Gauging the Length of a Data Center’s Useful Life

Gauging the Length of a Data Center’s Useful Life

Nu Skin’s challenge of designing a data center that will still be useful 20 years from now

Perhaps the single most difficult thing about building a data center is trying to forecast what the IT needs of the organization might actually be 20 years into the future.

At the Data Center World conference in National Harbor, Maryland, this September, Jim Bolinder, IT architect for Nu Skin Enterprises, a manufacturer of skin care products that are distributed in 54 countries, will describe the factors the company considered before embarking on building a data center that can be expanded to 10,000 square feet.

Like almost everybody that makes extensive use of IT to drive their business, Bolinder said Nu Skin, when it began this project in 2013, wrestled with whether to build a data center, make use of a colocation facility or move to the cloud. Ultimately, the company opted to build a data center facility for financial and logistical reasons that ideally would still be functioning 25 years down the road.

At present, Nu Skin is only using about 4,200 square feet of the raised-floor space in the facility, and given recent advances in energy efficiency across the IT infrastructure board it’s not exactly clear when Nu Skin might need to use all 10,000 square feet.

“In 2013 we were building out a data center when the first blade servers came to market,” said Bolinder. “Since then, there’s been a lot of advances in terms of … energy usage.”

Bolinder said IT organizations need to see over the horizon as much as possible to anticipate, for example, how much video might impact their future IT infrastructure needs.

Naturally, building a data center designed to still be running two decades or more from now requires a lot of educated guesswork. But without making the effort to think that far out today, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the value of data center investments being made now will diminish over time.

For more information, sign up for Data Center World National Harbor, which will convene in National Harbor, Maryland, on September 20-23, 2015, and attend Jim’s session titled “A Case Study on Nu Skin’s Innovation Center.”

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