When you’ve been around something for 25 years, you’ve likely seen a lot. If you’ve lived in the data center world for the last 25 years, the evolution has likely changed everything about the way you design, build, run and support your data centers. We talked with a resident expert who has been involved in every aspect of the data center business for a while now, and here’s what Chuck Hobart had to say about that evolution.
“Over the last 25 years that I’ve been doing this, the challenges in designing and building a data center have been very broad across the spectrum. Probably one of the biggest challenges is the rapid evolution of the data center. Seven to eight years ago you had 7U servers as a standard, which were large servers that you could only fit six into a rack. It was fairly easy to design the power and cooling. Today, that standard has grown to 128 servers (cores) inside a rack, which changes and complicates the power, cooling, connectivity, among other things. I’ve seen issues around the types of data centers, including weight loads, power, cooling, connectivity, security, and accessibility, all before the first server goes in.
A recent trend is that people are now weighing the value of building a data center, at all, because even before the first server is installed; you have to cover of the costs of the physical space, facilities and utilities and maintenance costs. There have been new developments in the design of facilities in stages, where the first stage is operational while the second stage is being constructed and the third is in design. The stages are basically isolated from each other until the last minute when they link back together, allowing for ramping and faster utilization.
With cloud computing, we’re getting even more challenges as these data centers are becoming “mega structures”. This is because there is an economy of scale and a better ROI with a larger facility. On the other side of the spectrum, there’s much innovation with the development of things like “pods”, which are isolated data centers within existing data center structures. There are also “containerized” data centers, where the pre-configured infrastructure is in a trailer out in the open, and a tractor trailer pulls up and drops off a load of servers that plugs into a large power cable and network fiber, then you’re up and running in a few hours. These have been use in places where military operations or emergency relief takes place.
Data centers cover quite a wide gamut anymore, and each presents unique challenges”.
Data centers will continue to be a critical part of the infrastructure chain, however, they will continue to change and evolve to better serve the needs of users. What trends are you seeing in the data center business?Contact Chuck Hobart by email at ChuckH@vmc.com or 877.393.8622.