THE KEY TO DATA CENTRE INFRASTRUCTURE

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1 ENCLOSURES, RACKS & CABINETS THE KEY TO DATA CENTRE INFRASTRUCTURE PAGE 52 JULY 15

2 Jonathan Duncan, Data Centre and Integrated Solutions Director, Schneider Electric, outlines the infrastructure designs vital to maintaining energy and cost-efficient data centres. In a world where hyper scaling is becoming the norm, data centres can serve as catalysts for change, provided they are implemented smartly and operated carefully. Consolidation of data centres is common and allows the maximising of benefits from cloud and virtualisation platforms. The data centre is transforming from a hardware focus to a Data Critical protected environment where 24-7 access to this data is paramount. However, the physical infrastructure remains the primary armour, ensuring the availability is not compromised by power disturbances, maintenance requirements and dynamic workload challenges. There are several aspects of the data centre infrastructure that facilitate this safeguarding function. Racks, enclosures and cabinets are benign examples, but their inherent design features could help improve power protection, cooling, cable management, security, convenience and overall operational efficiency. Choosing the right addons to complement your system can determine how well your IT ecosystem functions and largely determine to what extent maintenance overheads and risk could be reduced. In addition, the physical layout of data centre equipment will influence cable management strategy and affect power usage, while with the right strategic layout a costly downtime incident could be avoided. Other accessories necessary to be considered for efficient IT management, include power distribution units (PDUs), uninterruptible power supply (UPS), Cooling system, security systems, to name but a few. RACKS, ENCLOSURES AND CABINETS In order to ensure the efficient use of valuable space, data centres should be ideally organised into rows of racks that have standardised assemblies. The three most commonly deployed JULY 15 PAGE 53

3 ENCLOSURES, RACKS & CABINETS types of racks are open frame racks, rack enclosures and wall-mount racks depending upon the IT density and requirement. The most basic racks typically consist of two to four vertical mounting rails and an anchoring framework. Enclosures and cabinets should be designed to allow flexibility and the easy management for a range of low to high-density data centre environments. The structure also contributes to the efficiency and quality of the temperature control and if an enclosure is not designed optimally, it could even have a negative impact on efficiency, with crowded cables increasing the risk of human error and subsequently leading to potential downtime. To maintain maximum optimum equipment performance and availability, it is important that IT equipment be operated within a specific temperature range. Elevated temperatures can cause premature equipment failures and poor airflow design will lead to increased long-term costs for cooling systems and force early upgrades. CIOs and IT technicians must understand the impact of cabinet design to implementing energy efficient power and cooling solutions. If installed properly, cabinets can facilitate easier data centre maintenance. Monitoring systems connected at the rack level will also enable the early detection of anomalies that can be rectified before business or data is impacted. Currently a clear hot, cold aisle configuration is by far the more commonly used solutions for airflow optimisation. These strategic design decisions enable the control of airflow to and from mounted equipment and help the data centre ecosystem to be stable. According to global industrial company Pentair, an optimised cabinet layout that can prevent the mixing of hot and cold air can save up to $40,000 annually. GLOBAL TRENDS Over the past few years, spending on data centre infrastructure has reduced due to the constant upgrading of technology and data centre design. According to Enterprise Tech, a leading portal that provides insights and analysis on how companies are globally meshing high performance computing technology with a broader pool of hardware and software PAGE 54 JULY 15

4 solutions, an anticipated shift in IT spending towards emerging hyper scale data centres. However, the trend is now changing with safety emerging as a top priority for all data owners - whether public or private entities. According to a 2015 market study by information and analysis provider IHS, global unit shipments of racks and enclosures used in data centres are forecasted to rise by 2.9% in 2015, registering a revenue growth rate of 4.4% since According to global research company Markets and Markets, the rack market is expected to reach $2.7 billion by Last year, North America and Europe led in terms of market share, while the study anticipates that Asia- Pacific will grow at a steady pace to CAGR of 14.6% from 2014 to The rising worldwide consciousness around energy efficiency and greener IT systems are fuelling the growth of data centre accessories in economies such as China, India, Brazil, Russia and the Middle East and the IT infrastructure of these regions expands at a fast pace, users demand for connectivity, safe data storage and business continuity. JULY 15 PAGE 55

5 ENCLOSURES, RACKS & CABINETS Jonathan Duncan is ITB MEA Director for Integrated Solutions & Data Centre Applications. In this role, he oversees design and implementation of Data Centre and Critical Power solutions. In his various capacities at Schneider Electric, he has developed a strong base of technical knowledge and experience relating to the design and engineering of the modern data centre. Having begun his career as a field service engineer, he has accumulated a vast amount of field experience, and he is now responsible for growing the vendor s overall data centre business in the region. Prior to joining Schneider Electric, Duncan was appointed as Technical Manager for MGE UPS Systems South Africa in 2004 and has since been heavily involved in the successful implementation of many challenging projects focused on the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS industry). He became an APC employee following the company s merger with MGE in 2007, at which time he became Technical Manager of the then APC-MGE Critical Power and Cooling Systems for South Africa. MOVING FORWARD The evolved data centre will require smart strategies and smart equipment that help users leverage the benefits and increased opportunities for growth. Tools such as rack monitoring, smart rack PDUs and intelligent designed cabinets - help enterprises with monitoring, energy optimisation, asset management and the achievement of greater operational efficiency. Well-designed racks and enclosures can increase data and physical security by monitoring access points, doors or panels and by providing better RFI shielding. Virtualisation and increased server processing capabilities present growth opportunities to the data centre infrastructure market. As today s data centres combine multiple complex technologies, it is vital that we leverage available tools such as Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) to help simplify daily management in a secure, cost-reducing and energy efficient way. PAGE 56 JULY 15

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