Data Center Live!

Straight talk on what’s happening in today’s data center.

What Will Energy Star Do for You?

Posted by Jennifer on May 19, 2009

Energy Star has been a household name for modern day appliances. Refrigerators, washers, dryers, dish washers – you name it – they all have brands with the Energy Star symbol attached to them. As consumers, we buy these brands because we know they will save us money and allow us to do our part in saving the environment. Now Energy Star is putting its stamp on servers.
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Reduce Stress with a Plan of Action

Posted by Jennifer on March 31, 2009

I’m finally settling in after the Data Center World® Conference, and after putting to bed another successful show, I’ve decided it’s a good time to slow down and put together a Plan of Action (POA) for the rest of the year. I’m a goal-oriented individual. I like to set goals that challenge me to improve. And when committed to paper, it becomes extremely important for me to meet those goals. Of course, I NEVER include weight loss or exercise; I wouldn’t want to set myself up to fail!

Usually it’s easy for me to develop a POA for continued success, especially the past few years. AFCOM’s membership base has grown 300 percent over the last seven years, and with the surge of the data center industry, reaching out to members had never been easier. Today, however, is a different story. Yes, the data center industry is still thriving. And yes, data centers are in the public eye. Yes, corporate America recognizes the importance of these mission critical facilities. And yes, IT managers are viewed as more important than ever before. Still, there are new pressures and added worries poking data center managers and causing stress that is difficult to manage.

When stress fills your life, dealing with that stress overrides accomplishing what needs to be done. I know, I tend to over-think things when I feel stressed out. I get tired and irritable. The people I work with back off and walk around me on eggshells. I end up feeling extremely lonely and cannot concentrate. And with the economy spiraling downward, budgets being cut, executive management breathing down your neck and key people being offered packages to retire early, the stress and pressures data center managers feel are worse than ever.

How do you overcome these unfortunate circumstances and stay calm, cool and collected? I go back to planning. Many of you are just now getting your budgets for the next 12 months; and most of you see cuts in these budgets. Before you get overwhelmed with these underwhelming numbers, take some time to figure out what is most important in keeping your facility safe, secure and running efficiently. If you are losing staff members, how can you streamline the workload so that you and/or your employees don’t feel the stress of those cuts? You may consider consolidation if faced with smaller budgets for acquiring equipment. When asked to postpone or permanently stop large projects such as data center expansion or moves, develop a plan of action to compensate by utilizing other resources such as SaaS, cloud computing, utility computing and/or virtualization. Teamwork and motivation become essential during these times, so include your staff in this planning stage. They can add great input and will immediately become loyal soldiers who care about what goes on and will work toward meeting department goals.

One last thing that can help you get through these trying times: Participate in peer learning by joining a local chapter, using AFCOM’s new message board, joining LinkedIn data center groups and/or developing your own peer education group. Call AFCOM’s membership services department if you’d like to get in touch with people who can help you with a specific problem because they, too, run a data center and are working in the trenches every single day.

-Jill Eckhaus

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When is a Trend Just a Fad Waiting to Die?

Posted by Jennifer on February 10, 2009

Virtualization, cloud computing, grid computing, outsourcing all promise more efficiency, less costs and easy ways to go green. I’m told these technologies are the wave of the future. If true, why are so many AFCOM members I talk with waiting to begin the transition?

I’ve been in this business for more than 16 years and seen trends come and go (and I’m not talking about Rubik’s Cube, Cabbage Patch Kids or the “Rachel” haircut from Friends).
Industry experts used scare tactics that literally shattered the glass house. I recall headlines and articles about the death of the mainframe and how client/server technology was going to make the mainframe obsolete. Operations managers bought into this theory, and the modern data center now houses hundreds of servers. Ironically, these servers sit alongside a mainframe computer – the old battle axe that just won’t die. That is part of the reason we are dealing with space, power and cooling, and storage issues today.
But how do you cope with these problems? Using the technologies I mentioned earlier seem like a great solution, but are we really ready to let go of the control we have over our own data? Take outsourcing. If done right, outsourcing certain data center applications can be a great, easy solution to part of this problem. However, I’ve read articles that say enterprises are actually outsourcing their entire data center, and this does not sit right with me. It puts the power of what happens to your data into the hands of an entirely different organization. Protecting your data is the most important thing you do. For most of you, it has taken many years of implementing new technologies and putting processes in place to ensure your data is safe at all times. The same theory can apply for grid computing, virtualization and cloud computing. It is fine to use these technologies, and in many cases you would be smart to do so; however, you must be careful that they do not in any way harm the integrity of your data. Selecting the correct vendor will help you make the right decision.
So where do you stand? Is virtualization a reality for your data center? Have you started to research the value of cloud computing or outsourcing? And are these trends going to stick, or will they be gone along with floppy disks and reel-to-reel tape within a few years?
I really can’t answer that question. I have to go now and put on my legwarmers. I can’t be late for my date at the roller rink. We’re supposed to watch a movie on his Betamax afterwards, but I’m not sure that’s gonna happen….

-Jill Eckhaus

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Welcome to Data Center Live!

Posted by Jennifer on February 10, 2009

Data Center World Attendees

Data Center World Attendees

Straight talk on what’s happening in today’s data center. We welcome your comments and feedback.

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