Data, data and more data. And because the user generally only sees the results of Big Data, the Cloud and other phenomena on the screen, the operative brains behind these digital trends go largely unnoticed. After all, the only thing that is expected of them is that they work.
Work produces heat. Hardly another business sector is so strongly impacted by this simple fact as data centers, where Big Data manifests itself, where the Cloud’s physical memory is located – the brains of the digital world. After all, ongoing digitization continually raises the bar in terms of the demands made on data centers: the data volumes that have to be stored, managed and backed up are on the rise. According to BITKOM, the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media, sales in the Cloud business sector were up by close to 50 percent to reach a total of €6.4 billion in Germany last year. BITKOM president Dieter Kempf reckons with an increase of close to €20 billion by 2018: "Cloud technology is so attractive that there will be further growth in the high double digits over the coming years."
Nevertheless, it's not only professional Cloud suppliers who are currently facing such new challenges as having to deal with the rapidly developing Internet of Things. In-house data centers also need to get ready to meet future demands. According to an independent study conducted by IT service suppler Colt , companies face a particular challenge in estimating the data volumes they will need to cope with: 63 percent indicated they had made mistakes in capacity planning for their data centers over the past 12 to 24 months.
"Efficiency planning is a big challenge which is difficult to manage,"
This data center expert is one of the speakers at the "DatacenterDynamics Converged" conference at CeBIT 2016. A possible solution to the problem could be a tool called Quasar, which was developed at Stanford University. It was designed to predict how much computing power an application will require. "As a rule, it is difficult to understand to what extent applications need resources. I have never seen anything like Quasar except at the large Cloud computing suppliers," says Vaid.
Energy consumption – and the corresponding costs – are still an important aspect in the planning and organization of data centers. In Germany, in particular, where electricity is the most expensive in Europe , this plays a pivotal role, not only for a company's profits, but also from an overall environmental point of view. After all, data centers currently account for approximately 1.8 percent of the total electricity consumed in Germany.
In one research project, Microsoft seems to be moving in the opposite direction: back to fuel cells, which are mounted in the server rack. The direct production and consumption of electric power on location prevents any energy loss in transport.
According to the study entitled "Data Center 2025", the biggest challenge in the years 2007 to 2009 was cooling the server rooms. And even though this factor has meanwhile slipped down to third place on the ranking list, it is still very important. In the worst cases, cooling is responsible for one third of total costs.
Global players enjoy the freedom of being able to build their data centers in locations where nature helps them with the cooling. But data centers in Finland ( Google ) or Sweden ( Facebook ) are not an option for most companies. Here in Germany, it is necessary to resort to technology to ensure proper cooling, which leads to innovative ideas: the Noris Network data center in Nuremberg, for example, is expected to achieve a power usage effectiveness value (PUE) of 1.2 through the use of the Kyoto wheel. 1.0 is the optimum value.
The leading minds in the industry will be getting together at the "DatacenterDynamics Converged" conference during CeBIT to discuss this topic, along with many others. In addition to Kushagra Vaid from Microsoft, the approximately 100 international speakers include Barak Regev, head of the EMEA Cloud Platform at Google, and Maximilian Ahrens, chairperson of the German Cloud Exchange – the first stock exchange platform to trade in Cloud resources. And Tobias Fritsch, Program Manager in the Allianz Data Center Consolidation Program, will report on how Germany's largest insurance company is planning to consolidate its 140 data centers worldwide into just five locations.