While in Frankfurt this week, I attended the Data Center Dynamics Converged event. This was a day-long conference with two halls covering a variety of data center topics across the stack, from basic infrastructure and design for energy efficiency, through business process application methods for data center management.
Enterprise moves to colocation
From the enterprise presenters, I was especially interested in the very candid discussion about data center growth at BMW, given by Susanne Obermeier, Head of Global Data Center. BMW was faced with space, power, and cooling capacity constraints at their Munich data center as a result of an increase in HPC applications. BMW’s HPC cluster consumed 6,300 MWh/year, and the corporate data center was not able to support the necessary growth.
A set of metrics were developed to produce a scalable model of data center requirements, which was used to compare three options- Refurbish the existing data center, Invest in container solutions, or Outsource to a colocation provider.
The outsourced colocation option provided the most cost effective long term solution for BMW. As a result, they moved North… to Iceland. Key drivers to selecting an Icelandic provider were 100% renewable energy, 100% carbon neutrality, and fixed electricity prices for 20 years.
Network latency was addressed by converting to batch processing and applying TCP stack optimizations. Implementation time of the project was only eight months.
Data Center Automation, DCIM
There were also a number of presentations about data center automation, and DCIM. While many creative forms of topspin continue to emerge, the discussions about DCIM continue to be stuck in the starting blocks.
I’ve noticed an emerging trend over the past year, regarding a downward motion in the data center tier stack. This is driven by an increasing realization of two things: a) ‘that even a Tier-IV data center is a single point of failure in the event of fire, storm, natural or man-made disaster, b) That Cloud and virtualization enable always-on applications, that can be split across geographies.
A presentation by Ford Motor Company covered several topics related to this, suggesting that the Uptime Institute’s Tier model is noticeably lacking when it comes to security, the notion of 100% free cooling in most geographies, and questioning the value of power redundancy.
The work done in the Wild Server Project is a good example of this as well.