In part two of our survey of the modern data centre, we look at how customer demands are changing the way services are provided
In our first look at the modern data centre, we considered how they’ve evolved from a bunch of servers in a head office basement to the sleek purpose-built facilities of today. A typical modern data centre is sited somewhere out of town and connected over low latency fibre networks to centres of business activity.
Not only is the nature of the data centre changing fast but so too is its role, and the expectations placed on data facilities by corporate end-users – something that providers of IT services should consider. All organisations demand that data centres provide safe and reliable information storage. But these days other qualities are required too.
How green was my data centre?
The efficient use of space and power in a data centre is now central to those paying to use a facility. This means that both operators of data centres and those selling IT services based in a data centre will be paying close attention to Power Usage Effectiveness or PUE. This measure is not as obscure and technical as it sounds. It indicates how much energy consumed by a data centre goes towards powering the actual servers and other data-related infrastructure, and how much goes towards running other functions, such as cooling, security systems, etc. The lower the PUE figure (as near ‘1’ as possible), the better use the data centre is making of its power consumption.
And, of course, with great power comes a great responsibility to maintain efficient consumption, for reasons of cost as much as social responsibility. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), in figures used by the British Computer Society (BCS), every kilowatt of power required to run a server generates another kilowatt of power needed to cool the generated heat. UK data centres must also abide by the government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC), which aims to improve energy-efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions among large public and private sector organisations (Although, on 20 October 2010, the government announced changes to the CRC as part of their Comprehensive Spending Review).
The scaling gambit
The principle upon which many people have sourced their data centre capacity is rather like that of someone who buys an entire dairy to provide milk for their cornflakes. They’ve paid up front for as much space as they could possibly need, and then fill it over time. But if their needs don’t actually increase, well, they’ve been paying for capacity they don’t need.
If you’re an IT services provider looking for a data centre partner to help you meet the needs of your corporate customer, you want to be talking to someone who can lease you the required space in small increments. You also need to ensure there’s no need to commit too much capital up front at a time when it’s probably not clear how requirements are going to scale.
For a service provider, the changing basis upon which data centre space is needed determines a whole new mindset. Corporate end-users are demanding more flexible solutions. They’re no longer hiring servers by the rackload to stick in their head office, but instead moving towards the ‘virtualisation’ of resources, held for them on a managed basis in a data centre.
This demands that service providers change their business model from providing space in a rack to providing space in a data centre that can be scaled up or down. The move by end-customers from a CAPEX-based model to an OPEX-based one allows them more business agility. They can also hand over all the infrastructure challenges to the service provider, who can consolidate resources and reduce overheads by making better use of available space.
How we can help
Virgin Media Business has a fresh approach to the whole business of provisioning data facilities: the Data Centre Module.
If you are within our network footprint, we can put a Data Centre Module straight into your data centre and give you access to speeds of up to 10Gbit/s. And because the Data Centre Module can scale up to 8,000 ports, you can save on time, hassle and the cost of adding a new physical connection for every new customer you connect to your services. We will deliver this on the back of multi-port NTUs (Network Termination Units) at speeds of 10/100Mbit/s or 1Gbit/s, or on separate high capacity services ports at speeds of up to 10Gbit/s.
Consider the factors required to support your data centre investment:
- Performance: A network that’s resilient and fast, essential for data backup and the increasing demand in Cloud computing.
- Business agility: The ability to quickly and easily add multiple customers, along with installation and bandwidth options to optimise both your business performance and that of your customers.
- Customer reach: Coverage to connect your customers to your services right across the UK and international gateways.
- Cost management and environment: Meeting today’s ever-increasing budget and cost restraints, while simultaneously reducing your carbon footprint.
We own the UK’s largest nationwide fibre-optic network, delivering the high performance required for today’s massive data transfer, and multimedia applications.
Thanks to our next generation core and nationwide access networks, we can provide connections from desktop to data centre entirely on our own network. We offer a truly comprehensive range of connectivity solutions to meet your specific needs, enabling you to get much more out of your data centre.