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Maximising data centre capacity for digital transformation

Image: Adobe Stock / metamorworks

In today’s digital age, businesses increasingly rely on data to drive their operations and stay competitive. The systems that facilitate business processes produce an increasing amount of data that must be stored and fed into analytics systems, which then process and generate more data.

The result: the demand for data centres has skyrocketed. Data centre managers are left with the challenge of maximising capacity to meet the needs of their business customers.

Sector variation with digital transformation

In 2023, growing digital transformation is expected across all businesses and industries, and new research by Cadence reveals insights into this digital transformation growth. In a study of over 750 technical practitioners and digital strategists, Cadence found that two-thirds of responders think their digital transformation programme will accelerate at a faster rate than has been seen over the last 18 months. Most respondents (58%) stated that digital transformation created more demand for capacity and, in the most extreme cases, will result in new data centres needing to be built.

Alongside this, Cadence’s research also uncovered the differences in levels of change forecast per industry. Telecoms lead the way, with 84% of respondents expecting a clear increase in the pace of digital transformation. In comparison, only 64% of retail respondents expected a similar increase in digital transformation. Other notable industry predictions of increases in digital transformation include software/technology (71%), manufacturing (65%), and financial services (64%).

So, what’s behind this aggressive acceleration?

5G, the fifth generation of wireless network technology, is reportedly driving digital transformation growth in the telecoms industry. With its promise to deliver faster data speeds, lower latency, and more reliable connectivity, it also creates more data traffic to be stored in data centres. To keep up with expected 5G deployment, data centre managers must maximise their storage capacity on site.

Maximising capacity with a digital twin

Data centre managers will need to change their facilities to meet growing capacity needs, especially to keep up with increasing 5G demands. Capacity in a data centre is fluid, and it can encompass many components, including power, cooling, and physical space. To manage and, more importantly, maximise this data centre, managers need to be equipped with the right tools, such as the digital twin.

A data centre digital twin is a 3D, virtual representation of a physical data centre facility. It can be used to model the entire facility, including the infrastructure and cooling and electrical systems. Incorporating real-time data and simulation capabilities, a digital twin can provide a detailed view of the current state of the data centre and allow for predictive analysis of future performance. Organisations can maximise existing capacity ahead of digital transformation growth by deploying a digital twin to manage layouts.

Bottlenecks within infrastructure

Cadence’s research also found that bottlenecks within infrastructure impact capacity in a data centre. The results show that the most significant bottleneck respondents faced was a lack of available space, with 50% of respondents identifying this as the biggest issue. Additionally, 25% highlighted thermal limitations, and 21% identified power issues as factors impacting capacity.

When looking at broader issues around capacity in data centres, we find that a lack of space is often caused by other bottlenecks. For example, if a data centre manager is looking at how a cooling system will handle high-density deployments, they might feel that they need to allow more space than initially designed. This could result in issues around a lack of space, but when looking at the issue holistically, the root cause is thermal, stemming from uncertainty on the impact of the change.

Better planning tools that properly consider all the physical components of capacity can help with all these bottlenecks and how they interact. By using a digital twin, organisations can maximise the available capacity in their data centre and ensure that their infrastructure is optimised for performance and scalability to meet these growing digital transformation demands from businesses.

Dave King
Dave King
Senior Product Manager at Cadence

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