Organisations across the region are embarking on data centre modernisation projects in a bid to keep pace with the evolving technological landscape. Mark O’Keefe, Director of Architecture at CyrusOne, talks us through some of the trends shaping this modernisation and offers best practice advice to those progressing their own efforts.
What is driving the need to modernise data centres?
The ever-changing technological landscape, from AI to Machine Learning, demands a change in the structure and nature of data centres and how they operate.
Energy efficiency is a major driving factor for data centres choosing to modernise, with up-to-date equipment offering the same or better service with less energy consumed.
As large energy users in the UK, the data centre industry is in a strong position to positively affect the energy output of its operations and associated PUE. This aligns with the increased consciousness, both politically and socially, of energy consumption and output across the board.
Increasing operating temperature for servers and increased power density requirements reduce the amount of energy required to cool equipment thus making it more energy and cost efficient
The recent slew of high-profile data outages and hacks involving companies such as British Airways is also bringing the importance of modern, secure and up-to-date data centre practices to the forefront of everyone’s mind, beyond the industry itself.
What are the benefits of data centre modernisation?
A modern data centre is attractive to current and potential customers who have an ever-increasing appetite and requirement for capacity. Modernising data centre infrastructure shows a commitment to innovation and embracing change as the industry and wider society evolves. There are also significant cost and efficiency savings available through modernisation, which can be passed on to customers.
With modern architecture comes agility, scalability, speed and efficiency, meaning the ability to implement changes and react to challenges much faster than on legacy systems, and also adopt new technologies which are being developed faster than ever.
Having the flexibility to scale up and scale down depending on customer demand, as well as the ability to adhere to the needs of both hyperscale and enterprise customers in and out of the cloud is important. The cloud isn’t for everybody and it’s becoming increasingly important to give all types of customers a place to go within our offering.
At CyrusOne, last year was one of our best years for growth, which was largely down to our mix of hyperscale and enterprise business across the board, in and out of the cloud and giving them the modern IT architecture to move between the two.
Are there any variations/nuances within the EMEA region as to the approach to modernisation?
The need for modernisation and the general approaches are quite similar across the board. Every region we operate in faces the same basic challenge; how to harness the potential of rapid advances in technology to deliver a competitive advantage.
Environmental impact is also rising ever higher up the corporate agenda and it is important to be able to meet these issues head on. Local environmental requirements, particularly for emissions and energy efficiency are subject to changes and revisions. These can vary by region, country and continent so flexibility is once again important.
The regulatory environment in Europe is slightly different to the US and access to power is also a factor in some regions, which can affect some modernisation approaches. Data centre demand and new site construction is ever-growing, meaning energy networks across Europe and elsewhere are under their greatest pressure to service demand and offer the best service they can, meaning priorities when approaching modernisation could vary.
What kind of technology solutions are top of mind for organisations embarking on data centre modernisation projects?
All new technology deployed needs to focus on achieving the optimum data centre framework, reducing costs and increasing streamlined activity. Newer methods of cooling should be a priority for those looking to modernise.
We’ve deployed indirect adiabatic air cooling at several of our data centre facilities in Europe to ensure a low PUE and offer an independently regulated temperature and humidity system, reducing the risk of overheating servers.
Ongoing research and development means modern plants are cheaper to run and use less power, and increased operating temperatures means less cooling is required to maintain server conditions, costing less to run.
How should data centre operators approach modernisation overall?
Keeping the end customer in mind is key when embarking on data centre modernisation and ensuring everything you undertake will offer the optimum offering for the customer base.
Being open to change, embracing new technology and future-proofing as much as possible is also important to ensure agility and flexibility and the ability to respond to changing customer needs at speed.
Ensuring all environmental obligations are adhered to is vital and keeping in mind that these are subject to change means flexibility and agility are key when implementing any new technology or IT architecture.
Energy efficiency should be top of mind for all modernisation approached. At CyrusOne, we recently announced that our London I and London II data centre facilities are running on a 100% renewable energy tariff, a move which will transfer energy annual usage equivalent to 52,000 households to zero-emissions sources.
This example shows we are listening to customer demands and making positive steps to become more sustainable through our modernisation efforts.