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How Did the Data Center Come Down With a Fatal Disease?
Posted on: October 14th, 2010 by Bill

Many of us in the industry have discussed why data centers of the past are changing. I contend that it’s not an unanticipated shift, but merely a return to either a generic or highly bespoke solution for a mainfame computing environment. And if you ever worked in a Cray shop, you know how specific the solutions were for that superb platform.

For a minute, let’s take a quick review of where we’ve been. In the 1980’s (and yes, I’m that old, been in the MC business that long and I recall chilled water and 415 Hz), data center infrastructure suited a homogeneous platform, in this case the ubiquitous mainframe. With the rise of the microserver, and its 60Hz power and air cooling, the infrastructure of the data center evolved. Remember, there was no hosting or managed service business back in those days (except for TymeNet, run by Tom O’Rourke, the father of one of my best friends from Santa Clara). So, in the 1980’s early 1990’s, you had a single path data center that served a specific platform.

With the rise of the server farm, we began to see an increase in real-time computing operations. With that came the rise of fault-tolerant MEP systems that had to address a more heterogeneous series of platforms in the compute, storage, server and network activities of the enterprise. Simultaneously, power densities were increasing rapidly. This has been the habit of the industry from the mid 1990’s to the mid 2000’s. While there was certainly facility solutions specific to a user’s computing needs, most solutions simply delivered a specific Tier or Class solution at a given power density (rendered in W/sf).

During the mid 2000’s, higher density systems, starting with blade-based systems forced a reversal of evenly spreading capacity throughout the data center to serving the higher density systems with specific power, cooling and racking solutions. Much of what we’ve seen during this time has been systems-based work outside of the cloud. Most, if not all of our facility solutions, have been addressing the exceptions to the “evenly spread” capacity versus any form of true reengineering of the ENTIRE process. Containerized computing and infrastructure solutions are a step toward solving this challenge.

Here it is. What is causing the death of the modern data center is the split realities of users seeking a real estate based solution to their data center needs and the emergence of cloud computing or specific hardware solutions massively deployed across the enterprise. One of these realities transfers the physical asset to outside the enterprise. The other reality, if properly executed, has and will yield signficant efficiencies in power consumption and computing throughput when examining W/MIP of your computing systems.

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