Uptime Survey results on data center staffing

Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 31-03-2011

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Data Center Knowledge reported on AFCOM’s new “State of the Data Center” survey results, and pointed out that server and storage deployments are growing, while data center staff is shrinking, or staying the same in most data centers.

According to preliminary results from Uptime Institute’s Inaugural Data Center Survey, 71% of data center owners/operators had 24×7 staffing at their data centers. Around 32% of respondents said their data centers were understaffed. And 60% reported budget as the most significant constraint on staffing needs.

According to Uptime Institute’s AIR database, 70% of reported data center outages are directly attributable to human error. Management decisions regarding staffing levels, training and maintenance may have the most significant impact on a data center site’s availability over time. This is why staffing requirements play such a prominent role in Uptime Institute’s Tier Standard Operational Sustainability (see document for staffing/availability requirements matrix).

The right number of qualified people on appropriate shifts is critical to meeting long-term performance objectives, providing a comprehensive maintenance program, and coordinating effective financial management and capacity planning in the data center.

Click here to participate in Uptime Institute’s Inaugural data center survey and receive a free copy of the findings.

Comment on data center staffing issues on our blog, or reply on Twitter @UptimeInstitute.

Data center energy efficiency at a crossroads

Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 31-03-2011

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Five years ago the data center industry faced a crisis: Data centers were running out of capacity, the mechanical infrastructure couldn’t handle the widespread and rapid shift to high-density hardware, and minimally utilized servers sprawled out of control.

And bigger challenges loomed on the horizon: Scarcity of cheap power, pending regulation, and increased public scrutiny of data center energy use.

The first respondents to this crisis demonstrated that data center design and operations could evolve significantly to meet those challenges.

The first respondents also developed best practices and metrics for measuring energy efficiency. Server virtualization has been widely implemented, improving IT utilization. Forward-thinking data center managers have become better stewards of their companies’ resources, and the planet’s.

Today, Facebook has 100,000 users demanding its data centers unfriend coal after news broke that the social media giant had chosen a utility provider with primarily coal-based power generation. Our discussions with one of the world’s top banks reveals heightened sensitivity in that industry to the public relations impacts, and business consequences, of energy use in the data centers.

For many companies, green is a competitive differentiator driving data center consolidation efforts, closer scrutiny of IT capacity management, and efficiency-minded engineering solutions. Other companies are running out of data center space while they’re still dragging themselves out of the economic crisis.

Ignoring data center efficiency is no longer an option.

The tools and best practices are available for data center owners and operators to wring every drop out of existing data center assets, and to design new data centers in the most cost- and energy-efficient manner possible.

Actionable advice, low-cost improvements, self-funding projects

For the past several years, Uptime Institute has developed a body of knowledge for data center owners and operators to improve data center efficiency. Many of these time honored best practices haven’t changed, nor require significant investment.

Uptime Institute recommends all data center owners and operators take a staged approach to energy efficiency. Starting with low-cost, low-risk efficiency improvements—data center managers can reap huge savings from existing facilities without any new or expensive techno-fixes.

The following documents provide actionable advice for data center managers to get started:

-IT and Facilities Initiatives for Improved Data Center Efficiency: Ten initiatives for data center operators to reduce energy-related capital expenses across facility and IT systems.

-How to Meet “24 by Forever” Cooling Demands of Your Data Center: 27 data center cooling best practices to improve reliability and efficiency.

-The Invisible Crisis in the Data Center — The Economic Meltdown of Moore’s Law: Provides economic argument for improving data center efficiency, and recommendations for achieving those goals.

The next step: Integrating IT and data center operations

Data center facilities managers and executives have led the first charge to improve data center energy efficiency. Future improvements in data center efficiency will depend on incentivizing IT practitioners to take the next steps.

IT operations staff can drive exponential improvements in data center efficiency and effectiveness. IT organizations that are willing to take a systematic approach, starting at the application and data layers – consolidating applications and servers, de-duplicating data, removing comatose but power-draining servers, building redundancy into the applications and IT architecture rather than physical systems — will drive the next wave of efficiency gains.

The following documents provide advice for integrating data center facilities and IT operations teams:

Data Center Energy Efficiency and Productivity: An introduction of the concept of the Integrated Critical Environments Team, plus five self-funding short-term initiatives to improve data center efficiency.

-ITIL — How to Manage the Coming Convergence of IT and Facilities: Using the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework to create an integrated IT and Facilities team.

Uptime Institute’s role and publication plan going forward

Over the past five years, the data center industry has coalesced around new standards, best practices, metrics and recognition programs. Uptime Institute has partnered with industry standards bodies, and will provide technical advice, an industry test bed and global perspective on these standards, best practices and metrics.

Drawing on the expertise of its Network, staff of distinguished engineers, body of intellectual property and the hundreds of Uptime Institute Accredited Tier Specialists and Accredited Tier Designers around the globe, Uptime will deliver publications to help data center owners and operators evaluate and implement data center efficiency metrics, best practices and recognition programs.

Look for new step-by-step data center efficiency guidance in the coming months for Uptime Institute Members. Also, the Uptime Institute will be serving as a test-bed for industry standards in development. This will work to ensure that the owner’s perspective is incorporated into the development process and that the methodologies are proved in real-life, real-world operational data centers.

Uptime Institute awards India’s first Tier Certifications

Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 30-03-2011

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Uptime Institute today announced the completed Certification of the design of five Datacraft onecloud data centers in India as Tier III Concurrently Maintainable. A Tier III Certification signifies true 24×7 availability as the data centers are designed specifically to ensure that no downtime occurs due to equipment maintenance or replacement.

A total of six Datacraft onecloud data centers will receive Uptime Institute’s Design and Facility Certification this year. Upon completion, this will represent the largest portfolio of Tier Certified data centers in the world. Datacraft’s design-build partner for all of these sites is Emerson Network Power India.

Uptime Institute is currently processing 11 Tier III and IV Certifications in India alone. These agreements, all signed within the last four months, demonstrate the level of demand and explosive growth of the Indian market for highly available data centers.

“Datacraft exemplifies market leadership in India with Uptime Institute’s Tiers Classification and Certification System, distinguishing Datacraft as exceptional among Indian providers with independent verification of continuous availability,” said Martin McCarthy, Uptime Institute executive chairman. “Tier Certification is insurance for substantial data center investment without impacting or restricting important speed to market. We anticipate that Tier Certification will become commonly adopted in the booming Indian data center market by top enterprises and service providers who want to assure investment value and ensure that business objectives of availability can be met.”

“The fact that all six of our data center facilities in India will be Uptime Institute Tier III Certified by the end of 2011 illustrates our commitment to deliver best-in-class services,” said Dilip Kumar, COO of Datacraft Asia, Pte Ltd. “These facilities, built in partnership with BSNL, operate under the brand onecloud—and provide a comprehensive range of co-location, hosted, cloud and managed services, particularly to the government and public sectors. With the Uptime Institute Certification, our clients can be assured that our IT services provide business continuity, security and system availability to world-class standards. Tier III Certification gives our data centers a mark of excellence.”

“These Certifications demonstrate that the Tiers are both applicable and recognizable around the world. The Tier system allows comparison and recognition of data center strength and sophistication that transcend borders or time zones,” said Julian Kudritzki, Vice President of Uptime Institute. “In India and the 29 other countries where we are awarding Tier Certifications to data centers, there is no conflict between code, regulation, or law and the Uptime Institute’s Standards.”

Tier Certification is a third-party, unbiased validation of a data center’s capability to perform maintenance or respond to a fault without affecting the data center’s availability. It is the only Certification to the Uptime Institute’s Tier Classification System (Tier I-IV).

Colocation campus model: Q&A Vantage Data Centers CEO Jim Trout

Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Uptime Institute Symposium | Posted on 28-03-2011

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This week we caught up with Vantage Data Centers CEO Jim Trout and talked to him about his company’s latest data center campus in Silicon Valley. Vantage is an underwriter at the 2011 Uptime Institute Symposium.

In this video, Trout discusses Vantage’s approach to building out a data center campus for colocation customers, the differences between serving corporate enterprises and cloud computing providers, and the company’s expansion plans.

Construction cost per megawatt of data center capacity shrinking?

Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Uptime Institute Symposium | Posted on 25-03-2011

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Will prefab data center pod designs, increased economization, and a reliance on application-based failover instead of physical redundancy cut data center construction costs in half over the next five years? Microsoft thinks so.

Christian Belady, General Manager, Data Center Research at Microsoft’s Global Foundation Services (and Uptime Symposium speaker) recently published a research paper projecting annual new data center construction market size.

Belady made the assumption that the data center industry will likely move from an average construction cost of $15 million per megawatt (MW) to something more like $6 million per MW in five years resulting in a flattening of year-over-year growth.

In 2006, Uptime Institute estimated data center construction cost between $10-$22 million per MW. Belady said that the cloud computing model would shrink cost dramatically:

There is a force that is effecting the annual growth in data center construction that is a bit more tangible: the shift from highly redundant and well-controlled data centers to lower cost, highly-efficient cloud data center designs. These designs leverage their scale and application redundancy, as opposed to hardware redundancy to drive down cost. In addition, these designs use aggressive economizations that employ either liquid or air to help drive down cost and substantially improve efficiency. These data centers today are characterized by costs on the order of $6 million per MW and will continue to go lower in the future.

Belady said he came to the $6 million number based on Microsoft’s internal numbers, and looking at public numbers from cloud scale providers like Yahoo’s $5 million per MW Yahoo Computing Coop.

I spoke with some Uptime Institute Professional Services Consultants who said savvy data center operators are reigning in costs of traditional data center space as well.

“A forward-thinking owner can take advantage of a phased approach and thereby lower initial construction costs and still achieve a resilient data center,” said UIPS Consultant Keith Klesner. “A recently Tier III Certified Facility was built at approximately $8M per megawatt. The facility owner is a longtime active Network member with a focus on both availability and efficiency. The facility used traditional data center design with limited waterside economizing.”

But the cheapest data center is the one you don’t have to build. “The real cost savings reside in optimizing the IT infrastructure,” said Shawn Novak, consultant with UIPS Digital Infrastructure Services. “After numerous engagements, we have seen many clients underutilized on the IT infrastructure. A simple optimization project could delay the need for a new data center project. By creating a more efficient IT environment, a company may save hundreds of millions of dollars in capital expenses. If the company needs a new data center, they should engage a third party to optimize the IT load. On average, for every 250kW of power saved, it is approximately $5M worth of Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Infrastructure costs saved. When the IT infrastructure is underutilized, the initial cost for a projected data center are almost double what the cost should be. You will find that many companies will have dug a hole with a generic plan of 150 watts a square foot, with no clue on what really will be going inside the data center walls.”

UIPS also warns that pods, containers, and pre-fab designs aren’t going to be a fit for all customers. As UIPS Consultant Matt Mescall pointed out on Uptime Institute’s LinkedIn Group, Rakesh Kumar, vice president of Gartner Research said recently that the data center container market is drying up.

“This is not is not a solution for most users,” Klesner said. “An owner with business critical applications can often justify the expense of a Tier III solution when compared to the cost of a single outage.”