Friday, September 29, 2006

Tips for Handling Your Data Center Relocation

Nobody ever said data center relocation was easy. Although moving mission critical computer and communications equipment from one site to another is no simple task, it needn’t be an overwhelming one. With careful planning, any company can organize its people, manage the communications, implement a sophisticated design for the new site and move its data center equipment with confidence and ease.

Months of planning typically go into planning the successful relocation of a data center. By placing an emphasis on pre-design and planning, data center managers and relocation consultants are able to achieve the optimal solution to meet the demands of even the most complex relocation.

If your company is contemplating a data center relocation project, the following tips will help ensure that your IT move goes off without a hitch:

- Invest in pre-planning.
Identify your operational objectives and use them as a reference point in planning. Coordinate with vendors who will be working on the project and include their representatives in your planning sessions. Consider hiring an experienced data center relocation consultant as your guide.

- Develop strategies that minimize risk and maximize ROI.
Explore the backup and recovery options for your mission critical systems. Take current and future needs into consideration while designing the data center at your new site.

- Take stock of data center equipment.
Data center relocations offer the perfect opportunity to replace outdated or faulty equipment with state-of-the-art hardware. Don’t spend valuable time and money moving equipment that won’t last.

- Test the network.
Run tests of your new data center on virtual models before construction and relocation begin to prevent unfortunate surprises. After the move, run additional network operations and applications tests to protect your IT systems.

- Update security procedures and technology-use policies.
Address any new security issues raised by the new data center site. Establish guidelines that safeguard your facility from credible threats and existing vulnerabilities.

- Establish an appropriate relocation plan.
Integrate redundancies into your IT network. Alert business users to potential service disruptions. Review the relocation strategy with vendors, consultants, and other special participants before moving ahead.

By keeping these points in mind, your company can minimize relocation-related downtime while streamlining the overall data center moving procedure.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

DC-power Sparks Interest among Data Center Designers

Rising data center power and cooling costs have renewed industry interest in DC-power, but is DC really a cure-all or just more snake oil?

Up until this point, DC-power hasn’t been very attractive for a number of reasons. The large amount of copper wiring required for DC-power distribution is expensive and takes up valuable space in the data center. DC-engineered facilities are also more complicated to install and maintain, creating headaches that most data center professionals don’t want or need.

However, tech industry leaders, such as Sun Microsystems and Intel, are paying attention to DC-power. They know data centers are desperate to cut power and cooling costs and are banking that many larger data centers can afford the upfront investment in DC-engineered facilities.

This summer, more than 20 tech companies teamed up with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to run a side-by-side demonstration of a conventional AC-powered rack of servers next to a DC-powered rack. The hope was that DC might prove to be the cheaper, cooler-running, and more reliable data center power option.

AC vs. DC

Could DC-power have finally come of age? According to a whitepaper by American Power Conversion Corp., one of our trusted data center vendors, AC-power and DC-power should be compared based on efficiency, cost, compatibility and reliability. Let’s use this as our guide for comparison.

DC-power is often touted as being more efficient than AC-power because it requires fewer power conversions that can result in power losses. On the surface this makes sense, but it doesn’t take into consideration that DC cabling must be greatly oversized to deliver the same power. You end up trading increased infrastructure costs and a loss of space for a relatively minor gain in data center efficiency.

There isn’t a real cost advantage to making the switch to DC, even though DC-power might lower your overall energy costs. As I mentioned earlier, DC-power requires more extensive infrastructure and engineering. There’s a higher upfront cost which offsets most long-term savings.

This one is a toss-up as well. Compatibility with AC- or DC-power supplies is determined largely by the type of equipment your facility uses. Keep in mind, though, that it is difficult to obtain DC versions of many pieces of equipment. If your data center uses a mix of AC and DC products, it’s probably a wise decision to go with AC-power.

For the most part, reliability is controlled by battery system rather than the type of power used. When compared with an equivalent DC-powered system, AC-power is just as reliable for data center use.

PTS’ Perspective

The use of DC-power in the data center isn’t common – and with good reason. There is no clear benefit to switching from AC- to DC-power, but there are quite a few drawbacks. Rising energy costs are enough to make companies reevaluate the concept, but AC will remain the dominant choice for data center power in the foreseeable future.