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Taking Stock of Data Center Capacities Before Starting a Consolidation Project

Jay OwenWritten by Jay Owen

View the original post from the Schneider Electric blog

By the time many federal IT executives engage us for assistance with their data center consolidation projects, they have already determined which facilities will be used as “receiving” facilities for consolidation. They may or may not have a detailed understanding of the power, cooling and space capacities of the facilities that will be involved, as well as an understanding of current efficiencies and any inadequacies that may exist. If they do, often they’ve paid good money to have those assessments done by an outside party.

For those customers who are not that far along in their planning, not that flush in the budget department, or have made a decision but are unsure of the existing capacities, we can offer help in getting started. This blog post will spell out the basics of making such capacity determinations and a pair of accompanying white papers that offer significant detail.

First of all, determining these power, cooling and space capacities in your existing data centers is of paramount importance in deciding which among them will become the “receiving” data center or centers. Failure to make an accurate accounting of these variables – and in a standard manner that allows apples-to-apples comparisons – can lead to either an expensive over-provisioning of resources or a failure to accommodate future growth.

Yet sometimes data center operators find themselves lacking answers to even basic questions about the design rating, current density and potential constraints to adding more IT load.

APC by Schneider Electric white paper number 177, “Determining the Power, Cooling and Space Capacities When Consolidating Data Centers,” can get you started by providing a pair of case studies and plenty of examples of specific language to be used for defining key metrics. The first case study involves an evaluation of five Department of Defense data centers that were all being consolidated into a single newer site. The second describes Schneider Electrics role in helping the EPA and The Green Grid take measure of a midsize data center with the ultimate goal of gaining energy efficiencies.

The paper gets into the details of defining and measuring more than a half-dozen key metrics, including: bulk power capacity, bulk cooling capacity, power distribution capacity, cooling distribution capacity, data center capacity and total current max IT load. Differentiating between spare capacity and stranded capacity is also explored.

Additional information on these terms can be found in APC by Schneider Electric white paper number 150, “Power and Cooling Capacity Management for Data Centers.”

A word of caution: Relying on the nameplate ratings of various subsystems in the data center is an invitation to be led astray, as accounting must be made of the safety margin de-rating, redundancy requirements and any non-IT loads present.

And, of course, there are other decision criteria in play beside capacity, including: room for future expansion, age of the physical infrastructure, efficiency of that infrastructure, redundancy requirements, effectiveness of the facility’s management software and physical security.

You’ve got a lot of moving parts to assess before making an informed decision about your data center consolidation project. We’ve got plenty of authoritative information on hand to help you get started, as well as experts who can help you along the way.


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