Data Center Space Efficiency – How to Fit More Servers in the Same Amount of Space

Managing data center density and growth is certainly something that can cause sleepless nights for DCMs. As a consequence, data center space efficiency is driving a lot of decisions with cooling and energy consumption being intertwined concerns. That’s a significant motivation that has led DCMs to incorporate a number of different approaches to fitting more servers in the same amount of space.

High density blade servers are growing more efficient and with larger capacities, which has made them a staple in data centers around the world. As a tool in server consolidation that shrinks hardware within an overall data center footprint, this approach brings benefits in overall space efficiency. It also brings its own challenges in that this optimization favors compute density and improved server manageability over other IT priorities, such as maximizing local storage capacity. As a result, utilizing blade servers encourages the use of networked storage.

The use of server virtualization increases server density further by using a single physical server to host dozens of virtual machines. Server virtualization offers a number of benefits, including server mobility which allows load balancing of virtual machines across each physical server and enables automatic failover of a virtual machine in the event of a physical server failure. Virtual machine mobility also necessitates networked storage.

Server virtualization saves time, especially with maintenance, as fewer servers are needed for the job. Reductions in hardware means fewer updates, less time trouble shooting, and less time jumping between management tools. While virtualization cuts down on the number of physical servers, the transition can take a relatively long time depending on the data center architecture and its function.

Data center space efficiency can also be gained with the use of solid state disk (SSD) technology by providing the desired I/O performance without the requirement of a large number of lower capacity enterprise drives. As SSD costs come in line with that of HDD, DCMs are encouraging the switch to particular workloads in the data center for a hybrid approach to storage.

Regardless of the nature of the data center, poor use of physical space is a clear and ever-present danger to the cost as well as compute efficiency of every facility. Data center managers must be economical in their layout and choice of equipment, so as not to overcrowd specific sectors.

Every facility will have high- and low-density racks and cabinets – cooling components and airflow systems must accommodate accordingly to maximize space usage. A failure to do so can foil data center management’s attempts at operational efficiency by creating too many hot spots.

Traditionally, storage migration is complex, time-consuming and expensive due to data centers having disparate hardware that requires manual configuration and the need for data and application downtime. Since all of these options are likely more gradual rather than all-in affairs, DCMs must find more efficient ways to move hardware throughout the data center to deal with this incremental change towards consolidation. That is on top of the other server changes that take place on a weekly and monthly basis due to a variety of factors.

Engineering and maintenance staffs are generally small and can only be in one place at a time. Doubling or even tripling up the manpower to accommodate the need to move and service servers weighing hundreds of pounds introduces a level of inefficiency that can hamper optimal facility operation on a physical and a compute level. The introduction of the latest powered server lifts into the environment makes the consolidation process more efficient without hampering the daily operation of the facility by tying up staff to move heavy servers.

DCMs understand that data center space efficiency through consolidation has to be an ongoing pursuit that utilizes different solutions and technologies at the right time. They also understand that consolidation cannot come at the expense of efficient operation of the facility. Consequently, having a long-term data center growth plan that can be easily modified to accommodate changes in need as well as changes in technology are the key to making efficient use of space part of the culture of the data center rather than being an approaching crisis that must be averted.

To learn about the ServerLIFT options that can be foundational to enabling data center space efficiency, contact us online or call +1 602-254-1557 to speak with a ServerLIFT specialist.