Your Next Data Center

The past two years have brought an explosion of activity in the area of data center facilities. On the provider side, we can talk about services we expect from the Cloud.¬† The proliferation of XaaS, exponential growth of content for Web 2.0 services, and the interest in Cloud-based services by the Enterprise drives demand for storage and utility-style computing services.¬† Providers of these services are expanding their facilities’ footprints at an impressive rate.

For the enterprise, Business demand for IT resources has stressed the resources of enterprise IT facilities both above and below the white space.

At the turn of the century, it was common to plan IT facilities using the Watts per Square Foot (W/SF) model.  We saw data centers operating comfortably at 50 W/SF in those days, and if you had a generator backup you felt pretty good about availability.  Things have changed drastically.

We now talk about the tier-level rating of data centers to align facility availability with the operating model of the Business.¬† We focus much attention on the TIA-942 and Uptime Institute guidelines for redundancy and topology of MEP systems.¬† Instead of the W/SF planning metric we use kilowatt-per-rack (kW/rack) because it’s much more relevant to how we deploy technology today.¬† The density of silicon in the data processing footprint is constantly increasing, which is driving power and cooling demand of the facility.

In 2003, we saw power density levels already at 4kW/rack.  By 2005, when blade servers first began to be a common site in the data center, 9kW/rack was common.  Today as those systems are seen as more of a standard building block, 20-50kW/rack is becoming common.  An enterprise IT facility built before 2005 very likely cannot support this level of demand.

Still, the growth of the Business and evolution of data processing systems is outpacing the capacity of IT facilities, and something must be done in order to continue to scale the IT capabilities.

Clarifications and Suggestions for Software as a Service (SaaS)

To many, the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and what-have-you as a Service (XaaS) is well understood. The emergence of strong cloud based services facilitates a true paradigm shift in modern computing. I’ve found though, that there remains a misunderstanding in some circles about exactly what this new option really is.¬† For simplicity and brevity, I’d like to take a moment here to explain this concept using SaaS as an example.¬† I’ll also offer a few suggestions about how to add SaaS to the enterprise services portfolio, and offer some commentary for providers that hope to move applications from a product-centric to a service-centric delivery model.