The data center becomes more intelligent and energy efficient

The data center market is in full expansion. With the digital transformation in full swing and with the emergence of trends such as the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 or Edge Computing, a more powerful, distributed and decentralized IT infrastructure is increasingly necessary, while more networks are required Fast with low latencies.

The amount of data generated and stored by companies is increasing every day, following a progression that seems unstoppable. With the arrival and popularization of Social Networks, or Big Data, IoT or artificial intelligence applications, the need for greater computing capacity and speed of information storage and processing systems is increasing, and that is where they acquire great Data Centers, Data Centers, also known as CPD.


According to data provided by Iván Gimeno, Business Development Manager of the Rittal company, by 2021 it is expected that half of the global value creation could be digitized, as indicated by the IDC forecasts. “For this reason, it is increasingly important for companies to modernize their ICT environment and configure operations more efficiently in the CPD.” For Iván Gimeno, “the main trends that will drive the data center in 2019 will be Edge Computing, the Blockchain and the use of the direct current in the data center.”


For his part, José Alfonso Gil, Country Manager of Vertiv for Spain and Portugal comments that “from Vertiv we anticipate that the end of the network will be the epicenter of innovation in data centers in 2019, with an activity focused on greater intelligence designed to simplify operations, allow service and management remotely and address the growing gap in lack of skills. ”


Jaime Balañá, technical director of NetApp Iberia, also warns that technologies such as virtualization, flash storage, and Cloud Computing will continue to be fundamental for modern technological infrastructure, “but in addition to these technologies, already traditional in data centers in recent years, there is an increase in container-based environments. These environments facilitate the adoption of agile development strategies such as DevOps and are essential for applications and solutions formed by microservices ”.


As for the Cloud, for the technical director of NetApp, there is a tendency to create data centers that are increasingly connected to public clouds: “Data centers that can become an extension of the public cloud, where to deploy services and consume infrastructure the same way it would be done in it. Hyperconverged infrastructures facilitate that flexible and simple consumption of IT resources. ”


“The Cloud concept is increasingly linked to the concept of managed services. Opting for the hiring of these allows companies to enjoy all the advantages of the Cloud environment (mobility, flexibility, scalability …) and at the same time disconnect from the work of administration to focus on tasks of greater value, “says Pilar García Garzón, CEO of Orbit Consulting Group.

“The reality of the increase in data consumption, together with the fact that technical managers are more aware that managing their own data center consumes numerous internal resources (economic and human) and the very maturity of the Cloud model (With SLA that guarantee the greatest levels of service), is leading, increasingly to a greater number of public and private organizations of any sector or size, to outsource their systems in data centers and cloud platforms, ”says Lorea Revilla, Director of Operations from Arsys. “This is leading suppliers to expand their technical capacity to respond to increased demand, which in the case of Spain is also accompanied by the deployment of submarine cable between Virginia Beach and Sopela, which opens a new world of possibilities in As for intercontinental connectivity. These market realities, added to the temporary uncertainty around Brexit or the recent adaptation to the GDPR, are inviting numerous consumer companies and data managers to consider Spain as one of the best locations to host their business data ”, Add.

In this sense, Alberto Álvarez, technical director of the Sarenet data service provider, believes that Edge Computing is the right model when low latency is required in data transfers and security risks are minimized, since in this field, Size matters and it is easier to properly take care of security in micro data centers. “The above, coupled with aspects related to energy efficiency, explains Sarenet’s commitment to this model for its deployment of data centers.” In this sense, Claudio Pajuelo, Enterprise Advisory Systems Engineer at Dell EMC Spain, points out that this model is increasingly established. “The proliferation of IoT makes Edge Computing something necessary due to the storage, analysis, and use of large amounts of data almost in real-time. A distributed model without Edge Computing becomes impossible to understand today. ”


The monitoring and integration of all the elements that make up the electrical, mechanical and IT infrastructure, in order that this increasing volume of data, properly treated, contributes to the improvement of efficiency, is another trend observed in the data center. “The sensorization generates an increasing volume of data, which needs a processing capacity that will result in process automation through simulation models, predictive of artificial intelligence,” says Pedro Muñoz, director of Global Switch operations. “This will result in greater agility in decision-making to reach higher levels of efficiency, both in Opex and Capex, as well as risk mitigation in terms of continuity of service. This efficiency, in capital letters, is nothing more than a competitive advantage in an increasingly aggressive sector ”.


In the case of Arsys, for example, “we monitor more than 1,200 indicators of our systems, and such magnitudes can only be managed through their automation, because it is the only way for our technical teams to make the best decisions and intervene quickly in the facilities at the time of, for example, putting a new rack or a new storage cabin in production, ”explains Lorea Revilla, Arsys.


From the company specialized in batteries, Saft points out that, in the case of automation and equipment monitoring, one of the advantages of lithium-ion battery technology is that all network parameters are monitored. “In the case of UPSs, the use of this type of batteries is confirmed against those of lead-acid, which in addition to being more efficient, guarantee very high power supplies in the event of a power failure, such as the case of our Flex’ion product for data centers ”.

Advances in DCIM software

Managing all data center resources can be a very complex task, especially in an environment that combines multiple technologies, sometimes difficult to integrate with each other. “To be able to make informed decisions using technology, it is essential to clearly monitor the operation of each of the pieces that make up the data center, its integration with the resources used in the cloud, see how they behave, constantly detect possible areas for improvement and, above all, optimize resources to achieve the highest possible efficiency, ”warns Jaime Balañá, of NetApp Iberia.


DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management Software) solutions facilitate the task in this regard. It allows integrating the management of the facilities and the IT elements under the same umbrella, with tools capable of interpreting the measurements made in each of the existing systems in the data center.


For his part, Iván Gimeno, Rittal, believes that “after several years in the market we believe that the data center is increasingly prepared for the adoption of DCIM software solutions in data centers of any size. The market has modular and adaptable solutions to the needs of each data center, such as our Arizona software ”.


Claudio Pajuelo, from Dell EMC Spain, considers that, in the case of DCIM solutions, progress has been made in the correlation of services between domains, “that is, in the possibility of monitoring services by linking both hardware and software that composes at the level of layers in such a way that it can preventively detect future problems, as well as in the case of incidents in a service, be able to automate corrective tasks and detect the causative element of the incident ”.

The future of these solutions seems to be the addition of artificial intelligence and machine learning to add benefits, “although there is still a lot to see true artificial intelligence in the management of data centers. There are elements of machine learning that are already helping with proactive and predictive approaches, through continuous analysis of operational parameters and the search for unknown or deviant behavior from the norm. This allows reducing costs by reducing the demand for preventive maintenance not necessary and predicting failures and anticipating the visit of a technician before they occur, ”says José Alfonso Gil, Vertiv, on the advances in this field.

Energy efficiency, an imperative

There is no doubt that data centers are becoming major energy consumers on the planet, with around 2%, according to José Alfonso Gil, of Vertiv. “On the other hand, we must consider that approximately 30% of the energy consumed in the data center is not used to power computer loads, but rather in refrigeration and energy losses. Therefore, any improvement in the efficiency of the data center infrastructure has a very considerable effect on the reduction of consumption and emissions ”.


From Aeon, they tell us, given this problem of high energy consumption, that “as an engineering company specialized in data centers, it has always seemed to us that being efficient is an obligation and an implicit requirement of any project. In addition, energy expenditure in IT usually leads to much more important savings in other industries, so it must be contextualized. That said, all our projects have monitoring tools (you can’t improve what you can’t measure), and the optimization plan must meet the availability objectives (not always, but usually the biggest restriction). ”


Pedro Muñoz, from Global Switch, reiterates what has been said previously: “The development of monitoring systems, both in increasing sensorization and in the development of much more powerful software, is the main tool to make the most of the systems that they make up the data center infrastructure, ”says the Operations Director. “Thus the simulation tools are highly effective since they allow to simulate different scenarios based on different actions and decide the most efficient ones. In this line, Global Switch has the ISO 50001 certification, which allows us or forces us to develop a series of processes directly linked to the data obtained with the monitoring systems. This certification allows the entire company to be involved in a process of continuous improvement. ”

Another example is that of Sarenet. “In our company we have carried out not only a drastic reconversion of our data centers, adapting them to the best practices of energy efficiency and providing them with state-of-the-art power supply and air conditioning equipment, but also of our hosting services, virtualizing 90% of hosting services on own cloud platforms, equipped only with low consumption equipment. Finally, our commitment to micro data centers, combined with the flexibility to move loads between centers offered by our Cloud platform, allows you to work in the consumption ranges required by the electrical supply and air conditioning equipment, to ensure maximum efficiency. ”

Arsys, meanwhile, annually reviews its Strategic Energy Efficiency Plan, “combining our growth with the levels of service expected by our more than 280,000 customers and, of course, the highest energy efficiency in our data centers,” says Lorea Revilla, operational manager. “The best example of this has been the design, construction, and deployment of the new technical room of our main data center, which has entered production in the first quarter of 2019, taking advantage of the modular design of our CPD and incorporating its numerous innovations aimed at improving their consumption and improving service levels. In its development, we have not only implemented the most efficient third-party technologies, but we have also implemented the Best Practices in energy efficiency that we have learned in these more than 20 years in the sector, ”adds Lorea.


In this sense, the Socomec company has energy efficiency solutions specially developed for data centers such as DIRIS Digiware, a modular system that adapts to the energy consumption measurement needs of any data center configuration. “The system includes its own sensors that occupy a very small space with a very wide measuring range to facilitate its integration. Specifically, this past year we have launched Digiware S, a product that not only measures energy consumption and analyzes the quality of energy, but also provides us with information on the status of the protection device associated with the circuit we are measuring, and we generate alarms for overcurrents, etc. ”, explains Alberto Guillen, Energy Efficiency Sales Specialist at Socomec.


When we talk about security in data centers, we should talk about at least three types of security: logical security, technical security, and physical security. “The first two types of security are implemented in most CPDs, but physical security is sometimes forgotten when making new CPDs or reforming existing ones,” explains Iván Gimeno, of Rittal. “For this type of security from Rittal, we have solutions to cover CPDs of different dimensions. The smallest solution would be our Level E or Level B Micro Data Center. These are fire, flood, improper access, vandalism or electromagnetic protection cabinets. These fireproof cabinets cover and protect server racks or active communications. ” The company also has physical security rooms for the protection of complete CPDs.


Along these same lines, from Aeon they detect two very marked requirements in terms of security, “where we have extensive experience in this type of project,” they explain. “Physical security, which obviously should not be ignored and, in terms of logical security, that related to the protection of the monitoring and control networks that are so often left in no man’s land and it is necessary to ensure that they do not affect production ”


In the field of security, Socomec is currently launching its ISOM Digiware system, a complete insulation monitoring system for installations with an IT scheme. This scheme is increasingly common in data centers due to the possibility of continuity of operation even in the presence of a first isolation failure. ISOM Digiware permanently monitors the installation to guarantee the safety of equipment and people because, with a single system, “we have measurement, supervision, analysis of energy consumption and insulation monitoring”.

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