Defining Efficiency: How Data Centers Can Prepare for the Future

Stay Informed

Data center managers often say, “I want my data center to run more efficiently,” or ask “What solutions do you have that will drive efficiency?” While these are important questions to ask, they’re challenging to answer because not everyone has the same definitions of efficiency and success. Some managers consider only the amount of power and cooling being used, while some think it’s all about using whitespace. Others focus on processing and network connectivity.

Increasing data center efficiency starts with defining what efficiency really means and understanding the future demands your center will experience.

A Changing Industry

According to the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), by the end of 2016, global IP traffic will reach 1.1 ZB per year, or 88.7 EB per month. By 2020, global IP traffic will reach 2.3 ZB per year, or 194 EB per month. The number of devices connected to IP networks will be three times as high as the global population in 2019.

The increasing demands on IT and data centers are driven by even larger global megatrends that have a profound effect across industries. According to Gartner Inc., these megatrends include:

  • Massive digitalization
  • Unprecedented demographic and social changes
  • Urbanization and the rise of the megacity
  • Climate change and dwindling resources

At the same time, the rising cost of network downtime and the increasingly important role data centers play in an organization's success have raised the stakes. Data centers must adapt to stay competitive in this changing environment.

Evolving Strategies

At the highest levels, CTOs and CIOs are responding to these global trends by re-evaluating strategies. Policies regarding the IT and networking footprint, deployment options, and resource allocation should be reassessed to meet upcoming needs.

Data centers are adapting policies to handle future demands by:

  • Deploying faster and more efficient optics
  • Switching from the traditional three-layer vertical hierarchy to flatter, heavily meshed leaf-and-spine architectures
  • Migrating to higher lane speeds

Being More Proactive

Changes within the data center environment happen frequently and rapidly. Data center managers often find themselves reacting to events and crises instead of implementing a proactive strategy. Finding time to develop a comprehensive strategy is difficult but possible. Managers should strive to create a strategy that addresses critical elements like the best migration path to higher speeds, infrastructure management and scalability, and increased virtualization support.

Take a Holistic Approach

Data center owners and managers need to think differently and more holistically about what constitutes efficiency. A heavy focus is usually placed on power and cooling. These typically represent 25 to 40 percent of a data center’s monthly operating expense. That means 60 to 75 percent of costs are somewhere else in the business. Cooling and power costs may be high because an estimated 15 percent of servers are either unused or underutilized. When asset management isn’t seen as part of an efficient data center, costs can come from “ghost” servers. These servers aren’t being used, but still draw power and incur software license fees.

Modern tools like data center infrastructure management and automated infrastructure management make it easier to manage growing complexities. From power and cooling to network connectivity, data center professionals can have greater visibility and insight into data center performance. Use these tools for a more holistic view.

Preparation Is Key

With more devices connecting to the network, data centers are facing increasing strains. By implementing proactive strategies and taking a holistic approach, managers can ensure that the data center is prepared to handle future demands.


The opinions expressed in this piece are solely CommScope's. They do not necessarily represent WESCO’s views.


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