White space in a data center refers to the space that is specifically allocated for IT equipment and infrastructure.
The white space includes:
- Network gear
- Power distribution systems (i.e., rack PDUs, busways)
- Air conditioning units
White space is typically measured in square feet and can range anywhere from a few hundred to a hundred thousand square feet. While the term “white space” originally referred to the white tiles in a raised floor environment, it can also be used to describe usable square footage in data centers without a raised floor.
There has been an increased need for data center white space due to the rapid growth of online activity, especially in recent years as the COVID-19 pandemic made access to online applications a necessity. The need for virtually limitless uptime and storage capacity is constantly growing with the greater reliance on the internet for work, social media, e-commerce, banking, and entertainment.
Optimizing white space is extremely important in the design and management of a data center. The ability to maximize the utilization of existing capacity and intelligently increase capacity when needed are essential to ensuring long-term growth.
To support scalability and efficiency for mission critical facilities, data center managers often invest in white space fit-outs. Fit-outs prep the ideal space for a rack, and a successful white space fit-out will provide a place to roll racks into with power and communication infrastructure available on location for plug-in.
How to Optimize Data Center White Space
There are numerous ways to optimize the utilization of white space capacity to improve the operational efficiency and availability of a data center. These methods include:
- Maintain an accurate asset database. Inaccurate data impedes capacity planning, reservations, change management, and more. Ensure that all asset data is up to date including dimensions, data/power ports, connector types, and exact cabinet location and RU position.
- Perform what-if analysis. What-if analysis allows you to simulate the impact of changes on your data center capacity before committing to new infrastructure projects.
- Know your rack unit fragmentation. Rack unit fragmentation helps you understand the number of items that can be deployed in a specific location if all the items were a specific height.
- Monitor power, cooling, and port capacity. Capacity planning isn’t just about space. Tracking the capacity of all key resources such as power, cooling, and power and data ports is also necessary to provision equipment properly.
- Track stranded, budgeted, and actual power capacity. Stranded power is the difference between the power you’ve budgeted and the actual power consumed. Stranded power wastes resources and money and should be kept to a minimum.
- Leverage cloud computing. Cloud computing reduces the number of physical servers and other IT infrastructure needed within the facility.
- Consider virtualization. Virtualization allows many virtual machines to be consolidated into fewer physical machines, resulting in less physical hardware and more efficient utilization of existing white space in the facility. DCIM software can help improve the efficiency of virtualization as it helps data center managers track and manage their virtual and physical resources so they can make more informed decisions.
Simplify Data Center White Space Management with DCIM Software
Accurate capacity planning can help estimate the resource requirements needed both currently and in the future, reducing the risk of wasted space within the facility. This has external benefits as well as data centers rarely reach the maximum load they were planned for, which means more money is spent supporting costly excess capacity.
Modern data center managers leverage second-generation DCIM software to centrally manage all their resources and capacities and simplify how they find and reserve resources.
DCIM software enables you to:
- Automate device power budgeting to increase utilization of existing capacity by up to 40%
- Find the optimal cabinet to deploy equipment in in seconds
- Reserve space, power, and port capacity all at once
- Easily understand power capacity at every breaker point in the power path
- Correlate and report on capacity restraints
- Get a real-time view of port-level capacity at every rack including available space, budgeted power, available RUs, potential power, copper/fiber/power ports, and more
- Forecast your remaining days of capacity left so you know when you’ll need to purchase more
- Visualize space capacity across all cabinet elevations of all sites
Want to see how Sunbird’s world-leading DCIM solution can help you optimize your data center white space? Get your free test drive now!