IT investments
The economic potential of data centres is underestimated

Most companies have outsourced IT services to external service providers, but still operate their own systems. While outsourcing provides more flexibility in case of unexpected or periodic load peaks, many companies have more in-house computing capacity than they actually utilise.

A recent study on server utilisation showed that companies only make use of an average of 5 to 15% of the server capacity available in their own data centres over the course of a year. In addition, 30% of all physical servers had not provided any computing services for at least six months. This means that there is a need to identify all the servers and reduce energy consumption. Unused capacity in data centres can also be used, however, for distributed shared services: companies can offer their excess capacity on the free market.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will also influence the architecture of future data centres, and not only because of the large amounts of data that need to be processed. Data centres will also operate differently in the future. Today, they consist of thousands of devices that communicate in different languages. This creates gaps between the systems – and places restrictions on holistic management. The more prevalent Redfish – an open specification for managing networked data centre systems – becomes, the more these restrictions will be eliminated.

The rapid growth of digital content presents centralised models with further challenges. Although large computer systems will continue to provide the lion’s share of computing power, they will be increasingly supported by so-called “edge facilities”. These neighbourhood data centres make low-latency content and applications available to users or provide IoT networks with data processing and logic. These micro-data centres, which act as satellites around the central facilities, are expected to spread out on company premises and in densely settled areas and be managed remotely.

In addition to data centre efficiency, financial aspects of course also determine IT investments. New initiatives such as the EU Energy Efficiency Directive and its mandatory measures could therefore result in energy savings of about 20% by 2020. Alongside the operation of data centres, other important factors affecting spending and liquidity include the CO2 emissions of data centres, the use of alternative energy sources, and the disposal of obsolete equipment. (Source: Emerson/bs)