Trouble ahead for ageing data centres

 

Data centres are ageing and companies are not planning ahead or demonstrating timely investment in new facilities, according to a recent survey..

The Aperture Research Institute study of more than 600 data centre facilities worldwide found that more than a third were built over four years ago.

Most organisations have problems coping with the intense power and cooling demands of modern hardware, such as high-density blade servers and virtualisation technologies, in these facilities.

More worryingly, almost two thirds admitted that they are not planning or building new data centres. The remainder have predicted the demand for scaling and are building and/or planning new data centres.

Steve Yellen, principal of the Aperture Research Institute, said: "The average time required to plan and build a new data centre is typically three or more years, which leads us to a worrying conclusion about the future of data centres and the impact of this lack of foresight."

Data centre managers are already facing day-to-day challenges in managing increasingly complex technologies in old facilities.

But Yellen warned that adding new technology to an ageing environment is like building a high-rise office complex in a rural town.

"The small town, like a legacy data centre, cannot support the infrastructure requirements for the office complex to operate efficiently, and the occupants will never realise the benefits of the upgrade they expected," he said.

"Installing state-of-the-art equipment in an ageing facility will limit the benefits that can be delivered by the new technology, and in some cases will overload the infrastructure to the point of failure."

But, despite the age and lack of readiness in current data centres, companies are already investing in high-density computing. Over four fifths of organisations have introduced blade servers, for example.

More than a quarter of the survey respondents that are building a data centre are anticipating two to three years before the centre will go live, while 15 per cent had planned build times of more than three years.

"This survey reveals some worrying trends, as you cannot simply 'build' a data centre overnight," said Yellen.

"Instead of fire-fighting the issues created by this short-term planning and trying to manage outdated data centres, organisations should focus on overall business goals and the role that long-term data centre planning can have in business effectiveness and long-term competitiveness."

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