Building the Modern Data Center in the Era of the Cloud

Michael Vizard
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Six Tips for a Greener Data Center

Create better airflow in the data center.

IBM is announcing today that it designed a 900,000-square-foot data center in India that only took 10 months to build. Created for Tulip Telecom Ltd., the facility, known as "Tulip Data City," consists of 20 IBM Enterprise Modular Data Centers installed in a four-tower building that consists of multiple stories.

According to Steven Sams, IBM vice president of global site and facilities services, the Tulip facility is now the third largest data center in the world and is designed to provide up to 100 megawatts of power.

Given the rise of virtualization and cloud computing, you might think that the number of data centers that need to be built would shrink. Sams says that the data center infrastructure market is worth about $47 billion annually, with an expected growth of another 17 to 18 percent by 2015. He adds that IDC estimates that data managed by enterprises will grow 50 times over the next decade, and in the next two years alone the number of servers installed will increase by 49 percent.

Much of that growth is taking place outside of the U.S., which raises questions about the future competitiveness of IT organizations in the U.S.. The Tulip facility, for example, has a power usage effectiveness rating (PUE) of 1.5, which compares to a rating of 2.5 for the average data center. Sams adds that every piece of equipment in the Tulip data center are redundant paths for power and networking to ensure high availability.

Tulip will allow customers to house their own servers in the data center in addition to providing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings that will be managed using IBM SmartCloud software and services.

It's pretty clear that in the last few years major advances have been made in terms of building efficient data centers that are more resilient than ever. The choice that a lot of companies will face in the years ahead is determining whether they should rebuild their data centers, or take advantage of cloud computing services running inside state-of-the-art data center facilities built by someone else. Obviously, there are a lot of security and compliance issues that need to be addressed before making that decision, but one thing that is for certain is that economics of building data centers at scale are increasingly favoring the cloud service providers.

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