Data Center Energy Efficiency

Data Center Energy Efficiency

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Due to today’s constant changes and technological advances, the amount of data being created continues to grow at a rapid rate. More data being generated, translates into more robust data storage centers. Regardless of how long you’ve been using data centers for your business growth and storage needs, there is always room for improvement.

Enhancing the energy efficiency of your data center is just another important component to ensuring longevity, success, and continual growth of your business.

More often than not, data center energy efficiency boils down to two simple things:

1)  managing the amount of power being consumed by the equipment

2) eliminating tasks and physical properties that hinder optimization

Optimize “IT”

Energy usage is probably the highest annual expense for today’s data center managers, and it will only continue to increase in the future.

When examining a data center’s energy usage, it’s usually seen as a whole building consumption, rather than individual equipment.

In spite of this, there are still valuable steps that IT authorities or data center managers should practice to make certain that their equipment constantly operates at a more energy efficient level.

Start by decreasing the amount of unnecessary power going into IT equipment by checking the workloads of all operating assets.

Ask questions like:

“Is there any older equipment that can be retired?”

“Is there old data that can be backed up elsewhere or at an off-site location?”

“Can a bulk of my data be stored via cloud?”

“Are there other operations that can be carried out remotely?”

 “Are there systems or workloads that can be combined?”

Whatever steps are taken in this manner, make sure that any efficiency checks don’t interfere with security. Data security should always be the number one priority.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Can you think of the last time someone performed a thorough equipment inspection of your data center? Has it been a while? Take a second and have a peak at how many servers are powered on, yet performing an insignificant task.

Hopefully your answer is none. An ideal data center will have all machines operating at the highest efficiency with business-critical missions. However, that’s not always the case.

If you have data center equipment that’s ready to be retired, then now is the time to look into an equipment buyback program. Let’s dispose of those old hard drives, servers, and other old equipment that’s collecting dust; while consuming energy and costing your company money.

If you’re already in the process of disposing of your retired equipment, it might be the perfect time for an upgrade. Usually as technology advances, it also reduces power consumption thus increasing data center energy efficiency.

Replacing older equipment with newer upgraded equipment can be a major difference in a data center’s energy consumption, saving your business thousands of dollars in the long run.

data center energy efficiency

Data Center Facility Inspection

Not only can older data center equipment increase operating costs, but the facilities with which the data center is located can make a difference as well. The building’s construction, along with where it’s located can play a big role in power consumption and annual costs.

Courtesy:BobLandstrom.com

Older construction buildings not only increase liabilities in the event of a disaster, but are often not a great fit for modern technology. As opposed to a newly built facility, an older data center housing will cost more to maintain consistent room temperatures and may also be subject to leaky roofs or shaky foundations.

As cloud migration and the move to more virtually-based data continues to expand, it’s very possible that the data centers of yesterday are greatly overbuilt for any modern needs.

In such a situation, it may very well be time for a total data center decommission. An entirely new building may appear unnerving at first, particularly with the upfront expenses. Nonetheless a general downsize will make certain your data center isn’t consuming more power than it needs to.

Prime Real Estate

Data center operational efficiency doesn’t always refer to just energy consumption alone. The physical location of a data center facility may also have a direct correlation to the operating costs involved.  

For example, a data center facility in New York City or Silicon Valley is going to cost significantly more than the same sized facility in Boise, Idaho. When taking location into mind, always take into consideration who your data center is serving.

Many data centers today have their facilities on the outskirts of major metropolitan cities.  If it’s not absolutely necessary for you to operate near major metropolitan areas or more expensive markets, then take advantage of the opportunity to move to a less expensive area.

Keep “IT” Cool

It’s no secret to data center managers that powering the IT equipment is only fifty percent of the equation. The other half of the problem is sourcing the power to keep the constantly running equipment cool.

Similar to all of the mission-critical equipment that’s operating 24/7/365, there is wastefulness that can be tackled to ensure cooling systems and operations aren’t consuming an unnecessary amount of power.

The simplest way for any data center to improve the efficiency of its coolers is to install economizers. The overall effectiveness of the economizers will depend on the local climate your data center facility is located in. Yet another reason to consider location.

Courtesy: energystar.gov

What is an economizer? Economizers are machines used to regulate indoor to outdoor temperatures.  According to the United States Department of Energy, an economizer could be anything from outside air refrigeration systems to a rooftop ventilation system used to cool a room. If the outside temperature is slightly cooler than inside the data center, then economizers are a great option to improve cooling efficiencies.

Additionally, take into account the current standard of air conditioning practices and equipment in your data center. Making sure the server hardware and other IT equipment remains cool enough to operate is extremely important.

Now make sure you don’t overdo it too. There are times when data centers can be kept too cool. Fortunately, most newer servers today have built-in systems to stay cool, and do not need to be kept as cool as older models. In this case, the data center’s HVAC can be occasionally turned off as temperatures are monitored more closely by the servers themselves.

Data Center Energy Efficiency

If a majority of your data center’s energy costs are directed towards cooling, then it might be time to upgrade the cooling equipment. Possibly the air conditioning unit in the entire building needs repaired or replaced.

Another great energy saver is to house any data center equipment generating too much heat using isolation structures. These complex isolation structures can guide the heat entirely out of the data center to heat other parts of the building as necessary.

Other modern cooling and venting systems can help data center manager’s improve operating efficiency and lower any consumption costs as well.

Maybe consider installing vented floor tiles to improve overall airflow, or installing chillers that will absorb and transfer heat between physical systems. Anything to help improve the general day-to-day maintenance of your data center will save money in the long run.

Courtesy: environmental leader

No two data centers are exactly alike and every situation is unique. Nevertheless, most IT managers are facing the same physical obstacles in regards to improving energy consumption and overall data center energy efficiency.

The best thing to do is start by conducting a thorough equipment inventory check and look at your current systems.  Slowly branch out from there in order to isolate and eradicate areas of deficiency.

Finally, if you find that the major efficiency improvements can only occur with an upgrade or complete face-lift to your data center, you may need a full-on data center take out

Data Storage Security

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data storage security
data storage security

As Breaches continue, DATA STORAGE and Fear of Adequate SECURITY are merging in the eyes of IT managers.

Over the years data storage security has become a concept centered around protecting data while warranting its availability to authorized personnel. 

Usually, data storage and data security are treated as individual subjects within the IT world, but that’s beginning to change faster than anyone thought it would.

A major reason for the recent merge in disciplines is the variety severity of security breaches routinely exposed by the media. 

As a result, IT managers in the healthcare, finance, and energy sectors have experienced a growing concern among their own.

A subdivision of the broader IT security field, data storage security specifically focuses on securing storage devices and the systems that operate those devices.

Securing data storage may as well be the last stand against an intrusion. 

However, it’s only an effective line of defense if data storage managers and IT administrators are willing to devote the time and effort needed to execute and initiate the existing storage security controls.

data security

In order to maintain reliable data storage security, IT administrators and mangers must carefully balance three important factors: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. 

This means keeping classified data away from unauthorized users, confirming reliability of the data on hand, and allowing access to accredited users within the organization. 

Administrators also need to be aware of the costs of storage security compared to the actual value of the data being safeguarded. 

It doesn’t make sense to have storage security systems in place that cost more than the data is even worth.

 

On the same note, managers should have storage security systems impenetrable to the point that it would cost potential hackers more money, time, and resources to breach them than the data is worth.

More than just recent data breaches, the array of liabilities administrators are progressively motivated to remove consist of shortage in encrypted systems and incomplete data destruction post deletion.

The setback associated with data destruction after data has been deleted can easily be solved with a SITAD organization.

Secure IT asset disposition firms are gaining popularity as they have gradually proven their effectiveness in helping businesses gain a higher return on their initial investment while keeping data secured during the destruction process.

There are also a number of simple steps that industry experts recommend for organizations that are considering employing storage security practices.

These steps include having specific data storage security policies as well as strong network and endpoint security.

Additionally, any organization that has concerns regarding their data storage security methods should invest in data tape backup.

The benefits of the tried and tested magnetic media storage are crucial when implementing effective storage and adequate backup systems and processes.  

tape seciurity

The Definitive Guide to Choosing the Best Router for Your Needs

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How to Choose the Best Router for Your Needs

 

 

Remember back in the late 1980s and the 1990s when anyone who wanted to access the internet had to play the waiting game while listening to that awful screeching sound of the modem dialing the ISP? Ah, the nostalgia of good old dial-up! Thankfully, companies like Cisco make it so we no longer have to deal with the slow connection and loading speeds.

dial up internet router

 

The speeds and capabilities of the internet have grown exponentially since the development of the wireless internet. All of the hardware involved from modems, routers, and processors have managed to outgrow each other year over year. In fact, in April 2015, Linksys (owned by Cisco) announced that they had achieved over 100 million units in router sales. That’s a lot of routers, but how do you know which one is right or you?

When it comes to choosing a Cisco router, there are many tools available to help you make the best decision. The manner in which you go about choosing switches is very comparable.

Go with Your Gut

When you think of Cisco routers, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It might be Cisco’s 2600 and 3600 series lines. For years, these lines of routers served as the ideal model for midsize business’ networks. Even though Cisco discontinued both lines, some organizations still use them today.

Going with your gut is just one way to choose a router for a current network. However, this method does have a major downside. Choosing a discontinued product could mean that your business misses out on a lot of the features in newer models.

Do Some Research

Most of us were forced to do homework for almost 20 years of our lives. So, what’s a little more? When choosing a router for a new network, the same old routers can’t always be counted on. Do your homework and evaluate different criteria and features that are offered in different models. The shortlist below can help you with the right questions.

Performance

Try looking at how many packets per second the router can forward. For instance, a Cisco 2610 or 2612 series router can forward an approximate 15,000 packets per second. Cisco 7500 series routers can forward an approximate 2 million packets per second. However, those numbers have a tendency to be altered once features such as firewalls and VoIP are added.

Growth

Growth implies the number of interfaces that can be supported by the router. Routers typically have a preset number of interfaces (WAN or LAN). Some routers, like the 3600 series, for instance, have no interfaces. So, take note of the number of interfaces that can be added to the default.

Software

Depending on your current set up, the router you chose might need to support a certain interface or a VoIP feature.

Services

Services refer to the integrated services supported by the router. Today’s routers support features that once needed separate boxes to function. A great example is a 32-port switching module that cancels out the need for an Ethernet switch. Also having a firewall, VPN server, and an IDS/IPS built into the router can cancel the need to have each individual feature as a separate box.

Redundancy

Does the router offer the necessary redundancy for working at a critical point in the network? Some redundancy examples include hot-swappable power supplies or high-availability routing protocols such as HSRP or VRRP.

Support

Cisco routers have a reputation for being very reliable products. Furthermore, Cisco systems usually provide exceptional levels of customer support. When buying the router, many levels of support should be available. Be sure to choose the best level for you and your business.

Ask the Pros

When it comes to choosing a router, Cisco offers a Product Advisor, which virtually makes the router decision for you. As a bonus, you don’t need to be a registered Cisco user to access this amazingly helpful tool.

The Cisco Product Advisor is a simple, time-saving tool that assists in choosing the right Cisco router for your network. It asks the questions and suggests a product based on your answers. So you can sit back, relax, and continue to surf… the internet that is.

 

WBU ciisco logo

Data Protection and Information Security – Together at Last.

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matrix

Any IT professional that spent time around a corporate data center for several years has more than likely adapted to the separation of data protection and data security fields. The division in specialties has long historical roots, but does it really make sense anymore?

data protection

Data protection is a major component of any corporate disaster recovery plan. A disaster recovery plan is a set of strategies and processes put in place to prevent, avoid, and minimize the impact of a data loss in the event of a catastrophe. Data protection is essential to a disaster recovery plan as business-critical data cannot be substituted.

The only way to protect data is to make a copy of the original and store the copy adequately secluded from the primary. That way in the event of an unfortunate incident, the same disaster cannot destroy both copies.

In fact, a sufficient disaster recovery plan should also include requirements for application, network, and user data retrievals, as well as procedures for testing and training management.

Disaster recovery planning can be compared to information security planning in many ways. They both intend to protect business-critical practices and data assets. However, InfoSec uses various intertwining tactics that are exclusive to security.

infosec

Information Security

Infosec has established its own terminology and set of strategies for securing vital data assets. These policies are then enhanced by methods of constant monitoring and seasonal analysis to ensure that security precautions are keeping data confidential.

Until recently there have been few exchanges between data protection and information security fields. However, when someone in the data protection field is worried about retrieving data that is encrypted, communication with the InfoSec team is mandatory.

On the other hand, the InfoSec team might only collaborate with the data protection team to confirm that continuous data protection resources are being implemented and used. This would allow speedy restoration in the wake of a cyber-attack by basically reversing data to a point prior to the attack.

Together at Last

Believe it or not, both data protection and InfoSec fields have a lot to learn from each other. Data protection has already dipped into quantitative techniques for matching protection services to detailed data provided the threats to the organization.  These quantitative methods, Single Loss Expectancy (SLE) and Annual Loss Expectancy (ALE), were trivial at face value and abandoned by disaster recovery experts.

InfoSec is moving down a similar path.  Attack surface reduction modeling techniques are akin to the pseudo-scientific numerical looking practices as ALE and SLE. Certain experts see these methods as an upgrade over the threat modeling that was applied by many InfoSec specialists in the 90s.  Before the turn of the century, it was widely thought that the cost to protect data should not be much higher than the cost to hackers to sidestep the security. In spite of this, the correlation was lopsided as hackers suffered little to no expense in testing the protection of their targets or to rout the actions that were taken to keep them out.

Selecting the Best Server for Your Data Center

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Server Selection

In order to improve bottom line performance in the workplace, IT professionals should assess top priorities to establish protocol on how to choose a server while constructing the most efficient workloads.

Some may say that servers are the heart and lungs of the modern internet, but the deliberation on how to select a server can every so often create a confusing range of hardware choices. Even though it’s possible to pack a data center with matching, virtualized and bundled systems that have the ability to handle any job, the cloud is forever altering how businesses run applications. As more organizations move workloads in the public cloud, local data centers need less resources to host the workloads that remain on site. This is encouraging IT administrators and business professionals to pursue more value and performance from the dwindling server fleet.

These days, the infinity of computer hardware systems is being tested by a new trend in customization with server attributes. Some businesses are encountering the idea that one size may in fact fit all in regards to servers. However, you can opt for and even design server cluster hardware to accommodate specific usage categories.

server selection

Figure from: http://searchdatacenter.techtarget.com/tip/How-to-choose-a-server-based-on-your-data-centers-needs

VM Merger and Network I/O

An advantage of server virtualization is the capacity to host several virtual machines on the same physical server in order to use more of a server’s existing resources. VMs largely depend on RAM and processor cores. It’s impractical to decide exactly how many VMs can exist on any given server because you can arrange them in a way that they can use an extensive range of memory space and processor cores. However, selecting a server with more memory and processor cores will usually permit more VMs to exist on the same server, improving consolidation.

For instance, a Dell EMC PowerEdge R940 rack server can host up to 28 processor cores and offers 48 DDR4 DIMM slots that support up to 6 TB of memory. Some system administrators may choose to pass on individual rack servers with a preference of blade servers for another form factor or as part of hyper-converged infrastructure. Servers meant for high levels of VM merger should also contain resiliency server features.

Another thing to consider when choosing a server for consolidation reasons is the extra attention to network I/O. Enterprise workloads regularly exchange data, access centralized storage resources, and interface with users across the LAN or WAN. Server merging can take advantage of a fast network interface, such as a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port.

Visualization and Scientific Computing

Graphics processing units (GPUs) are surfacing at the server level more and more to help with statistically intensive tasks from big data processing and scientific computing to modeling and visualization. GPUs also allow IT to retain and procedure sensitive, valuable data sets in a more secure data center rather than let that data flow to business endpoints.

GPUs need more than an extra GPU card in the server since there is a slight effect on the server’s traditional processor, memory, I/O, storage, networking or other hardware. The GPU adapters contained in enterprise-class servers are usually far more advanced than the GPU adapters offered for desktops. Graphics processing units are progressively more available as highly specific modules for blade systems.

Take HPE’s ProLiant Graphics Server Blade for instance. The graphics system flaunts support for up to 48 GPUs through the use of multiple graphics server blades. The huge volume of supported GPU hardware gives several users and workloads the ability to share the graphics subsystem.

Info from: http://searchdatacenter.techtarget.com/tip/How-to-choose-a-server-based-on-your-data-centers-needs