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Design Lifecycle: Leading Edge vs Current Practice

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This is the fifth article in a series on DCK Executive Guide to Data Center Designs.

One of the design issues facing data center operators is the projected life cycle of the facility, and the ability of its infrastructure systems to be upgraded in order to feasibly and cost effectively extend its long term viability. The data center is evolving at a much faster pace over the last several years, especially when compared to the pace of change over the previous 35 years. Designs and systems that were once considered as Leading Edge can become the new normal State-of-the-Art reliable modern facilities, with a good long life cycle, if they have been well planned and have solid technical underpinnings. One such example is the use of “fresh air free cooling”, which would have been seen at unthinkable less than 10 years ago is becoming more common (see part 3 Energy Efficiency).

The Software Defined Data Center

IT systems have moved to virtualize every aspect of the IT landscape; i.e. the Virtual Server, Storage and Network. The next step is the virtualization of the data center – the “Virtual Data Center” which is a term that has begun to appear along with “Software Defined Data Center.”

While this sounds a bit fanciful, it does not mean that the physical walls and rows of racks of the data center will literally move or morph with the click of mouse. However, it refers to the concept that all the key IT components (servers, storage and networking) will be fully virtualized and transcend the underlying limitations of a physical data center. This does not mean the physical data center will cease to exist, but it does imply that the new data centers must be able to be ready and be flexible enough to accommodate more changes in IT hardware designs and their new requirements. Virtualization has helped improve availability and resource allocation and effectiveness, yet in many cases the physical facility designs have not necessarily reflected the changes that can result by a fully virtualized IT architecture.

The complete Data Center Knowledge Executive Guide on Data Center Design is available in PDF complements of Digital Realty. Click here to download.

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