Marc Cram is Director of Sales for Server Technology, a brand of Legrand.
Editor's Note: Part 1 in this series focused on Macro Trends: How They Impact Data Center Managers. In Part 2, Server Technology’s Marc Cram reviews the Top 10 concerns of data center managers - as outlined in a recent article by Steve Gillaspy of Intel - and discusses the role that power infrastructure plays in mitigating those effects.
According to Gillaspy, here are the top 10 concerns of data center managers:
- “Future proofing” the design of a data center to accommodate changing hardware and application requirements that scale over time without forcing frequent “rip and replace”.
- Figuring out how to facilitate the automation of the data center to minimize both headcount and downtime.
- Creating a data center that can be run as hot as possible in the hot aisle, but still be accessible for people to enter to work on the equipment while in operation.
Installation and Configuration
- Provisioning hardware for new applications can take days or weeks, and may require numerous specialists.
- Virtualized and containerized environments rarely exceed 50 percent average utilization, and non-virtualized data centers run at 20-30 percent.
- Interoperability across equipment and management software from different software vendors is often problematical, limiting functionality and programmability.
- Maintaining security from external bad actors seeking to disrupt or disable the data center operation.
Upgrade and Retrofit
- CPU upgrades often require replacement of an entire server chassis and all the resources in the server, retiring storage, power supplies, fans, and network adapters sooner than necessary.
- Identifying where there is available power capacity within a circuit or rack to accommodate new hardware.
- Technicians in the data center can be slowed by the current requisition, deployment, validation, and provisioning processes when hardware fails.
Mitigating the Pain Points
The concept of “Software-Defined Everything” (SDE) is one of the most talked-about trends in the evolution of data center design philosophy. “Software-defined networking (SDN), software-defined storage (SDS), and software-defined data center are part of a general movement towards infrastructure that decouples the bare metal that executes point data transactions from the software layer that orchestrates them.”
Rather than the individual elements of compute, storage, and networking, SDE treats infrastructure as a set of resources that are joined together through software and tailored to a specific workload. “Composable infrastructure” and “rack scale design (disaggregated server architecture)” are two approaches to achieving SDE in the data center and go a long way toward addressing many of the previously stated pain points.
SDE assumes that all hardware is on and always available. For those data centers that want to go another step on the SDE journey, taking hardware offline (powered off) when not in use, implementing a high density, remotely managed power distribution unit within the IT rack provides another level of composability and control. By deploying Switched PDUs and Smart PDUs with high outlet density and a mix of C13 and C19 outlets, physical hardware changes in the rack can easily be accommodated.
Choosing suppliers that can bring together racks, PDUs, cable management, cooling, cabling and containment all with short lead times enable the data center designer and manager to make last second decisions in how to finish equipping the data center, helping to avoid the “rip and replace” problem experienced with buying the wrong gear too early in the provisioning process.
How High Density Outlet PDUs Help Data Center Managers
A few years ago intelligent rack PDUs were introduced to support mass customization of outlet configuration, power density, feature set, and colorization. The high density outlet technology rack PDUs with alternating phase, which alternate the phased power on a per-outlet basis instead of a per-branch basis, were a breakthrough in convenience, speed, flexibility, and simplicity for the data center market. With just a few standard enclosure sizes, high density outlet PDUs can accommodate a variety of modules having different outlet configurations and feature sets (like remotely monitored outlets, remotely managed/switched outlets, alternating-phase outlets, etc.).
These intelligent high density outlet PDU offerings typically also include:
Self-service configure-to-order – data center managers can choose the PDU from factor, input voltage, input amperage, outlet count, outlet type, feature set and PDU color banding that can be ordered and shipped in volume in 10 days, giving the data center manager the flexibility to build your own PDU and to have it delivered in short lead times.
Zero touch provisioning – enabling thousands of PDUs to be brought up and configured for networked operation in minutes instead of days.
Remote power management and measurement – enabling the data center manager to use software to quickly and easily identify available power capacity within the rack, the row, or the entire data center, all from a single pane of glass - ideal for software companies with developers and data centers in different geographies, IT labs where server lockup is frequent, “lights-out” hyperscale data centers that avoid having manpower in the data center until absolutely necessary, edge data centers located in the field far away from IT personnel, and enterprises that desire to have scheduling of IT asset availability.
Having multiple outlet modules in a high density outlet PDU also means that the PDU can be specified with extra C19 outlets for the bottom half of the rack, while putting more C13s in place for the top of the rack if needed. With thousands of possible configurations, the data center manager truly can have each unit be exactly what is needed for a given rack. In those cases where new hardware technologies and new workloads are frequently being brought into the data center, having a rack-level power plan based on the high density outlet PDU technology makes good sense for the data center manager.
Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.
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