Showing posts with label data center consulting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label data center consulting. Show all posts

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Critical Considerations during a Data Center Migration

If you've got more than a rack or two in your data center or computer room, a data center migration is rife with risk. Who wants to lie awake in the weeks before the migration wondering if they've missed something? Will everything go smoothly? Did I make the right choices for services companies, infrastructure upgrades, network service providers, etc.?

In a nutshell, planning and perspective are good critical as data center managers when it's time to complete a migration (or consolidation) of data center assets. Planning and perspective allow you to take a step back and make sure your approach holds water, allow you to check with peers in the industry for accepted best practices, and allow you to keep your job when the migration goes smoothly.

Critical Considerations in Preparation for a Data Center Migration include:
  • Think About the Layout. Flow through a data center is critical to develop efficiencies. Flow includes power from utility through distribution to feeders to PDUs as well as battery backup and utility backup (generators) and is driven by a coherent data center design. In addition to power, think about network connectivity from the ingress at the street through to the network core. Also, how will data flow from core to distribution to access out to server/storage assets. A simple rule of thumb: Firewalls, DMZs, and network termination equipment should all be located close to the network entrance and/or network rack.
  • Plan for Growth. It isn't enough to plan for growth within today's paradigm and technology. Rather, if at all possible, it's critical to consider the next two life cycles in technology. This means performing research on expected future rack power requirements as well as the data center key design criteria for today and 2-3 years into the future. Who would have thought 5 kW of redundant power at the rack may not be enough now if you're organization is planning to roll out blade server cabinets? Don't get caught having to migrate yet again.
  • Plan the Cable Plant. Cabling architecture is the backbone of the data center network infrastructure. Careful planning and consideration is important when deciding on a data center cabling architecture. Key concerns are scalability, flexibility, manageability, availability, and total cost. Therefore, it is critical to plan in advance, leave space for core switches and future growth for the core and distribution switches and cable plan. Also, particularly if you are using a raised floor approach, deploy your cabinets, pull fiber to the cabinets, and run branch circuits for power. The incremental cost of the fiber and power cables waiting for use is minimal, you already have the labor onsite, and who wants an invasive change or upgrade several years down the road.
  • Confirm the Asset Inventory. A data center migration gives you the opportunity to "clean out your attic". Like moving between homes, you shouldn't migrate or relocate assets that are decommissioned or not in the data center inventory list. Assets should be in the your Configuration Management Database (CMDB) including owner, department, business processes, applications, and dependencies. In fact, all data center assets should be tracked and maintained before the migration and after it takes place.
  • Develop a Complete Relocation Plan. The final step in the data center migration is the relocation itself. Data Center relocations are expensive and require specific expertise and experience. Elements of a solid relocation plan include: Pre-planning and project management, pre-move site preparation, move plan creation, and post-move reviews.
Ultimately, a Data Center Migration requires careful planning, continuous communications, solid contributions from internal and external team members, and risk mitigation plans if/when the unexpected happens. Data Center Consulting Services are available from the consultants at PTS Data Center Solutions.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Are “free” computer room site assessment services worth the money you pay for them?

It has become commonplace for the myriad of IT and support infrastructure OEMs to offer free site assessment services in an effort to woo clients into purchasing their equipment.

While it was already difficult enough for small- to mid-size design consulting service providers to build credibility and brand-identity in the ultra-competitive world of computer room design, in the past few years these firms have seen some of their most valuable vendor partners become chief competitors.

This is not just a case of sour apples. The design services provided by most OEMs do their clients a disservice. Clients are usually only provided the part of the picture that suits the manufacturer and they are forced to fill in the blanks. Unfortunately, the blanks are often not identified. This leads to some very unhappy bean counters.

One leading power and cooling system manufacturer’s entire go-to-market strategy is based on allowing inexperienced enthusiasts to represent themselves as capable designers by providing them with access to an online configuration tool. Being an expert in its use myself, I can safely say the information it provides is rudimentary at best. Our team at PTS Data Center Solutions uses this tool only for ordering purposes and never for design. These online tools are being used by the manufacturer’s own systems engineers, reseller partners, or end users themselves to try to simplify the inherently complicated subject of computer room support infrastructure design.

The manufacturer’s configuration tool only provides solution recommendations for the equipment they manufacture. Much of the rest of the complete solution is missing, including the infrastructure they don’t sell, the labor to install any of it, and/or the engineering services to produce the design documentation required to file the necessary permits. Worse, little advice is provided as to the best project delivery methodology. While I would be the first to admit the traditional consulting engineering community has been slow to adapt to the latest design practices, the truth remains that as-a-matter-of-course changes to facilities still require the services of a licensed engineer. This includes the sizing of the power and cooling infrastructure.

That’s not to say the use of tools doesn’t have its place. Any consultant-recommended solutions should always be based on sound engineering using the latest technologies, such as computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling.

Individuals seeking computer room solutions are better served by hiring experienced, licensed, capable design engineers that are well versed in all of the major infrastructure solutions. This ensures that for a moderate amount of money spent in the planning stage you come away with a properly designed project with a well-defined scope, schedule, and budget.