Much like brand name medications, brand name transceivers have long been held in greater regard than 3rd party transceivers. Common belief used to be that 3rd party transceivers were inferior, did not have all the functions, and were lower quality. However, Legrand’s 3rd party transceivers exceed Multi-Source Agreement (MSA) specifications, which are commonly used as a benchmark for transceiver design and performance standards.
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Growing alongside our previous trend of Micro Data Centers, our sixth trend shares similar design and construction characteristics as it looks to simplify data center construction. This is often referred to as modular, containerized or pre-fabricated data centers. These are pre-fabricated and pre-configured “data centers” that house networking and server equipment within a container or box. Similarly to the micro data center approach, the networking, physical infrastructure, cooling, power, compute and storage are often pre-integrated into the container.
This pre-fabricated data center allows for the transportation to occur through a normal freight carrier. Rather than shipping a container full of empty cabinets, which we do today, the same truck can be used to move entire data centers. This allows for data centers to be temporarily deployed, if needed, in a disaster recovery zone or remote area where temporary or sometimes permanent access to data center services are needed.
One anecdotal account we have heard recently involved a project in Brazil in which a company was given a tight timeline to develop and deploy a data center in order to receive full funding. The company evaluated their options and decided that a containerized approach, using these pre-fabricated data center modules, was the most cost-effective and fastest way to deploy a full data center in time. They did not have time to completely construct a new data center warehouse and procure all the necessary components.
One data center facility has even gone so far as to build a giant warehouse with these containers inside a large data hall. Instead of rows of cabinets with aisles you see rows of shipping containers stacked alongside and above each other. Each container can be individually secured, cooled and powered – perfect for some large-scale colocation facilities.
Have you seen or heard of anyone else deploying data centers in this way? Let us know by tweeting us @Ortronics .
Our fifth trend in the series will look at the emergence of “Micro” Data Centers (MDCs). MDCs can be defined as a self-contained computing cabinet (or cabinets) that includes all the networking, computing, power, cooling and storage required to run an end user’s application, usually located near the source of the data. These micro data centers allow a company to deploy data center functionality a lot closer to the edge of a network, a trend which is only growing with the wider adoption of the Internet of Things.
With the IoT penetrating the market, edge computing has started to become a topic of discussion again. Where everything was being moved to the “cloud,” we now see a need for some of that computing power and storage to be deployed closer to the source of that data. Micro Data Centers are able to provide a simple, nearly plug-and-play solution for those looking to deploy data center functionality on a small scale to support these new workloads. Unlike the traditional data center or telecom room design, the cooling is closer to the devices that actually need it as opposed to cooling an entire room. These MDCs can be deployed as-needed with capacity added only when it’s needed, similar to the capability and cost savings realized when using a multi-tenant data center model. David Cappuccio said it best when describing this emerging trend, “Localized or micro data centers are a fact of life, but by applying a self-contained, scalable and remotely managed solution and process, CIOs can reduce costs, improve agility, and introduce new levels of compliance and service continuity.”
Being able to be deployed with minimal modifications or additions, a MDC allows customers to quickly deploy data center capacity. Take for example CVS’s acquisition of Target’s pharmacy business. With the acquisition CVS will be replacing the computer and networking infrastructure of the Target pharmacies with their own, more than likely in a separate location from Target’s existing IT gear. CVS would become a perfect customer for a MDC deployment as it would allow them to dynamically place their gear securely in Target’s stores without having to rely on Target’s existing infrastructure.
An early pioneer in the space, Elliptical Mobile Solutions, was recently acquired by a marketing firm and are integrating their micro data center assets into a new company, Instant Data Centers. Let us know your thought on micro data centers by tweeting us @Ortronics .
The fourth trend in our series will be looking at the proliferation of multi-tenant data centers (MTDC), including colocation and cloud, and the shift from wholly-owned enterprise data centers to those managed by others. It’s impossible to ignore the rapid growth multi-tenant data centers have seen over the recent years with over $115 million in revenue being generated in 2015 alone.
IHS believes that this growth comes as businesses look to reduce their capital expenditures (CapEx) that come with constructing and maintaining their own data center. Moving the data center from a wholly-owned building to a multi-tenant data center provider allows it to become operational expenditures (OpEx). This also relates to the ability of businesses to grow their data center space as needed, when needed without having to build entirely new data centers. Although even this is somewhat of a heated topic, something which CIO.com discusses in their article, How to Break Down the OpEx vs. CapEx Cloud Computing Debate.
The cost benefits realized are compelling businesses to place more thought into their data center strategy. Forrester estimated the 10-year cost of a company building their own data center versus the cost of renting space from a colocation provider, with a 32% cost savings realized when deploying within a colocation facility.
There are a number of other benefits that make colocation or cloud service providers attractive to businesses, including freeing up internal IT resources, allowing for capacity to be added or removed as needed and having access to state-of-the-art infrastructure within the rented facilities. These MTDC providers are in a highly competitive environment and must offer compelling services and infrastructure to potential clients if they would like to secure a sale. This competition has led some major multi-tenant companies, including Equinix and Digital Realty to begin investing in Open Compute designs, something which we will talk about in more depth as another trend further along in this series.
The same two multi-tenant giants, Equinix and Digital Realty, also offer interconnection or cross-connect services to their tenants, allowing them to directly connect with other clients and services within the same data center. In 2015 IHS estimated that 10% of all MTDC revenue has come from the fees associated with cross-connects with Equinix alone having over 145,000 cross-connects.
We are witnessing a shift from the need for enterprises to construct their own data centers to those same enterprises “outsourcing” their data center to providers who are able to offer more expertise and services in relation to the operation and maintenance of a data center.
Our third data center trend that we will examine looks at the elimination of a data center staple, the raised floor. David Cappuccio, VP Distinguished Analyst for Gartner, said it well himself: “There are many reasons why you shouldn’t have raised floors, yet we have 90 percent of data centers with raised floors today.”
While a large majority of data centers currently utilize a raised floor environment, there is a moving trend towards eliminating it on new data center builds. In a 2014 Uptime Institute survey, 52% of respondents said that they do not plan to use a raised floor in their next build.
So, why the change? With the rapid development of new technologies and best practices, the necessity of the raised floor has been diminished. While it has traditionally provided pathways for cabling and cooling, the space it requires, design considerations, and upfront cost have driven a lot to consider alternative methods.
Those that are moving to a slab floor are claiming back valuable space that otherwise would have been occupied by the raised floor. Their cabling infrastructure is now moving overhead in basket trays, and cooling infrastructure can be a number of options, some of which are more efficient than utilizing the raised floor as a delivery method for cooling. Alternative cooling methods, including close-coupled cooling and more efficiently designed CRAC units and containment have allowed slab floors to be used with increasing equipment density within the racks and cabinets.
There is no longer a concern of overfilling the floor with cabling that could potentially block critical airflow and most new data centers being built have moved to overhead cabling and power even when a raised floor is still being used for cooling. With cabling overhead it’s a lot easier to maintain, removing the need to remove several floor tiles just to service one cable or to run a new cable.
With increasing densities and associated power, many question if the raised floor can support these changes – can it effectively cool the higher density deployments and can it support the increasing equipment loads in the future? Is the initial upfront cost of a raised floor, usually starting around $20 per square foot, worth the extra design considerations that must be put in place? Let us know by tweeting @Ortronics and telling us your thoughts.