Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
July, 20th 2010

Editor’s Note: The following post by Stephen L. Sams, vice president of site and facilities services for IBM, underscores the need for CIOs to more effectively manage growth in their data centers. If data centers are allowed to grow organically, CIOs can find themselves adding unnecessary resources, increasing the power demands and carbon footprints of their data centers beyond the needs of their business workloads. This post helps CIOs understand the importance of building a modular and flexible data center for more energy efficiency now and in the future.

How do you build a data center to last 20 years when information technology is changing every 2 years

In the new economic environment, uncertainty, volatility and complexity seem to be at an all time high – and they are still rising. Business processes are becoming more interconnected and global. Standout CEO’s are focused on how to manage in a more complex environment by creating value through new perspectives, deeper insights and more information. For CEO’s and their organizations, avoiding complexity is not an option — the choice comes in how they respond to it.

CIOs can play an important role in the enterprise by developing a vision of innovation enabled by IT. How well you manage your data centers to raise the return on investment of IT infrastructure, to expand the business impact of data center operations and to make innovation real determines the level of your success.  Since data centers are long-term and somewhat static investments – needing to last 20 years while the technology inside changes every 2 to 3 years – it becomes an imperative that you plan strategies to be able to react to dynamic changes.

IBM’s data center family features innovation around a modular approach which helps solve three key ways to design a smarter data center.

Be flexible to handle unpredictable changes in demand.   Because demands for IT capacity are unrelenting and often unpredictable, CIOs have found it difficult to design an optimum data center to meet future needs.  In IBM’s Global CIO study, CIO’s indicated a need for 50 percent less capacity or 200 percent more capacity – just in the near term.  Trying to be accurate with a 20 year projection is impossible for any organization.  As CIO’s determine how to meet future demands from new computing models such as cloud computing – it is clear that building data centers in smaller increments – or modules – provides the flexibility to align business and IT needs in a key requirement.

Be able to adapt to changes in technology. Your business needs the processing power to drive the applications which run your business.  Yet with power densities of new servers growing over 20 times in the past decade, supporting the increased energy demands of new technology remains the #1 concern of data center managers.  Our plug and play approach provides you the ability to support new technology by spending 5-10 percent now in order to have the ability to grow up to 3 times the power increase in a single module -without disrupting your operations to achieve it.

Be responsive to managing demand.    Changing business models mean clients need to non-disruptively move workloads within and between data centers to adjust to changes in business demand.  This requires an integrated system to connect IT, data centers and building management systems to sense and respond dynamically to these changes.  During the initial design of a new data center clients need to integrate their decisions to include the operational management areas to insure the data center can maintain availability, optimize capacity, and reduce energy consumption.

Designing data centers is a complex task and cannot be driven by one company.  IBM’s has built an eco-system of partners from multiple companies to allow us to go-to-market on a global scale with support for our modular data center design approach.

Steve Sams is vice president of site and facilities services for IBM.

Update: Recently, I spoke with Darryl Taft at eWeek to showcase how Green IT and our Enterprise Modular Data Center approach can actually provide a much more efficient and competitive infrastructure to support emerging business requirements.  Read the full article “IBM Offers Green IT Advice” at the eWeek site.–Stephen Sams.

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