How Data Center Providers Have Become Cloud Leaders

In creating a data center platform ready for the cloud, administrators must take a few important details into consideration

Bill Kleyman

September 7, 2015

6 Min Read
Network cables
(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The cloud obviously lives in the data center. In today’s ever-changing IT environment, more emphasis is being placed on the data center. In fact, almost all new technologies being deployed today require a place to reside. This location is the data center. It’s no wonder that the modern data center is being referred to as the data center of everything. In using advanced data center technologies your organizations would literally have a secure slice of the cloud to manage and control.

Although the workload is considered to be cloud-based, there is still a very real physical point to all of that information. In creating a data center platform ready for the cloud, administrators must take a few important details into consideration.

  • Physical resource allocation. When the need is established, admins are able to provision physical gear into their cloud environment. Even when working with third-party providers, IT managers must know how much resource allocation has to happen. In a robust infrastructure, administrators know the capacity of each server and its ability to handle a given workload. These administrators are able to proactively load-balance users to servers with less loads to continue operating optimally. As more resources are required, the environment should be able to handle users above its designed capacity as a form of failover. If an emergency happens, other servers must be able to handle the load of a failed host. This type of planning revolves around good visibility into the cloud environment.

  • Using the right data center components. Cloud computing is built around efficiency, agility and high levels of scalability. This means that the data center tasked with hosting a cloud model must have the right components to support this type of dynamic environment. As mentioned earlier in the section, having the right tools in place to facilitate future user growth as well as physical resource usage are a must. Furthermore, there are specific data center components which must be deployed to help cloud-ready data centers stay agile.

    • High-density equipment. Cloud computing is built around high-density, multi-tenancy technologies. Here is the important point of clarification: this doesn’t only revolve around storage or server technologies. High-density technologies now span the entire data center stack all the way to the rack. The only way to support a cloud model is to have the right type of power going into the rack environment. There will be cases where data center consolidation and cloud deployments require the use of numerous blade chassis. Although much more dense, these systems require a lot more power. At the rack level, the last thing an administrator would want is to run out of power before they run out of space. This means that high-density power solutions must be in place within the data center to support the modern cloud.

    • Cooling efficiency. Reliance around the data center means that more technologies will be placed within this type of platform. The data center already houses many core systems which are vital to an organization. As more systems find their way into the data center environment, IT managers will be tasked with increasing cooling efficiency. This means controlling hot/cold aisles and ensuring optimal air flow and circulation. The PUE metric has become a solid gauge to data center efficiency and many proactive data center environments are actively striving to approach the 1.0 mark. With greater cooling efficiency, cloud-ready data centers are able to reduce operation costs and improve infrastructure resiliency.

    • Power management. Yes, power efficiency is important. Plus, optimizing power utilization throughout the entire data center cuts costs and improves on power management. However, earlier discussions focused on power management and control. In this case, having power redundancy at the entire data center level is a must. As more core components are deployed within the data center, colocation tenants are requiring multiple sources of power. In data center colocation, power density and availability have emerged as critical requirements. Power densities found in data centers five years ago can no longer meet the needs of high capacity servers and storage devices which are necessary for effective cloud computing. In addition, the availability architecture has changed dramatically. Traditionally, many data centers focused on the number of backup or spare devices in the power delivery architecture. You would see N designs where N is the number of devices needed. Today there are 2N designs which provide two active devices, N+1 with one spare and N+2 with two spares. These state of the art solutions combine 2N feeds is Kingionsnsight into his capacity requirements going forward. for what you use and robust branch circuit monitoring so the cuand N+2 infrastructure into a design known as 2N+2.

    • Lots of bandwidth. Cloud computing is all about WAN utilization. Even with high levels of compression and data load-balancing, the modern cloud-ready colocation data center must have a lot of available bandwidth. In fact, this may mean providing multiple circuits from different carriers. These multiple lines not only increase WAN availability for the tenant, it allows for greater levels of redundancy. Cloud data centers are now hosting vital workloads which are being constantly presented via the WAN. This means that there must be the absolute highest levels of availability at all levels.

  • Physical security. Security at the logical layer is an extremely important part of any cloud deployment. However, the equipment and location at which the infrastructure is housed must have high levels of physical security as well. Since the cloud and all of the components within that infrastructure are absolutely vital, organizations looking for a cloud-ready colocation data center must insist on strong in-house security practices. In analyzing a good security model, consider the following:

    • In-house security staff. Having an in-house security team (not outsourced) ensures that those employees have the data center’s security needs in mind. Armed guards and a full security staff should be a consideration in the decision process.

    • Multi-factor identification and authorization. Ensuring the safety of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment will require ID checks, biometrics, and other forms of identification measures.

    • Layered security zones. Layered security zones ensure that there is redundancy in the security policy as well. Entry points, floors, and access to customer cages all represent layers of security. Some data centers have gone so far as to build a building within a building for maximum security.

    • Camera and security systems monitor the 360-degree data center picture. Truly secure environments will fully prohibit any public access. Furthermore, environments which are not 24x7x365 secure should be pushed down on the consideration list. Look for advanced security measures including state-of-the-art camera systems, bollards, fencing, and security all the way from the roof to the parking lots.

    • Advanced security certifications. Some colocation providers are taking the next step in securing their infrastructure by obtaining advanced certification and audit metrics. For a security-minded organization, look for these certifications:

      • PCI DSS 2.0 Provider

      • SSAE 16 Audited

      • ISO 27002

The reliance around the data center of everything is only going to grow. More technologies and use-cases are being deployed within the data center model and cloud computing is only helping push this growth. The cloud-ready data center is built around high levels of efficiency and utilization. Not only do they house some of the most advanced technologies currently available, they are tasked with having new levels of visibility and management. This is where having the right management model for your cloud data center is crucial.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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