New data centres to provide 300% growth in capacity in 60% less space

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For the past few years, IT departments have been preoccupied with refining the data centre to make it more green. However, emerging trends in data centre design are raising the bar yet again, according to Gartner.
At the Gartner Data Centre & IT Operations Summit 2010, the company said that new data centres will be able to provide a 300% growth in capacity in 60% less space than existing data centres.
The analyst firm is advising companies to move away from traditional approaches to mitigating the issues in the data centre, which involved spreading equipment out across a larger floorspace, and the use of hot and cold aisles. The need for higher power and compute density is taking the older approaches off the table, the company's chief of infrastructure research Dave Cappuccio explained.
At current pricing, the operating expense in energy terms needed to support an x86 server will exceed the capital cost of that server within three years, making it more critical than ever that IT departments maximise the use of their applications. "Think small, think dense - the objective is the highest compute performance per kilowatt," Cappuccio said.
Gartner says that emerging technologies will help with the refinement, but most of its tips seem to be about smarter management, rather than whiz-bang new technologies. Here are several measures that IT departments can take to further refine the efficiency of their data centres:
  1. Better cooling implementation. Row-and rack-based cooling can reduce energy consumption by up to 15%, the company says.
  2. Rightsizing. Buying only as much as is needed and expanding only when necessary can reduce long-term operating costs by up to a third, Gartner says. However, this requires a more intelligent approach to procurement and baselining competing demands.
  3. Air handling. Air economisers exist in many data centres' air handlers today, but are switched off. This represents an easy win for power management.
  4. More intelligent floor layout. Hot and cold aisles are only one part of the new approach that data centre managers should be taking to floor layout. Consider also overall air movement, Gartner says.
  5. Virtualise, virtualise, virtualise. Servers are still woefully underutilised especially commodity x86 models, according to Gartner, which says that x86 servers are running at 12 percent utilisation, and that racks are populated to 50 to 60 percent capacity. Better virtualisation offers a relatively easy way to increase compute density in the data centre.
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.