Top 10 Data Center Management Trends of 2019
In 2019, data center managers have seen several significant changes in data center management that present opportunities to improve and challenges to overcome. An increased focus on capacity planning, software-defined infrastructure, and edge data centers are just a few of the things data center managers must think about as they look towards 2020.
As 2019 comes to a close, let’s look back at 10 of the year’s trends in data center management and what data center managers can do now to stay on top of them in the next year.
- Capacity planning and management. Simplifying power capacity planning and management is one of the top concerns of data center managers. The traditional method of power capacity planning—taking a percent of a server’s nameplate budget value and applying that derated value to all identical server models—is manual, inaccurate, and risk-prone. Data center managers need to simplify and automate power capacity planning or risk stranded rack power and space capacity and overspending on operating expenses.
- Software-defined infrastructure. Software-defined data centers is an emerging approach to meet enterprise demands of doing more with less. They are secure facilities where servers’ computing and storage power are virtualized and sold to customers as a service. Virtual environments may seem limitless, but the underlying physical layer has space, power, and cooling resources that require planning, managing, and optimizing.
- Data center migration to colocation facilities. As operational and resource costs increase, more organizations see colocation as an attractive solution to house their IT infrastructure. Colocation facilities provide the power, cooling, and connectivity resources that organizations need at a cost they can afford. However, migrating to a colo can be a risky, time-intensive project that is difficult to execute without the right tool to manage, monitor, and provide visibility to colocation infrastructure.
- Remote management of the edge. New applications driven by AI and machine learning are pushing the limits of the internet as we know it. By moving data centers and compute to the edge, or more regional, the distances between the data and the end user or shortened, speeding up downloads, improving content streaming, and supporting Internet of Things (IoT) networks. Currently, about 10% of data is created and processed outside a centralized data center or cloud, but according to Gartner, this will reach 75% by 2025. Managing edge data centers remotely presents unique challenges and requires a different skillset than traditional data center management.
- Innovative cooling technology. With cooling being responsible for as much as 40 percent of all data center energy consumption, many organizations are focusing on increasing cooling efficiency. Modern power-hungry equipment is generating more heat than traditional cooling infrastructure can accommodate, requiring data center managers to find new ways to manage their environments. Google, for example, has turned to its DeepMind artificial intelligence system to optimize cooling in some of its data centers, which has reduced cooling energy consumption by 40%. Other organizations are implementing liquid cooling technology as a more cost-effective and efficient cooling strategy than traditional air-cooled systems, and leveraging software to gain actionable insights about their data center environment.
- Data center talent shortage. The data center industry is growing rapidly, but likewise, so is the challenge of finding experienced and qualified candidates to employ. A study by the Uptime Institute found that there is a growing need for new skills in hybrid IT environments, operations, and management. Further, there is a shortage of young people and women in the data center workforce—a labor shortage which can drive up costs and impede the industry’s growth. It’s vital for organizations to be more aggressive in hiring and training the right candidates to replace the aging workforce before their institutional knowledge is lost.
- Data center security. Organizations are under the constant threat of cyber and physical security breaches and are increasingly investing in protecting the number one asset of any data center: the data. Many organizations are seeking proactive security measures to manage access to different areas and equipment, ensure compliance with company and industry regulations, and reduce the risk of data center staff leaving doors to cabinets and containment units open.
- Integration to create a single source of truth. Data center managers continue to struggle with the complex, distributed operations of modern data center environments. When separate teams manage their distinct data center aspects with their own systems such as BMS and ITSM, the result is disparate data silos, inaccuracies across data stores, and reduced productivity due to manually replicating data. It is necessary for data center managers to break down data silos and enable one single source of truth to maximize the value of their data to better serve their customers.
- Data-driven decision making. Intelligent metering infrastructure and sensors provide an abundance of data that data center managers can use to monitor their most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and better define data center best practices, but it is not always easy to know what to track or where to start. To achieve optimal efficiency and overall health in their environments, data center managers need to monitor the right data center KPIs to make the most informed data center management decisions.
- Replacing legacy tools with second-generation DCIM. DCIM was once a software category flooded with vendors overpromising and underdelivering. Now, with the emergence of second-generation DCIM, it is fast becoming the de facto standard tool for complete data center management. Second-generation DCIM, with capabilities such as zero-configuration analytics, automation via integration, scalability, data-driven collaboration, and multi-vendor compatibility, addresses many of the challenges of its legacy counterparts to dramatically simplify data center management.
How to Adapt to These Data Center Trends in 2020
Staying on top of these trends may seem a daunting task for data center managers who are struggling to get by now. However, a complete DCIM solution simplifies and automates the capabilities necessary to tackle many of these trends.
For example, DCIM software brings automation to data center capacity planning. A second-generation DCIM solution reduces the manual effort, inaccuracy, and risk involved with traditional capacity planning methods and unlocks previous rack capacity by assigning each individual server make/model instance a unique power budget value that’s automatically set from real-time outlet-measured power readings from rack PDUs.
With many of these trends expected to grow next year, data center managers must be ready for changes in how they manage their data centers. Now is the time to consider how DCIM software can help you prepare for next year and beyond.