Step 2: Choose location carefully. Location, location, location. This isnt just a real estate agents mantrathe location of a storage data center is as important as what goes inside it. The location finally selected is highly likely to be nowhere near the company headquartersor even near a remote office.Google recently completed a major development in the Dalles, Ore., area, east of Portland. The Columbia River provides virtually unlimited hydroelectric power on a comfortable, two-football-field-size lot. The idea of building a data center in a foreign country is also quite common. Many U.S. companies already have data centers in Europe and Asia. And Iceland, of all places, has been very proactive in trying to sell American- and U.K.-based companies on building or co-locating on the island in the upper North Atlantic. Eastern European countries such as Finland, Poland and Hungary also have made efforts to attract data centers. Step 3: Design it green from the get-go. A so-called "green" data center is one in which the lighting/cooling, mechanical, electrical and computer systems are designed for maximum energy efficiency and minimum environmental impact. A green data center can run on 50 to 80 percent less power today than data centers built anywhere from two to 30 years ago did. In addition to reducing energy consumption, the construction and operation of a green data center should minimize the size of the building; maximize cooling efficiency; install catalytic converters on backup generators; and use alternative energy technologies, such as photovoltaic electrical heat pumps and evaporative cooling, whenever possible. Water-cooling of servers is becoming trendy but is complicated to install and operate. The long-term benefits can be great, however: Chilled, circulated water can provide 10 times the cooling that air conditioning offers, Suns Chalfant said. According to recent Gartner Group and federal Environmental Protection Agency reports, the power demands of IT-based equipment in the United States have grown by five or more times in the last seven years and is expected to double again by 2011. Its a fact that companies spend much more on power to run a server during its lifetime than they do in capital expense to purchase it. Click here to read more about whether the future will bring data centers that dont require cooling equipment. HP, Sun, IBM, NetApp, EMC, Data Domain, Rackable Systems, Hitachi Data Systems and other data center hardware/software suppliers have service department staffers who will sit down and help design a data center to operate optimally; this includes rack placement, air-conditioning airflow, power controls and numerous other factors. Liebert, an Emerson Network Power company, is the U.S. market leader in providing data center air conditioning, uninterruptible power supplies, battery systems, surge protection systems and chip cooling. The company, based in Columbus, Ohio, has partnerships with virtually all the major suppliers noted above. "Were seeing people like the HPs of the world consolidating data centers into one facility," said Steve Madara, vice president and general manager of Liebert Precision Cooling. "Sun is also doing that. At the same time, were seeing new facilities go up for the Googles, Yahoos and Microsofts, and for the financial guys in New York. Were seeing both new center generation and build out and renovation of older sites." Madara said that the two keys to optimal use of power as it comes into the data center are having the most efficient power supplies available in the servers and using virtualization to consolidate the number of servers being used. Step 4: Choose hardware and software carefully. The hardware and software for your storage data center should be chosen for performance and quality, but also for green and scalability attributes. Open systems that allow such features as hot-swappable disk drives, power supplies and fans have obvious major advantages. Hardware components and software that can play nicely in a production situation with similar products made by competing vendors are also recommended. Open-standardsand not necessarily open-sourceproducts are the key. Its also important to look for components that can literally snap together and work: blades, switches, power supplies, networking connectors, and so on. The more versatile a product is, the better. The best vendors know this and will provide interconnecting components whenever possible. It lifts a huge burden off data storage managers shoulders when they can add capacity on short notice (within a week or two of when its required to go online) because components are modular. Page 3: 5 Steps to a Scalable Data Center
For example, Google, Yahoo and a number of Web 2.0 companies are looking far and wide for data center locations, and theyre generally not in highly populated places. Available power supply and square footage are the two biggest requirements. Proximity to major population centers is low on the priority list.