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Data Center Planning Post COVID – 4 Drivers of Change

Feature Data Center Planning Post COVID - 4 Drivers of Change - Cable Management Blog

COVID and the other events of 2020 have had a huge impact on data centers. Traffic has shifted to residential areas with the work from anywhere trend, and overloaded centers are in need of expansion. But that expansion has been slowed by the pandemic, and social distancing and other restrictions.

So what’s next for the post COVID world of 2021? How do data centers plan for the coming vaccine, the impact on their operations and expansion plans? Here are 4 drivers of change you should keep in mind when making your plans.

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Wooden Business Man Progresses Post COVID Into 2021- Cable Management Blog
The post COVID era presents some unique challenges for data centers

Work From Anywhere is Here to Stay

Both businesses and employees have learned that working from anywhere, specifically from home, does not mean a less productive workforce. On the contrary, many people are more productive from home, value not having to commute to an office every day and have adjusted to the new normal.

Companies have discovered thousands in savings from a smaller physical footprint, and those savings are enhanced by benefits to the environment as well. Companies like Twitter and other tech giants have promised employees the option to work from anywhere indefinitely.

While some people remain anxious to return to the office (and will do so as soon as they’ve been vaccinated) many more are more than happy to continue working remotely. Whatever the post COVID workplace looks like, it seems work as we know it has already changed forever.

Faster Internet, More Data and 5G

Regardless of where people work from, the need for faster internet, more data transmission, and the continuing expansion of 5G mean data centers will experience more demand and require more moves and changes than ever before. This is about more than just technology and changing devices. It is also about the physical arrangement of data centers – an area likely to pick up once the vaccine becomes available.

The physical layer of data centers will change post COVID, as devices grow into the Internet of Things (IoT), high performance cables come into common use, and the demand for greener operations is prioritized. Perhaps the most important factor is that data center managers stay in touch with emerging trends and remain nimble, able to adapt when needed.

Remote Monitoring

Monitoring equipment, maintenance, and up time will become even more important – despite the vaccine. Customers have come to expect reliability, and it is no longer optional. However, the additional demand on human technicians to perform moves and changes means that monitoring should be automated whenever possible.

Remote monitoring systems can help do just that, allowing personnel to focus on more pressing tasks. A sensor network can send messages when human attention is needed, and can also monitor physical spaces for unauthorized access, providing an additional layer of physical security.

These monitoring systems continue to advance, and many can even react intelligently to many issues, readjusting HVAC and humidity systems and shifting loads away from problematic devices as needed. Automation creates a number of labor saving opportunities and can even alert human managers to issues before failures can cause service interruptions and additional issues.

Artificial Intelligence Adoption

Even as hardware evolves, cables become more sophisticated, and the physical spaces in data centers changes, software also continues to improve. From simple tasks like monitoring remote sensors and sending alerts, artificial intelligence can do much more.

Think of AI as the brain of the data center. It can monitor hardware, shift server loads as needed and intelligently, learn efficiency and streamline operations, prevent downtime, and even alert human managers as needed when software changes will not solve problems.

Artificial Intelligence can also be used to project future needs, generate expansion plans and ideas, and even develop plans for the physical layer of the data center. From optimal server rack placement to cabling choices to ventilation and HVAC needs, modeling can tell you what will and won’t work ahead of time, and AI can be a big part of that.

Post COVID, artificial intelligence will impact nearly every business going forward, and the increase in the number of enhanced data centers using this technology continues to rise.

What Will Next Year Bring to Data Centers?

“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” said the Danish Politician Karl Kristain Steincke in 1948. Nothing much has changed since then. The future is still hard to predict. But there are some things we do know:

Like 2020, next year will be one where many changes will happen. What changes are you making in your data center? What things do you think will be trending into the new year?

Introducing the Ultimate Data Center Cable Labeling System

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Ultimate Cable Labeling System - Epson Labelworks PX Printers and AnD Cable Products UniTag Cabel Labels
Ultimate Cable Labeling System – Epson Labelworks PX Printers and AnD Cable Products UniTag Cabel Labels

AnD Cable Products and Epson Labelworks have teamed up to develop the Ultimate Data Center Cable Labeling System with a selection of bundled cable labeling products that, when used together will revolutionize your cable management, efficiency and costs.

UniTag® Reusable Cable Labels – A plastic snap-on cable labeling system that provides a quick and easy way to mark and identify cables

Epson Labelworks PX Printers – A portable label and wire marker solution with exclusive time and costsaving features for creating custom labels

Epson’s PX Label Tapes Fit Onto AnD Cable’s UniTag® Cable Labels PERFECTLY!


About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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Artificial Intelligence in Data Centers: The New Reality

Artificial Intelligence in Data Centers - AnD Cable Management Blog

For years, artificial intelligence, or AI has been the topic of science fiction, from Skynet in the Terminator movies to more benevolent systems. But AI has now become a reality, and that reality has put artificial intelligence in data centers, and the trend is growing. Data centers employing this technology are often referred to as enhanced data centers.

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Artificial Intelligence in Data Centers - AnD Cable Management Blog
Use of artificial intelligence in data centers continues to grow

But this idea of an enhanced data center will likely become the norm, as customer expectations rise. Unprecedented demand means and centers rapidly reaching capacity mean a need for one of two solutions: increased capacity and increased efficiency. Artificial intelligence can help with both. Here’s how.

Artificial Intelligence and Data Center Emissions Control

Data centers use a lot of power, and that power often converts to carbon emissions. While technology advances and the use of solar can help, there are other solutions as well. It’s all about the efficient use of power, HVAC efficiency and flow rates, and more.

How does it work? Well, sensors, relatively small ones, can be placed throughout the data center to measure airflow rates, temperature, humidity, and power consumption in detail, down to individual racks and components. The artificial intelligence algorithm will learn from data it gathers, and can do one of two things with that data:

  • The AI can take control – cycling HVAC systems as they are needed, redirect fans and other smart devices, increasing or decreasing speed to enhance flow rates, and more. This technique is being deployed in both new and existing data centers when possible.
  • AI can report – What the AI can’t control, such as physical placement of racks, wiring, and more can be reported on and recommendations made to human operators who can make those changes.

For instance, let’s say that you have a human maintenance crew who performs certain tasks at the data center such as cleaning, moves, additions, and transfers. This involves those bodies impacting airflow, opening and closing doors adding to HVAC loads, and more. The AI can recommend the best time when there is the lowest demand on these systems, to perform these tasks.

This reduces energy loads and therefore carbon emissions, but it can do even more.

It’s All About That Balance

Server balance is a critical function of data centers and has been overseen by human managers up until now. But smart data centers are using AI and predictive algorithms to assist these managers, freeing up their time to perform other important tasks.

Much like the advantages gained with sensors and algorithms that learn HVAC needs, the predictive management software will learn as it goes, and distribute loads to servers that will handle them best. This analysis and learning not only saves time but helps decrease wear and tear on overloaded equipment and removes the human error factor that can lead to critical mistakes and downtime.

AI has also made human resources management simpler. Through automating some processes, it frees up data center personnel, and makes scheduling simpler, helping to prevent short- staffing. Then, through video conferencing and using similar technology, companies can get even more done remotely.

Keeping it Up, Locking it Down

The concern of downtime is a real one, and one that can keep data center managers up at night. Keeping up with and preventing downtime manually can seem like an impossible task. AI can help, anticipating downtime based on server loads, traffic, and other factors. Not only can it predict downtime, but AI offers other advantages as well.

Because of the other things it has “learned” AI can devise solutions, and advise human managers on workarounds and prevention, keeping downtime to an absolute minimum. While it’s not yet possible to eliminate downtime completely, stellar numbers can be achieved using AI.

But what about data center security? Threats from malware, hackers, and other digital threats are an ever present danger. AI can analyze traffic at a granular level, and often stop such threats before they get a chance at a foothold.

Like downtime, security breaches are inevitable as new threats arrive all the time. But AI can help minimize risk, isolate threats, and remove them to minimize any damage and data loss.

Designing the Physical Layer of Data Centers

There’s more to the picture than just security, uptime, and human resources. There’s also the matter of the design of data centers themselves. What is the ideal placement for servers and server racks? What is the most efficient method to achieve maximum airflow in the data center? What impact will moves and changes have on HVAC and other systems?

There will always be a physical layer to every data center, and security related to that physical layer is nearly as vital as digital security. An AI algorithm, in combination with AR software, can help you design your data center physical layer the right way from the start, and even guide you as you make those inevitable moves and changes.

The same sensors that feed the AI data about efficiency and power savings can also detect pressure changes, unauthorized data center access, and other data points that help you keep the physical layer of your data center functioning properly and secure at the same time.

More to Come

This is by far simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to physical layer security, the use of AI in data center enhancement, efficiency, and more. Artificial intelligence is set to impact every single business in one way or another, and the data center is no exception.

Want to learn more about the security of the physical layer of your data center? Need materials to make your enhanced data center design a reality? Contact AnD Cable Products today. We’d love to start a conversation about your needs and can provide you with the right solutions for your data center today and into the next innovations in data center management.

Introducing the Ultimate Data Center Cable Labeling System

Cable Management Just Got More Economical, Efficient and Robust

AnD Cable Products and Epson Labelworks have teamed up to develop the Ultimate Data Center Cable Labeling System with a selection of bundled cable labeling products that, when used together will revolutionize your cable mangaement, efficiency and costs.

UniTag® Reusable Cable Labels – A plastic snap-on cable labeling system that provides a quick and easy way to mark and identify cables

Epson Labelworks PX Printers – A portable label and wire marker solution with exclusive time and costsaving features for creating custom labels

Epson’s PX Label Tapes Fit Onto AnD Cable’s UniTag® Cable Labels PERFECTLY!


About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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The Impact on Data Center Services – Before and After COVID

The Impact on Data Center Services - Before and After Covid - Cable Management Blog

The COVID pandemic has impacted nearly every industry, and while some have been impacted negatively, others are thriving. The key to all of these things is the ability to adapt. Nowhere is this truer than in data centers. The impact of COVID on data center services has been significant, and those in this “essential industry” can’t work remotely for the most part.

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The Impact on Data Center Services - Before and After Covid - Cable Management Blog
The Impact on Data Center Services – Before and After Covid

The truth is, troubled industries like airlines, hotels, travel sites, and restaurants were not huge consumers anyway.

“The upside cases are actually higher than any of the drawdowns coming in from the troubled sectors,” said Sami Badri, Senior Equity Analyst at Credit Suisse said during a CAPRE presentation. “These troubled sectors were not big customers in the first place, whereas the newer industries that represent a large cash flow stream for data center services are flexing even larger than they ever have before. This is creating a new high-tide environment for demand for the overall tech sector.”

While the financial impact has been positive overall, it has created an increased demand, which has an direct impact on what data centers are and how they operate. What has that impact been, and what are data centers doing about it?

Increased Demand in Unusual Places

“Almost as soon as lockdown started,” David Issel, the asset manager at a Comcast data center known as a “headend” told us, “this place was running at 95%. Fans and our HVAC system was at capacity.”

The Work from Home or rather Work from Anywhere demands of COVID have increased the need for residential reliability and speed on a larger scale. What was evenings of surfing and streaming are now days filled with workers tethered to their home offices, computers, standing desks, and dependent on their routers and home WiFi in ways we never would have thought of in January of 2020.

Data Centers Services have been quick to respond and increase capacity. “Even though the components are getting smaller, the units themselves are getting larger,” Issel told us. “We’re using 23” racks instead of 19” racks, and that means it’s more important than ever to conserve space.”

The other issue? It takes people to add hardware and capacity to a data center, but only so many people can be present in the facility and still remain socially distanced and adhering to mask requirements. Keeping employees safe is a top priority.

Changing Attitude in Lagging Industries

“Some industries have never been well architected to handle work from home or organize a virtual workforce,” Badri told us. “Three of those sectors are healthcare, government and education. We’ve been hearing that government IT spending pledges alone are up more than 20 percent. Education budgets are also increasing and shifting up. Other categories playing catch-up include healthcare, which has been a very big pain point for the U.S.”

This includes things like telemedicine, schools that are either operating 100% virtually or at least offering distance options to students and parents alike. Higher education is struggling the most, as universities train staff, shift to online platforms, and prepare for an entirely new education platform.

While even the Federal government has been lagging in using technology, local, regional, and state governments find themselves even further behind. The question is whether these industries will continue to advance digitally or whether, as the impact of COVID inevitably recedes, the demand will recede with it.

The Need for Speed

Consumers and others often confuse bandwidth and speed. However, there is a need for both, as more people are online at the same time than under normal circumstances. This is bandwidth, or the capacity of the network to handle volume.

Speed is about how fast data can be delivered. Both are vital for consumers. Imagine a neighborhood populated with day traders whose income can be impacted by millisecond delays. That same neighborhood might be filled with school children doing school work online during work hours.

For data centers and companies like Comcast and other internet providers, it is about the ability to scale. “We’ve got plans for getting ahead, and we’re working on expanding HVAC and capacity,” David Issel told us about his particular headend.

This need for speed may mean that new data centers and headends need to be built in order for companies to keep up.

Coming 5G and Other Advancements

A digital revolution and a move to more remote operations, companies like Zoom, Slack, and other communication platforms were things many thought would take years to manifest. Due to COVID, this digital revolution has manifested in months instead.

But there was already a revolution on the horizon. The 5G and IoT revolution was already putting pressure on data centers to adapt and be ready for a new, faster normal. 5G is about more than just speed though. It makes a data center more flexible in more ways.

“The flexibility includes things such as the desegregation of the control and user plains of the network and also migration towards distributed baseband processing and the radio access network (RAN). In turn, this leads to opportunities for virtualization of RAN network functions and it enables the convergence of the RAN into the data center space,” Mike Wolfe, Vice President of Wireless Network Engineering at CommScope explained in a recent DCD article, How 5G will Affect the Structure of Data Centers?

“What this means is there could be a lot of smaller data centers, distributed geographically in such a way that’s going to make them a little bit more difficult to manage. Connectivity will be important in terms of how we do that,” Jamie Birdnow, also of CommScope shared in the webinar.

While it is safe to say that data center services will require huge changes to accommodate and enable 5G, there is still a lot that is unknown.

For example, we don’t know is how applications are likely to develop over a number of. Some things will not evolve as expected, and there are surprises. Autonomous cars will require far more sophistication than remote surgeries.

The key is to understand that data centers were already in a state of change, and the COVID crisis has only accelerated that.

The Bottom Line in Data Center Services

The data center industry has experienced a focus shift due to COVID, and as with any revolution during a crisis, it comes with challenges. That means the efficient use of space, the expansion of capacity more rapidly than planned, and employing other techniques to “future proof” data center services.

Virtual connectivity is a must,” Badri told us. “It’s no longer a debate. It’s now a case of survival and relevance and productivity. You’re starting to see permanent shifts.”

That speaks back to David Issel and Comcast, not only scrambling to catch up and expand, but to prepare for whatever tomorrow may bring.

A key to Issel’s success is his partnership with Louis and AnD Cable Products. Not only does his data center depend on their products and reliability, but they’ve also worked together to create custom hardware that is “perfect for the application,” Issel told us.

It’s these types of cooperation and efficiency, like the ZeroU Horizontal Cable Managers AnD Cable Products offers, which allow technicians to work more easily, increase the life of cables, and more.

If you want to “future proof” your data center services and you are looking for a physical hardware supplier that will be there for you as you expand and adapt, contact us at AnD Cable Products today. We’d love to talk about how we can best work together.


About the Author

Louis Chompff - Founder, AnD Cable Products, Rack and Cable ManagementLouis Chompff, Founder & Managing Director, AnD Cable Products
Louis established AnD Cable Products – Intelligently Designed Cable Management in 1989. Prior to this he enjoyed a 20+ year career with a leading global telecommunications company in a variety of senior data management positions. Louis is an enthusiastic inventor who designed, patented and brought to market his innovative Zero U cable management racks and Unitag cabel labels, both of which have become industry-leading network cable management products. AnD Cable Products only offer products that are intelligently designed, increase efficiency, are durable and reliable, re-usable, easy to use or reduce equipment costs. He is the principal author of the Cable Management Blog, where you can find network cable management ideas, server rack cabling techniques and space saving tips, data center trends, latest innovations and more.
Visit https://andcable.com or shop online https://andcable.com/shop/

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