Data centers are not a single thing, but rather, a conglomeration of elements. At a minimum, data centers serve as the principal repositories for all manner of IT equipment, including servers, storage subsystems, networking switches, routers and firewalls, as well as the cabling and physical racks used to organize and interconnect the IT equipment. A data center must also contain an adequate infrastructure, such as power distribution and supplemental power subsystems, including electrical switching; uninterruptable power supplies; backup generators and so on; ventilation and data center cooling systems, such as computer room air conditioners; and adequate provisioning for network carrier (telco) connectivity. All of this demands a physical facility with physical security and sufficient physical space to house the entire collection of infrastructure and equipment.
Excerpts from the interview of Sudhanshu Datt, Technical Director, AECOM –
Q.1 : What is the biggest challenge you face in a data center? If we see since the last few years the data centers have evolved a lot. Earlier we used to build small sized data center, 5-6 MW. Now the trend is more towards building large hyper scale data centers which is 20-30 MW or even larger. Their customers were talking about building large data center farms or they require large data center projects and the biggest challenge is that how we make it more scalable because there’s a huge amount of investment that goes into it. So how can we target it or modularize it is one of the biggest challenges in building up these large hyper scale data centers.
Q.2 : What energy-saving steps can IT Professionals take right that will have the best return on investment? IT professionals need to work more closely and more collaboratively with the facility management professionals while the data center is designed for a specific capacity which is either 8-10 kW\rac. It is always seen that there is a huge amount of diversity. They never allow that diversity to be built into the design of the data center so if they can collaborate in a much better way along with the facility teams, the data center will become much more effective and productive in terms of what was the design intent of data center. We see that the data center are designed for a particular capacity but the actual usage is much lesser so that’s the gap which IT professionals have to help bridge along with the facility teams.
Q3. What new technologies, in your opinion, will drive the data center of tomorrow? Technology is advancing very fast, if you look at the mobile phone market new phones are being launched. Similarly, in data center industry the applications, the hardware side or the software side is advancing rapidly. What we built for today becomes very soon redundant tomorrow, so it is very important that we need to predict the technology and the usage of tomorrow and accordingly plan and build data center. When we design and build data centers we build them for a life cycle of 15-20 years, while technology is recycling every 1 or 2 year or maybe even sooner. So how can we bring in that flexibility in our design which will cater to future uses of technology is what the focus should be.