How Big Data Is Impacting Data Center Cooling Requirements15 min read

by | Dec 21, 2016 | Blog

Your data center will be a critical part of your business. Today, we’re certainly not seeing any sort of slowdown in traffic patterns and even data growth. The latest Cisco Cloud Index report shows that although the amount of global traffic crossing the Internet and IP WAN networks is projected to reach 2.0 ZB per year by 2019, the amount of annual global data center traffic in 2014 was estimated to be 3.5 ZB—and by 2019, will triple to reach 10.4 ZB per year. This increase represents a 25-percent CAGR. Furthermore, global data center IP traffic will grow 3-fold over the next 5 years. Overall, data center IP traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 percent from 2014 to 2019.

This explosion in cloud and digital solutions has placed new challenges around the modern data center. A recent Green Grid research into European data center usage, energy efficiency and operating costs are the most common areas of the data center reported as requiring improvement. Furthermore, the difficulty in predicting future cost (43 percent) and the cost of refreshing hardware (37 percent) are cited as top challenges of developing resource efficient data centers, along with a difficulty of meeting environmental targets (33 percent).

With all of this growth and cloud advancement – there’s a big theme that the industry is seeing: Big Data is changing the way many do business and make critical decisions.

Big Data is Impacting your Data Center – Are you prepared?

According to Gartner, organizations typically have multiple goals for big data initiatives, such as enhancing the customer experience, streamlining existing processes, achieving more targeted marketing and reducing costs. As in previous years, organizations are overwhelmingly targeting enhanced customer experience as the primary goal of big data projects (64 percent). Process efficiency and more-targeted marketing are now tied at 47 percent. As data breaches continue to make headlines, enhanced security capabilities saw the largest increase, from 15 percent to 23 percent.

“As big data becomes the new normal, information and analytics leaders are shifting focus from hype to finding value,” said Lisa Kart, research director at Gartner. “While the perennial challenge of understanding value remains, the practical challenges of skills, governance, funding and return on investment (ROI) come to the fore.”

Finally, a Gartner report on big data shows us the following:

  • By 2020, information will be used to reinvent, digitalize or eliminate 80% of business processes and products from a decade earlier.
  • Through 2016, less than 10% of self-service BI initiatives will be governed sufficiently to prevent inconsistencies that adversely affect the business.
  • By 2017, 50% of information governance initiatives will have incorporated the concept of information advocacy, to ensure they are value-driven.

Big data is becoming a big part of the modern business. A recent GE Capital study outlined how demands on the ever-growing complexity of data center assets continue to evolve as mobile broadband expands, big data analytics becomes more prominent, social media attempts to replace basic email as the holy grail for marketers and cloud services become more entrenched in both consumer and corporate America.

Consider this specific example from the study – Capital spend on server, storage and cloud infrastructure for purposes of supporting Big Data efforts on a global basis are anticipated to increase at a 37.6% CAGR between 2012 and 2016 and with it, comes increased demand for housing the incremental equipment at a data center. Corporations are increasingly digitizing and analyzing all forms of structured as well as unstructured data for purposes of competing both locally and globally.

The challenge is that this type of workload can be extremely taxing on the data center. Time is very valuable, so the better you can analyze big data – the more competitive your business becomes. However, increased demand around providing fast big data analytics means that the data center must stay cooler and become much more efficient.

Today, organizations need to more effectively support mobile, cloud, business integrated analytics, and the Internet of Things services, and edge deployments are changing workloads in corporate datacenters and driving greater use of service provider datacenters. While IT managers are sourcing and deploying IT infrastructure in new ways, datacenter managers are increasingly concerned with limiting factors, such as floor space, power and cooling, and overall datacenter environmental management.

Big Data Means Big Data Center Cooling Considerations

To support big data initiatives, organizations must ensure that their data centers are ready to take on new types of density requirements. Those machines processing big data analytics are usually bigger, more powerful, and require additional resources. Oftentimes we’ll see separate arrays or converged infrastructure solutions working through massive amounts of unstructured data. The faster and more intelligently that data can be correlated and quantified – the more business opportunities there will be for the business. This means data center operations must provide the needed level of efficiency for big data to really bring its value.

A big part of creating and efficient data center will revolve around cooling capabilities. This means the following:

  • Get creative with cooling. Have you looked at liquid cooling systems? Are your fans optimized? Running a cooling analysis can really help you understand what you have now; and what you’ll need for a big data initiative.
  • See the big picture when it comes to cooling. Airflow, aisle control, and rack optimization are all critical factors when creating cooling optimizations. You’ll be able to isolate and remove poor airflow zones when you really take the entire data center into consideration.
  • Be proactive with cooling. Remember, cooling is an ongoing process; even a science. Requirements will change and evolve as your data center and business change with industry demands. Running constant analysis and testing against your cooling infrastructure will help you find blind spots and improve overall efficiency.

There will always need to be a direct alignment between your business and your IT infrastructure. Moving forward, the reliance on technology will only continue to grow. If you’re able to keep your data centers cool while aligning with organization demands; you’ll create an integrated business IT process built around growth. By supporting big data initiatives in an efficient manner, your company will be able to leverage the power of data to create real-world competitive advantages.

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