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Article Date: 21st November 2013

Emerson Network Power Identifies Three Areas of Opportunity for Colocation Providers

Critical Power - Precision Cooling - Static UPS - Power Systems

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Emerson Network Power, a business of Emerson (NYSE: EMR) and a global leader in maximizing availability, capacity and efficiency of critical infrastructure, has identified three areas of opportunity colocation (colo) facilities must flawlessly meet to motivate more data centre owners to move some or all applications to a colo.

“Running a data centre is not a principal capability for the majority of businesses, and so colocation has become an increasingly attractive solution as data centres have developed in prominence, complexity and costs, and many have outgrown capacity,” said Franco Costa, vice president and general manager, AC Power business for Emerson Network Power in EMEA. “Companies often now select the colo model to provide the levels and types of services they need – whether its compute capability housed in a boutique, purpose-built colocation facilities or a wider array of services delivered through a cloud model.”

In spite of the substantial cost and other advantages, not all data centre owners who would benefit from doing so have chosen to use colos. In a 2012 Data Center Knowledge report, 49 per cent of enterprise data centre respondents said they used colos in some capacity, 3 per cent were testing the concept and 9 per cent planned to adopt within 24 months. The remaining 38 per cent had no plans to adopt colocation.

To make colocation feasible for data centre owners, the colo must be able to meet all the requirements of an in-house data centre at lower cost and increased speed while delivering better reliability. Physical and IT security, energy costs, scalability – including ease and speed of equipment deployment – and increased visibility are critical to a successful colocation conversion.

In working with their in-house data centre and colo customers, Emerson Network Power experts have identified opportunities for colos to better serve customers.

According to Franco Costa, “Colo staff are early adopters of the best critical infrastructure technologies and solutions – typically they show a strong interest in innovation. Like any business, there are still gains to be made in the fields of availability, efficiency and scalability. However overall, the standards of performance are very high across the colo industry.”

Downtime is costly for colo providers. An outage can result in customer penalties for failure to meet service level agreements, loss of reputation and loss of business. With that in mind, colo operators should embrace best practices in availability, including careful attention to all uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems. To evaluate UPS systems, colo operators should ask these questions:
  • Does the UPS protect the load or itself? UPS should be able to withstand events without going to bypass.

  • Does the UPS sacrifice high availability for high efficiency? To avoid this, the UPS must have state-of-the-art efficiency and energy optimisation modes.

  • For UPS systems already in place, do they frustrate staff? There are well-designed, user-friendly UPS units on the market today.

Colos can focus more on the operational efficiency of the data centre environment. Conducting simple efficiency assessments helps identify where energy is being wasted. Once identified, there are a variety of technologies and approaches that can be implemented to improve efficiency and reduce operational expenditures. These include following efficiency best practices, such as economisation, and taking a thermal management approach that offers holistic solutions for controlling the data centre environment.

A thermal management approach highlights the importance of using intelligent controls and aisle containment together. Intelligent controls alone ensure the optimal combination of compressor / chiller capacity and air flow based on monitoring temperature at the servers. This optimisation may allow inlet temperature set points to be between the typical nameplate temperature (75 degrees F / 24 degrees C) and the ASHRAE-recommended limit (80 degrees F / 27 degrees C) for class A1-A4 data centres – assuming all legacy IT hardware is compliant. When aisle containment is also in place, a 10 degree F / 5 degree C increase in inlet air temperature will increase energy efficiency by 20 per cent. Additionally, intelligent controls allow all the cooling units to run at a reduced load by allowing them to operate together as a system utilising teamwork. When aisle containment is in place, this reduction in load increases total operating efficiency by an additional 15 per cent on average.

Scalable infrastructure equipment makes data centre deployment faster and lowers costs. Modularity is a low-risk scalability enabler.

“Today, you can scale at the room, aisle and equipment level as modularity can be built into buildings, power and cooling systems as well as row and rack systems” Franco Costa said.

Many modular systems are pre-engineered, offering standard configurations with modules that are designed to work together. Implementing modular systems and components is repeatable, which makes scaling for growth easier. Modularity also reduces costs: because modular systems can be deployed just-in-time, colos do not need to size for maximum capacity at startup.

For more information on availability, efficiency and scalability solutions from Emerson Network Power, please use the email option below:

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