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Is your data centre fit for the Cloud? The importance of data centre upgrades


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A recent industry survey revealed that 91% of the 1,750 IT decision makers asked feel their data centres are ‘unfit’ for the delivery of Cloud services. Respondents noted that, in order to meet the requirements created by a changing Cloud marketplace, their current infrastructure would require significant upgrades, despite 75% of the decision makers having reported upgrading their infrastructure within the past three years. It is also important to note that the study revealed the detrimental effect this use of unsuitable infrastructure is having, with 33% of those involved experiencing multiple network failures per week; these statistics are not unlinked. As a Cloud professional, working in a data centre with a rolling investment and upgrade schedule, studies such as this are particularly worrying, and I’d like to offer some advice on data centre upgrades and their importance in maintaining operational efficiency.

We are increasingly demanding more from our networks, utilising conference calling and other rich media tools much more frequently than ever before, and this surge in demand is – unsurprisingly – placing strain on our corporate networks. However, this is not an unsolvable problem, with infrastructure upgrades more than able to keep up with this growing need, when conducted regularly and thoroughly. Upgrades should undoubtedly be carried out regularly, and while some capital outlay may be required, it is also important not to attempt to cut costs throughout the process as this may substantially impact the viability of your ‘new’ solution. In fact, a number of upgrades will actually generate cost savings while also improving service. For example, upgrading servers to more efficient models will not only improve their functionality, but will also often lead to server consolidation, in turn generating power savings for the data centre provider. Similarly, upgrading UPS systems will lead to a more intelligent monitoring service, improving reliability and, in theory, reducing downtime accordingly. Other upgrades worth considering could be the layout, where air flow may not be at its optimum and thus cooling costs are unnecessarily high, or perhaps the cooling method itself is out-dated – could you make use of free air cooling, allowing you to maintain a suitable operational temperature without the need for energy-hungry, and budget-hungry, chiller units?

Making small but well-considered changes to infrastructure will improve Cloud and virtualisation delivery, however what the advice offered above also expresses is the value of managed hosting solutions. Maintaining your own server and storage equipment onsite requires a great deal of management, ensuring upgrade schedules are adhered to while footing any associated bills. While managed service providers are not immune to these upgrade requirements, they are experts in their rollout, freeing up time and resource for IT departments who can then direct this towards front-end activities.



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