When it comes to controlling costs and increasing efficiency in large data centers, upper-level IT executives are usually on the look out for newer and better ways to manage their resources. In comprehensive data capacity planning, pre-capacity planning and thorough business analytics are crucial when considering overall infrastructure data center costs.
Despite IT management including constant game changers, headaches and new IT issues, estimating your company’s data center needs is just one important step in data capacity planning. It’s no longer enough to simply forecast demands. In the emerging data center environment, data capacity planners know that business needs fluctuate. It is important for them to understand that ample computing resources help keep operations fluid so that quick computing modifications are not just possible, but directly attainable for your company.
Efficient and successful operation of a data center takes a considerable amount of time and planning. In addition, implementing and increasing storage as well as maintenance and organization of crucial components such as accessible storage, virtual machines, licensing, and servers requires substantial software and hardware. But as data center infrastructure evolves, many enterprises end up with limited performance capabilities when they should be expanding functionality and maximizing technology. This is where the cloud comes in.
Successful data capacity planning includes basic business methods like optimization, infrastructure management (DCIM), and tracking of operating metrics and key performance indicators (KPI). In order to support the flow, processing, and storage of information, data center planners must be aggressive and responsive to ensure that their resources will accommodate growth and future reconfigurations. Today’s demands on data centers are different. They face special challenges requiring them to be far more scalable and adaptable.
The cloud can benefit data center capacity planning, by removing the need for pricey hardware maintenance when offloading full workloads entirely to the cloud. Custom solutions can involve leaving some architecture in the data center, while testing and development is moved over to and conducted in the cloud.
Thin provisioning is a common strategy for eliminating unused data capacity to provide on-demand storage, support higher workloads, and improve capacity planning. However, it doesn’t come without potential risks including over-designation of storage that can become expensive very quickly as well as increased application response times and purchase cycle issues.
Enter cloud storage. When data center operations take advantage of the cloud, you never run out of space. There’s always more, and with an unlimited system, your capacity expands in line with your needs. In addition to increasing your storage utilization, you’ll have improved business continuity, less downtime, and the kind of flexible capacity necessary to support dynamic and future-oriented growth.
Thin provisioning can be a very effective tool for streamlining capacity management, but it is much more effective when combined with cloud computing technology. Automated systems allocate to virtual machine applications on an as-needed basis, thus increasing storage capacity tremendously. Not only that, but some clients utilize virtual desktops which in turn decreases dependence upon, and use of larger and costlier desktop PCs.
Storage factors greatly influence data center costs and this is something to think long and hard about during data capacity planning. Data storage should always be the upper most in IT administrators’ priorities, to better control data and capacity needs. Viable workloads in virtual environments permit rapid stipulations when enlisting workflow automation tools and technologies.
Let’s take a brief look here at caching methodology. Caching works to separate storage performance from disk numbers contained in underlying disks. This permits IT administrators and storage engineers to utilize data center space more shrewdly.
Another technology quickly making ground is NetApp’s Flash Cache which has resulted in slashing storage performance levels by as much as 75%. This technology involves replacement of high-performance disks, along with spindle reductions.
Still another emerging trend relative to data capacity planning and data storage is the solid-state drive (SSD), which is quickly replacing traditional hard disk drivers in data centers. SSDs store persistent data and use solid-state memory.
Steadfast offers enterprises ample and powerful storage solutions through Storage Area Network (SAN) or Network Attached Storage (NAS). Each of these services feature 10 Gigabet uplinks and SSD caching for the utmost speed and accessibility. Read more here.
Where does your capacity planning fall amidst these data center managers?
Where do you fall amidst other data center capacity planners? According to an April 2012 survey of data center technology executives conducted by UBM Tech, costs were top of mind for data capacity planning, as was energy consumption.
Respondents reported the following mechanisms and/or technologies either already in use, or about to be:
• 38% favored server consolidation in existing data centers
• 32% were either utilizing or interested in utilizing blade technology (individual blades can be viewed as servers on a card, and they reduce power consumption while permitting additional processing power)
• 32% planned on utilizing equipment to yield more energy efficiency
• 30% reported virtualization implementation and outsourcing to third-party cloud providers
These were followed by lower percentages of improving data center equipment with upgrades (24%), tracking cooling infrastructure energy use through measurement systems (23%), and utilizing capacity management tools in order to reduce power usage (22%). Close and real-time monitoring of data center infrastructure (often by use of new technologies) was also important.
Also key in data capacity planning is an awareness of the symbiotic nature of space, power and cooling of a large data center. Baseline knowledge of existing data center hardware, its power usages and network grid connections is fundamental, not to mention a “simple” and complete baseline equipment inventory. (It’s astonishing how many data center managers don’t have this preliminary information. Let’s not forget the basics here, folks!)
Monitoring and obtaining snapshots of hardware and server usages helps to yield predictive framework analyses for future organizational planning. Data center capacity can be realized and adjusted as per specific company growth factors and business goals.
Data capacity planning is crucial and it plays a vital role by knowing how and when to optimize data server storage, as well as enlisting data center infrastructure management techniques. Up-and-coming technological advances for more intelligent and cost-efficient data center operational methods are vital when planning data center capacities, and the cloud can help with those processes.
Next up on the Steadfast Blog, learn more about Data Center Operations & Cost Savings as we explore the complex decisions involved in moving from an in-house managed data center to a Cloud Hosted Data center and ways that Steadfast can help ease the transition. We'll examine some of the choices available and discuss how Steadfast's online Service Builder can help you make informed decisions about your data center needs.