By Joe Reele, vice president solutions architect at Schneider Electric
Datacenters of the future are all around us—in the stores we visit, the factories that make the products we consume, the hospitals we depend on, and the roads we travel. Even our homes have become similar to very sophisticated “data rooms” that would only exist in any high-rise, factory, or hospital even ten years ago. For example, many of us now have medical-grade devices on our wrists that monitor EKG and blood-oxygen levels.
These advancements in digital technology require a robust digital infrastructure to make it all work: fiber, network, storage, Spectrum, and the like. However, the development of digital infrastructure—thousands of miles of fiber-optic cables, countless rows of servers, storage, and networks—happens behind the scenes and often goes unnoticed. Business leaders across many industries often focus too much on the emerging technology itself and not enough on the digital infrastructure that makes it all possible.
How can businesses determine the best way to stay competitive and pursue new opportunities in this ever-changing digital infrastructure landscape?
The invisible digital infrastructure behind modern technology
Invisible infrastructure for datacenters encompasses a wide range of systems and technologies that are essential for the reliable, efficient operation of datacenters but are not typically visible to end users or customers. These include various cooling systems, such as liquid cooling setups to prevent overheating; backup power systems, such as uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units; cybersecurity systems; and complex network infrastructure to interconnect servers, storage devices, and networking equipment. While end users do not see these components, they are essential to the datacenters that power today’s digital infrastructure.
Evaluating existing infrastructure
If business leaders are to scale emerging technologies like VR and mobile-shopping apps, they must evaluate their existing infrastructure and determine if their edge-computing infrastructure can handle the high levels of demand that today’s technology requires. Future datacenters will require increasingly high-speed connectivity to support rising data transmission and communication demand. Investing in high-speed networking technologies, such as fiber-optic networks, high-bandwidth switches, and routers, can ensure fast and reliable data transfer between datacenter components and the outside world.
Datacenters must be designed with scalability in mind to accommodate this increased demand for computing resources. Evaluating and planning for future growth includes tactics such as provisioning sufficient power and cooling capacity and designing a flexible network architecture. Assessing whether the current digital infrastructure is secure against cyber-threats is also crucial, as it may be time to invest in advanced security technologies such as intrusion detection, prevention systems, and encryption technologies.
Focusing on energy efficiency and automation
According to the International Energy Agency, datacenters and data transmission networks are responsible for nearly 1% of energy-related GHG emissions. In response to growing environmental concerns, upgrading digital infrastructure should prioritize sustainability through energy efficiency. Investing in energy-efficient servers, storage devices, and networking equipment, as well as optimizing datacenter cooling systems and power distribution, can reduce energy consumption and minimize the carbon footprint of datacenters.
Upgrading digital infrastructure should also involve implementing automation and orchestration technologies to streamline datacenter operations and improve efficiency. Automation tools can help automate routine tasks, reducing the risk of human error and improving operational agility. Orchestration technologies can help coordinate and manage complex workflows and processes across multiple datacenter components, enabling efficient resource allocation and workload management.
Embracing data throughout the ecosystem
Datacenters are part of a larger IT ecosystem, and upgrading digital infrastructure should involve collaboration and integration with other IT systems and technologies. Integrating datacenter operations with cloud computing, edge computing, and hybrid IT environments can ensure seamless interoperability and support evolving business requirements.
Since all digital infrastructure generates vast amounts of data, upgrades should include investments in robust data management and analytics capabilities. For example, by using data-analytics tools to derive insights, businesses can predict and mitigate potential issues, optimize resource allocation, and improve performance.
The bottom line
Datacenters of the future are all around us, but it’s critical that digital infrastructure catches up. Overall, upgrading digital infrastructure to support the datacenters of the future requires careful planning, evaluating emerging technologies, and prioritizing scalability, energy efficiency, security and automation. By taking a holistic approach to optimize datacenter operations, business leaders can efficiently scale emerging technologies and meet the evolving demands of the digital world.