Fitting data centers into ‘modular containerized solutions’
MANILA, Philippines – With telecommunications, BPO and manufacturing industries rapidly developing in the Philippines, Asia’s new “Rising Tiger” appears to be looking at a lot of business growth in the coming years.
“Of course, that growth comes with improving our facilities, our network, our infrastructure,” said Hans Bayaborda, country manager for Emerson Network Power Philippines.
Bayaborda, along with four of his fellow Emerson colleagues, expressed the sentiment during a roundtable discussion on Wednesday about a recent report published by the company, called “Data Center 2025: Exploring the Possibilities.” The report, based off a global study attempting to predict the future of the data center, compiles results yielded from interviews with several key industry influencers, feedback from the industries themselves, as well as an online survey with 800 respondents.
“In the past, [IT infrastructure] was a nice thing to have,” explained Russell Perry, senior director for Marketing and Solutions in Asia. “Now, it has become a must-have.”
Renewable energy and private power generation
Respondents in the Asia Pacific area predicted that 25% of power used by data centers would be generated by solar energy. Furthermore, 33% of respondents in the region believe data centers will definitely move to private power generation, with an additional 44% believing the shift is likely.
“The control you have is the ability to optimize the data center to make sure that you make use of the power that is already available, and are able to utilize that to the outmost efficiency,” said Barry Bunyi, Emerson’s Director for Solutions Partner Business in Asia.
Increasing demand requires businesses to be flexible
In a related discussion, concerns about electricity access and efficient infrastructure are directly linked to the increasing consumer demand for the services powered by data centers.
“The time allowed for business owners to adapt, from a data center perspective, is inversely proportionate to the amount of growth you need to address,” said Bunyi.
In other words, businesses face an increasing need to be flexible about how they build and run their data centers. Newer facilities are looking at a long list of criteria they should aim to fulfill: they should be scalable to allow for rapid and/or unexpected growth, should be easy to build and quick to deploy, and should be optimized to accommodate the computer power needed for the speedy access consumers expect.
One of Emerson’s responses to these needs is what it calls “modular containerized solutions” – data centers fitted into shipping-like containers which can be easily transported and set-up at any location. As an example, Globe Telecom has purchased the first containerized solution sold in the Philippines, which was then set up in Cavite in front of the Intel building. Furthermore, Facebook is in the process of developing and piloting what it calls “rapid deployment data centers” (RDDC) with Emerson, in order to accommodate rapidly increasing usage of the global social network.
These developments seen in the area seem in line with predictions made in the Data Center 2025 report, with 58% of respondents predicting that future facilities will be at least half the size of current data centers, if not smaller.
The current IT model, as explained by Emerson, relies on a reactive approach – when a fault is discovered, an expert is deployed to fix it. But as the system grows more complex, the need for systematic monitoring and a more proactive/predictive management increases. It seems the data center of the future will not rely on the same amount of manpower to maintain itself, with 29% of respondents predicting full visibility from all levels, 25% of respondents predicting the data center will be self-optimizing, and 43% of respondents predicting it will even be self-healing.
“The data center is whatever the critical infrastructure is to the business,” Perry explained, and it appears more than plausible that its efficient deployment and maintenance will be an increasingly important question for the industry to tackle.
However, in the end, Perry says that the future is difficult to predict. What might seem like a permanent shift in the business landscape may in fact be no more than a passing fad, as evidenced by a previous trend in which companies began outsourcing various parts of their enterprise, before swiftly changing their minds and bringing them back in-house.
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