The complete guide to data centre management
The data centre plays an integral role in modern business. An organisation’s most valuable asset is its data, which is why data centre management is more important than ever.
But how does data centre management work, and what does the future look like for the modern data centre? Find out in our complete guide to data centre management.
What is a data centre?
A data centre is a facility that houses a network of computer systems and servers that store, process and distribute large amounts of data. A data centre can be a vast, remote storage facility or a smaller on-site server room.
As technology advances, some data centres have evolved to save space by adopting remote systems such as virtualisation, cloud computing and the IoT (Internet of Things).
A data centre is a critical component of business infrastructure. It stores and processes important information and therefore requires effective management to ensure the protection and security of an organisation’s data.
What is data centre management?
Data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) involves the management of a data centre’s equipment, services and applications. This includes overseeing all system processes as well as the secure collection and storage of the data itself.
DCIM is a crucial job that is undertaken by either a team or a single data centre manager. These individuals are responsible for the day-to-day running of the data centre and for optimising its operation.
What are the common management activities in a data centre?
Some of the common management activities in a data centre include:
- Data storage, flow and distribution management
- Management of data centre hardware, software and operating systems
- Upgrading and optimising data centre systems
- Planning and management of backup systems and processes
- Providing technical support to other teams and departments
- Emergency and contingency planning
How does data centre management work?
The aim of data centre management is to mitigate risk so that the data centre continually functions without failure or downtime.
A proactive approach to data centre management will ensure that systems are maintained and improved in order to prevent failures. A strict set of management protocols should be in place for employees to follow, and the data centre team should receive extensive training.
Data centre infrastructure management software is used to measure and monitor IT equipment and applications. This enables data centre managers to run efficient operations while improving infrastructure design and planning.
DCIM tools include software that measures, monitors and controls resources such as energy consumption, power, temperature and physical space.
It can also report on the interrelationship between data centre assets. This information allows managers to analyse performance and efficiency while identifying risks before they arise.
Why is data centre management so important?
According to the Uptime Institute’s 2022 Outage Analysis, human error accounts for 85% of data centre outages. This highlights how important effective data centre management is.
A well managed data centre will minimise risk, reduce costs and provide a competitive advantage to organisations. A poorly managed data centre on the other hand may put an organisation at risk.
What are the common risks faced in a data centre?
Perhaps the most common risk in a data centre is the failure of equipment or loss of power. In either of these scenarios, critical data could be lost leading to a reduction in productivity and considerable financial losses. In the case of a network failure, customer service could be disrupted. This may result in costly reputational damage for an organisation.
One of the most valuable assets in modern society is data, making data centres an attractive target to attackers. Data centres hold valuable data that supports our national infrastructure and business. Data centre managers must have robust risk management frameworks in place to prevent attacks and ensure they can react quickly to any data breaches.
Hazards such as flooding or fire pose a serious risk for data centre managers. Water, leaks, or flooding can damage equipment. Therefore, buildings must be designed, built, or upgraded to minimise this risk. Smoke or fire can cause considerable damage to data centre infrastructure. Data centre managers must have robust policies in place to reduce the risk of fire and strict emergency protocols should a fire break out.
What are the benefits of data centre management?
Data centre management is critical for tackling many of the most difficult tasks facing modern data centres.
DCIM software can provide insight and visibility into the health and status of your systems. Some of the most common benefits of data centre management include:
With the use of DCIM software, data centres can be managed remotely across multiple locations. Automated alerts or notifications can help track and warn of issues and component failures when metrics fall below the set thresholds.
Data centres use large amounts of energy. DCIM software monitors and controls energy consumption to improve efficiency, minimise the risk of power outages and reduce costs.
Real-time management software gives data centre managers an insight into the state of their assets. It can model asset changes and keep an audit trail of change requests for faster implementation.
Future proofing and capacity management
Accurately identify available resources such as power, space, and assets, and plan how to reliably deploy new systems or equipment. Organisations can model and allocate space for new hardware and equipment for future growth.
Through effective monitoring data centre managers can determine the health of IT equipment and if any equipment needs to be replaced to ensure maximum efficiency.
What is the future of data centre management?
As new technologies emerge and increasing amounts of data are collected, companies are looking for ways to improve and expand their data management by adopting a hybrid cloud approach.
Robotics and Automation
By automating operations using AI, robotics and Process Automation (RPA) solutions, data centres can reduce the amount of on-site staff they need.
Tasks that previously required physical intervention are now entrusted to robots such as temperature monitoring and security. As a result, businesses can reduce their labour costs and choose to outsource part or all of their data centre operations to an expert provider.
Hyperscale data centres are large-scale cloud server facilities operated by companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM.
Hyperscale data centres provide the storage, power and cooling technology necessary for large operating servers, as well as advanced security systems that smaller companies may not be able to afford on their own.
Edge computing allows for data to be processed closer to the source, enabling processing at greater speeds and volumes.
Edge computing is ideal for smaller companies where the long-distance data transmission of data in the hyperscale model may cause latency issues and may not be financially viable.
The transmission and storage of data consumes a significant amount of power and energy. With an increased focus on environmental accountability, many data centres are looking for greener and more sustainable solutions.
These include the adoption of energy-efficient storage solutions and new liquid cooling or undersea cooling technologies. Future data centres are also being designed for cooler climates so that fewer resources are needed to cool the servers.
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