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Dead Servers Walking – Zombie Servers and Data Center Efficiency

Feature - Dead Servers Walking - Zombie Servers and Data Center Efficiency - AnD Cable Management Blog

Data centers use a lot of power, and while the move to renewable energy helps, other efficiencies must be created to keep these power-hungry behemoths in check. It is estimated that 2% of the carbon emissions in the world come from data centers, and that will only increase as we stream more, save more on the cloud, and demand internet that is faster and faster. However, there is a monster or monsters lurking in nearly every data center – zombie servers.

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Rather than roaming the world dragging their feet and looking for brains, these zombie servers quietly draw power, making a data center much less power efficient that it could be. It’s not just power either. There is also the hidden cost of the space these servers take up. What are “zombie servers” and what do we do about them?

Just Resting?

Even as demand for larger, faster data centers increases, there is a significant push for those data centers to be more efficient. So many data centers use less power as they expand. This is in part due to Power Useage Effectiveness (PUE) standards that determine how well a data center uses the power available to them.

Zombie servers are servers that still use power… but don’t actually do any work. These energy wasters can be difficult to find, especially in large data centers with thousands of servers. Part of the problem is that unlike powering off your laptop, a server is always using energy even when it is “idle.” It’s never truly off. Since the idea is to get equipment to use less energy by doing more work, it is vital that these servers be identified.

“Power! Power!”

The reason quite simply is power usage. Since the server is never truly idle, it is hard to find, because all the servers in a stack may appear to be pulling equal amounts of power, but it can be hard to determine which ones are doing the most work. While AI monitoring helps, it is still not a foolproof solution.

Not to mention the fact that many data centers have not yet implemented that technology. Traditional Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software can help with power usage and cooling, but in order to achieve newer and stricter efficiency standards, data centers must take additional steps we’ll talk about in a moment.

In fact, as recently as 2015, a study found that 1 in 3 servers in data centers were “zombies”, either comatose or consuming energy and doing little to no work. Immediately, many data centers began to take steps to locate, isolate, and remove these zombie servers. “It’s a matter of technical efficiency,” Jonathan Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University told Computer World.

Wake Me Up or Just Go-Go

There are two choices when it comes to zombie servers: once located, you can either wake them up and put them to work, or you can move them out of the system. Alternatively, you can move their computing functions to the cloud. The problem is a bit more complex though.

Data centers are often fearful of removing some zombie servers in case they may be needed, or are more mission critical than first thought. This can result in zombies staying online and sucking power longer than necessary. However, as power savings have been proven in other instances, more data centers have become proactive in seeking and taking these servers offline.

Zombie Hunting

What’s the answer? In concept, it is pretty simple. An intelligent DCIM can help by creating certain reports either regularly or on demand. They include information like:

  • Charting of trends
  • Power capacity trend and analysis
  • Power charge back reporting
  • Failover testing
  • Active power by month and device

The active power by month and device can help you establish baseline power needs and consumption. Then changes can be tracked to determine what servers are underutilized or even not doing any work at all.

The key is a truly holistic approach using all the modern tools at our disposal. The piecemeal approach of shutting down a server here or there will result in only minimal power savings. Optimizing all aspects of on-site infrastructure is essential.

Need help understanding zombie servers? Are you looking for other solutions to free up space in your data center? Or are you in need of remote monitoring and physical network security options? We’re here to help.

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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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Key Considerations When Choosing Your Next Data Center Location

Feature - Key Considerations When Choosing Your Next Data Center Location - AnD Cable Management Blog

In business, the adage location, location, location has always been a concern for any physical structure. This is true of data centers as well. When it comes to your next data center location, where do you build?

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There are several prime locations around the country for the mega data centers that are popping up everywhere, but there will always be a need for local data centers, and as the need for more storage and faster data rates increases, so will the size and configuration of those data centers. But what influences location? There are two primary factors: safety, and network exchange proximity. Let’s take a closer look.

Data Center Starts

AOL started in Northern Virginia with its first data center. As the area grew, the communities invested in technology and network hubs that attracted more tech giants. In fact, Microsoft bought land in the Loudoun area for around 1.4 million per acre just this year, showing that the value of data center land in that area will not be taking a dive anytime soon.

The Pacific Northwest is also a data center hub, with Amazon leading the way along with several other large tech companies. One reason is that water is plentiful in these wet areas and can be harnessed easily for cooling purposes.

That was just the start, of course. Since then, locations have popped up all over the country.

Safety and Network Proximity

But you can’t just build data centers where you have access to water, and as the Microsoft story illustrates, building near other data centers may be cost prohibitive for many companies. While the Pacific Northwest is also a great location for other reasons, data centers must be built in other places.

Where is the ideal place to build? Well, as with many other things, it depends, but of course the two primary concerns above must be kept in mind. For instance, you could build in the middle of nowhere, where land is cheap, water is plentiful, and there are few weather-related concerns. But if you don’t have a solid connection to the network, your data center will never work.

Taxes, Labor, and Incentives

Taxes, labor, and incentives are all normal costs and benefits of doing business in any given location. For instance, in California the tax laws can be complicated, labor regulations are more restrictive than in some other neighboring states. However, some counties or municipalities offer tax incentives to data centers located there.

In addition, many will be close to network hubs, and will also have talent to draw upon when the time comes to hire new employees. This can be another vital factor in data center location. The right talent can be hard to find in the tech industry, and nearby universities, an appealing community surrounding the data center, and other factors can heavily influence recruiting.

It’s a good idea to keep things under wraps when first negotiating a data center site. Otherwise, bidding wars, protests from community members who may not want to see a data center in their area, and others can derail the best plan before it even gets a chance to get started.

Another consideration is power and access to sustainable resources.

Going Green is the New Black

A huge consideration for data centers is their environmental impact. Choosing a location with a high solar score, for example, allows a data center to operate primarily on renewable energy. The same is true for nearby hydroelectric and wind energy. One of the primary things driving this trend is consumer interest.

Because the consumer wants to do business with companies investing in renewable energy, those same companies partner with data center partners who share the same values. It all comes down to energy and where it comes from.

In this way, companies have gotten creative, locating data centers in cooler northern climates, placing them underwater, and locating them in caves and other areas underground. All of these efforts are attempting to take advantage of natural cooling factors to save energy and improve efficiency.

As much as possible, the location of a data center should be coupled with environmental responsibility and sources of renewable energy.

Key Takeaways

Does all of this sound a bit complicated? It can be. Also there are simply times when you are limited in your selection by geography, local zoning, and the land available to you. But choosing a data center location, much like choosing the location of any other business, will depend on your individual circumstances.

Once you are ready to build, we here at AnD Cable Products can help you with a variety of products to help you maximize your space, get the right cables for your data center, provide labelling products, and even help with physical layer network security and monitoring.

Have questions? Contact us today. We’re happy to talk about your needs for new data center builds or simply moves and changes in current facilities. Join our email list to get the latest news and data center tips. No spam, ever.

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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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Data Center Cabling Above and Below – Raised vs Concrete Floors

Feature - Data Center Cabling Above and Below - Raised vs Concrete Floors - Cable Management Blog

It used to be that data centers were simply built with raised flooring. This was for several reasons: to allow for airflow, power and other cable routing, and flexibility during moves and changes. However, for most modern data centers, concrete floors, or slabs, have become a more common choice, with cables and even cooling running above rather than below.

But what is best for data centers, and is there still room for raised flooring in new and more modern data centers?

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Feature – Data Center Cabling Above and Below – Raised vs Concrete Floors – Cable Management Blog

The Reasons for Concrete Flooring

First, let’s look at why some data centers might choose concrete floors or a slab rather than a raised floor during construction, including power density, cooling, and more.

First, today’s high power density data centers need a lot of cooling, and a raised floor may not be up to the task. New fresh air systems and “hot aisle” containment systems do a better job than air routing under the floor.

Second, data centers are getting larger and denser at the same time. Components are actually getting larger, and cables are getting thicker. As the need for storage capacity rises, so does the demand on a particular data center. These larger data centers need more sophisticated cooling, not to mention the ability to hold more weight than a raised floor.

Contrariwise, even smaller data centers often lack the space to add ramps on raised floors, making their application impractical. In compact spaces, it’s difficult to achieve the proper power density with a raised floor.

These are all good arguments for concrete floors in data centers, but does that mean raised floors don’t really have a place? Not really.

Reasons Data Centers Might Want Raised Floors

Raised floors still have some uses in various spaces, including two primary scenarios.

  • Low Power Density might mean a lot of moves and changes, and especially in some caged hosting spaces, a raised floor is often still the best choice.
  • If water is needed to cool the IT space. In the case of some modern cooling systems, water is needed as part of the process, so raised floors provide a place to transport that water safety, without compromising electronic equipment.

However, these are just a couple of potential scenarios. Let’s look next at raised and concrete floors in a side by side comparison.

The Debate About Raised Floors vs. Concrete Floors

Here are some things to consider:

  • Irregular layouts – Once quite common, these led to the need for space under the floor for cooling and the need for flexibility for moves and changes. As equipment is modernized and standardized in both size and configuration, layouts are more predictable.
  • Cable length and brackets – Cables once had to be much shorter to protect against signal degradation. As fiber optics and high bandwidth Ethernet cables are used, it is no longer critical that cables be short, and the need for a lot of brackets to hold them and route them under the floor is no longer prevalent.
  • Power cables – Power cables once came from the bottom up, and it was necessary to have a raised floor for access. Now, racks and cabinets allow power connections from above, meaning the underfloor space is no longer needed. However, for older systems still in use, a raised floor is still a necessity.
  • Equipment grounding – Copper mesh used to be used to achieve a strong ground between devices. Newer cabling options mean this is no longer a concern. Their grounding wires ensure the integrity of each circuit.

In short, the more technology advances, the less raised floors are needed. But not every data center moves forward and updates at the same pace, and raised floors still remain useful in many cases.

Dust and Static Electricity

There is a final concern when it comes to concrete floors. While most modern devices have anti-static protection, there are some that are still vulnerable, even at low voltages such as a static discharge from a technician.

Solid floors are often constructed with grounded statics that may also use either anti-static panels or floor coatings to prevent the buildup in the first place. For raised floors, anti-static panels have been in use for a long time.

Of course, many will argue that the gaps between floor panels or even grout between panels applied to hard floors is a dust magnet, and dust is a killer in any data center. However, concrete floors can be coated with anti-static material that is seamless, allowing for easy cleanup and the prevention of dust buildup.

But what is right for your data center? Only you can look at all the options and determine what will work best with your overall cooling plan, moves, changes, and updates.

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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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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?

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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/