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What Can Be Done to Cut Down on Data Center Outages?

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As more and more businesses depend on their data centers for continued operation, outages can cost thousands of dollars for every minute that the center is offline. Even though the number and duration of power outages has decreased significantly over the recent years, businesses continue to look for ways to minimize, if not completely eliminate, losses caused by forced downtime. While some circumstances are truly beyond anyone’s control and outages can happen despite your best efforts, their number can, indeed, be decreased by taking preventative measures.

In many cases of accidental outage, the cause was traced back to human error. Any company working on minimizing downtime is well advised to examine the main types of human error involved and take steps to minimize such occurrences. Important measures in error prevention include implementing design changes that make it easier to catch and stop mistakes before they result in power failure.

One type of error occurs when PDU cables are disconnected by accident. This can happen when the cables are already loose and an inadvertent touch disconnects them completely. One design feature that helps cables stay connected securely is a locking power cord that cannot accidentally come loose and disconnect. Investing in upgrading your PDU cables can prevent unwanted downtime and end up saving tens of thousands of dollars.

Color-coding PDU components and cables also helps workers keep track of all power feeds and avoid disconnecting the wrong cable. This is a simple change that will help prevent outages without involving major disruption and equipment replacement.

Other precautions concern planning the configuration of data center equipment in a way that will distribute power loads efficiently, instead of running the risk of overloading a particular line and experiencing an outage. One way to cut down on power inefficiencies and uneven distribution is to supply the same higher voltage power to each rack. In the long run, this approach reduces power supply issues.

Overheating equipment is another cause of power outages. Data center equipment should be arranged efficiently and provided with adequate cooling mechanisms that can cool down the facility evenly. Installing and monitoring cooling equipment can help avert a significant portion of outages.

Companies concerned with losing large amounts of money to forced downtime in their data centers can take action to substantially cut down on the number of outages. While not all circumstances are controllable and outages will still happen, smart design and equipment choices can go a long way towards minimizing outages that happen due to human error or equipment malfunction.

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The Advantages of Open Source for Networked Data Centers

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From smart home applications to vast online commercial empires, today’s leading industries are increasingly dependent on extensive data networks. Unlike previous years, when data was generated and stored on using proprietary software developed for use only with specific hardware, today’s data must not only be stored but must also be capable of connecting and interacting with other data. Speed is also essential.

To keep up with rapidly evolving networking and data technologies, the ideal data center would use hardware that is easily upgradable and compatible with major, if not all available software. It would also have software that is not hardware-dependent and can evolve quickly and intuitively. The reality, however, is that many centers are struggling with legacy programs and outdated hardware that are inefficient, clunky and increasingly difficult to maintain.

One effective long-term solution that is being implemented by major data centers and network providers is promoting open source networking. The advantage of open source development is the resulting homogeneity and therefore compatibility of networks worldwide. Both software and hardware that are produced as open source projects result in a modular virtual construct  where each component can be used with any other component. Discarding the older system of using teams to design a system from top to bottom, this approach, known as disaggregation, has each team focusing on the production of a specific component, whether that is a hardware part or a piece of programming. This heightened focus on details results in a more streamlined process and higher quality components.

Open source design and production of hardware also offers the additional benefit of reducing manufacturing costs, as well as entirely obviating the need for some parts. Increased modularization of data networking systems facilitates the transfer of functions traditionally accomplished through hardware such as cables to wireless networking and streaming functions. The more compatibility there is between various systems, the easier it is for the systems to communicate and interact. Open source networking is also conducive to creating interfaces that are intuitive for the average consumer.

The one consideration holding some companies back from embracing open source is the potential loss of competitive advantage. “If we use the same technology and share our innovations with competitors, how can we convince consumers to choose our product over theirs?” they reason. When it comes to networked applications, however, consumers are now less likely to buy products that cannot interact with other systems. In addition, the ability to offer higher speeds, better quality and more flexibility to upgrade is seen as offering a greater advantage than any that might be lost through open source sharing.

The use of open source development for networked data centers is an innovative and effective solution to the problems centers face in keeping up with the rapid speed of today’s technological evolution. As networking of products continues to increase, open source helps to achieve greater compatibility and flexibility.

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The Importance of Tape in an Increasingly Data-Rich World

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It isn’t talked about much, but tape is more important in today’s world of exploding data collection and storage than it was decades ago. Enterprise tape is now able to store 10 TB for eachcartridge at 360 MB/sec. Tape libraries have reached an astounding capacity of more than one exabyte. Magnetic particle technology allows an area data density of 123 billion bits per square inch, which means an LTO cartridge can store as much as 220 TB of uncompressed data. The need and demand for tape has been on the rise for many reasons:

 

Increase in regulation and improvements in technology have increased the demand to store data indefinitely. Tape is crucial to backup of data and recovery after a disaster, and plays a significant role in cloud storage.

Increased demand for more efficiency and greater capacity in data storage is driving the manufacture of tape media, drive and management software.

Tape is economical compared to other storage methods, and is becoming preferred for archiving, especially active archiving, to search, store and retrieve data easily.

New Uses for Tape in a Changing Tech Landscape

The space-saving benefits of tape are clear from its use with NAS. When data comes into a NAS disk cache it is written to the tape; once the cache is full it dumps the oldest files and uses metadata to link to the data on the tape. Searches conducted for files work just as before, only now when a read request occurs, the file is moved back from the tape to the disk cache. Users will not even realize that a different storage process is being used, which prevents costly user familiarization.

IT managers are looking for new ways to use tape to take advantage of the efficiency and operational value of its use. Venture capital is increasingly being funneled into this industry to discover new methods of use and innovative designs. This activity is likely to propel tape from just a medium of data backup to a primary form of storage for unprecedented amounts of data.

Analysts now believe that data storage will amount to 5,200 GB per person worldwide by the year 2020. As tape is cheaper and more energy efficient, it is predictable that this form of storage will be experiencing an exponential increase in use in the years to come. As new tape designs are researched and developed, this growth may even reach to the personal computer use market.

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Spot Data Center Problems Before They Happen

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Given the importance that immediate access to information carries in today’s business world, being able to rely upon your data center for round-the-clock reliability is vital. Unfortunately, completely uninterrupted support is impossible. Far too many companies adopt a “wait-and-see” approach when it comes to dealing with problems that may arise from their data centers. If this is the method that you choose to follow, then you’re essentially guaranteeing yourself to face costly periods of downtime in the future.

 

 

Condition-Based Maintenance Programs

Rather than reacting to data center component failures after they happen, why not choose to monitor and address them before they even manifest themselves? Impossible? Not if you choose to implement a proactive approach to your data center management. Along with delivering impressive support and backup to end-users, the technology supporting today’s data centers also offers a certain level of self-diagnostic capabilities. Conditioned-based maintenance programs now allow you to receive real-time alerts of potential problems with your data center hardware.

Factors such as temperature fluctuations and the amount of energy exerted during peak load times can be easily measured and used in factored the toll that it exerts on your equipment. As the signs of wear-and-tear begin to show, your CBM lets you know not only that a problem may be pending, but also allows you to localize it so that your IT teams knows where to look. A quick replacement of the worn components then ensures that eventual failures can be avoided.

Other Preventative Maintenance Methods

Yet while CBM’s are changing the way that data centers are maintained, older centers that aren’t supported by such technology require increased effort on your part to avoid problems. Yet you needn’t worry; a few simple, intuitive practices can be just as effective in fulfilling preventative maintenance. These include:

Prioritizing your applications: Identify those applications that are most critical to your day-to-day operations, and then pinpoint the data center components that support them. Create a preventative care plan to ensure that those components are routinely inspected and serviced. This not only prevents downtime, but also allows you to optimize your maintenance budget.

Maintain detailed information on all your equipment: Learning the unique requirements of each of your data center components helps you know exactly what sort maintenance is required and at what time intervals. This allows you to create a care plan customized to the meet the needs of each of your components systems.

Take advantage of manufacturer service plans: Equipment manufacturers will also typically offer service plans with their equipment. Purchasing them allows you the advantage of having an expert evaluation of your equipment done annually. This takes much of the guesswork out of preventative maintenance.

There’s no avoiding the fact that your data center components have a shelf life. Yet that doesn’t mean that you have to accept downtime as an inevitability. By adopting a proactive approach to your data center management, you can reduce the risks of experiencing downtime by dealing with small problems before they have the chance to become larger issues.

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The Data Center Has Changed Forever

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Over the past few decades, virtually every single aspect of the data center has changed. This massive shift in architecture is largely fueled by the applications that run these centers. The previous standard of monolithic packages has largely been replaced by much smaller microservices, and the teams of professionals who manage and monitor these services are becoming increasingly diversified as well. Apps are no longer limited to fixed locations, but can now be easily distributed across a variety of clouds and data centers. Despite the fact that these changes have been exceptionally helpful to businesses and users, these rapid changes have also increased the rate of security threats.

Combating Security Threats

Security threats have the potential to undermine any data center, but new technologies are emerging in order to combat these threats and improve the user experience. This has led to the development of more comprehensive architecture at nearly all levels of the data center stack. These architectural elements include policy-based automation and management, hybrid cloud orchestration, and a multitude of infrastructure resources.

New Technologies

One of these new and increasingly popular resources is the HyperFlexTM system. It utilizes a unique hyperconverged infrastructure, which allows it to greatly simplify policy-based automation, storage, and computation.

Hybrid cloud orchestration offers a comprehensive solution for handling both on-premise and hybrid cloud workloads. Orchestration combines Cisco, ACI, and UCS platforms in order to optimize and automate hybrid cloud provisioning using only a single pane of glass.

Scale, security, and performance have also increased due to a switch from the original Nexus 9000 family. The new system gives customers a massive advantage over competitive technologies.

The changes listed above are part of a trend known as “disruptive innovation.” Disruptive innovation has the potential to fuel growth and creation simultaneously.

The Origin and the Future of Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation originated with the emergence of convergence over IP networks. This eventually led to the establishment of new and improved benchmarks for resource use and cost savings. As time progressed, the Application Economy emerged, blending the scale, programmability, and security of the older networks with newer software-based solutions. This transition allows companies and individuals to “future-proof” their data centers using real-time analytics and cloud-scale capacity.

The Value of Partnerships

In short, this major jump in technology is largely owed to partnerships between various companies and software developers. These partnerships allow companies to craft solutions that define the future and improve upon past technological models. As time passes, the world can expect to see increasing diversification among data center technologies and the workers who create and manage them.

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UPS Modernization Is a Must for Growing Companies

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You need to keep your office running 24/7, and that means critical infrastructure has to remain online and accessible. Just same, everything ages and as components wear down, you are increasingly exposed to the risk of downtime. It is invaluable to your company to upgrade critical components or even your entire system from time to time. Although this course of action may raise concerns, it is not always necessary to disrupt your UPS.

Data Centers Are Critical to Company Function

Today’s online economy is pushing all companies to be more digitally streamlined and competent;if your system fails, productivity grinds to a halt. A power failure to the data center prevents communication between employees, customers and vendors and results in lost data. If the backup power system fails to operate, you may be left in the lurch until ordered parts can arrive, and these may not always be immediately available. You can build redundancy to protect your data center, but this adds to your cost and only delays the inevitable. Technology is rapidly changing and components become more obsolete or more difficult to service every day. Having a plan to upgrade components when necessary will actually save you money in increased efficiency, not to mention preventing interruption of service.

A plan to maintain the UPS and service and replace components regularly will ensure a continuation of critical electrical power. A UPS modernization plan will give your company a guideline to budget maintenance and schedule component upgrades, as well as receive training and support from the contracted provider.

Upgrading Technology Will Save Money

Technological advances have increased efficiency more in recent years than you may have been aware, which means your company could experience substantial economic return for an upgrade. In fact, you may be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars under your current, under-par system. Even the improvements to cooling systems are remarkable; nearly 30% of energy costs come from this one function.

What you should know prior to initiating an upgrade:

1. You can modernize certain components without the need to replace the whole infrastructure

2. Modernization can be customized to fit any budget and schedule

3. A current service plan shouldn’t discourage any company from pursuing an upgrade. Modernization can be tailored around a service plan to keep you from spending unnecessary funds.

With all of the benefits of modernization, your company should commit to a plan for UPS repair and replacement. The most successful business prepares for the unexpected and is always looking towards the future.

 

 

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Exciting Opportunity for Data Center Managers

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If you are own or are on the senior management staff of a business that uses a data center, mark your calendar for March 14 through March 18. Mark Evanko, a principal engineer at BRUNS-PAK will be presenting a session titled “Executive Considerations for Data Center Enterprise Solutions in 2016 and Beyond” at Data Center World in Las Vegas. His extensive background in data center architecture and strategy has allowed him to perfect his “get it done” approach that utilizes key techniques such as resiliency and efficiency, making him a leader in the data center enterprise.

The Risks Faced by a Data Center Enterprise

There are some important factors that any business using a data center should take into account. For instance, how does one avoid liability issues if network security is breached? There are a number of things that can be the cause of a network’s security being compromised:

1. Hackers may break into a network in order to access sensitive data.

2. If downtime occurs, anybody who uses the network, even if from a remote location, could be prevented from doing important and time-sensitive work.

3. Data breaches can occur without a hacker even being involved. When data is improperly handled or a security measure is not followed, sensitive information can be leaked.

Preventing Risks

There are a number of measures and strategies to employ to protect your data center and ensure it is operating most efficiently. One thing to keep in mind is that if you are using a third-party provider, they do not have liability for hacking, data breaches, or downtime. If you want to measure the pros and cons of using a third-party provider vs setting up your own data center, you may need to do further research. Topics like this one will also be covered in Evanko’s presentation.

Optimize Your Data Center

At his presentation, you will be given some privileged knowledge, including feedback and considerations from senior committees who have worked on data center enterprise solutions, specializing in the modern marketplace from 2015 and beyond. If you are wondering about the costs and the potential risks you might face as a data center owner, this presentation will be perfect for you.

A data center can be a big boost to any enterprise’s success in a marketplace that revolves around networks and technology. Make sure you are prepared not only on how to set up your data center, but how to administer and use it effectively.

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How To Increase Your Income With UPS System Modernization

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When your plan A fails, your UPS device is your emergency backup. Reliability and efficiency is vital. As data center technology has rapidly evolved, many companies have relied on essentially the same decades old CPU technology. The fact is, older systems are often just not adequate to supply the needs of modern data centers. When the average data center loses approximately $8,000 for every minute of power failure, neglecting your UPS system can turn into a very costly mistake.

  1. Small Changes can Make Big Differences

Modernizing your UPS system does not have to mean a full scale system overhaul. It can be done within the framework of your existing system to avoid costly disruptions in business operations. The best option for you may not be an entirely new system. The most efficient upgrade may entail replacing key components, which can give your system a much needed boost with minimal financial and time investment. For example,  upgrading your lead acid battery to a smaller, more efficient lithium ion battery can extend the life of your UPS system dramatically, as well as decrease ongoing maintenance costs.

  1. Big Changes can Make an Even Bigger Difference

UPS technology has made huge technological leaps, even in the last few years. Newer models are smaller, faster, more energy efficient, and require less care. While opting for a full scale replacement of a poorly functioning UPS may increase upfront costs, it may save you substantial money and headaches down the road.

  1. Extra Perks

Not only does your UPS system protect you from power outages, which can cost thousands of dollars a minute, newer models also offers a range of other protective features. Modern UPS systems will also function as a high quality surge protector, safeguarding your other expensive equipment.

Other features help protect against instability, voltage jumps, surge protection, battery backup, and other power related problems, as well as increasing integration and communication with other systems.

The Next Step: Bringing in an Expert

Whether the best move for you and your business is full scale replacement, upgrading parts or just providing regular maintenance, consulting an expert will go a long way in helping you determine how your UPS can serve you best. IT professionals whose expertise lies specifically in UPS technology are going to be able to help you determine the health of your current system, and which tweaks can be made to improve performance to maximize the lifespan of your existing system. When your system is no longer capable of providing the protection you need, a professional can also help you determine which new system on the market will best meet your needs.

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How Software Only Enterprise Storage Can Drastically Increase Productivity

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The storage industry is rapidly evolving at every level. It is not just the technology itself which is undergoing constant transformation, but the very ways in which it is distributed, managed, and expended which are also rapidly diversifying. For the industry as a whole, this is indicative of a need to not only expand into better options, but to innovate a complex, diverse range of options which are able to address each of these variables. As it turns out, this is exactly what is happening.

The Fall of Integrated Systems

Though integrated storage systems have long developed a reputation for being clunky and outdated, they have continued to be a mainstay in the storage industry. This success is largely based on a resigned acceptance due to a lack of viable alternatives. Recently, many software only based storage systems have begun to challenge to the dominance of integrated systems, finally achieving a level of reliability and supportability on par with more established methodologies. Behemoths such as Facebook and Google have already moved towards this newer model, and have profited considerably in increases in efficiency and flexibility. This is indicative of an industry wide shift towards more efficient options which are able to adjust with ease to a constantly expanding, evolving technology.

Traditionally, storage systems have linked performance and capacity so closely that one cannot be increased without simultaneously increasing the other, whether this is necessary or not. This leads to a pattern of ongoing waste, in which one resource is chronically underused, and an increase in both the upfront costs of the system as well as on a day to day operational level. These unused resources must be powered, cooled and housed, all of which use up substantial resources. Software only systems allow the flexibility to move around these limitations, avoiding a significant amount of waste.

Meeting the Needs of an Increasingly Diverse

Not only is the size of data storage needs increasing at a rapid fire pace, the very definition of size within the storage industry has morphed. It is no longer a question of how large a file system can be supported, but how many it can host. The growing importance of shared systems and the introduction of microsystems mean that the needs of business storage solutions have diversified. The old standard simply does not have the scalability to address this need. Even this number is not quite as quantifiable as it once was, as differing file systems become increasingly integrated and codependent.

The current market demands efficiency, flexibility, and room for growth along with established support and reliability. Traditional markets are failing these expectations. Thankfully, innovative and exciting solutions are being introduced and implemented on a weekly basis.

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How Components Affect the Cost of Your Data Center

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A data center is an important part of any technologically oriented business. Finding the right amount of storage space (not too much or too little) and monitoring power usage effectiveness are a couple common ways that organizations save money on their data centers. But what about the small components, like flash drives, CPUs, and other IT gear? There are some more specific and low-level adjustments that can save you even more money on your data center. Remember, a small adjustment can make a huge difference on a larger scale.

Some Components to Evaluate

There are a lot of components and gear that you will purchase to maintain an effective data center and network infrastructure. Here are a few examples:

1. Flash drives are an integral part of data management. They allow you to transfer data effectively and safely, without having to send it through a network. Flash drives are an especially effective way to store sensitive data—as long as you’re careful not to lose them! Make sure you examine all the different potential vendors. Why get a 16GB flash drive when all you need is 2GB of storage? Does one company offer a cheaper flash drive than the other? Look into all of these factors when you consider your flash drives.

2. Network connections can be remote or run through hardware such as network cables. It is up to you to find out the best balance between efficiency of data communication and saving on energy and product costs.

3. CPUs can be rather expensive. While it is best to be minimalist with your technology, it is also important to make sure you have the right amount of processing power to handle the workload for your specific organization. If your primary data is word documents and spreadsheets, you will not need as strong of a CPU as what would be used by an organization that works with images and videos.

Learn AboutHow Components Affect Data Center Costs at Data Center World

The kinds of considerations mentioned above are all important ways to save a lot of money. Amir Michael is an infrastructure expert with tons of experience. He has worked with both Google and Facebook. His session at Data Center World Global 2016, an event taking place in Las Vegas from March 14-18,will specifically address the various components of data center cost. Not only will he go into more detail about flash drives, networks, and CPUs; he will also examine such things as facility, power, hard drives, and DRAM.

Proper management of even the low-level components of your data center will even further improve your organization’s productivity and efficiency.

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