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Datacenter Homeostasis – Managing the Technical Requirements of Your Datacenter

Thought-Leadership by Tristan Ackley
on October 28, 2014

datacenter-homeostasis-managing-the-technical-requirements-of-your-datacenter

“Healthy body, healthy mind.” Every great achievement is attributed to mankind’s greatest asset – the immeasurable attributes of the brain. In order for the mind to remain healthy so it can continue to innovate, the container in which it is stored must likewise be healthy, for the mind depends on the health of its vessel in order to function. 

When it comes to your organization’s workplace productivity, each employee acts as a neuron firing signals within the brain of your business, collectively carrying the momentum of your business objectives. However, like the brain’s bodily vessel, your employees cannot function to their greatest level without a healthy IT infrastructure.

Unlike the datacenter, the brain has a remarkable system for managing the body’s well-being. Whether we are idle in sleep-mode, exercising in overdrive, or coasting through autopilot, the brain automatically readjusts the allocation of resources to supply our bodies with the appropriate energy requirements. This process, termed homeostasis, is the brain’s way of optimizing the body’s functionality.

Unfortunately, we do not yet have the technology to create datacenters that can function independently as homeostatic organisms. Then again, if we did, then undoubtedly Skynet is behind it. Nevertheless, datacenter’s operate under a certain set of optimal conditions controlled entirely by IT. Below are a few considerations for maintaining the homeostasis of your datacenter:

Regulating Internal Temperature for Optimal Datacenter Functionality

The human body functions efficiently between 97.7° and 99.5°, and optimally at 98.5°. Regardless of whether we’re in below freezing temperatures or sweltering heat, our bodies manage this autonomously.

The ideal temperature for the datacenter is between 64° F and 68° F. Maintaining this lush technical ecosystem requires 24/7 monitoring to ensure no fluctuation outside of these 4 degrees.

Both the body and the datacenter require a steady supply of energy to maintain a thermal homeostatic state. Go over the maximum threshold and they experience hyperthermia; for the datacenter, that means an overheating of server nodes which compromises the CPU, motherboard, memory, etc. Go under the threshold and face the onset of hypothermia where the datacenter either freezes or risks static electricity from the lack of humid air.

Although maintaining this 24/7 regulatory temperature can be costly, several methods have been proposed to reduce the energy needs of datacenters, such as state-of-the-art middleware, closed-loop control, and calculated temperature experimentation. Nevertheless, no matter your method, your datacenter requires a comfortable temperature to operate efficiently.

Managing Energy Consumption

Rungry – a term associated with runners who experience flash hunger spikes while doing low-energy, static activities. Runners training for marathons, for instance, get the “rungries” while sitting on the couch because their metabolism is riding a constant rollercoaster, their bodies demanding near-constant energy intake.

Enterprises, especially global enterprises, require a datacenter accustomed to constant demand. Three tech-jargon acronyms comprise the triumvirate of effective datacenter management:

  • PUE – Power Usage Effectiveness as defined by Datacenter Knowledge, compares a facility’s total power usage to the amount of power used by the IT equipment, revealing how much is lost in distribution and conversion. Despite PUE’s marketing impact as IT’s solution to Green initiatives, many are skeptic of its true value to the datacenter. Nevertheless, PUE does help organization’s define an energy consumption metric.

  • DCiE – Datacenter Infrastructure Efficiency measures the efficiency of individual IT equipment within the datacenter. Whereas PUE measures the datacenter power consumption against the entire building’s energy consumption, DCiE can boil down to an individual node within a single server.

  • DCIM – Datacenter Infrastructure Management provides a holistic view of your datacenter’s performance through various management tools. Several vendors supply DCIM products to monitor the systems, software, and general environment of your datacenter.

Maintaining a Healthy Datacenter Diet – Managing Capex vs Opex

Springboarding off consumption metrics, IT administrators must understand the demand times of their organization’s IT usage in order to properly allocate resources during those peak hours of usage. For example, if your organization works in retail and your prime business months come during the holiday season, then you’ll want to ensure your infrastructure can meet the demands of increased website traffic, end user demand, and front-/back-end operations. In other words, outsource your resources via a Hybrid cloud environment.

Hybrid cloud environments are excellent for balancing capital expenditure (capex) and operational expenditure (opex). As predicated by its name, Hybrid clouds utilize both public and private cloud environments by outsourcing non-mission critical apps to the public cloud, while reserving highly confidential enterprise applications for the private cloud. The goal – to refrain from wasting capex on additional server capacity during those non-seasonal months.

Understanding the demand times of your organization’s datacenter usage is essential to maintaining a low capex vs opex. Likewise, maintain the mindset that the datacenter requires constant supervision to ensure the regulation of its health, for workplace continuity resides with the ongoing uptime of the organization’s most under-appreciated asset – the datacenter.

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Topics: Core Infrastructure, Cloud and BYOD, Database and Datacenter

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