Andy Huxtable is with Colocation Product Management at CenturyLink Technology Solutions EMEA.
CenturyLink Technology Sol'ns
Ask not what your data centre can do for you, but what you can do for your data centre.
Naturally, the data centre industry is a big user of energy, so those of us who work within the industry need to do all we can to maximise energy efficiency. However, colocation providers simply provide the IT compute power required by their customers and without this demand, data centres would require no power. Therefore it’s essential that customers understand the positive impact they can have on improving these multi-tenanted environments.
Service providers make huge investments in time and money into designing complex energy efficient data centres to create the perfect home for an enterprise class IT operation. Further investments are made in the creation of robust processes, and the training that goes with them, to ensure 100 percent availability of energy efficient power and cooling is delivered to the data centre floor. However, with colocation, maintaining energy efficiency becomes the responsibility of the customer from this point onwards.
How the IT load is set up and maintained on the DC floor has a big impact on energy efficiency and is greatly impacted by human factors, such as the right people doing the right job, adherence and knowledge of DC best practices and following good operational process and procedures. As a provider of data centre space, one has the responsibility for making sure everyone within its data centre knows what they can do to be a good citizen.
This involves helping customers get maximum efficiency from their equipment in order to help maintain PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) and drive down operating costs - savings which can ultimately be passed onto all customers.
Small Things Add Up
From the simplest things, such as positioning of equipment in racks to maintaining hot and cold aisle integrity to best practice procedures when cabling up servers so as not to impede airflow, and the use of blanking plates, these are all investments which providers need to make with each customer at a granular level so as to help drive efficiency on the ground. Multiply that one server by 1,000 and it’s actually quite a lot of airflow that has been increased by small and important attention to detail.
Customers should be helped at every level and in deliberate detail rather than given the go ahead to run off and do their own thing, which can sometimes be to the detriment of fellow data centre citizens.
Data centre management is a complex task that requires specialized skills across a wide number of domains, such as security, power distribution, networking and hardware and software management. The experience of the on-site data centre staff can significantly improve the level of support on offer, so the best providers have skilled staff in all key data centre capabilities, and do not simply react to vendor staff who come in to service the data centre systems. Engineers and technicians who are highly trained and certified, with extensive experience in data centre management should provide dependable advice and guidance that result in improved uptime. Providers that offer managed hosting and cloud services are often better suited to help with colocation needs, as their data centre staff are trained and experienced in supporting complex environments.
Standard, documented processes and practices should be in place for all data centre activities, such as maintenance and change management, as standardisation drives better performance all round.
The Devil Is In The Details
Choosing a provider that can give access to data centre design experts in the initial development stages of suite design can greatly improve energy efficiency by ensuring the use of optimal rack design and structure cabling systems. A good provider will deliver these complimentary, as standard; helping reduce power consumption by using good green IT principles, which is a benefit to all. A great provider will continue to support the customer way beyond the design phase and into the full life cycle of their contract term. Designs, technologies and even staff may need to change over time but the need for applying industry best practices will never go away.
Data Centres: A Hub For All
Data centres aren't just a hub of compute activity, rather they are a hub for human intelligence.
Attention to detail in order to foster good citizenship goes right down to the fundamentals. Client staff will spend significant time at the data centre and therefore office workspaces, lounges and conference rooms need to be suitable for employees to connect laptops or take conference calls. These are not just amenities; they are vital in providing a working, comfortable environment to keep staff productive and engaged.
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