Are You Really that Special? Managing Uniqueness in the Data Center

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Enter into a conversation with almost any data center manager and you will probably hear the word “different” at some point. They will say, with conviction, that their data center is unique. While this is accurate, every data center is also the same.

How can both these things be true?

“In the simplest terms, from the highest view of the architecture, every data center takes in power; it computes and creates heat and that heat needs to be rejected,” says Russell Senesac, Data Center Business Development Director, Schneider Electric.

Steven Carlini, Sr Director, Data Center Global Solutions for Schneider Electric, concurs, “It’s just like houses, everyone wants theirs to be different — maybe the layout is distinct and the finishes are varied — but they are built on the same foundation. In fact, there need to be commonalities in data centers, to maintain cost, scheduling and reliability.”

Building a Monster
Uniqueness could refer to location — deep inside a mountain or in a scorching desert — but that’s not typically why the data center manager uses such a qualifier.

Indeed, managers have been forced to customize their data centers in order to adapt to evolving business models. And while the mandate for iteration is common, the result is always different. It’s a patchwork of installations and deployments that were not part of the original data center plan and a cobbling of new and old technologies that were never truly meant to be compatible.

Russell gives an example. Say you start out with a 100W per square foot data center, with four servers per rack. Then IT requests additional servers and what amounts to double the wattage per square foot. “Now the power distribution isn’t correct or adequate. The cooling systems were designed for something else entirely, and so on. Over the years, you wind up with a ‘Frankenstein.’”

Design and Automation

The key to managing uniqueness is essentially to attack it with a common approach. Steven says, “Our calculators and tradeoff tools and reference designs help you put together a custom design that is truly unique but based on a common platform and tried and true models.”

Russell also notes that monitoring and control systems will help to realize where the power and cooling is being utilized. So, as you upgrade to meet business needs, whether to become faster, more reliable, efficient or sustainable, you understand how to best overcome the challenges of uniqueness.


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