How to Prepare Your Data Center for the Internet of Things

By Special Guest
Mark Gaydos, CMO, Nlyte
April 04, 2017

According to Gartner Research, there will be 26 billion “things” connected to the Internet by 2020. Cisco’s prediction is closer to 50 billion.

What does this mean for data center managers? It means an absolute deluge of data coming your way. Innumerable bytes of data being created every minute – which need to be processed, stored, and made accessible to millions of users. Although in recent years data centers' numbers have not increased substantially – data centers have surely expanded in size and density, which means more complexity and smaller margins for error.

Internet of Things (IoT) is here to stay – and will become the norm.  The onslaught of information in IoT is inherent and data center managers must prepare proactively for optimum success.

To best prepare for IoT, you must first ensure that your data center’s infrastructure is equipped with the best management solutions to be capable of handling the onslaught of data while optimizing your operations.

Before panic sets in, remember that you can’t do everything all at once, or without collaborations. A flexible and scalable Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) solution is critical to helping data center managers and here is the process:

  • Find out what is in your data center, and what it’s doing. Seems simple, but many managers do not really know.  You need this baseline in order to go forward and make improvements. You want to use your available assets, space, power and cooling as efficiently as possible.
  • Find out where your assets are located and what processes they are performing. More importantly, determine the energy consumption levels, space used and where in their lifecycle they are. Determine if you need a tech refresh to retire older equipment, which is no longer performant and replace it with more efficient, new assets.
  • Determine your data center temperature in real-time so you don’t overload one spot with too much heat. If by rearranging assets and loads you can eliminate hot and cold spots, you just might be able to raise the ambient temperature in your data center. Did you know that for every degree raised you’d save an average of 4% on your cooling bills?
  • Once you have a good handle on the assets in your facility, determine if it can accommodate this massive amount of data coming your way. Determine:
    • How much capacity is being used, and what you have left.
    • How often you are polling.
    • How much of the information has to be stored long-term.
    • If you have a Big Data Repository.
    • If you have the personnel you need to handle the volume.
  • You may even uncover space and energy capacity that you didn’t know you had -- a little rearrangement and consolidation of your assets can provide a lot more breathing room in your data center. Make sure you perform predictive analysis when consolidating to determine:
    • What will happen if you move an asset?
    • If you can power it safely in its new position.
    • What happens if it fails?
    • Where the load would go.
    • If you have the proper redundancy.
  • Your data center probably contains several different systems -- a BMS, EPMS, maybe DCIM software and other monitoring tools. To optimize your facility’s operations, it’s best to tie all these systems together, and view them in a single pane of glass for a holistic view of how they are connected and interdependent. No information should be siloed and unreachable.

The DCIM solution you select should have the capability to bi-directionally communicate/integrate with a wide variety of systems, no matter what “language” they speak, or how old they are. And most importantly don’t forget security is always a major concern with so many devices involved.  Be sure that your DCIM solution has been certified secure by a neutral third party.

Lastly, as you collect and analyze all this data, keep in mind that a great number of people will be involved in the ongoing monitoring process. Make sure you have the ability to deliver data and reports comprehensible and helpful to each of these groups. With that kind of flexibility, your DCIM solution will become essential to your IT, Facilities and C-suite personnel.

Remember that this is an ongoing process. Once you gather the data, analyze it and make it useful and actionable, then you can determine the changes needed to your facility with what you now know.

The new world of IoT is quickly approaching, and its potential is growing every day. To equip your data center for the onslaught of data, make sure you select a DCIM solution that offers all the capabilities discussed – so it can become the one essential tool that will help you succeed and meet the challenges ahead in the IoT world.

About the Author: Mark Gaydos is Chief Marketing Officer for Nlyte Software, a data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solution provider for seamlessly automating data center operations and infrastructure into an enterprise’s IT ecosystem.

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