Data center users find value in wireless monitoring

Wireless's flexibility to make frequent changes, and its ability to reduce cable clutter, rank highest among the attributes that data center users enjoy when implementing monitoring technologies.

A recent survey of data center users, conducted by Emerson Network Power, underscored the importance these users place on infrastructure monitoring and management capabilities. And part of the survey uncovered specifics about the benefits these users see in wireless monitoring technologies.

The twice-a-year survey polls members of the Data Center Users' Group (DCUG), an association of IT and facility managers. The most recent survey captured information from more than 120 respondents in North America and asked about issues including monitoring and management, power density and management, precision cooling and energy efficiency.

According to the survey, 56 percent of the respondents listed "adequate monitoring and data center management capabilities" among their three biggest concerns. According to Emerson Network Power, that makes it the top concern among this year's survey respondents, and that 56-percent statistic is the highest percentage for the monitoring/management topic in the survey's seven-year history. Clearly, the importance of monitoring/management capabilities has spiked among this group of users. "In the five most recent DCIG surveys, no other concern topped that 56-percent mark," Emerson Network Power noted. "In the spring 2012 survey, 52 percent of respondents listed 'availability' among their top three concerns, ranking second in the survey, and 45 percent listed 'energy efficiency.'"

Vice president for Emerson Network Power's Liebert products in North America, Bob Miller, commented, "Clearly, visibility into the network is of critical concern to today's data center professionals, and with good reason. Today's data center is an incredibly complex, dynamic environment and increasingly critical to the success of most businesses. Those businesses are consolidating and virtualizing servers and putting a premium on flexibility and scalability for their IT systems, and that requires a level of visibility into the data center infrastructure that only recently became possible."

One additional result from the survey was that 31 percent of respondents already have implemented wireless monitoring technologies in their data centers, and an additional 21 percent are considering doing so. Respondents were asked to rate four attributes of wireless-monitoring technology on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being not at all valuable and 10 being extremely valuable. Those attributes, and their 1-10 rankings, are as follows.

  • Flexibility to make changes quickly - 8.04
  • Reduced cabling, which leads to reduced clutter - 7.97
  • Quick implementation - 7.83
  • Reduced cost - 7.56

Other data points of note from the survey include 56 percent of respondents believe their existing data center capacity will suffice for three years or less, and 76 percent who had consolidated and/or virtualized servers experienced some type of problem in the aftermath. Those problems included asset management, hot spots and power capacity.

"Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed said they had implemented some server consolidation or virtualization in the last 18 months, and 87 percent of those respondents indicated they expected to start another project within the year," Emerson Network Power said, confirming that the problems experienced with consolidation and virtualization will not slow down these activities.

"The trend toward consolidation and virtualization is reflected in a sharp increase in average power density in the facilities of those surveyed," Emerson Network Power continued. "The average reported power density was 7.89 kW per rack, compared to just 6.0 kW per rack a year ago. DCUG members do not see that trend slowing, as respondents predicted densities of 12.17 kW per rack in just two years. Already, when asked what the maximum power density per rack was in their data centers, respondents indicated an average of 12.67 kW."

DCUG is a group of approximately 1,000 members, founded in 2003. It meets twice per year to collaboratively discuss best practices, share experiences and address the most relevant issues affecting the reliability, availability and cost of operation for critical installations.

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