Heat rises among data center managers’ concerns

April 26, 2013
Data Center Users’ Group survey results also show energy efficiency and adequate monitoring are top concerns; group board member says it is ‘no longer enough to know that all the lights are green.’

Emerson Network Power recently publicized results from its most recent semiannual survey of its Data Center Users’ Group (DCUG), which includes approximately 1,000 North American data center operators. The spring 2013 survey collected data from more than 100 users, Emerson Network Power says.

“The survey showed that heat density is again one of the three biggest concerns for data center professionals,” the company said when announcing survey results. “When asked to identify their top three facility/network concerns, 42 percent of respondents cited heat density, ranking it third.” Adequate monitoring took the top spot among concerns, being named by 51 percent of respondents as one of their three biggest concerns. Coming in second was energy efficiency, named a top-three concern by 49 percent of survey respondents.

“Heat density was cited as the number-one concern for the first four years of the survey, starting in 2005,” the company explained. “In the spring 2012 survey it dropped to fourth place, and adequate monitoring, availability and energy efficiency remained in the top three until this spring’s survey.”

Bob Miller, North American vice president for Liebert global solutions with Emerson Network Power, commented, “Throughout the past few years, much emphasis has been placed on availability, infrastructure monitoring and efficiency, and rightly so. As data center professionals continue to struggle with growing capacity needs and tightened budgets, attention is turning back to one of the most fundamental aspects of the data center infrastructure—effectively and efficiently managing heat. If not addressed, heat density threatens to negatively impact performance levels of the data center.” Miller is a member of the DCUG’s board of directors.

Emerson Network Power also revealed the following results from the survey. The numbers reflect percentages of survey respondents.

  • 65 percent plan to consolidate or replace existing servers within the next 12 months.
  • 64 percent plan to add servers within the next 12 months.
  • 27 percent plan to consolidate multiple data centers within the next 12 months.
  • 19 percent plan to build a new data center within the next 12 months.
  • 26 percent have plans to move at least part of their operation to a colocation or hosting provider.
  • 70 percent cite lack of control as a primary drawback of using a colocation or hosting provider.
  • 53 percent cite increased cost as a primary drawback of using a colocation or hosting provider.
  • 29 percent say a setup that is not unique to specific needs is the colo/hosting provider’s primary drawback.
  • 22 percent cite security concerns as the primary drawback.

The survey also asked about the required skillset of a data center manager; 75 percent of respondents said it is increasingly important for them to understand how various data center systems work together to support overall objectives. Also, 73 percent said a greater ability to see the proverbial big picture is necessary. Miller added, “It’s no longer enough for data center managers to know that all the lights in their facilities are green. They need to understand the interconnectivity of systems and how they collectively support the business’s ability to grow and change. This is also likely why we’re seeing data center monitoring and management rank as the top concern, since these data center infrastructure management systems can provide a window to those valuable business insights.”

Other statistical nuggets from the survey include the following.

  • 56 percent believe their existing data center capacity will suffice for three years or less.
  • 27 percent reported experiencing hot spots within the past 12 months.
  • 15 percent experienced an outage within that time.
  • 30 percent say a lack of capital expenditure is the primary factor limiting their organizations’ ability to accommodate growth.
  • The average power density per rack was 5.94 kW, which is up from the 5.92-kW average reported in the fall 2012 DCUG survey.
  • 93 percent measure the temperature in their data center.
  • 88 percent measure power utilization.
  • 79 percent measure humidity.
  • 72 percent measure cooling utilization.
  • 56 percent measure Power Usage Effectiveness.

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