The move towards converged infrastructure driven by important paradigm shifts such as cloud computing, virtualisation, and social networking will see an increased focus on energy efficiency in data centres.
At the Green Data Centre Forum on 31 March 2011 organised by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and SPRING Singapore, Mr Ray Pfeifer, Co-chair of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Data Centre Efficiency Initiative, provided insights into the trends surrounding data centres and energy efficiency.
Mr Ray Pfeifer: New data centre monitoring and control technologies will be required to overlay on top of existing cooling infrastructures to enable fully virtualised IT resources.
He began by noting that IT in general is moving rapidly towards a converged infrastructure and as such has accelerated the growth of the data centre industry.
“The integration of server, storage, networking, and other resources as part of an integrated solution means they can be managed as a single system with resources dynamically allocated as required,” said Mr Pfeifer. “This results in higher resource utilisation and availability than static infrastructures.”
A key trend driving efficiency is virtualisation, which benefits data centres through lower capital and operating costs, as well as reduced space requirements. “Starting this year, the number of new virtual servers being deployed will exceed the number of new physical servers and the gap will continue to grow,” said Mr Pfeifer.
Data centre technology is also being revolutionised with the advent of cloud computing, he said. The flexibility afforded by the new paradigm enables Chief Information Officers to embark on projects where computing demand is uneven without having to spend on dedicated systems.
Research firm IDC predicts that spending on public IT cloud services will grow at more than five times the rate of the IT industry in 2011, up 30 per cent from 2010.
The rise of social networking following the success of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is also driving cloud computing growth and putting new demands on data centres.
“Recent developments see the use of social networking for business to consumer or collaboration tools for businesses, such as Salesforce.com Chatter,” said Mr Pfeifer.
Gartner research forecasts that the use of these social networking tools will become very widespread within businesses for everything from knowledge management and project collaboration to marketing applications and customer support over the next few years.
These megatrends are forcing data centres into overdrive and upping of the ante when it comes to sustainable concerns. For example, virtualisation is expected to affect current data centre design and operations as the majority of existing cooling systems are not designed to accommodate variable heat loads.
“Hot spots and equipment overheating concerns will increase dramatically as IT equipment utilisation and its associated heat load and distribution change rapidly,” noted Mr Pfeifer. “New data centre monitoring and control technologies will be required to overlay on top of existing cooling infrastructures to enable fully virtualised IT resources.”
While proper airflow and thermal dynamic design will enable data centres to operate at higher temperatures in order to reduce the energy required for cooling, one of the most critical requirements towards managing energy consumption is real-time measurement of data centre efficiency.
“As data centre operators increase their focus on controlling their energy costs, measurement of energy-related data including continuous PUE readings will be required for all new large data centres,” said Mr Pfeifer.
By 2015, Gartner expects that most new large data centres will measure environmental and energy-related data across the building, the critical power and cooling systems and the IT equipment.
The Green Data Centre Forum 2011 was a full-day event which also featured presentations on the new Singapore Standard for Green Data Centres including how organisations can adopt it and be certified. A separate track also delved into the practical aspects of energy efficient data centres and how to implement specific innovations like design, cooling and virtualisation technologies.