How to save your ageing data centre
In a world where enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure rose by 35% - reaching almost $130bn - in 2020 alone, it’s easy enough to read the writing on the wall: the on-prem enterprise data centre is dying. Around the globe, enterprises are scaling down their old data centres as public cloud infrastructure takes centre stage.
However, experts at Gartner are issuing a warning to the industry that, despite the growing prominence of the cloud and the on-prem data centre’s decline, enterprises shouldn’t dismiss the on-prem facility out of hand.
“Most I&O leaders are dedicating their attention to cloud migrations, edge strategies and getting workloads closer to the customer, but it’s important to remember that a core set of workloads may remain on-premises,” said David Cappuccio, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner.
He added: “Although continued investment in an older, more traditional data centre may seem contradictory, it can yield significant benefits to short- and long-term planning.”
According to Gartner, enterprises that fail to optimise and fully make use of their existing on-prem infrastructure can find themselves facing a whole host of new pain points. And those that do take steps to reinvent their old data centre infrastructure will find themselves in a better position to support new and emerging business services, while cutting back on operational expenses.
One of the major issues with on-prem data centres is that, if they have been operating for any length of time, they are likely at or near capacity. These facilities, according to Gartner “are typically limited by a lack of physical space, power to support additional equipment or adequate cooling infrastructures,” which leads enterprises to place any new workplaces in the public cloud, or to build new facilities elsewhere.
One potential solution is the use of self-contained rack modules. These units typically come with their own cooling systems and, as long as there’s adequate floorspace available, can be easily bolted on to existing data centre designs to boost high-to-medium-density compute power.
Clearing out a section of floorspace within an existing facility to house a self-contained rack unit can be “the least-intrusive retrofit technique” available to operators looking to improve their on-prem capabilities.
Once the first installation is in place, migrate compute load from older, lower-density servers elsewhere in the facility in order to free up space. Once enough of those old racks aren’t in use, they can be removed and replaced with another self-contained unit. Repeating this process, according to Gartner’s analysts, can greatly increase the density of an on-prem data centre without the need for a new facility, or an interruption of service for a top-to-bottom refit.
“As each subsequent unit is installed, the overall density of computing per rack increases, resulting in a significantly higher compute-per-square-foot ratio and a smaller overall data center footprint,” Gartner’s report notes. “By implementing a phased data center retrofit, I&O leaders may attain significant growth in their existing facilities, while reducing the cooling requirements and freeing up power for additional IT workloads.”
DEWA, Huawei to build Dubai’s largest green data centre
Moro Hub, a subsidiary of the digital arm of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), signed an agreement with Chinese tech giant Huawei over the weekend to build a new hyperscale data centre in the city. Taking advantage of an abundance of solar power available in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the new facility will be 100% powered by renewable electricity generated by photovoltaic infrastructure located within the Emirates.
With the potential to reach a capacity of 100 MW upon full buildout, the facility is set to become the largest solar-powered, Uptime Institute Tier III-certified green data centre in the Middle East and Africa.
The project is part of the Dubai 10x initiative launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and will support the Emirate’s goal of developing into “a city of the future, putting it 10 years ahead of other global cities,” according to Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of the DEWA.
The signing event, attended by HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA, and Mr Charles Yang, President of Huawei Middle East, and signed by Marwan Bin Haidar, Vice Chairman and Group CEO Digital DEWA and Mr Jerry Liu, CEO of Huawei UAE - Courtesy of DEWA
Al Tayer added that the project, “meets our ambition to deliver sustainable digital transformation and anticipate and shape the future,” and “supports the UAE Centennial 2071 to make the UAE the world's leading nation and the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030.”
The facility will, according to Al Tayer, also support Dubai’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions by 16% before the end of the year, as well as its goal of meeting 75% of the city’s power demands with clean energy by 2050, and “significantly aids DEWA’s progress towards sustainable development.”
Moro Hub already operates one green data centre in the Emirate, which came online in October of 2020. The facility was the first Tier-III green data centre to come online in the Middle East.
Charles Yang, President of Huawei Middle East, was also present at the signing ceremony held on Saturday. He commented that the new association between Huawei and the DEWA, “allows us to strengthen our partnership with Moro Hub and take part in fortifying the UAE's sustainable development goals.”