By Neil Blecherman, Supermicro
Data. It’s everywhere and it’s growing. Accelerated adoption of rapidly developing technologies – including cloud computing, robotic automation, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the internet of things (IoT) and 5G – are driving the data explosion. And data centers are at the forefront of this data growth.
While some data must be acted on instantly, other data is analyzed and used to drive longer time frame decisions. Regardless, leading hardware vendors are engaged in every aspect of receiving data, processing data and moving it through the data center, at the right priority to drive immediate and longer-term business value.
As we take a peek into the datacenter, the average server has a 3-year lifespan at a fixed power budget. And unfortunately, hardware typically doesn’t become more efficient over time. Reducing a customer’s power consumption directly translates into a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for that customer. VARs that understand the datacenter dynamics, specifically focusing on power consumption, can provide a great service to their customers.
Datacenter Power Management
Datacenter power management has several components, including – 1) sourcing the right type of energy, and 2) utilizing efficient hardware to reduce actual power consumption.
It starts with building the right building because the physical plant does matter. Some of the world’s largest organizations are powering their buildings with renewable, clean energy because they have found it provides both economic and ecological benefits. These companies that use the largest data centers in the world are investing in new energy sources, including solar and hydro, to power their data centers because they are more reliable sources of electricity, provide cost savings and are good for the environment.
Second, leading data centers have recognized the importance of deploying hardware that runs more efficiently. Datacenter density reduces the physical space required, reducing costs but more importantly, fits more servers into a smaller space. This requires the use of multi-node and blade systems. The systems use shared power and cooling infrastructure (power supplies and fans) versus a single rackmount server with individual power supplies and fans. Recent studies have shown 10 percent efficiency gains with multi-node systems and up to 20 percent efficiency gains with blades systems, as compared to rackmounts.
Let’s now take a look at the rack and how racks work together. VARs can deliver great value to their customers by being laser-focused at how servers integrate together on a rack to deliver the highest performance footprint at the lowest power. We can take a closer look at some of the key processes:
- Rack Design – Conducting a customer site survey that helps determine the right cabinet and PDU, node sizing and solution architecture based on applications, and optimizing system layout and load distribution to remove hotspots.
- Assembly – This includes the node assembly, rack and stack, cabling, and considering third-party equipment.
- Configuration – Includes BIOS setting, firmware updates, switch settings, OS and customer imaging.
- Testing – Aspects of testing include multi-vendor equipment compatibility, full rack burn-in and QA, full rack power, measurement, and performance benchmarks.
- Shipping Documentation – Providing asset labels and docs, unpacking instruction, custom user manual, and customer training.
By 2025, the number of data centers will quadruple due to technological advances. This will provide VARs with an overabundance of business opportunities guiding customers to make valuable decisions through expert advice. Central to these decisions is power consumption and the reduction of resulting CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Estimates are that IT consumes 1.5 percent of the world’s electricity today. Because the average datacenter today produces 2 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas footprint, making very modest incremental improvements will have a dramatic impact on the environment. VARs that understand these power dynamics are on their way to having the conversations they need to have with their customers.
About The Author
Neil Blecherman is the Global Marketing Director, Alliances and Operations at Supermicro responsible for partnerships and channel programs. He has extensive experience in the development, structuring, and execution of business and technology partnerships and is CA-AM certified by the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals.