Big Data, IoT – None of It Is Sustainable Unless the Data Center Evolves

November 18, 2015

U.S. data centers are on track to consume roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually by 2020, according to a 2014 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). There’s good reason for that rise in energy consumption: data centers are doing more (think Big Data and IoT). But it’s unsustainable. To meet rising demand for data center capacity, the data center must evolve.

U.S. data centers are on track to consume roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually by 2020, according to a 2014 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). That’s equivalent to the output of 50 large (500MW) power plants.

There’s good reason for rising energy consumption: data centers are doing more. From Big Data to IoT, demand for data center capacity is rising exponentially. (Literally – 90% of the data that exists in the world today was created in just the last two years, according to IBM.) These IT opportunities have the potential to make the world a cleaner, safer, better place.

Yet at the same time that demand for IT capacity is rising exponentially, data centers remain woefully underutilized. According to the NRDC, “Much of the energy consumed by U.S. data centers is used to power more than 12 million servers that do little or no work most of the time.”

How could it be that in a world of such rapidly rising demand, supply could be so misused? It’s the flaws of the traditional data center model. The traditional data center is not capable of agility or responsiveness. Power and cooling infrastructure is expensive and slow to build, so it’s typically fully built out when the data center is. That means the data center provider has a lot of sunk capital to recoup. So the provider requires tenants to sign 10- or 15-year contracts for a specified amount of power capacity.

That model forces IT leaders to try and forecast how much capacity they’ll need in 10 or 15 years – an impossible feat given how rapidly the digital world is evolving. Facing the choice of either risking capacity constraint or over-provisioning, most IT leaders over-provision. No fault of their own, they never end up using the capacity they nevertheless have to pay for every month. (The average data center power utilization is 56%, according to a 2015 enterprise data center survey by 451 Research.)

Furthermore, the traditional data center model delivers reliability by building two or more of everything. Consider, for example, Gartner’s perspective on data center cooling: “Gartner generally finds that most multi-tenant data center operators have an extremely diverse array of IT equipment operating within their facilities and generally take a ‘lowest common denominator’ approach to their environments operating them cooler than may be necessary – just to be safe.”

The data center must evolve

None of the opportunities presented by technologies like Big Data and the Internet of Things is sustainable unless the data center evolves. Fortunately, the data center can – and will – evolve. And that will yield tremendous gains in resource efficiency.

“If just half of the savings potential from adopting energy efficiency best practices were realized, America’s data centers could slash their electricity consumption by as much as 40%.”
Natural Resources Defense Council

Data center customers no longer have to choose between risking capacity constraints in the future and over-provisioning today. You no longer have to sacrifice efficiency for reliability. You can, as they say, have your cake and eat it, too. You can meet rising demand for IT capacity without an equal rise in energy and water consumption. When the data center is more fully utilized, it’s doing more with less.

How big an issue is it? Consider McKinsey’s perspective: “The portion of the IT budget consumed by infrastructure and facilities is significantly reshaping the economics of many businesses…data center costs are diverting capital from new product development, making some products and segments uneconomical and materially affecting margins. Without radical changes in operations, many companies with large data centers face reduced profitability.”

Aligned Data Centers’ role

If your organization is going to do more with less, it will require control over the data center, and a data center model set up to waste less. That’s where Aligned Data Centers comes in.

We’re give you back control of the data center, through:

  • Plug-and-play infrastructure deployable in right-sized increments – and analytics for capacity planning
  • Support for variable densities

And we enable you to waste less through:

  • Ultra-efficient power and cooling infrastructure
  • “The most reliable cooling system in the marketplace”

Successful IT Leaders Go Beyond “Just Keeping the Lights On” (Think: IoT) Do You?

Times, they are a-changin. The role of IT is evolving. Now, the business looks to IT to do more than “just keep the lights on” – to be agile and responsive, and to take the lead on strategic initiatives like IoT. But as Gartner points out, IT can only meet those expectations if the data center evolves, too.

Times, they are a-changin. The role of IT is evolving. Now, the business looks to IT to do more than “just keep the lights on” – to be agile and responsive, and to take the lead on strategic initiatives like IoT. But as Gartner points out, IT can only meet those expectations if the data center evolves, too.

Deliver value to the business (which means: be agile and responsive)

The cloud empowers lines of business to meet their own IT needs. They can provision servers. They can procure software. And they can cause all manner of problems for themselves, for the organization, and for you.

This is a story you’ve heard before, of course. But the cloud enables the kind of on-demand IT service that is, to be fair, essential for competing in the global marketplace. So the answer is not to fight back against the idea of responsive IT, but to enable it in a way that keeps you in the captain’s chair.

Yet doing that requires something most IT organizations don’t have: control of the data center. As Gartner analyst Rakesh Kumar wrote in a recent report, “The pressure is mounting quickly on IT executives to change the personality, structure and role of data centers. Without adapting and changing, many IT departments will be bypassed for new projects, because lines of business (LOBs) will simply need to move faster than their internal data center processes are set up for.”

Reallocate budget to more strategic IT initiatives (including IoT)

It’s no longer enough for IT to “just keep the lights on.” According to Gartner, “I&O groups will need to develop an approach that actually leads innovation rather than responds to it. They will, of course, have to ensure security and safety of their existing systems. Put simply, they will have to operate in a bimodal way.”

Imagine what you could do if you freed up some budget. You could dive into the truly strategic initiatives, including IoT, that will keep IT relevant and valuable to the business. If you can figure out how to harness it, IoT could be a source of tremendous competitive advantage. Your peers are: Out of 659 senior-level IT and business leaders surveyed by Vodafone, 83% reported that they have gained competitive advantage from M2M.

Yet, traditional data centers don’t free up budget – quite the opposite. And they’re not set up to do more than “keep the lights on.” Gartner analyst Rakesh Kumar again: “The data center – as the core engine delivering IT services – will need to become far more agile and responsive than it has ever been…Without adapting the mentality and approach of data centers away from continuous stability to managed change and innovation, data center managers will find it increasingly difficult to prove their value.”

Aligned Data Centers’ role

If you’re going to take on a more strategic, innovative role and embrace opportunities like IoT – to deliver value to the business – you need control over your data center. And, you need a data center that is more cost-effective and more energy-efficient (i.e., it wastes less).

We’re here to give you back control of the data center. We do that through:

  • Consumption-based, pay-for-use pricing
  • Plug-and-play infrastructure and analytics for capacity planning
  • Support for variable densities

And we enable you to waste less through:

  • Infrastructure that is deployable in right-sized increments
  • Ultra-efficient power and cooling infrastructure
  • “The most reliable cooling system in the marketplace”

The role of the IT leader is evolving. “Just keeping the lights on” is no longer enough. The business expects you to be responsive, and innovative. It might not feel entirely comfortable yet, but you have an incredible opportunity to lead the kind of initiatives that will define the winners and losers of the next decades.

Is your data center equipped for responsiveness and innovation? This three-page IT Leader’s Perspective can help you answer that question:

Download the IT Leader Perspective Sheet here.

Facilities Managers Are Satisfying the Demands of IT and the C-Suite – Are You?

November 4, 2015

It’s a challenging time to be responsible for mission critical facilities. On one hand, your IT team is asking you to deliver more capacity, more quickly – so they can meet the demands of the business. On the other, your C-suite bosses have tasked you to cut data center costs and boost efficiency (while maintaining reliability, of course).

The pressure’s on IT

Your IT team is under tremendous pressure to be agile and responsive to the needs of the business (in other words, be more cloud-like). Consider Gartner’s advice to IT: “The pressure is mounting quickly on IT executives to change the personality, structure and role of data centers. Without adapting and changing, many IT departments will be bypassed for new projects, because lines of business (LOBs) will simply need to move faster than their internal data center processes are set up for.”

That pressure rolls over to you, of course: your IT team is looking to you to deliver the data center capacity that makes IT agility and responsiveness possible.

The traditional data center model makes that a tough order to fill. Traditional data center providers are not set up to move fast. The only way to ensure responsiveness in the future is to over-provision today; the traditional data center can secure future capacity, but at the expense of current capital.

But what if the data center evolved? What if new power and cooling technology and a new data center model enabled you to scale capacity in right size increments, basically on-demand. To support variable densities. To pay only for what you use. Then you really could enable IT agility and responsiveness.

C-suite directive: Do more, but with less

Enabling IT agility and responsiveness is not the only demand you face, of course. After all, your C-suite bosses are facing tremendous pressure, too. Their ultimate responsibility is to deliver profit to shareholders. But rising data center costs are making that increasingly difficult to do. McKinsey paints the picture well: “The portion of the IT budget consumed by infrastructure and facilities is significantly reshaping the economics of many businesses. Without radical changes in operations, many companies with large data centers face reduced profitability.”

Again, that pressure rolls over to you: your C-suite bosses expect you to deliver agile, responsive data center capacity for less money, using less energy (while maintaining reliability, of course).

The problem is that the traditional data center is inherently wasteful. It delivers reliability, but at the expense of efficiency. Consider, for example, Gartner’s perspective on data center cooling: “Gartner generally finds that most multi-tenant data center operators have an extremely diverse array of IT equipment operating within their facilities and generally take a ‘lowest common denominator’ approach to their environments operating them cooler than may be necessary – just to be safe.”

It doesn’t need to be that way. Your C-suite bosses can have their cake and eat it, too, with a data center that delivers industry-leading efficiency and reliability.

Aligned’s role

If you’re going to deliver the capacity your IT team needs, when they need it, you need control over your data center. If you’re going to meet those IT needs for less money, using less energy (while maintaining reliability, of course), then you need a data center that wastes less.

We’re give you back control of the data center, through:

  • Plug-and-play infrastructure and analytics for capacity planning
  • Pay-for-use pricing and a lower upfront contract commitment
  • Support for variable densities

And we enable you to waste less through:

  • Ultra-efficient power and cooling infrastructure
  • Infrastructure that is deployable in right-sized increments
  • “The most reliable cooling system in the marketplace”

Your Board Is Concerned About the Data Center. Are You?

Is the data center a CXO concern? Absolutely. Consider this from McKinsey: “Despite the huge amounts of capital tied up in data centers, significant inefficiencies exist. With average data center costs now threatening to crowd out other technology investments, the matter has become a board level concern.”

Is the data center a CXO concern?

It’s a fair question, and the answer is yes. If risk is a concern, if cash flow is a concern, if shareholder value is a concern – then the data center is a concern.

“Despite the huge amounts of capital tied up in data centers, significant inefficiencies exist. With average data center costs now threatening crowd out other technology investments, the matter has become a board level concern.”
McKinsey

Mitigate future capacity risk – without stranding capital

The digital world is growing fast – exponentially. Consider: 90% of all the data that exists in the world today was created in the last two years alone, according to IBM. There is tremendous value in all that data, to be sure, but the ability to extract that value rests squarely on the shoulders of the data center. After all, while the processing capability of IT infrastructure has grown exponentially (that’s Murphy’s Law), the traditional data center – its technology and its model – has hardly changed.

Knowing all this, your IT team is trying to figure out how they’ll enable the business to derive value from the digital deluge. On one hand, they could provision more than enough data center capacity to meet the business’s demands well into the future. But then they’re going to have to ask you for a very big check – and they recognize theirs is just one of many priorities competing for dollars. On the other hand, they could ask for a modest financial commitment today, but then they risk not having enough capacity to take advantage of all the opportunities that the digital world (think: IoT) will present.

In a traditional data center, that tradeoff is real. And most IT leaders decide to over-provision today – check please – to avoid the risk of capacity constraint in the future. But it results in massive under-utilization of IT infrastructure. According to a 2015 enterprise data center survey by 451 Research, the average datacenter is utilized at 63% capacity from a square-footage perspective, and 56% from a power perspective. In other words, 44% of the power that enterprises are allocated – and paying for – is unused.

But what if the data center evolved? What if new power and cooling technology and a new data center model enabled your IT team to scale capacity in right size increments, basically on-demand? Then your IT team wouldn’t have to choose between mitigating future capacity risk and making smart use of capital. They could do both.

“A more transparent and usage-based model is sorely needed.”
Gartner analyst Bob Gill

Reduce cost, improve profitability, and deliver greater shareholder value

In addition to forcing you into a tradeoff between capacity risk and capital efficiency, the traditional data center is also inherently wasteful. It delivers reliability, but at the expense of efficiency. Consider, for example, Gartner’s perspective on data center cooling: “Gartner generally finds that most multi-tenant data center operators have an extremely diverse array of IT equipment operating within their facilities and generally take a ‘lowest common denominator’ approach to their environments operating them cooler than may be necessary – just to be safe.”

It doesn’t need to be that way. You can have your cake and eat it, too, with a data center that delivers industry-leading reliability and efficiency.

How big an issue is it? Consider McKinsey’s perspective: “The portion of the IT budget consumed by infrastructure and facilities is significantly reshaping the economics of many businesses…data center costs are diverting capital from new product development, making some products and segments uneconomical and materially affecting margins. Without radical changes in operations, many companies with large data centers face reduced profitability.”

Aligned Data Centers’ role

If you’re going to mitigate risk, reduce cost, improve profitability, and deliver greater shareholder value, you need control over your data center. And, you need a data center that is more cost-effective and more energy-efficient (i.e., it wastes less).

We’re give you back control of the data center, through:

  • A lower upfront contract commitment
  • Plug-and-play infrastructure and analytics for capacity planning

And we enable you to waste less through:

  • Consumption-based, pay-for-use pricing
  • Ultra-efficient power and cooling infrastructure
  • “The most reliable cooling system in the marketplace”

Does your data center enable you to mitigate risk, reduce cost, improve profitability, and deliver greater shareholder value? This three-page CXO’s Perspective can help you answer that question: