Are data centres sacrificing reliability for efficiency?

Are data centres sacrificing reliability for efficiency?

According to findings from the Uptime Institute’s eighth annual Data Centre Survey, data centre efficiency is the best it’s ever been, yet outages are on the rise.

The survey reveals that the average PUE is at an all-time low of just 1.58, but the frequency and severity of outage incidents has increased by a quarter, when compared to findings from a year ago.

The institute previously noted that data centre operators have been targeting PUE ratings of between 1.2 and 1.5 - the lower the value, the higher the PUE rating and the higher the efficiency of the facility.

Nevertheless, the rate of energy efficiency improvements is narrowing on an annual basis as data centre operators look for new ways to squeeze more production out of each kilowatt/hour.

The Uptime Institute also reported that operators continue to struggle with the trade-offs associated with hybrid IT infrastructure. While nearly two-thirds of those polled said spreading workloads across on-site, colocation and cloud deployments boosted overall resilience, the survey nevertheless found that data centre outages are increasing.

“The rapid growth in the implementation of cloud and hybrid IT approaches has ushered in a period of great change creating technology, organisational and management complexity,” said Andy Lawrence, executive director of research at Uptime Institute.

“Operators are grappling with new challenges, including increased complexity and high interdependency of systems and data centres [and] many are expecting to deploy significant new hybrid and edge computing capacity, which will support new services, but will add an additional layer of complexity in doing so,” Lawrence added.

Data centre operators are employing a variety of resiliency strategies as they attempt to cope with growing complexity. The survey found that 65% are regularly backing up data to a secondary site, while nearly half are also using near real-time data replication to a backup site.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom, the survey also highlighted the growth of distributed infrastructure in the form of edge computing, a shift that could enable greater efficiency as data is processed closer to its source. The rise of edge computing also creates opportunities for use of automation and other tools such as real-time data analytics and machine learning.