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Growing Pains: How to scale the data centre effectively

Mark Gaydos, CMO of Nlyte outlines the necessary steps to success when it comes to growing your facility.

We have come into an era where data centres must evolve in order to keep up with the demands of today’s IT rapidly-changing, particularly when public cloud vendors are vying for the same business.

However, when the data centre grows there are many challenges to overcome – expansion and growth can have a hefty price tag, especially when assets are not being tracked and not being used in the most efficient way. And that’s traditionally how many organisations have grown – organically, reactively, and haphazardly.

Do you have assets remaining undetected?

When considering expanding the offering of a data centre it can be hard to know where to start. It’s a large, complex and interdependent ecosystem. Taking the plunge, the first-place managers should be looking at is the legacy technology and software currently taking up resources in the centre. 

To understand whether a data centre needs to expand, there needs to be full visibility over all the assets, software and hardware being used. Are they at capacity? Could more be done with existing assets?

From recent research by market data firm Sapio Research, we discovered that 78% of global respondents claimed that up to 20% of their assets remain undetected from network scans illuminating the fact that data centre professionals don’t even have a clear picture of what is taking up capacity in the data centre. This is the first instance where the case for technology asset management (TAM) can be made.

TAM is one of the data centre managers greatest tools as it is a single source of truth which uncovers and helps optimise technology.

It is a lifeline for discovering, cataloguing and assessing everything attached to the network. This gives data centre managers a clear indication whether they do need to scale or just retire old tech, which is no longer needed or used, but may be hogging resources or unnecessary licences.

Monitor your assets in real-time

Once you’ve decided that you need the capacity of scaling then the next hurdle to overcome is tracking and protecting so many new technologies.

Having to track and manage assets can lead to many headaches as technology spills over a huge network made up of desktops, mobile phones, wireless routers, and many more Internet of Things devices.

Trying to manually track these assets is an unbelievable challenge yet 31% of enterprises still (try) do so! These manually tracked items leave an undeniable security threat to the network as they are not being monitored in real-time and therefore are easier for adversaries to take advantage of.

Using TAM is a remedy for those headaches and tracking pains. By shining a light on those undiscovered assets, TAM seriously reduces the risk of a cyber-attack being successful. TAM can provide an up to date dashboard of changes within the network making it extremely difficult for bad actors to hide within the shadows of your network topology.

Security and accountability are huge boxes which data centre managers and security teams must tick off before expanding their network and offering it to clients.

Making the leap to scaling your data centre

Now that the nitty gritty details of tracking and managing is under control, we can get to scaling the data centre. What is best for your organisation? Is it to scale up, out, or to become a hybrid?

When making this decision data teams need to evaluate where they are lacking and why they need to expand. Scaling up is needed when the hardware within the data centre is not operating at a high enough capacity. In this situation, new hardware must be installed to deal with high demand.

Scaling out is a great way to avoid replacing old hardware, as the data centre can harness the power and accommodate the ever-growing demands.

This where data centres can link together two underperforming pieces of hardware and essentially creating a more advanced technology without the price tag of entirely new kit. However, this can really damage the quality of the data and can lead to control issues down the line. 

Hybrid data centres are a great way to quickly scale up capacity for special client projects – however they can be a devious trap for creating unexpectedly high bills.

A hybrid data centre can automatically scale if there is a great influx of demand, but this can be pricey where clients haven’t planned or agreed the high price tag with high performance.

The ability to delve into the assets and report how they are being used enables automatic notification for data centre managers when there are unusual spikes. That way demand and SLAs can be managed.

Making the leap of scaling the data centre is becoming a necessary step for most businesses. But the key is to be armed with the right solutions to make the transformation as smoothly and cost effective as possible.

The right technologies smooth the process, but it’s important to have the right awareness of the proper procedures and to manage stakeholders and their expectations too. Technology by itself is dumb. It’s the intersection of technology and humanity that helps us become more intelligent and productive.

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