Data Center

The value of simplification

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough.” – Albert Einstein

“Order and simplification are the first steps toward the mastery of a subject.” – Thomas Mann

“Simplification is one of the most difficult things to do.” – Jonathan Ive

“Simple can be harder than complex, you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” – Steve Jobs

These quotes articulate what our team, the Data Center Science Center, tries to do for our customers.  In essence, we save you time in learning relevant but complex topics by researching, understanding, and simplifying the content.  If you’ve ever read one of our white papers or played with one of our TradeOff Tools, hopefully you found them simple and easy to understand.  We go through many review cycles and revisions trying to explain technical Data Center Complexitytopics in the simplest way possible.  Analogies, graphics, images, and tables are just a few techniques we use to educate our customers.  It’s incredibility difficult to simplify complex topics because it requires you to understand the subject at a deep technical level.  And if this isn’t hard enough, your simplified explanation needs to stand up to the scrutiny of other engineers and experts.

One white paper came to mind when I thought about writing this blog.  Have you ever heard of MTBF?  It stands for Mean Time Between Failure, and it’s quite a difficult concept to wrap your mind around because it infers that it’s the number of hours something lasts before it fails.   After weeks of thinking about how to explain this, my co-worker (Wendy Torell) and I came up with an interesting explanation that we detail in white paper 78, Mean Time Between Failure: Explanation and Standards.  We used a human being to explain the meaning of MTBF.  In the paper, we walk the reader through a calculation that estimates the MTBF of a 25-year old human to be 800 years, and go on to explain how this can be.  We also explain why the definition of failure is so important when we quote an MTBF value.

Another paper that exemplifies the idea of simplification is white paper 57, Fundamental Principles of Air Conditioners for Information Technology.  In addition to white papers, we’ve also simplified how we help our customers with planning their data center through our TradeOff Tools.  These are online calculators or selectors that allow you to make quick trade-offs between various inputs.  For example, the Data Center Capital Cost Calculator allows you to quickly estimate the cost of a data center in a matter of seconds, with simple sliders and drop down choices that describe the data center you are interested in.  It can quickly tell you whether you can afford the data center you want within +/- 20%, which is enough accuracy to know if your budget is in the ballpark.

We’re always willing to work on other complex topics that you can’t find a simple explanation for.  If you have any in mind, please comment on this blog, or email us at

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