Schneider Electric News
Data Center Knowledge: Modernizing and Standardizing Data Centers with Converged Infrastructure and Modular Systems
By Patrick Donovan, June 30, 2015
Patrick Donovan is Senior Research Analyst for Schneider Electric’s Data Center Science Center.
Today, data volumes have reached astronomical levels as a result of trends like the Internet of Things and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and managing this growing amount of information with traditional systems is becoming increasingly difficult. Over time, businesses have scaled their existing infrastructure to handle this data growth by adding disparate systems onto older technology, making their IT environments more complex than ever before and putting strain on data center managers. But as today’s digitally driven world demands faster and more agile access to information, these complicated systems are becoming a detriment to businesses rather than a competitive advantage. Enterprises looking to modernize their IT and the physical infrastructure supporting it should consider a more nimble and faster-to-deploy architecture using Converged Infrastructure (CI) and prefabricated, modular power and cooling systems.
Converged Infrastructure from the Perspective of Power and Cooling Infrastructure
CI rolls compute, storage and networking into a self-provisioning pool of shared resources that are often pre-engineered, pre-tested, and pre-configured before dropping into your data center. Through this “plug-and-play” deployment, critical IT infrastructure can be up and running in hours or days, not weeks or months, as with traditional builds. However, like traditional IT, converged infrastructure still needs adequate power, cooling, space, and connectivity resources in a secure, reliable and efficient manner.
CI is typically characterized by a high degree of virtualization and automated software management. Virtualization allows for the pooling of compute, I/O, and storage resources, and the pre-engineered and tested logic of CI gives rise to automation schemes that make the rapid configuration and allocation of these resources possible for wide varieties of workloads. This automated flexibility lends itself well to self-service and “pay-as-you-go” type models typical of private cloud infrastructures.
Furthermore, CI provides IT managers with the ability to provision, test and deploy IT dramatically faster with a major reduction of time and resources needed to manage and maintain the infrastructure, making it an attractive choice for businesses. These valuable benefits stem directly from the fact that all the components and sub-systems are pre-designed and supported together as a single system by the vendors or system integrators.
Modernization Through CI and Prefab Physical Infrastructure
As more organizations turn to converged infrastructure to simplify IT management and accelerate deployment, many may, for very similar reasons, look to the deployment of prefabricated, modular data center physical infrastructure (power, cooling, racks) systems to support them. Indeed, the beneficial capabilities of CI – getting applications up and running as fast as possible – rely greatly on a data center’s power, cooling and rack space: This wonderful ability to deploy IT quickly can be greatly mitigated if power and cooling resources are difficult and time-consuming to design, deploy, test and commission. For instance, if the facility is running out of power, cooling, and rack space, or a greenfield facility is being built, new physical infrastructure systems must also be fast and easy-to-deploy in order to realize the potential speed benefits of CI. Particularly when compared with traditional stick-built facilities, prefabricated data center modules are faster to deploy thanks to their standardization and prefab nature. And it does so at a cost that is very similar to or even less than traditional “stick” builds.
A popular application for CI is a branch office or any small, remote site with less than 150 kW or so of IT capacity. This is due, in part, to CI’s automated, remote management capabilities making it ideal for sites where local IT staff is limited or non-existent.
In addition, there is now a newer form of prefabricated, modular data center physical infrastructure that targets this same application, called a “micro data center.” These small facilities are self-contained, secure computing environments ship in one enclosure and combine the converged IT systems with all of the necessary infrastructure to power, cool, manage and secure them. Micro data centers also include all the storage, processing, and networking necessary to run applications. And, since they are assembled and tested in a factory environment, it takes just a matter of days or weeks to get the data center up and running. But beyond micro data centers, there are many other types of prefabricated data center modules for larger applications that can built, customized and assembled to accommodate the needs of the location and the business. From self-contained, containerized, prefabricated modular rooms and purpose-built prefabricated modules, data center managers have many different options to choose from today. Each can be easily scaled up or down, giving businesses greater flexibility to grow or consolidate more quickly and at a similar or lower cost than a traditional brick-and-mortar data center.
Leveraging CI and Prefab Power and Cooling to Meet the Future Needs of the Data Center
As made evident by a recent survey, the importance of infrastructure upgrades/modernization is at all-time high – 93 percent of respondents agreed somewhat or completely on the importance of infrastructure upgrades/modernization. To modernize and upgrade their data center operations to meet the high demand of today’s data-laden world, businesses can look to leverage converged IT infrastructure and the prefabricated physical infrastructure modules to support it. As converged IT infrastructure and prefabricated power and cooling break down site engineering and deployment complexities, while also driving standardization and simplicity in the data center, data center managers will be better equipped to deploy and maintain their facilities – allowing them to turn their data centers into efficient, agile business drivers.
Concerns about quality, IoT devices to push edge computing
By Robert Gates, June 30, 2015
The increasing expectation for high quality content and the growth of IoT will be helped as edge computing brings nodes closer to end users.
The online shopper looking for a perfect homemade gift basket or summer-themed placemats may turn to Etsy, an online retailer that uses edge computing to increase the performance and resiliency of its services.
Companies like Etsy, Inc., are moving to the edge to improve their users' experience, said Sophia Vargas, an analyst with Forrester Research, Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.
Many applications in the enterprise are back office apps where latency may not be a significant issue, but customer-facing apps are often latency sensitive, she said.
"On the other end, if I'm thinking about my customers, having all my infrastructure in Ohio may not be the best for folks in London," Vargas said.
Edge computing is the idea that smaller data centers located close to end-user populations can improve speed and performance.
To take full advantage of edge computing, there is still a need for more cooperation between data center operators and network providers and a better management layer for the IoT in Tier 2 cities, Miszewski said. For example, 1,000 IoT devices need to work together as one unit before reporting back to the data center. Right now, that's something that has the focus of research and development departments at major companies and investors.
The IoT will require significant capital expense and a different way to go to market on the edge, Miszewski said.
There are two major options -- either an agile deployment where a shell is built for the multiple needs of clients or a "more radical" option where a smalldata center-in-a-box provides a lights out platform.
The greatest challenges for Etsy's move to edge computing are choosing locations to place pods and finding data centers in those locations that align with the company's values, Wong said.
After that, Etsy will buy servers and configure them for software deployments and communicating with the company's main data centers before it gradually turns up traffic on each pod.
Demand for compute power at the edge has also led Schneider Electric to release a new line of single enclosure micro data center products that include power, cooling and management software in a self-contained environment.
The data center may be built off-site by Schneider partners or on-site with a configuration by the customer. Once up and running, the SmartBunker FX line includes its own cooling while the CX and SX line of micro data centers relies on the building cooling system. SX is designed for IT rooms, CX is for office environments and FX is for any setting. The SmartShelter is a multi-rack, ruggedized system.
The new micro data centers, which range in size from half a rack to 10 racks, are priced between $2.50 per watt to $5 per watt.
Smartbunker FX, SX and CX range from 3kW to 8kW and the SmartShelter can go up to 100kW. That would mean pricing from $7,500 to $40,000 for the SmartBunker line and up to $500,000 for a Smartshelter.
"They don't have to have someone who is familiar with the IT equipment on site," said Steve Carlini, senior director of Data Center Global Solutions at Schneider.
SearchDataCenter: Data center spending continues climb, led by power, DCIM
By Robert Gates, July 1, 2015
Purchases of racks, cabling, power equipment and data center infrastructure management software top the list for data center spending.
Security concerns, power equipment upgrades and other reinvestment projects will continue to propel data center spending during the next three months.
The increase in data center facility spending will come from both medium and large organizations in North America and Europe, with the healthcare and finance industries leading the pack, according to 451 Research's Voice of the Enterprise Datacenters Q2 2015 quarterly survey.
"We've seen a pretty consistent increase [of data center spending]," said Dan Harrington, research director at 451 and author of the survey, which has been conducted quarterly since Q3 in 2014.
The percentage of respondents that plan to increase data center spending during the upcoming quarter has been 27% and 24%, respectively, during the past two surveys, Harrington said.
EnterpriseTech: Datacenter Spending Steady As Cloud Shift Accelerates
By George Leopold, July 1, 2015
Spending on datacenter operations remained steady during the second quarter of 2015 while 25 percent of those administrators responding to a survey said they planned to boost datacenter spending for retrofits over the next 90 days.
As datacenter operators hit maximum capacity utilization, however, most are looking to colocation services or cloud service providers rather than building new datacenters.
Market tracker 451 Research reported this week that 87 percent of datacenter operators it surveyed in North America and Europe said they either held the line or increased spending during the second quarter.
Medium-sized to large financial services and healthcare organizations led the way over the previous three months with increased spending for IT infrastructure such as racks and cabling, power equipment and datacenter management software, 451 reported on Tuesday (June 30).
“To support growing business demands on IT, enterprises are freeing up budgets and investing in modernizing neglected datacenter facilities,” Dan Harrington of 451 Research noted in releasing the survey results. “Those equipment vendors with offerings that target enterprise clients’ larger premium sites will see the greatest opportunity.”
The market researcher reckons that organizations reevaluate their datacenter needs when they hit 75 percent capacity utilization. Most would rather go with a cloud provider or a colocation option than build a new datacenter. As a result, the colocation market grew at an 8-percent clip in the second quarter on a square footage basis.
Hence, colocation and cloud service providers are forecast to grow “as enterprises require additional capacity and increasingly need to be more agile in responding to growing business demands,” Harrington added. “Facilities vendors who target colocation and cloud service providers also will benefit from this increased enterprise demand.”
Source: 451 Research
Top cloud service providers during the second quarter were, in descending order, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Salesforce, Rackspace and Google. Top colocation providers according to rank were: Equinix, AT&T, Sungard, CenturyLink and Digital Realty Trust.
Along with racks and cabling and datacenter software, datacenter spending also was concentrated on power distribution and air handling equipment. The survey found that Schneider Electric was the preferred vendor in categories like uninterruptable power supplies, power distribution units, management software as well as racks and cabling. Emerson Network Power also was among the top datacenter vendors for cooling and air handling equipment.
As datacenter operators seek to squeeze more efficiency out of their operations, more are turning to management software. This trend is being driven by the consolidation of local datacenters and server rooms in favor of colocation services and the shift from on-premise to hybrid cloud infrastructure.
“Over the next two years, most organizations expect to close many of their smaller local datacenters and server rooms, indicating a continued trend toward fewer overall datacenter sites,” the market researcher noted.
Datacenter consolidation and “migration projects” will translate into more high-end, centralized datacenters, 451 Research predicted. Hence, overall datacenter square footage owned by global enterprises remains flat.
It reported that about 37 percent of current datacenter spending focuses on retrofits or upgrade projects. “Existing datacenters will need to be upgraded, considering 62 percent of organizations would rather consolidate their IT infrastructure than build a new datacenter,” the market researcher noted.
siliconANGLE: Data center spending stays flat despite cloud shift
By Mike Wheatley, July 2, 2015
Data center operators maintained a steady spending level on infrastructure during quarter two of 2015, though many are trending towards colocation services or cloud service providers, instead of building new data centers, according to a new report from 451 Research.
The market tracker said that 87 percent of data center operators it surveyed in Europe and North America either held the line or increased spending during quarter two. We could see an upsurge in spending soon however, as 25 percent of data center operators told 451 Research they’re planning to step up retrofits in the next 90 days.
Of those who did increase spending in the last quarter, most of these were medium-sized and large financial and healthcare organizations, which reported buying new IT infrastructure such as racks, cabling, power equipment and management software.
“To support growing business demands on IT, enterprises are freeing up budgets and investing in modernizing neglected datacenter facilities,” wrote Dan Harrington of 451 Research in a press release. “Those equipment vendors with offerings that target enterprise clients’ larger premium sites will see the greatest opportunity.”
451 Research says it’s more or less standard for organizations to reevaluate their data center needs when they reach 75 percent capacity utilization. But for those who hit that target, most would rather opt for a cloud provider or colocation than build an entirely new facility. That trend led to 8 percent growth in the colocation market on square footage basis, the analysts said.
In the coming months, “as enterprises require additional capacity and increasingly need to be more agile in responding to growing business demands” we can expect growth in both colocation and cloud service providers, Harrington said.
Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, Inc., Rackspace Inc. and Google were the top cloud service providers during the second quarter, 451 Research found. Meanwhile, Equinix Inc., AT&T Inc., Sungard Financial Systems, CenturyLink Inc. and Digital Realty Trust were the top ranked colocation providers.
Spending on data centers wasn’t just limited to racks, cabling, power equipment and management software. Air handling equipment and power distribution also accounted for a considerable spend. 451 Research said that Schneider Electric SE was the top vendor for uninterruptable power supplies, power distribution units, management software, as well as racks and cabling, while Emerson Network Power Co. was the top data center vendor for cooling and air handling equipment.
The report also noted the growing trend towards using data center management software, as operators look to squeeze more efficiency from their facilities. 451 Research said the consolidation of local datacenters and server rooms in favor of colocation services and the shift from on-premise to hybrid cloud infrastructure were the main two factors driving this trend.
“Over the next two years, most organizations expect to close many of their smaller local datacenters and server rooms, indicating a continued trend toward fewer overall datacenter sites,” the analyst firm said.
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eWeek: Enterprises Boost Investment in Data Centers
By Nathan Eddy, July 2, 2015
Organizations surveyed cited Schneider Electric as their preferred provider in four out of seven facilities equipment and software categories.
Despite increased investment in services from cloud and co-location providers, 87 percent of data center operators surveyed from North America and Europe are maintaining or increasing their data center facility spending, with 25 percent expecting to increase spending over the next 90 days.
The 451 Research report is derived from 1,240 Web-based surveys and 26 hour-long interviews with senior IT professionals.
The survey found organizations continue to consolidate their local data centers and server rooms in favor of a more centralized model supplemented by co-location and cloud resources.
Over the next two years, most organizations expect to close many of their smaller local data centers and server rooms, indicating a continued trend toward fewer overall data center sites.
"It’s a combination of a lot of factors driven by a large increase in the amount of data being stored, whether it is digitization of medical records or to comply with new regulations that require data to be held and immediately accessible for longer periods of time," Dan Harrington, research director at 451 Research, told eWEEK. "Additionally, these industries are the least likely to adopt cloud or co-location resources because of security and compliance concerns. Therefore, they are more likely to maintain and run their own facilities versus outsource."
Organizations surveyed cited Schneider Electric as their preferred provider in four out of seven facilities equipment and software categories, including universal power supplies (UPS), power distribution units (PDU), racks and cabling, and DCIM.
Emerson Network Power follows closely in many categories and is the number one preferred computer room air conditioning and air handling equipment provider.
"Schneider is well penetrated across product categories and organization sizes," Harrington explained. "The history and strength of the APC brand has served them well as most respondents stated they were satisfied with the reliability of their products. We will be conducting a vendor window next quarter to dive deeper into how respondents evaluate these vendors."
Of those organizations increasing spending, 37 percent are doing so to support data center retrofits or upgrade projects. The study also indicated existing data centers will need to be upgraded, considering that 62 percent of organizations would rather consolidate their IT infrastructure than build a new data center.
"Consolidation has been happening for quite a while. Of course, cost is always a big driver as IT teams can run things more efficiently in a centralized location where they can consolidate IT infrastructure and manage resources with greater ease than in many distributed locations," Harrington said. "What goes along with that is also more control over what is happening with the data and resources living at those remote sites."
Harrington explained a central model allows more visibility and control of that information.
"I do see this as a continued trend, although with the emergence of a large amount of data at the edge driven by big data and the Internet of Things, we may see a renewed need for local compute in the future," he said.
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