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Why roll over? Migrating data centres might be hard work, but the benefits are worth it

Posted By Ian Bryant, VP of Advanced Services at CenturyLink EMEA, 25 June 2015
Updated: 25 June 2015

How often do you get a letter from your car insurance company reminding you that your policy is up for renewal, and rather than shop around you just let it roll over? We’ve all been guilty of this at one time or another, even when the premium is higher, so it’s no wonder that when it comes to renewing a data centre contract, people just continue with their existing supplier. 

And there’s no getting around the fact that many CIOs and infrastructure directors are either reluctant, or not in a position, to migrate to the cloud. Indeed a global study of 1,600 ICT decision makers recently claimed that 41% of respondents said migrating complex apps to the cloud is “more trouble than it’s worth”.

Part of the reason for this is that many cloud vendors don’t provide a clearly defined journey to the cloud. We all know that almost everything will be hosted in the cloud eventually, but not all applications are cloud-ready, and many are quite expensive to migrate. The cloud-only vendors make light of this, but our take – as a provider of cloud, colo and managed services – is to provide plenty of options, all under one data centre roof.

If you’re in a situation where you’re thinking, “I want to keep my data and applications in a physical environment, but need to cut costs, shorten my contract length and benefit from better availability,” then migrating your data centre is definitely worth investigating. This is especially the case if you have your eye on public or private cloud hosting in the future. 

The flexibility aspect is an interesting one. The cloud business model has influenced people’s expectations of data centre contracts. In the old days contracts were three, five and even seven years long. Those days are over – 12 to 24 months is more common for a data centre contract, and six to 12 months isn’t out of the question. 

It means that data centre migration needs to be less of a big deal from the customers’ perspective. It also presents commercial challenges to data centre providers as they can’t be certain of longer term revenues. 

They have old, big annuity based contracts, allowing them to reinvest that five year income into other services. All of a sudden there’s a utility based model with no guaranteed income stream.

Companies like ours, which were originally based on a data centre business already, have the infrastructure in place and we’re always building more because we know that demand is constantly increasing. We’re opening new data centres all over the world and expanding those we have every year.

Where do businesses typically go wrong with a data centre migration?

A data centre migration goes wrong when there’s not enough planning. 

The term “lift and shift” is used within the industry, but that’s a bit of a misnomer and under-sells the size of the task. Luckily this is our bread and butter. One example: we recently migrated a customer that involved more than a thousand devices, over a series of physical moves. We couldn’t have done this without planning every phase thoroughly.

As part of our methodology, we consider a multitude of things, such as looking closely at the business model, how IT affects the business, the applications that are run, and whether there is any resilience built into the application.

We review the technology underneath it all and ask lots of questions. Is it all up to date? (It’s not uncommon for the answer here to be “no”) What about support contracts? What about your escalation process and the skills and the staff?

In any migration the discovery phase is the most important.

When migrating a data centre you need to understand every piece of hardware and every part of the network connectivity. You also need to understand every dependency between platforms and those between applications. 

Because it’s worth it

As the colocation market continues to become more competitive and businesses expect the flexibility they can see in public cloud contracts, we’ll see more and more data centre migrations. For businesses that are looking at a bimodal IT strategy, it also makes sense to migrate. This way legacy applications can be migrated to colo and new applications can be run on the cloud – all with one provider and all managed from one dashboard. It’s when companies have achieved this that they look back at the hard work in the planning phase and see that it’s all worthwhile. 

Tags:  cloud  data  data centre  decision makers  ICT  migration 

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Component failure Vs human error - which is more likely?

Posted By Steve Hone, 01 August 2012

I recall some time ago Gartner stating that 90% of all data centre outages can be attributed to some form of human error, we all get fixated withresilience when it comes to the physical building blocks of a data centre but surely equal consideration needs to be invested inoperational processes, procedures and trainingas well if Gartner's findings are to be believed?

Tags:  central  data  Date Centre  operational best practice 

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Reduce the risk of dust and dirt entering your Data Centre

Posted By Steve Hone, 01 August 2012

Studies have shown that 75% of Hardware failures are caused by dirt and dust. 80% of dust and dirt entering your critical area does so on soles of feet (Source: 3M).

Dust can cause irreversible harm to the data centre and its systems and introduce a major risk of fire hazard. Data centres need an effective strategy to prevent dust and particle contamination.

The traditional approach to reduce this contamination risk for data centre operators has been to use carpeted mats, but tests have shown this is ineffective in reducing dirt and dust being transferred into your IT room. Alternatives such as sticky/tacky mats which although effective initially have a limited life and can very quickly look unsightly therefore need to be replaced manually with regular checks to remain effective.

A number of data centre operators I have spoken to have nowinstalled a possiblesolution to this issue which prevents over 99% of dust and dirt entering their data halls which looks great and isguaranteed for 3 years.

Polymeric flooring material has traditionally been used in the pharmaceutical and microchip industry where a clean room environment is essential for production/quality control. However the substrate is ideal for today's data centre environment.

To find out more suggest visiting http://www.colofinder.co.uk/dc-anti-contamination.php

Tags:  anti contamination  central  data  data centre cleaning  Date Centre  dirt  dust 

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Why Google’s Data Centre is Not Like Yours

Posted By Steve Hone, 01 August 2012

Does your company operate a data centre? It's likely you do, since any organisation that is large enough needs to have its own servers. Yet while you probably purchase from Dell or HP and throw them into a room with a whole bunch of temperature control units, Google decided long ago to rethink the concept of the data center.

They started this process with the servers themselves. They purchase all of their own components and build the servers from scratch. Why? Because the company feels that they can make a better server unit that fits their needs. Instead of a typical server, you get something that looks more like a homemade PC project.

There are tens of thousands of these custom-built severs located around the world. When you do a search or use any Google product, the company takes your IP address and routes you to their closest data centre in order to provide the highest speed (lowest latency) possible. The company has realised the correlation between speed and customer satisfaction and has therefore built enough data centres to accommodate.

The data centres are also configured differently. In order to optimise space and cooling needs, the company packs servers into shipping unit that are then individually cooled. Google's experts have determined that this is the best way to efficiently economise.

Take a look at this tour of such a facility. http://youtu.be/zRwPSFpLX8I

So why are Google's data centres so special? The answer is efficiency. The company uses a ton of power to keep these servers running and doing so at an optimal temperature. The company tries to locate these facilities near hydroelectric power because of its lower cost. It also explains why Google has such an interest in renewable energy and last year entered into a twenty year agreement to buy wind power. The company knows that its power needs are going to increase over time, and this is a way to hedge the fluctuations in energy prices over the years.

Tags:  building  central  comms  cooling  data  Date Centre  efficiency  Location  PUE 

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Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy !

Posted By Steve Hone, 01 August 2012

So your thinking about building a Data Centre are you,.... well how difficult can it be !!!, before you jump in feet first here are a few things to consider................

You dont have to scratch to far under the surface to realise there's a lot that goes into running a data centre- and the logistics can, quite frankly, be overwhelming. Paying attention to the metrics- to all the little details- can make or break a facility. If an Operator isn't careful, they can easily find themselves left in the dust by their competitors. Not surprisingly, there's also a lot that goes into establishing a data centre, as well. If you're thinking of having your business start one up, you need to ask yourselves a few questions first. If you don't, the results could be disastrous.

The Reason:

Why are you setting up a data centre? What do you have to gain from it? If you do set it up, what will you use it for? What sort of services will it provide? Is it going to primarily be used for consumer information, or for business data? What sort of a profit do you stand to make? You need to consider very, very carefully whether or not setting up a data centre is the right choice for you before you do it- and what purpose the facility will serve as it may well prove to be more cost effective to outsource to a Colocation, Hosting or MS/Cloud provider instead.

The Location:

Aside from the purpose of your facility, its location is probably the most important consideration. Will it be a domestic centre, or an international one? What sites are available? What sites best suit your needs? The planned purpose of the facility will have a marked impact on where you situate it.

Cost:

Another question you need to answer before setting up a facility is whether or not you've got the budget to do so. How much will your data centre cost? What sort of upkeep will be required to keep things running? What about power demands? You're going to need to budget everything very, very carefully before you set up your new facility- plan out how much money it'll make you, and compare that against how much it's slated to cost you.

While there are certain steps you can take to reduce the cost of running the facility- such as greener energy and hardware alternatives- you still need to be certain the new centre won't break the bank.

Employees and staffing:

What sort of outside help will you be bringing in to help set up the data centre? Are your employees properly trained to manage such a facility? Can your IT department handle the Cloud? Do you have the staff base to manage things now, or are you going to need to bring in new hires in order to handle the workload?

Space:

Space is another of your concerns- before you go about purchasing your hardware, figure out how much space you need- and then how much space you've got. If you've done your homework and found a good location, those two variables should be pretty much the same. Consider the options you have for reducing how much space your server takes up- new, compact modular server designs are just one of these options.

The Hardware and Equipment:

You're going to need to figure out where you're getting your hardware from, and what sort of hardware you'll need. Be sure to buy new- skimping on the servers is one of the worst possible things you can do. More than anything else, you'll need your hardware to be both durable and reliable. Go for those qualities first, and consider innovative solutions as secondary concerns.

Hardware's not the only thing you'll need to worry about, either. You'll need equipment aside from the servers- server racks and office supplies are one example, and if you're constructing the facility from the ground up, you'll need to consider the supplies you'll need to build it, as well.

Cooling:

How are you going to keep your servers running cool? While the traditional approach works just fine, it has a tendency to rack up a downright terrifying power bill- consider more innovative alternatives.

Network Connectivity:

This should really go without saying. What sort of network provider are you going to be making a deal with? How much bandwidth is your facility going to need? How much will it cost? Can the physical infrastructure of your facility and the surrounding area keep up? You need to make sure you've got the right provider and hardware for your network, or your clients are going to be experiencing a great deal of latency- which could ultimately cripple your centre.

The Software:

You're also going to need to iron out the details of your software. What sort of management platform are you going to use? Will you be dealing with a vendor, or developing your own in-house platform? If you're choosing a vendor, make sure you choose a good one-

Power:

Finally, how much energy will your data centre use? What will the power efficiency of the facility be? How can you improve on this efficiency? How much power should you provision for the facility? Make sure you've got this ironed out in advance- it'll cost you a very, very large sum if you end up having to reprovision.

 

 

 

 

Many thanks to Nicholas Greene

Tags:  budget  building  central  comms  cooling  data  Date Centre  Location  planning  power 

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10 Data Centre Efficiency Roadblocks

Posted By Steve Hone, 01 August 2012

As you all well know, efficiency's the word of the year. All the big businesses in the data market have been butting heads, each trying to come up with the greenest, most efficient, most intelligent solution to their energy and data woes. Everyone buzzes about the latest innovation, the newest piece of hardware, the most recently tread path towards efficient data. Everyone talks about this new application for optimizing power draw, or that new cooing system design.

 

It's easy to get lost in the hype, to get so caught up in talking about efficiency that one forgets about one key element:

For any of these new measures to work in your data centre, you've got to implement them first. And that, is where you're probably going to need some aspirin.\

Outdated Infrastructure: Truthfully, this one goes without saying. If your hardware's outdated, or you're using a floor plan that isn't conducive to efficiency, well…you're going to have to change it if you want to start seeing bigger and better savings. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done- and such an overwhelming task might often leave you defeated before you even begin.

Lack of Proper Training: Efficiency doesn't start with the hardware or the software- it starts with the employee. If your staff understands best practices for green computing and are well-versed in the steps involved in improving one's energy efficiency, you're in the clear. However, if you haven't directly coached your staff on concepts like green computing and efficient hardware design, you might well stumble over this block.

Failure to Prioritize: If you're going to implement an efficiency solution, you're not going to be able to do it all at once. Figure out the areas that most desperately need improvement first, and tackle them one by one. While you certainly need an idea of the big picture, you should try to solve all the issues in the picture- rather, you should work your way up to efficiency by looking at all the smaller factors involved.

Finances: As with everything else in the business, money is an object. While you'll certainly make the funds back in the long run, implementing a full solution for efficiency is a costly, time-consuming effort. If your budget's not up to it, there's really not all that much you can do except hope to try again once it is.

Implementation and Uptime: If you're planning on a complete overhaul of your application and hardware infrastructure, there's naturally going to be a bit of downtime involved- which, ultimately, will end up costing you even more money. Properly managing this downtime is absolutely vital if you want to keep yourself afloat.

Difficulty of Implementation: Not all Data Centres are constructed equal- matter of fact; almost every Data Centre is different. Some facilities are going to have a lot more trouble implementing power and application efficiency protocols than others. This difficulty can be positively nerve-wracking, and may well be more than some operators are willing to suffer through.

Inefficient App Design: Software's just as important as hardware when you've an eye on efficiency. Management platforms can help keep track of power distribution and server downtime, while well-coded applications that make use of virtualization can considerably reduce the stress placed on a server. On the flip side, a poorly designed, convoluted application can stretch servers to their limit, causing them to simultaneously draw more power and wear down more quickly.

The Metrics: Understanding the metrics, and knowing which metrics work for you, is critical in the day-to-day operation of a Data Centre. With that in mind, not understanding the metrics- or making use of metrics that have no bearing on your facility- can be just as bad as not using them at all- sometimes worse.

The Power Grid: Unfortunately, where your facility is located has a marked impact on both energy costs and energy efficiency. Older wiring might result in more power being required to run certain key systems, while inefficient methods for powering an area could drive up costs.

Lack of Initiative: Compared to this one, none of the other obstacles on the list are even pertinent. As with anything else, you can't make your Data Centre more efficient if you do nothing. Take charge. Look into what you're doing, and what you could be doing. Try to work out what needs to change if your facility's going to become more efficient. Don't be content to simply run your facility- manage it.

 

 

 

Posted Compliments ofNicholas Greene

Tags:  central  data  Date Centre  DC  efficiency 

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The Importance of Location

Posted By Steve Hone, 01 August 2012

Location's important- that's an unwritten rule of…well, pretty much everything. The area in which a business is situated can affect both its clientele and financial stability. The place one lives in can have a marked effect on one's psychological well-being. The location of a city is directly related to how the city looks and feels. We all know that where you're building your data center is an important consideration when you're planning to build a new one…

But exactly how important is it?

Honestly…you should probably think about where you're building before you think about anything else. When you're working out where to build your Data Center, you need to keep in mind pretty much everything about the facility. Your plans, as they are, need to be custom-tailored to the climate and environment in which you're crafting it.

A facility constructed in Norway, for example, might make use of environmental, ambient cooling from the fjords or the cold winds. A data center deep in the heart of Brazil needs some method of beating the heat; requires a means of mitigating the extreme temperatures to avoid overheating the facility, while one constructed deep underground in an old mine shaft might be able to take advantage of cooler temperatures beneath the surface of the Earth.

Do note that too cold is just as bad as too hot, just as too dry is just as detrimental as too damp. Finding a happy medium is everything when it comes to operating a facility- how you go about finding that medium is almost entirely dependent on where you've set up shop.

Of course, environmental climate only shapes one aspect of your facility- there's also the matter of political climate.

Different countries have different laws. The EU's a lot more stringent about the protection of consumer data, while China's still stumbling over its rather restrictive data monitoring policies. Some countries are strapped for trained IT personnel, while others are simply overflowing with them. This, too, is going to colour your facility. Will you have to bring in outside help? How will you deal with government agents and the police force? What does the law of the nation dictate in the event of a data breach?

Obviously, the policies with which you operate your facility should be adapted to the nation it calls home.

Yet again, there's still more to consider.

Networking and power consumption are two of the most important elements in the data world- and even how these look will be strongly affected by your facility's location. You need to make sure you choose to construct it in a nation with a strong power grid, and a networking infrastructure that can handle the oft-severe demands placed on it by these mammoth facilities. Can the grid support the sheer wattage you require? Will you need to look into alternative power sources? Does the location incur too much latency on your facility's network operations?

And what about employees who have to commute to work? How are the roads? The transit systems?

A lot of folks understand that location is an important consideration for a data center- but many of them don't actually realise that where your facility's constructed determines everything about your facility- from its staff, to its clients, to its policies, right down to the very hardware it uses to operate. Choose wisely and double check everything as mistakes can be costly and not always easy to fix once made. - As my father always told me as a boy "it's better to measure twice and cut once”

Tags:  central  data  Date Centre  Location 

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Data Centre Hotspots outside Europe

Posted By Steve Hone, 01 August 2012

The Data Centre Industry in Europe just keeps on growing but where else in the world are we seeing growth hotspots…..

Lots of countries across the world are starting to realise just how important data centres truly are. They're pulling out all the stops, and doing everything in their power to bring more customers and clients in- everything from economic perks to tax breaks. Here, are some of the most promising countries and locations to look out for.

Japan: Large population? Check. Plenty of tech experts looking for work? Check. Powerful, efficient computing and telecommunications infrastructure? Check. Demand through the roof? Oh yeah- definitely. The entire Asia-Pacific region's booming at the moment, and data centres are springing up left, right, and centre. The major cities of Japan are no exception, and if you're looking to start construction on a new facility, you could do worse than the Land of the Rising Sun.

China: As you likely well know, the Chinese government is making a huge push to bring more data centres into the country, making sweeping changes to their infrastructure in order to better facilitate the massive, demanding complexes. While Chinese legislation still needs to catch up to technology, the demand- and employee base- are both there, and the governmental probably be glad to have you.

The Middle East: The word here is "demand.” Cities such as Dubai are positively begging for more large-scale computing facilities, and there's plenty of readily available labour to man your data centre, should you choose to build there. What's more, there are many places across the Middle East that actually have an impressive telecommunications infrastructure- all the better to tap into the vast demand.

India: Again, demand is key- we've already detailed on several occasions how India's exponential growth in technology and electronics is basically a waiting gold mine for OEMs the world over. What we haven't touched on is that it's also a great time for data centre operators to wire in- who do you think is going to provide the infrastructure for all those new wireless devices and internet users?

The United States: With a number of specifically designed sites popping up and the vast array of tax breaks and benefit programs recently put into place by the governments of Oklahoma and Nebraska, Silicon Valley's not the only location you could consider on your home turf. Western Washington, with its large population of tech-savvy potential employees is just one of the many spots open to you as an operator.

Canada: Canada's been listed several times by Forbes as one of the world's best places to do business, and with the naturally cool climate that persists in many areas of the country year-round, it's a sweet deal for businesses. The number of organisations pushed north by recent legislation only makes the deal sweeter, and the country is, some say, on the fast track to becoming the world's data capital. Couldn't hurt to think about getting a piece of the pie for yourself, could it?

 

 

Thank you again to Content Source:Nicholas Greene for your related article and supporting commentary

Tags:  central  data  Date Centre  Location 

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Data Central Quick Start Guide

Posted By Simon Campbell-Whyte, 20 July 2012

Please note a quick start guide to using www.data-central.org is available from the library

 

http://www.data-central.org/?page=Library

 

Tags:  central  data  guide  quick  start 

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