Data Centers have become Necessary Utility for Businesses to Function

Data centers are where all the basic sciences converge primarily the physics of the things around us

The Raritan Data Driven World Series event in Bengaluru saw a gathering of select few heads of Information Technology and top of their game Data center professionals to learn and discuss key trends in the Data center industry. Raritan is a leading provider of power management solutions, DCIM software, and KVM-over-IP for data centers of all sizes.

The Raritan Data Driven world series happened on 7 September 2018 in Bengaluru and reinforced the fact that the future is within our reach. Kiran Desai, SVP and Global Head - Cloud and Infrastructure Services – Wipro Limited delivered the Keynote on “The Evolution of Data center and Cloud Strategies in a Data Driven digital world” which was followed by a presentation on “Building DC efficiency” by Vasudev Prabhu, Director - IT Resiliency Cognizant and a panel discussion on “Data Center Optimization using real time data” moderated by Sangram Aglave, Technology Editor BW Businessworld. Event highlights below

Data will drive data center growth
Digital storage device costs have been coming down over many years now. This has led us to believe that we will always have enough storage to store all the data generated in the world. Kiran Desai, SVP and Global Head – Cloud and Infrastructure Services, Wipro Limited in his keynote address said “Storage companies are innovating at the basic sciences level to mitigate any and all supply side risks in their supply chains”. The world created approximately 22 Zettabytes of data approximately in the year 2017 and the yearly growth is expected to reach 163 Zettabytes by the end of 2025. Kiran Desai, SVP and Global Head - Cloud and Infrastructure Services – Wipro Ltd said, “We now live in a hyper connected, hyper scale world and about 95% of 163 Zettabytes would be real time data and about 85% of it would not require storage in the data center i.e. it would be consumed in real-time.” An autonomous car might create a TB of data in a day but not all of it requires storage as most of it gets used in that moment and need not be stored post its use. The 15% of the real time data that will get stored eventually is significant in itself and a significant part of it will get stored in the data centers of all sizes.

Edge Computing is decentralizing IT facilities
Consumerization of Information Technology has given rise to a mobile workforce. At the same time Digital Technologies are now part of the day in life of the end customer. Increasingly almost all parts of the business process have been digitized. Till about 2006 no one had heard of cloud and since then almost all Independent software vendors now have a cloud first strategy. The rise of cloud meant the centralization of compute and storage resources into a data center. The rise of cloud meant the centralization of compute and storage resources into a data center. Kiran Desai, SVP and Global Head - Cloud and Infrastructure Services– Wipro Limited during his keynote said, “consumers are increasingly using mobile to shop. Mobile application experience becomes a key area and low latency, consistency and reliability become significant drivers of the topline”. Such heavy workloads and security needs are driving regular businesses to place their customer facing applications on the cloud. He further added, “an average person will interact with connected devices nearly 4,800 times a day or about once every 18 seconds by 2025”. Most of these interactions would be due to artificially intelligent things on the edge. Edge Computing is the new phenomenon driven by innovations in IoT and telecommunications technologies like 5G and blockchains.

Barely after 10 years since Cloud led to massive data center centralization or aggregation, the data center operators are now grappling with the need to support Edge computing. Satish Viswanathan, Chief Product Officer, NxtGen said “With Edge computing IT infrastructure has come a full cycle and can be described as the “mandatory” on-premise infrastructure”. Consumer facing organizations will have hundreds of edge data centers as close to the points of utilization for redundancy, availability, high bandwidth content and low latency response times. Vasudeva Prabhu, Director, IT Resiliency said “Edge sites should be treated as important as your data center when it comes power density, should be brought under DCIM, physical security, efficiency and optimization.” Sanjay Motwani, Regional Director, Raritan Asia Pacific expressed his optimism about micro data centers and said “smart cities will get powered by hundreds of micro DC’s. they will not replace the colocation and cloud but still will be in high demand due to low latency use cases.” He further evangelized a new role of a Condominium CIO’s recruited from the vast pool of retired data center professionals.

Optimizing Data Centers with real-time data
PUE (Power usage effectiveness) is a normalized metric used for measuring data center efficiency and also allows head to head comparison between two data centers. PUE is determined by dividing the power consumed by the entire data center by the power consumed by the all types of computing equipment like Network switches, Security devices and Servers. Power distribution units are a suggested way to power up the IT equipment as they provide for the most accurate data calculating PUE. PDU’s have embedded power meters that can help in measuring granular power supply to each IT load. PUE is the lagging indicator of Data Center efficiency and therefore PDU’s are instrumental in any data driven optimization exercise within the Data Center.

Satish Viswanathan, Chief Product Officer, NxtGen said “60-70% of the operating costs of a data center goes towards power. Both the data center provider and their customer prefer to bring this cost down as the entire bill gets paid to the utility”. He shared the benefit realized from PDU’s and said “having granular power consumption by rack-server level helped us identify old generation servers that supported 20% of critical applications but consumed 80% of the power. It was a straightforward business case to replace them with new generation machines that consume less power and still deliver if not more but the same IT load.” He further added “historically the DC industry was making a mistake in assuming a heat source is emitting heat consistently throughout and design a cooling solution for the same. But that is not true as heat generated within the DC varies along with workload and power consumption can be now measured at the workload level, for example an application running within a Virtual machine.” He mentioned that “Data Centers are getting hotter as the operating temperatures of the IT equipment have gone up and so is the work capability at the same form factor leading to increased power density. Solutions like cold aisle containment are more efficient at managing this issue, therefore lower cooling needs and therefore lesser facilities power consumption.” On CFD for heat mapping, Satish said “it is a data center design time project and is usually done once.” Sanjay Motwani added that “modern PDU’s have heat sensor’s embedded and can provide real time heat data for plotting a heat map. This data can be crucial in identifying heat spots, rebalancing the workloads and the cooling strategy and other aspects like aisle management”. Vasudeva Prabhu, Director IT Resiliency - Cognizant added that “power is main root cause of outage. Things like in-rush currents and heave workloads can trip data center equipment or cause permanent damage. Real time alerts can prevent such outages.”

Sanjay Motwani shared the current trend in Data center optimization “a lot of DC managers are focusing on identifying usable rack space and floor space and the one of ways is to 3 phase power. This allows them to increase the rack density 2 to 2.2 times in the same rack space. What this means is that 100 racks can be scaled down to 50 to 55 racks. That’s a huge difference” He went to share another trend “choosing a UPS that can be serviced from the front can save a lot of floor space on the back as traditionally you had to leave 4 feet of space on the back for servicing”. Sanjay summarized by saying “DC managers are looking at reducing the cost of DC realty. Look at Hong Kong, realty is so expensive there and they have to regain each and every centimeter that they can” Satish added that “customers want their racks to scale vertically and using three phase supply can help in adding more IT equipment in each rack. But sometimes the DC manager exhausts the power and still have rack space left.” Sanjay added that “racks in relatively cost bill of material and therefore the tendency should be to buy a rack that can support double the required weight of IT equipment. This way you can pack in more IT equipment and save money down the line.”

The need for DCIM skillset in IT
Vasudeva Prabhu, Director – Cognizant said “on job training from the vendors is one way. If its not your core then you can outsource. Governments in the US regularly outsource” Satish Viswanathan said “Our needs were unique as we are a service provider. We built out own DCIM tool to manage our unique needs and the knowledge is transferred across the operations team.” Sanjay Motwani, Regional Director - Raritan, APAC said “No DCIM can meet all the requirements but the benefits are humongous once you get it running. Top management push plays a significant role in the success of DCIM solution and the added focus on implementation also leads to well planned and rigorous training programs and assessments of the DC staff.” Vasudeva Prabhu, in his presentation on DC Resiliency said “DCIM also contributes helps in creating CMDB of physical infrastructure layer which in turn can be mapped to IT Infrastructure layer leading to unparalleled visibility into the true operating characteristics of the hardware software system”

Why IT should engage Marketing
 The reason why data centers exist and are required to change are for meeting the needs of the end consumer. While IT is in the woods of the data center, it should not miss the forest. Sanjay Motwani in his closing remarks said “IT should be aligned to customer needs and should be aware of changing customer expectations”. He added that “organizations don’t miss the bus. They don’t see the bus.” He further added that “It’s the consumers who are the king. You have adapt to what the consumer needs and you will lose out if you don’t service him to his satisfaction.” He added that “please do not think that you know what the customer wants. 8/10 times you will fall flat. Importantly engage your marketing team. The integration of IT and marketing is going to be critical for your organization’s future because its marketing who understands the customer and will relay the feedback to you.”

Data Centers are where all the basic sciences converge primarily the physics of the things around us. Some incumbents and software industry experts challenged the originality of the Cloud computing idea in its early days. What they missed and is amply clear now is the massive transformation and disruption that Cloud computing would bring. 30% of all stored data would be hypercritical i.e. with direct and immediate impact on the health and wellbeing of users and just above 20% critical i.e. necessary for expected continuity of user’s daily lives. This makes This makes Data centers a lifeline as important as any other utility we know today.

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