Evolution not Revolution
Designing and managing the power infrastructure is one of
the most crucial elements to be considered when designing a data center. Subodh
Tagare, Marketing Manager, APC India, details the design parameters to be kept
in mind and provides best practices to manage the data center power infrastructure.
Anil Patrick R
What are the factors to be kept in mind when designing
the power infrastructure for a corporate data center?
Despite revolutionary changes in IT technology and products over the past decades,
the design of power infrastructure for mission critical installations like data
centers and network rooms has changed very little. Although IT equipment has
always required electrical power, the way IT systems are deployed today has
created new power-related problems. These are of great concern to enterprises
since most of these were not foreseen when the powering principles for the modern
data center developed.
The physical infrastructure is the most important aspect that has to be kept
in mind while designing a data center. This is mainly because this forms the
foundation for the IT network to function effectively. One is the physical infrastructure
or Network Critical Physical Infrastructure (NCPI) and the IT equipment which
the infrastructure powers.
The factors that need to be kept in mind while designing the power infrastructure
for corporate data centers are many. First of all, the systems should be modular
in nature and capable of growing with increasing requirements. Secondly, these
have to be pre-engineered solutions that eliminate and/or simplify most planning
and engineering. The next factor to keep in mind during design is the modular
and portable power infrastructure that can be moved to other facilities when
required. Power metering is also a crucial component to be kept in mind during
What are the impediments faced by CTO/CIOs during set
up of a data center power supply framework?
During a study carried over 30 months, APC focused on NCPI for server rooms/data
centers and found a long list of issues faced. These issues were in the areas
of availability, lifecycle costs, scalability, manageability and serviceability.
When it comes to the issues specific to CIOs, CTOs (CXOs), the three biggest
issues were driven by Business Value or Return On Investment (ROI):
Availability Issues: IT applications have become the life blood of many organizations
and any non-availability can prove to be disastrous.
CXOs are concerned about:
- Single points of failure in NCPI e.g. a single generator or single aircon
- Long Mean Time To Recovery (MTTR) for NCPI. While IT equipment has become
hot swappable and easily serviceable, NCPI remains susceptible to long technician
repair times, quality and experience of the technician etc.
Agility: Today IT is seen as providing an edge to organizations. A quick deployment,
ability to scale, portability etc. are the long required needs for IT deployment.
However, these are bottlenecks for current NCPI architecture and this is a big
challenge for CXOs.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Due to the rigid nature of NCPI, enterprises
are forced to deploy data center NCPI upfront and make many guesses on future
growth. Due to the high risks involved if an organization undersizes NCPI, there
is a tendency to oversize NCPI. This drives TCO of NCPI deployment to very high
levels in today's data centers. As per our study, on an average, 70 percent
of NCPI never ever gets utilized and is effectively wasted. This is definitely
something that CXOs will like to do away with.
What are the usual mistakes made by organizations when
they implement the power supply infrastructure for data centers?
NCPI is the foundation upon which the organization's IT is deployed. An ineffective
NCPI deployment can result in NCPI availability being affected. These downtimes
can occur due to equipment failures and poor architectural designs leading to
redundancies in the wrong places. Hence, this translates to inadequate protection
from failures or long Mean Time to Recovery.
Any NCPI issues have a potential to effect the IT setup of an organization and
hence the whole organization. For example, NCPI setup in a data center not being
deployed correctly could result in the cooling getting effected when power goes
down. This can lead to IT equipment getting overheated and eventually a need
for shutdown or face a failure of IT equipment.
Can you suggest best practices to ensure that enterprises
get the best value out of their power investment?
Network-Critical Physical Infrastructure (NCPI) is the foundation upon which
the networks reside. This foundation consists of power, power distribution,
racks, cabling, cable distribution, cooling, cooling distribution, securityas
well as the service and management for these applications.
In order to maintain a highly available data, communications, or converged network,
four main ingredients are required:
- Network-Critical Physical Infrastructure (NCPI)
These four layers are completely dependent on each other. If even a single ingredient
is missing, the business process(es) that are dependent on the network become(s)
unavailable. Therefore, the layers represent a chain whose availability is only
as strong as its weakest link.
Anil Patrick R can be reached at