The data center industry is rapidly growing and transforming due to digitalization and increased market demand. Gartner forecasts that global spending on data center systems will grow to $226 billion in 2022, up by 11 percent year over year. However, soaring demand is not the only pressure that data center operators face. The growing commitment to increasing sustainability means that data centers need to become greener. However, operating an older data center can make meeting these operating and sustainability targets difficult. So how do data center operators modernize legacy data centers to become more efficient, sustainable, and digital?
Addressing common issues of older data centers
Organizations with older data centers typically bump into some expected growing pains over time. These include inefficient cooling, lack of space to add capacity, or electrical infrastructure that isn’t flexible enough to accommodate rapid growth. There are a couple of pathways to address these issues to enable uptime and sustainability efforts. One option to increase capacity is by adding prefabricated modular data centers consisting of one or more rows of racks grouped together with dedicated row-based cooling. This modular “scale as you grow” approach can quickly increase capacity with more innovative and energy-efficient systems. As a bonus, this approach is typically quicker to deploy and more cost-effective.
Another solution is to upgrade older existing physical infrastructure components, such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and electrical distribution systems, by replacing old parts with new ones. Many newer UPS models and electrical distribution systems have improved because of innovative technology that increases life span, reduces total cost of ownership, and enables sustainability efforts.
Modernize data center software and maintenance
Data center modernization needs to also go beyond hardware upgrades or replacements. Data center managers should also assess software and maintenance solutions that have improved over the years thanks to digitalization. Digitally connected sensors can provide actionable data to help operators gain visibility and insights to increase optimization, adaptability, and efficiency. The good news is that older data centers can also be updated to harness this technology.
Organizations can implement digitalization by retrofitting electrical systems with smart devices combined with energy and power management. In turn, data center teams can use monitoring software to access this data to optimize performance, monitor energy consumption, and perform condition-based maintenance. This approach will help extend the life of data center assets and save time by eliminating unnecessary service visits. Another plus of this approach is that organizations can upgrade the active components of existing electrical equipment, which reduces material waste throughout the modernization process.
Collaborating with the right partner
When deciding which path to take on the data center modernization journey, selecting the right partner is also crucial. Collaborating with an experienced vendor can help ensure that a modernized data center is as sustainable, efficient, and resilient as possible.
Look for a company knowledgeable on the latest technology to help leverage digitalization and incorporate sustainable solutions. This partner should also provide consultative insights on a larger strategy of retrofitting, refurbishing, or replacing to meet critical business and budget needs. An external vendor can also help identify vulnerable areas and implement proactive best practices to help mitigate losses and adapt for the future. To smooth the planning process, this partner must also understand the needs of end-users and general contractors.
Lastly, look for a partner who can provide support even after completing the modernization project. For example, Schneider Electric provides service plans that combine the capabilities of the EcoStruxureTM platform with remote monitoring and on-site maintenance. If a data center team decides to monitor and manage independently, they can also leverage this same software to deliver the insights they need to prevent downtime and increase efficiencies.
Get the white paper on data center modernization options
To stay competitive and meet growing demands, data centers need to continue evolving to become more efficient, sustainable, and digital. To discover the best strategy for your organization, access this new white paper, “How Modernizing Aging Data Center Infrastructure Improves Sustainability.” It highlights the challenges that older data center infrastructure poses for sustainability goals and offer three practical approaches to data center modernization.