Transforming Your Data Center

Feb. 1, 2016
As your business looks to address the inevitable need to scale your data center environment, you should take a strategic approach and look towards transformation, explains David Mettler, VP at IO.

In this week’s Voice of the Industry, David Mettler, IO’s Vice President of Sales and the Market Director, explains the steps to data center transformation.

David Mettler, IO’s Vice President of Sales.

One of the most common challenges that drive an organization to examine colocation providers – either for the first time or to identify a new provider to make a switch – is that organization’s inability to scale their current data center environment. Fueled by mobility, big data and more, demand for enterprise data center infrastructure capacity is rising fast and too often IT leaders are running out of power and physical space to grow.  As you search for ways to address an immediate need for data center capacity, you have an opportunity to look beyond those short term requirements and explore colocation services that are built with the future in mind.

Data center colocation is frequently among the top of the list of options for enterprises looking to address their capacity constraints. According to 451 Research’s Datacenter Market Sizing Forecast Model, the colocation market grew 11 percent year over year on a square footage basis in Q1, 2015 and is forecast to maintain that growth rate through 2018.

Your quest in selecting colocation services needs to be about more than just scaling existing capacity. Your organization needs to see this journey as an opportunity to transform the data center to improve efficiency and increase flexibility to adapt easily to business change. Here are the steps to data center transformation.

Colocation Basics Done Right

The first step in transformation is to ensure all the data center service basics are well covered in a colocation offering. These include having reliable and resilient power and cooling capabilities in place to help ensure always-on uptime and optimal performance.

It also means having multiple layers of advanced physical and cyber security to keep your IT assets and applications protected. Physical security needs to include video cameras to monitor all locations within the facility; man-traps, equipped with iris scanners, to prevent impersonation and unauthorized tail-gating; and fire-rated walls and doors to protect against a disaster.

Another colocation fundamental is carrier-neutral network connectivity that allows choice from among multiple carriers. Network options should allow you to extend private networks without using the public Internet. This approach needs to not only include communications between multiple systems within a data center footprint but also cover communications between colocation infrastructure and any end point, including other data centers and public cloud services. Doing so will enable a borderless data center, connecting any location with a network presence.

Modular Colocation – Go Beyond the Basics

Most colocation providers operate construction-based data centers, in which they leverage traditional design, build, and operations practices from the commercial real estate industry. To achieve data center transformation, your enterprise needs to leverage a different model based on modular data center technology, which allows for colocation solutions that traditional data centers cannot provide.

Scalable Growth – Fast

A modular data center colocation service provider can help you future proof your data center by delivering standardized deployment options that give you the flexibility to meet the demands of your compute today and beyond.  The modular form factor allows for thin provisioning of the data center, meaning that you can deploy the actual capacity you require and then expand when needed.  No need to procure more data center capacity than required out of fear for the future and there’s no need to execute right of first refusal options for additional space that align more with the data center operators timing then yours.

If your modular data center provider operates at a large enough scale, and uses manufactured, purpose built-modular technology, they’ll be well positioned to deliver new capacity to you fast, in 30-90 days.

Operational Efficiency

Modular data centers enable enterprises to achieve efficient utilization of their data center infrastructure and eliminate the waste and cost of underutilization.  Too often an organization that has felt the pain of running out of capacity in their traditional data center will over buy new capacity when they move to a larger data center.  This inefficient use of the company’s capital has two direct costs: 1) paying for services they do not actually need, and 2) underutilization of their data center space which increases the cost to power and cool the data center they are using.

Additionally, modular data centers designed for hot and cold aisle containment that incorporate variable speed air handling units and close coupled cooling will deliver superior efficiency resulting in lower PUEs, translating to operational cost savings.

To compare the two data center models, consider a study which compared energy efficiency and cost savings between modular and construction-based data center designs, conducted by IO, Arizona Public Service Company, the largest electric utility in Arizona, and DNV KEMA, the leading authority in energy-related testing, inspection and certification.

IO was uniquely positioned to conduct such a study because it operates both traditional and modular environments. The comparative study demonstrated that IO’s modular data center deployment demonstrated 19 percent energy cost savings and 44 percent energy waste reduction compared to IO’s traditional raised-floor data center environment.


Modular technology also improves security by providing a data center within a data center – with each module being its own private steel vault. And modules that have a compartmentalized architecture go one step further by enabling the segmentation of colocation users, completely eliminating any risk of noisy neighbor syndrome and keeping potential hazards from spreading.

Flexibility – An Adaptable Data Center 

Next on the road to data center transformation is being able to leverage a mixed density – modular and raised floor – environment to match infrastructure density to application requirements. Job one of the data center is delivering applications or services. And for the vast majority of data centers that means delivering an array of applications and services – each of which often have different data center infrastructure requirements.

The 5kW per rack, common to raised floor environments, is still sufficient for many organizations. However, the demand for compute capacity will continue to increase, driving the rise of big data, Internet of Things and more. Raised floor data centers, even very modern ones, cannot accommodate anywhere near the density that a purpose-built modular data center can accommodate.

Colocation solutions need to offer enterprises the ability to deploy low-density applications in a cabinet or cage on raised floor, and also deploy applications that demand medium- or high-density in a module – in the same data center. Having the ability to stay within one data center to accommodate growth makes expansion easier. Your existing capacity will be just one private cross-connect and a short walk away from new capacity. Contrast that to moving into a new facility where complexity increases exponentially.

Software Optimized Data Center

We live in a software-defined era. Much of the value of the data center going forward will be driven by software innovation. Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software monitors and manages enterprise data center assets – raised floor, modular and cloud. DCIM can provide the business intelligence, real-time visibility and control needed to transform how your company manages your infrastructure – making it an essential tool to transforming the data center.

One benefit of DCIM is providing a single view of data center assets, even across multiple data centers. With that single view, data center managers can optimize their decisions. Adding predictive analysis to that visibility allows enterprises to more efficiently allocate current resources, identify capacity bottlenecks and anticipate future resource needs. This means they know just when to budget for more capacity, rather than over-provisioning to prevent a shortfall.

Achieving Data Center Transformation

As your business looks to address the inevitable need to scale your data center environment and considers colocation options, you should take a strategic approach and look towards transformation. Create a next generation data center with a modular colocation service that is truly scalable, efficient, secure, and software managed. By doing so, you will position your organization to intelligently manage the data center to drive more efficient operations and improved performance.

David Mettler is IO’s Vice President of Sales and the Market Director for the US. David is an experienced and seasoned data center management executive, having held positions previously with CenturyLink Business for Enterprise and Sprint. Connect with David on LinkedIn. IO is uniquely positioned because it operates both traditional and modular colocation environments.

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.

Courtesy of Stream Data Centers

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