If you are a CIO evaluating data center plans, you already know that the rules have changed and at the forefront of the rule-breaking changes is the cloud. While the driving force for cloud migration is often perceived as capital cost reduction, the cloud is proving to be much more. In a 2012 KPMG survey1, 59% of cloud providers responded that the cloud was driving innovation in their customers’ products and services and 54% felt that cloud supported innovation in processes. Those stats are borne out in survey after survey across the industry.
But, with all the focus on the cloud, traditional data centers in all their emerging physical forms continue to serve as the backbone technology infrastructure in many organizations. Companies like Facebook and Google with their massive footprints are pioneering not only new ways to think about physical infrastructure and server architecture, but also about the strategies used to assess effective performance under real world work loads.
Here are three critical, and often overlooked, factors that leading companies consider in evaluating data center plans and performance:
- Cost to Compute: Typically, organizations focus on point metrics like power usage effectiveness (PUE) as a measure of operating efficiency. But, at the leading edge of data center utilization, companies like eBay are more focused on tracking code, servers and composite infrastructure costs as an aggregate and measuring performance according to workload to calculate the true cost to compute. This is utility-thinking taken into the data center…how many watts will it take to complete this transaction and how much do I pay per watt?
- Security Process: Security is a top-of-mind concern for any organization with business critical networks, sensitive data or publically-accessible user interfaces. Leading edge thinking in security acknowledges that process is more critical than individual tactics since breaches are inevitable. You cannot build a big enough moat to keep out intruders forever, so, how quickly can you detect and isolate the inevitable breach. Events like the recent NSA scandal illustrate how attack vectors like insider threats combine with tactics like advanced persistent threats to create complex security risks. Simplifying your infrastructure and driving certain standardized processes is critical to managing security in this environment. For many companies, reestablishing internal infrastructure as the hub for information flow across a managed set of external or cloud-based computing resources is becoming a key to ensuring security in an insecure age.
- Orchestration Optimization: No two organizations are alike. Data differs, process differs, personnel skills differ. Thus, it stands to reason that no two data center strategies will be truly alike. This means that infrastructure that is truly responsive to all elements of infrastructure service, from server and desktop virtualization to mobile device integration, cold storage practices and authentication and identify management must come together in a coherent manner. For many organizations, the core data center is the nexus for integration of this cross-functional orchestration process.
Being responsive to these types of considerations takes completely new thinking about data center facilities that go “beyond the box” and integrate all the elements of infrastructure. Acknowledging scalability, burstable resources, resilience and security as fundamental needs, it is easy to see how new methods of deployment like modular/pod facilities have gained acceptance. At the same time, new strategies for resource sharing like private co-lo facilities are also emerging as ways to help common needs organizations reach the scale required to achieve Google-scale economies without excessive capital investment.
The BRUNS-PAK Data Center Methodology
Over the past 44 years, BRUNS-PAK has quietly assembled one of the most diverse, skilled teams of professionals focused on the strategies and implementation tactics required to craft durable data center strategies in this new era. From strategic planning to design/build support, construction and commissioning, BRUNS-PAK is helping clients craft solutions that balance the myriad decisions underpinning effective data center strategy, including:
- Renovation vs. expansion options (CAPEX v. OPEX)
- Build and own
- Build and leaseback
- Migration/relocation options
- Cloud integration / Private cloud buildout
- Container/Pod deployment
- Network optimization
- Business impact analysis
- Hybrid computing architecture
With over 6,000 customers in all industry, government and academic sectors, BRUNS-PAK has a proven process for designing, constructing, commissioning and managing data center facilities, including LEED-certified, high efficiency facilities in use by some of the world’s leading companies and institutions.
1. KPMG International, “Breaking Through the Cloud Adoption Barriers.” KPMG Cloud Providers Survey, Feb 2013.