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The data centre security blanket: How to see what matters

The data centre security blanket: How to see what matters

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Data centre managers are under more pressure than ever as they look to find efficiencies while also dealing with increased capacity demands. Jonathan Leppard, Director at Future Facilities, tells us why it is so important to demystify the ‘security blanket’ – which is inhibiting innovation – to future proof infrastructure.

Pressure. Some thrive on it. Some loathe it. Either way, pressure exerts on people a need to make decisions – often quickly and under stressful conditions. Our research shows that 77% of organisations are seeing increased demands on their infrastructure and data centre decision makers are feeling the pressure everywhere from available floor space to the thermometers monitoring room temperature. Capacity is being challenged at the same time as power and cooling systems are feeling stretched. The facility is under pressure.

Safety blanket or smother blanket?

The ‘security blanket’ is a measure originally put in place by IT teams to ensure that the data centre runs at, what is believed to be, the optimised state of efficiency. This method of risk avoidance to prevent overheating actually results in the data centres performance being capped at below its potential, when it should be safely delivering 95% utilisation. 

But wait, there is more. The research also shows that having a restrictive sense of caution without using analysed data is a costly mistake by businesses, who on average are over-provisioning by a margin of 36%. Data centre capabilities have long exceeded their current use and now really should be running far more efficiently. The security blanket is suffocating businesses and creating unfulfilled potential to progress in an era when business technology is supposed to move fast.

This is all a bit ironic when you realise that the long believed ‘healthy’ margin created by the data centre security blanket has instead become the hindrance to innovation it was first introduced to stop.

What’s just as surprising is that one-third of data centres see their facility’s temperature managed using rule of thumb rather than scientific data. So we are now in a position where data centres are bloated with overprovisioning, some are making key decisions around heating based on gut feel and the demands and pressures on them are only set to increase. 

CFD and the digital twin

So how will the introduction of a digital twin powered by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling actually increase the performance of data centre operations? The digital twin powered by CFD modelling is a simulation tool used to predict what will happen when a data centre facility is laid out in different ways. Over time it can be used to create detailed models so that teams can test out setups and make better decisions on how to structure their data centre, with the end goal of preventing outages. With the digital twin, teams can leverage a concept that is already tried and tested in other fields such as healthcare, automotive and aerospace industries. Senior management can then use the same level of precision in the data centre to achieve higher efficiency levels.

Essentially, while the security blanket has been shielding decision-makers from the true potential of their data centre, the digital twin powered by CFD modelling shows them the optimum way to unlock that potential for their facility and allows them to make informed decisions with confidence. 

The extra 36%

Alongside discovering that data centre management is overspending by 36%, the research also found that three times as many organisations using data centre CFD have had zero outages, in comparison to those not using the technology. This powerful ability to deliver enhanced performance to the business with refined predictably and without interruption not only enables the data centre to operate at higher performance levels, while reducing the total cost of ownership. This is the essence of the successful data centre. 

The ‘security blanket’ has been preventing data centre leaders from seeing what truly matters for far too long; data centres are the nexus of innovation where the most game-changing applications and business-defining data exist. In an age where technology has become a critical commercial differentiator it is of pivotal importance to demystify the need for a security blanket.

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