5 Steps to a

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2007-09-12 Print this article Print

Scalable Data Center"> So, you want to make over your old storage data center—or, even more daunting, build an entirely new data center from scratch? Here, eWEEK offers five steps to building or reinstituting a data storage center. Yes, we know it will take more like 500 steps, but were hitting only the most important universal highlights, as researched through a number of sources.
And there is no dearth of examples to learn from.
Hewlett-Packard, for one, recently announced its Greenfield project, in which 85 data centers around the world will be consolidated into a mere six. The new centers will be using low-power, high-capacity blade servers with upgraded management tools, improved data center design, vastly improved power and cooling devices, and automation/virtualization at every turn. And, after 12 months of design and construction, Sun Microsystems opened the doors on Aug. 21 to a new, 76,000-square-foot data center designed to demonstrate eco-friendly technology to its customers as well as the companys commitment to green IT. Located in Suns hometown of Santa Clara, Calif., the data center will use less than half the electricity of previous data centers—proof that the company is committed to using green technology in its own IT infrastructure. Click here to read more about Suns new data center. In addition, IBM announced Aug. 1 that it will consolidate approximately 3,900 of its own servers onto 33 virtualized System z mainframes running Linux to save energy and cut back on its carbon footprint. IBM officials expect the new server environment to use about 80 percent less power than the companys current open-systems setups. Big Blue expects to save more than $250 million over five years in energy, software and system support costs—and thats a conservative figure. In each of these futuristic new data centers, servers will be powering down or off whenever possible; active servers will be provisioned more intelligently; wasted cycles will be avoided at all costs; and available server and storage capacity will shoot up into the 70 to 90 percent range, where in the past it often languished in the 30 to 40 percent range. All of this can directly result in cleaner air, lower costs to do business and increased power availability. You, too, can build/rebuild a scalable yet green storage data center that will serve you well for years to come. Here are five steps to get you going. Step 1: Get the board on board. Make sure all the key executives and board members "get it" and are behind your project far in advance. IT management, which will be running the new data center, needs to have as many decision-makers on its side—from the president/CEO and chair of the board of directors on down—as possible. "HP did this exact thing when Mark Hurd [the current HP CEO, who replaced Carly Fiorina in March 2005] brought Randy Mott on board [as CIO] and consolidated from 85 down to six data centers," said Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing for HPs StorageWorks. Similarly, when Sun President and CEO Jonathan Schwartz took over the company reins from cofounder Scott McNealy in April 2006, Schwartz immediately cited storage and data center innovation as two of his companys priorities. Shortly thereafter, he hired David Douglas, Suns vice president of Eco Responsibility, who oversaw the launch of Suns Project Blackbox later that year. The Sun Blackbox is a fully contained, 20-by-8-foot portable data center that needs no outside air cooling to do its work. However, most companies are not on the same page when it comes to IT and data storage provisioning. "Right now, the problem is that there is a rift—if not a chasm—that exists between how senior-level executives will set out their objectives for what needs to be done and how the IT people are then, in some ways, strapped to be able to implement that infrastructure," Sun storage CTO Randy Chalfant told eWEEK. "There is this chasm of understanding between business and IT. Then what happens is, given the resources in time and money that are allocated, and based on business decisions, there is a total lack of understanding for how an infrastructure works; the people back there [in IT] are just trying to survive." The net/net of all this misunderstanding is that there are gigantic amounts of infrastructure being implemented and being wasted, serving no valuable purpose, Chalfant said. If a data center can be built with power, cooling, automation and virtualization efficiencies built in from the start, then the whole project stands a good chance of long-term success. Storage resources now represent as much as 45 percent of the infrastructure budget in many large enterprises. Networked storage is no longer a small, isolated island of spending and resource deployment. Page 2: 5 Steps to a Scalable Data Center

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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