumption will be lower, but highly variable.
  • There will be fewer servers, but each one will be more critical than ever.
  • Applications can be dynamically reallocated at will, but the support infrastructure cannot do the same.
  • The data center footprint will be smaller, but overall efficiency might still be suboptimal.

The good news is that there are practical and affordable ways to address these challenges and improve data center efficiency in the process. This paper from Eaton in the Data Center Knowledge White Paper Library looks at some of the power-related challenges and technologies that can address them.

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About the Author

Kevin Normandeau, is a veteran of the technology publishing industry having worked at a variety of technology sites including PC World; AOL Computing; Network World; and International Data Group (IDG). Kevin lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons. When he is not in front of the computer (which is most of the time) he likes to get out to ski, hike and mountain bike.

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  1. Glen Seimetz

    Virtualization can deliver impressive cost savings, especially virtualized environments hosted on new blade server technology. But to sustain expected savings, proper maintenance of your operating environment is imperative. Data centers were built with a life cycle of 10+ years without the knowledge of high density IT equipment (such as blade servers) that consume more power per square foot and generate more heat. With virtualization, savings of 40-80 percent are possible. But you need to ensure that you have the infrastructure ready to support high density IT equipment. We recommend a number of steps to improve power and cooling efficiency for highly dense blade servers: • Organize the IT equipment into a hot and cold aisle floor design • Position it so that you can control the airflow between the hot and cold aisles and prevent hot air from re-circulating back to the IT equipment cooling intakes • Leverage low-cost supplemental cooling options— such as water or refrigerant heat exchangers • Improve rack cooling efficiency by employing a rear door heat exchanger or an enclosed racking system to dissipate heat from high-density computer systems before it enters the room • Ensure that floor openings match the equipment thermal load by adding or removing perforated tiles at the equipment air intakes • Consider adding ducted returns Ultimately, you should consider organizing your Data Center into thermal zones. Assign a defined set of IT equipment and floor space to specific Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units. This type of space and thermal planning will eliminate hot spots that challenge cooling systems and will enhance system reliability by helping to avoid heat-related hardware failures to your blade servers.

  2. Data center convergence is definitely going to be the next big thing as the processing speed increase and true network & storage convergence & virtualization are realized. One such solution I came across was the "All-in-One" server, storage, switch & router convergence and virtualization by a company called Fractioned. I thought it might be interesting route down the road to data center convergence. (