Managing the Data Centers of the Future

May 15, 2017
The best-prepared companies not only connect to the latest and greatest technologies, but they also connect back to legacy solutions. BASELAYER’s Shay Demmons shares how to utilize legacy technology, as well as new tech, while planning for the data centers of the future.

In this week’s Voices of the Industry, Shay Demmons, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the BASELAYER RunSmart software division, shares how to utilize legacy technology, as well as new tech, while planning for the data centers of the future. 

The best-prepared companies not only connect to the latest and greatest technologies, but they also connect back to legacy solutions.

Shay Demmons, EVP and General Manager of the BASELAYER RunSmart software division

More and more companies are discovering that to compete in this new digital age, they must build applications that engage and empower the customer. To achieve this goal, they must often tie those applications back to legacy systems where critical customer data is often stored. Therefore, they adopt a two-pronged approach to their digital transformation.  They build new applications for customer engagement and retrofit legacy systems to serve up data and perform transactions requested by the new apps.

For a data center, managing their evolving infrastructure and the crushing amount of IIoT data will also require this “looking forward” “looking backward” approach. Data center management software will not only need to gather and analyze infrastructure data in real time for new devices, but the older ones as well. It’s going to be like managing a soup bowl of devices, some new and some old.  Many data center devices will need to be monitored and managed.

The most adept data centers will adopt technology that will allow them to connect and communicate with virtually any device. This is going to require a modular approach to management software with the ability to communicate with legacy and new devices. As data centers continue to become more interconnected with the addition of more IIoT data, data center management tools will consume this data. Vast amounts of data will be used in the prediction and diagnosis of data center systems.

More devices and “things” are being connected to the Internet. Many of these devices will contain sensors that collect data about themselves. Estimates this year peg the number of connected devices at 20 Billion! IDC predicts that by 2020 there will be 44 Trillion Gigabytes of data created annually. Regardless of how accurate these numbers are, we know that each year brings millions upon millions more connected devices. Devices connect to the Internet (and hence the data center) to share data with other systems, provide diagnostics or notify operators when a fault is occurring, to name a few examples. Massive amounts of data are shared as devices communicate critical (and not so critical) information. Data centers are the holders of all this data, especially if it requires some type of action to be taken on it.

The most adept data centers will adopt technology that will allow them to connect and communicate with virtually any device.

A data center facility, for example, will have its cooling systems equipped with sensors to measure operating temperatures. If the temperature rises too much in the building, the system adjusts water flow to remedy the situation. Other sensors connected to physical systems can help determine when a malfunction is about to occur, alerting operators to the impending danger. These alerts are based on gathering large amounts of data over time about how a system is operating and by identifying slight changes in the data that can indicate that a device may soon fail. The potential cost savings to avoid an outage can be enormous for data centers and manufacturing businesses alike. So, IIoT is here to stay because of its enormous benefits, but its impact on the data center will be significant.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Shay Demmons – Data centers are at ground zero when it comes to supporting the Internet of Things. ” quote=”Shay Demmons – Data centers are at ground zero when it comes to supporting the Internet of Things. “]

Imagine millions of new cars all connected to the Internet, communicating massive amounts of data about their performance and maintenance. Imagine tens of millions of wearable devices all communicating health information to a central database. Will your data centers of the future be able to handle the influx of traffic? Do you have the energy capacity, server capacity and bandwidth to be able to handle the influx? Having 10,000 users connect through your data center is doable. What about 10 million users? Do you have the management systems in place to properly manage and scale your infrastructure?

The bottom line is that data centers are at ground zero when it comes to supporting the Internet of Things. One of the first steps to preparing to support the Internet of Things is to take an assessment of your infrastructure to see where you may have gaps in your monitoring capabilities. Preparing to support IIoT successfully comes down to how connected devices can easily communicate and how they can be monitored. Here are five key areas to consider as you assess your data center management and IIoT readiness:

  • How many physical devices are connected to sensors in your data center currently? Does your management tool easily show you this information?
  • Do you have the ability to collect data from any network-connected device? Monitoring the data center of the future will require visibility forward and backwards across your data center.
  • Do you have a centralized software system for gathering sensor data and can you visualize that data? Data is most effectively interpreted when it can be visually displayed and categorized.
  • Are you storing sensor data in a method so it can be aggregated, processed, indexed an analyzed with minimal latency so time to insight can be minimized?
  • Do you have the ability to perform any type of analytics or analysis on the data being gathered? The ability to see massive amounts of data is only helpful when it can be analyzed and interpreted.
  • Is your current data center management software modular? Meaning, you have a base system for the collection of sensor data and can add modular components as needed to stay current with trends, such as IIoT.

Supporting IIoT first requires a powerfully connected data center where all components are connected and working in concert to maintain uptime. Sometimes uptime is critical for life supporting functions and sometimes it’s mission critical for businesses. Regardless, your data center must be ready for the onslaught of connected devices and preparation starts with IIoT enabling the data center itself.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Many data centers have invested in some form of data center management tools. ” quote=”Many data centers have invested in some form of data center management tools. “]

Many data centers have invested in some form of data center management tools. In reality, these tools gather sensor data across multiple devices to help you manage your infrastructure. These tools have laid the groundwork for IIoT, which is really about managing ever-larger amounts of sensor data. Having the ability to look forward and look backwards when connecting to devices will ensure the viability of your data center operations for years to come.

Shay Demmons is EVP, General Manager of the BASELAYER RunSmart software division. 

About the Author

Voices of the Industry

Our Voice of the Industry feature showcases guest articles on thought leadership from sponsors of Data Center Frontier. For more information, see our Voices of the Industry description and guidelines.

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