How to Future-Proof Your Data Center

Which component of your infrastructure, if you’re being honest, is the weakest? At a recent conference, more than 300 IT experts had the chance to voice their opinions.

Few respondents (36%) expressed confidence in their data centre’s ability to remain future-proof, according to Eaton, the company that commissioned the study. The cause for this is a lack of expertise in power management.

What is Future-Proofing?

Before we go any further, let’s define what future-proofing implies in the context of IT. Traditionally, it was described as taking measures to ensure that a piece of technology or system does not become outdated before you have received your money’s worth. Because of technical advancements like Windows XP and SQL Server 2005 going away, we now know that even the most beneficial technology may become outdated in the near future. As positive as it may be, it does highlight the need of planning forwards for the future.

In today’s digitally-driven society, future-proofing has taken on a whole new meaning. Planning and life cycle management have taken precedence over just trying to beat the clock. Maximizing your IT resources ultimately comes down to your investment plan. That being said, let’s get started on how to make your data centre future-proof now.

Plan the Ideal Data Center

Planning is the first step in securing your data centre for the future. Although it’s a cliche, proper planning is very essential to any project’s success. During the planning phase, you’ll assess how well-equipped your IT systems and applications are for keeping up with the rapid pace of change. Each component will be assessed for the degree to which it has the following four characteristics:

  1. Usability in this context means your infrastructure not only retains its functional value, but continues to operate at a level that meets business performance, security, and compliance standards.
  2. Scalability enables you to tap into infrastructure resources that accommodate future growth and rapidly changing business demands.
  3. Flexibility speaks to your infrastructure’s ability to support a diverse mix of technologies and manage upgrades with relative ease.
  4. Cost efficiency simply means your infrastructure is optimized in a way that provides the aforementioned advantages within your budget.

Applying these criteria, your task is to identify where your systems are falling short, and more importantly, understand exactly where you need to be in terms of optimizing the above components.

Start Building

With the plan all laid out, it’s time to start building that future-friendly data centre. This part is all about obtaining the hardware, software, and other technology needed to bring your plan to fruition. Of course, a lot of the essentials are specific to your business, but every organization needs the following data centre features:

Cabling: If there’s one building block that requires long-term planning, it’s cabling. Your cabling system directly affects the speed, performance, and reliability of the network. It has a huge impact on your daily operations. Whether your cable is copper or fibre, making a smart investment in cabling today can keep your infrastructure thriving 10 to 15 years down the line.

Power: Server hardware. Networking equipment. Cooling systems. The constant running of your components will make electricity the most costly of all data centre expenses. Choosing energy-efficient power supplies can provide flexibility that supports expansion needs. In addition, it can protect your budget against rising electricity costs caused by your infrastructure in the future.

Server space: As the demands of your setup grow, so will the requirements of your server room. Your choice of racks and cabinets will go a long way in maximizing the space at your disposal. At the bare minimum, these components should accommodate the addition of cabling, cooling extensions, and other accessories that may need to be implemented over time.

Datacenter demands are steadily changing as businesses grow and technology evolves. The key to an optimal data centre environment is designing an infrastructure that can support that evolutionary transition with minimal effort.

Secure the Fort

In order to ensure the continuity of business now and in the future, you need rock-solid protection in and outside the data centre. Examples of robust physical security include:

  • Security guards
  • Adequate fencing
  • Roof and vent protection
  • Building alarms and monitoring systems
  • Biometric access control

While cyber security is critical, software-based technology is destined to become obsolete in the near future. It is probable that you will have to update your anti-malware and encryption systems many times in the next decade. That’s not an issue if your infrastructure is set up to handle changes smoothly and efficiently.

Tap into the cloud

The term “gimmick” or “catchy buzzword” may still be used by some to describe it. However, the cloud’s potential is now too great to ignore. At least half of IT expenditures will be cloud-based by 2018, according to IDC. According to the firm’s estimates, software, services, and IT expenditure will account for 60 to 70 per cent of total IT spending by 2020.

Businesses benefit from unprecedented flexibility and scalability when using cloud services. The ability to quickly react to business needs is what future-proofing is all about when seen on a larger scale. Agility. The cloud can provide your infrastructure with the four qualities we identified as being so important for long-term data centre planning, whether you’re installing business apps, spinning up new servers on-demand, or just tapping into extra storage capacity.

To be future-proof in IT, you don’t have to invest a lot of money now in order to avoid having to purchase new equipment in the future. It’s more of a plan that has to be adopted overtime to keep up with the rapid changes in technology. There will always be a need for change. What do you think? Let us know whether you agree or disagree with our suggestions for future-proofing your infrastructure.

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