Can’t keep pace with data demands? It’s all in the planning

Can’t keep pace with data demands? It’s all in the planning

Jon Leppard, director at Future Facilities outlines how virtualising capacity planning process could mean no longer having to choose between operational performance and speed of delivery.

In the modern era of fluctuating demands on data, preparation is key. Global IP traffic is set to increase nearly threefold over the next five years, and will have increased 127-fold from 2005 to 2021.

As customer expectation continues to mature, the digital aspects of business must constantly develop in order to keep the pace. Businesses that can adapt to changing demand swiftly and effectively, will ultimately gain the cutting edge over their competition.

The demand for additional speed and availability from consumers has pushed data centres to grow and improve the way they plan for higher workloads or high-density equipment.

However, in the planning process, data centre managers have historically had to make a critical and painful choice between operational performance and speed of delivery. There is a tremendous amount of ongoing pressure from stakeholders to maximise the performance of the data centre, whilst simultaneously cutting costs and reducing deployment times. But is this really achievable in the long term?

Teamwork makes the dream work

It is abundantly clear that this process is as complex as it is crucial. It is therefore worrying how many organisations take a siloed approach to the planning process. This can be a detriment to the entire operation, ultimately compromising the final product.

While one team is in charge of the physical resources such as space, power and cooling, it is expected that the other team, responsible for the deployment and management of IT is aware of the current state of the data centre. Lapses in communication can negatively impact both the performance and longevity of the data centre, increasing the overall OpEx and CapEx of the project.

As a result, collaborative platforms need to be put in place, enabling all the operating teams to work together effectively during the entire planning process.Both running and planning a successful data centre needs to work like a well-oiled machine, relying on effective communications between the relevant teams. This subsequently ensures that all processes remain both agile and reliable.

The eventual integration of these plans that are produced through siloed processes can prove to be both slow and costly. Often, this leads to a trade-off that forces data centre planners to decide whether to meet project timelines whilst sacrificing overall cost-effectiveness, or vice-versa. Throughout the history of capacity planning it has seemed almost impossible for speed and quality to co-exist in equal measure. This is no longer the case. Virtualising the capacity planning process holds the answer.

The virtual capacity planning process, enables DC operators to mimic every physical aspect of the data centre such as IT equipment, racks, cooling units and power distribution, subsequently allowing them to make tweaks and changes without affecting actual hardware in a production facility.

During this process, planners can propose asset changes, working off the same data set. The proposed changes are then passed to the facilities engineers, who can then use the engineering simulation model to predict the outcome of the changes and quantify usage of space, power, weight bearing and cooling capacity in minute detail.

Taking care of the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’

Designers, copywriters and finance professionals have been operating this way for years. The standardisation of collaborative documents has revolutionised remote and siloed working, making it a viable option in multiple areas of business. The potential for cost-saving is immense.

To illustrate this, Broadcom, a global manufacturer of semiconductors recently revolutionised the way their global, siloed workforce collaborate and work together by working with Box to secure, access and share files across their organisation. Within two years of its initial deployment, Broadcom realised savings of $4.9 million in current and future IT costs.

Now that this way of working has been opened up for DC professionals, the future is certainly bright. Teams can now cut processes that would usually take weeks to potentially a matter of days or even hours. Meanwhile, there is increased capability to deploy more hardware on less physical infrastructure, having a direct cost saving benefit while improving the facility’s flexibility.

Alongside the benefits of collaboration, allowing facilities teams to better analyse the effects of IT changes on power, space and cooling before physical deployment, businesses will benefit from an increased confidence in their decision making.

The virtualised version of your data centre becomes a sandbox to explore any ‘what-if’ scenarios, ensuring no option is left wasted or unexplored. Data centre professionals can innovate in a secure environment, while remaining confident in a safe, effective outcome once deployed. All data centres increasingly face pressure to deploy high-density IT equipment within their facility, this serves to remove any ambiguity in this process.