Thursday, October 19, 2017

Operational Efficiency: Real-Time Intelligence is Key

by Adrian Barker, General Manager – EMEA, RF Code

The growth of cloud, the Internet of Things and Big Data has made us ever more reliant on the data centre. Cisco recently forecast that cloud traffic will reach 14.1 zettabytes a year by 2020 and facilities will have to ensure they are able to deal with the increase in workload.

Processing this amount of data takes a lot of power and data centres are not always as efficient as they should be. Data centres are now mission critical and yet many organisations are unable to provide detailed information on the ROI of data centre investments.

Poor inventory management and lack of visibility into operational factors such as air handling, power and cooling can leave executives in the dark about the true cost of their data centre estates.

Operational intelligence and efficiency are key to not only combating millions of dollars of inefficiency in the data centre but also to ensure resiliency and reliability as capacity continues to grow. Real-time monitoring of assets and the environment enable organisations to optimise performance of its data centres.

Understanding Assets

The more detail and insight into a facility, the better equipped an organisation is to improve data centre performance. This is especially important for asset management. The data centre environment is a dynamic space with assets being moved continuously to provide capacity where it is needed and without appropriate tracking this can easily cause issues.

Manual asset management means processes are out of date before they’re even complete and prone to errors. Manual audits can take weeks, especially as data centre estates can be spread across multiple locations and consist of thousands of assets.

In many cases there will be assets unaccounted for in storage that organisations have long forgotten – collecting dust and decreasing in value. This can lead to unnecessary overprovisioning, when there are assets ready and waiting to be used. If assets have been leased it is equally important to have accurate information as organisation’s could be paying warranty for assets they no longer need and could face charges for lost hardware.

Every asset should be providing optimum value to the business. Managing and anticipating capacity requirements is a difficult task if the information managers are using is outdated and inaccurate. Continuous real-time monitoring provides accurate asset information and enables data centre managers to know the location of all assets – both connected and those sitting in storage – and be alerted to issues before they escalate.

Monitor and Measure

Environmental monitoring is equally important to improving operational efficiency. It was recently reported that the world’s data centres used 416.2 terawatts hours of energy last year, more than the entire UK’s consumption. As our need for data seems unlikely to wane, reducing energy consumption should be a key target for data centre managers.

There is a cost to both overheating and overcooling facilities. Overheating can often occur from lack of capacity to deal with large spikes in data centre traffic. Inadequately cooled equipment can fail under pressure and inefficient cooling over a prolonged period of time can cause damage to equipment and reduce its performance.

Overcooling is expensive and unnecessary – servers can function on higher temperatures than most operational teams think and just a few degrees warmer can save millions on annual energy bills. Utilising granular environmental monitoring tools to improve data centre performance and efficiency is key to optimising the data centre as a business asset.

Equipment issues and failures are inevitable in any data centre. A water leak left undetected could cause serious damage and downtime – early alerting to issues can be the difference between a small repair and a major loss of service availability and hardware.

Operational intelligence through real-time monitoring improves data centre performance, reduces operating costs and increases the accuracy of decision making. Every aspect of the business is striving for greater insight and efficiency, and every department should be striving for optimum performance and the best ROI. With the data centre powering so many business processes and applications, organisations cannot afford to be in the dark.