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Top Ten Data Center Trends and Challenges for 2009. Matt Stansberry Senior Site Editor 541-505-7793. Abstract.

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top ten data center trends and challenges for 2009

Top Ten Data Center Trends and Challenges for 2009

Matt Stansberry

Senior Site Editor



Data center operators are facing more change today than any time in the past 10 years. The increased demand for computing capacity, uptime and lower costs is forcing data center pros to push the boundaries of traditional data center designs and technologies. This presentation will offer an overview of the top ten trends shaping the industry in 2009.


What We Learned From Our Survey

  • Server trends are holding steady -- x86 rack based computers are driving data center purchasing and design.
  • Data center managers are paying more for power and becoming increasingly aware of new “green” technologies. But nearly 40% of respondents don’t know if their power bill changed from 2007-2008 – they are not measuring costs or consumption.
  • Virtualization is mainstream and growing, with VM deployments and density on the rise. Backup and DR tools lead the current third party tool usage scenarios.
  • Systems management spending is still weak, but the majority of companies are investing or have invested in CMDB software, which analysts say is the first step toward building a mature systems management foundation.

About The Audience

  • 12% of respondents identify themselves as IT execs (VP, CTO, CIO), 27% as IT managers.
  • Nearly 30% work for companies with over $1 billion in revenue and over 10,000 employees.
  • 73% of respondents work in a central data center.
  • 13% manage over 1,000 servers.
so what is a container data center
So What Is A Container Data Center?
  • Portable data centers are built into a standard 20' shipping container.
  • External cooling and power infrastructure are required.
  • Some systems use closed loop water cooling, some specialized high density air cooling.
  • Different designs have variable compute densities, ranging from 8 to 28 racks, depending on server form factor and cooling strategies.
why data center trailers unsustainable data center growth
Why Data Center Trailers? Unsustainable Data Center Growth
  • Companies are building new data centers to provide additional power for an increasing number of servers.
  • The primary drivers are application growth and disaster recovery.
  • In our 2007 survey on data center construction, more than 80% of respondents said they planned to build new facilities or expand in the coming 18 months.
  • According to AFCOM, over 60% of pre-2005 data centers will be incapable of supporting business requirements because of capacity constraints by 2009.
  • This construction boom is not a onetime catch-up. Uptime says server growth will drive additional data center construction every three to five years.
everybody is building containers
Everybody Is Building Containers…
  • Sun Modular Data Center
  • Verari FOREST Container
  • HP Performance Optimized Data Center (POD)
  • IBM iDataPlex container
  • APC mobile data center
  • Dell (coming soon)
top selling points for containers
Top Selling Points For Containers
  • Ten times faster to deploy than a traditional data center.
  • Reduced capital expenses with incremental growth.
  • Flexibility to relocate and reuse data center assets.
  • High density, high efficiency design.
top container drawbacks
Top Container Drawbacks
  • Cost premium on one-off designs
  • Specialized engineering requirements
  • Homogenous IT architecture isn’t a fit for most companies
  • Difficult to work inside containers
  • Scale is too large for most companies
2 cmdb implementations
2. CMDB Implementations
  • 80% of IT failures are due to changes in the system.
  • IT admins' daily to-do lists are getting longer, and the information they need to complete these tasks is changing faster.
what is a cmdb
What Is A CMDB?
  • A configuration management database (CMDB) is a database that contains all relevant information about the components in a data center, and relationships between those components.
  • CMDB components are referred to as configuration items (CI). CIs can include software, hardware, documentation, and personnel.
  • The processes of configuration management seeks to specify, control, and track configuration items and any changes made to them in a comprehensive and systematic fashion.
rapid adoption of cmdbs
Rapid Adoption Of CMDBs
  • In’s 2007 purchasing intentions survey, 24% of respondents had invested in a CMDB, and another 24% were evaluating them.
  • 2008: 55% have invested in a CMDB, 5% will purchase, and another 19% plan to evaluate this year.
  • HP, BMC lead in market share, with CA and IBM trailing.
adoption vs implementation
Adoption Vs. Implementation
  • Gartner’s CMDB adoption numbers match ours, but say only 3-5% of global 2000 companies have completed the implementation of a CMDB.
  • One wonders how many people “doing” CMDB are in fact putting in an asset database, or some other user-defined version of CMDB. Or how many are there where “doing” means Fred has been told to come up with something in his spare time with no budget. Or where “doing” means we bought a tool that says CMDB on the brochure but we haven’t got past implementing network alerting or incident tickets yet. –IT Skeptic
cmdb implementation pitfalls
CMDB Implementation Pitfalls
  • Manually populating a CMDB is time consuming project. Automated data management products can federate systems quickly, but homegrown applications and heterogeneous data centers make automation difficult.
  • IT systems change faster than staff can manually update the CMDB. Without automated federation, latency develops in the system.
3 put servers to sleep
3. Put Servers To Sleep
  • A server running at 20% utilization may draw up to 80% of its maximum power.
  • The vast majority of companies could throttle or power-down idle servers with no impact on application performance.
how do you power down servers
How Do You Power-Down Servers?
  • Chip Level: AMD and Intel Corp. use features that allow server firmware to throttle down CPU cycles during low-demand periods. Intel calls the technology Demand-Based Switching, which minimizes the applied voltage and clock speed on a microprocessor until more processing power is actually required. AMD calls the technology PowerNow and claims that it can reduce CPU power at idle by 75%.
  • OS Level: Microsoft built processor power management into its operating system in Windows Server 2003, but the majority of users never enabled the feature. In Windows Server 2008 power management is enabled out of the box. The new power management feature provides finer-grain controls that allow the OS to scale back the voltage going to the processor, rather than putting CPUs to sleep when servers are idle, which can result in latency issues.
power down process continued
Power-Down Process Continued
  • Element manager level: These software tools ship free with servers. Major players are entering this field, but the capabilities are often single-vendor solutions. HP’s Insight Power Manager (ProLiant and Itanium) and IBM’s PowerExecutive (BladeCenter and System x) are two examples. While specific to hardware vendors, these tools allow for real-time monitoring, power capping and CPU throttling.
  • Third-party tools: New companies are touting vendor neutral products that can manage across virtual and physical servers, providing policy-based throttle down features. The most prominent company in this space is Cassatt. Virtualization vendors such as Virtual Iron, VMware and Citrix are all getting involved in capabilities to shut down physical machines when there are no virtual machines running on the hardware, but these are brand new features.
active power myths debunked
Active Power Myths Debunked
  • MYTH 1: Some believe that turning servers on and off compromises hardware reliability. But computers are designed to handle 40,000 on-off cycles before failure, and you’re not likely to approach that number during the average computer’s five- to seven-year life span. In fact, IBM and Hewlett- Packard encourage their employees to turn off idle computers, and some studies indicate it would require on-off cycling every five minutes to harm a hard drive.
  • MYTH 2: It takes more energy to turn off a server for a few hours and then back on rather than to just leave it running. The small surge of power created when devices such as computers are turned on is vastly smaller than the energy used by running a device when it is not needed.
problems with power down
Problems With Power-Down
  • Performance latency potential.
  • Servers support fragile, multi-tiered data center interdependencies.
  • Huge consequences for system failures.
  • A lack of major case studies.
  • Hardware stability FUD.
  • Case for ROI is still developing.
what is cloud computing
What Is Cloud Computing?
  • The basic concept is on-demand access to computing power and storage space via the Internet.
  • Companies are providing CPUs and storage, but the next step is providers bundling applications and platforms into the mix.
resistance is futile
Resistance Is Futile
  • Google, Yahoo, MSFT host applications I use in the cloud every day (like Gmail).
  • At a recent industry conference, data center managers from very conservative companies (Ford, Boeing) said they’d have no problem putting non-critical apps into the cloud.
  • Data center hosting companies are talking about building out high density infrastructure to either rent to cloud providers -- or to become cloud providers themselves.
benefits of cloud computing
Benefits Of Cloud Computing
  • Lower capital costs: Cloud costs less than data center expansion.
  • Increase efficiency by reducing over-provisioning of data center resources.
  • More business agility: On-demand computing is faster than data center infrastructure build out.
  • Disaster recovery: Backup can be abstracted from physical layer
cloud risks and pitfalls
Cloud Risks And Pitfalls
  • The main consumers of cloud computing are SMBs, startups and end users that don't have legacy constraints of large companies.
  • Cloud companies could go under, get acquired or just disappear in an outage. Users need to have documented recovery processes.
  • Compliance and security issues with sensitive data, shared IT resources and unknown third-party IT staff.
  • Lack of ISV application support as each cloud architecture is different.
5 hot and cold aisle containment gaining credence
5. Hot And Cold Aisle Containment Gaining Credence
  • Up to 40% of cooling in traditional hot-ailse/cold-aisle doesn't do any work. Air mixes over the tops of racks and around the rows.
  • Hot-aisle/cold-aisle containment uses a physical barrier to separate airflow through makeshift design solutions, ducted plenum systems and other commercial offerings.
benefits of containment
Benefits Of Containment
  • The separation of hot and cold air can provide much better uniformity of air temperature from the top to the bottom of the rack.
  • That uniformity of temperature enables data center pros to raise the set point temperature more safely.
  • William Tschudi from LBNL said that, together with VFDs, containment can reduce fan energy use by 75%.
hot aisle cold aisle containment problems
Hot Aisle/Cold Aisle Containment Problems
  • APC promotes hot-aisle containment, while Emerson Liebert's product line supports cold aisle. No standards at this time.
  • Hot aisle containment can pose a problem for staff that need to access the 110-degree hot aisle.
  • Fire suppression issues abound. Are you putting a sprinkler inside every containment unit? Are you using plastic sheeting that will melt and drop to the floor?
  • Executives may not support that your data center looks like the back of a butcher shop.
who is doing containment
Who Is Doing Containment?
  • Yahoo reduced data center cooling energy use 21%, reduced PUE ratio from 1.52 to 1.44, saving $563,000 annually in a 8,000 sq. ft. room within Yahoo’s 40,000 sq. ft. data center in Santa Clara, Calif.
  • Advanced Data Centers is building a facility in Sacramento, Calif. The hot aisle will be contained by attaching a ducted plenum and chimney to exhaust the hot air outside, allowing ADC to pressurize the entire room with cool air.
  • Storage vendor NetApp has employed vinyl meat locker curtains to contain air in the hot aisles in its Silicon Valley data center. These curtains alone save NetApp 1 million kWh of energy per year.
computers run on coal
Computers Run On Coal
  • Half of all the electricity generated in the U.S. comes from coal-burning power plants.
  • By reducing energy consumption, we lessen the demand to build more of these polluters.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that a 500-megawatt coal-burning power plant generates: 3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide, the primary cause of human-related global warming; 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain; and 500 tons of airborne particles, responsible for respiratory health problems.
regulation on the horizon
Regulation On The Horizon?
  • There are massive efforts afoot in government agencies to start reporting carbon emissions and energy usage. That responsibility is going to be shifted to IT departments that maintain the data centers. We've attended the EPA forums, and it's not a question of if, but when, it is coming and what metrics will be required. It'd be far better for the people who run and operate data centers to come up with metrics that mean something.-Mike Manos, Microsoft
climate change legislation imminent
Climate Change Legislation Imminent
  • A carbon cap and trade scheme will drive energy costs up an estimated 20%. Data center operators already constricted by huge power bills are in for even more sticker shock at the meter in the future.
  • The Warner-Lieberman Climate Security Act did not pass Senate committee, but both presidential candidates will make this a priority in the upcoming term.
certifications not worth much
Certifications Not Worth Much
  • Regard for IT certifications has taken a nosedive -- 80% of respondents said IT certifications had no impact on their hiring, promotion or salary in the past year.
  • According to research from Foote Partners LLC, an IT job research firm, the pay for noncertified IT skills now averages more than pay for certified pros.
  • IT has become less technical and has gotten closer to the customers and lines of business. Companies want more industry experience and understanding of the business process.
exceptions to the rule
Exceptions To The Rule
  • VMware Certified professionals: Companies want employees with three to four years of virtualization experience.
  • Marist’s CDCP certification is made up of six associate certifications. It takes two years to go through the coursework.
  • Data center engineering in demand. From the NY Times: “People with the skills to design, build and run a data center that does not endanger the power grid are suddenly in demand. Their status is growing, as are their salaries -- climbing more than 20% in the last two years into six figures for experienced engineers.”
8 virtualization production issues third party tools at a turning point
8. Virtualization Production Issues, Third-Party Tools At A Turning Point
  • According to a 2008 survey --61% of our readers use some form of virtualization and another 29% will deploy it this year. Only 10% of respondents had no plans for virtualization.
  • But virtualization isn't without its difficulties. Asked which systems management tasks gave them trouble in VMware environments, respondents replied with a laundry list of complaints.
  • Customers are waiting to see third-party virtualization management tools mature before investing in them.
top virtualization systems management challenges
Top Virtualization Systems Management Challenges
  • Performance management, noted by 47% of respondents
  • Capacity planning (45%)
  • Backup and restore, change management, disaster recovery, troubleshooting and migration were all listed as challenges by 20% to 30 % of respondents.
nothing too shocking
Nothing Too Shocking
  • HP is still the favorite x86 server vendor.
  • A good portion of data centers still favor rack servers over blades.
  • The vast majority use Microsoft Windows as the primary operating system.
  • Increase in large symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) servers, probably driven by the expanding use of virtualization.
Intel Continues To Dominate Processor Selection On x86…What Processor Will You Specify For Servers In 2008?
energy issues increasingly important how important is energy efficiency in your organization
Energy Issues Increasingly Important…How Important Is Energy Efficiency In Your Organization?
why metrics matter
Why Metrics Matter
  • Metrics like PUE will help data center managers make better decisions. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This will give us empirical evidence on which energy efficient “best practices” are really working and allow users to determine ROI on projects.
data center infrastructure efficiency or pue
Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency Or PUE
  • Power “in” to the data center (measured at the utility electric meter), divided by power “out” used to run the IT equipment for computing.
  • The Uptime Institute: 85 corporate members (the largest financial data centers in the world) have an average PUE of 2.5. This means that for every 2.5 watts “in” at the utility meter, only one watt is delivered out to the IT load.
  • Uptime estimates a best case scenario of 1.6 PUE for companies with the most efficient equipment and no over provisioning capacity.
measuring pue
Measuring PUE
  • Take a measurement at the facility’s utility meter. If your data center is in a mixed-use facility, measure only at the meter that powers your data center facility. If power to your data center is not on a separate utility meter, estimate the amount of power being consumed by the non–data center portion of the building and remove it from your calculation.
  • The next step is to measure the IT equipment load, which should be measured after power conversion, switching and conditioning is completed. According to the Green Grid, the most likely measurement point would be at the output of the computer room power distribution units (PDUs). This measurement should represent the total power delivered to the compute equipment racks in the data center.
measuring pue continued
Measuring PUE (Continued)
  • While PDU is an accurate measurement, experts say the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) output may be a better option. If you measure at the UPS output, there’s only one place to measure. If you do it at the pure location, which is the PDU output, you would likely have to measure 600 to 700 locations to get the same information. One is more pure, but much more difficult. Whichever means users select, it’s important to measure the same way consistently.

Matt Stansberry, Senior Site Editor