Supporting the 5 Common Challenges of the Datacentre
At Emerson Network Power, customers come first. A critical component of making that possible is by actively listening to data center professionals about what they need to be successful in their roles. They speak to their customers in many different ways — surveys, focus groups, advisory boards, the Datacentre Users Group (DCUG) and most recently through our Datacentre 2025 initiative. One of the key themes they’ve come across is the challenge of the Datacentre keeping up with demands of the business it supports.
Addressing unexpected or changing business IT needs on time and on budget is how our profession measures success. Emerson Network Power’s vision is a “Datacentre as dynamic as your business”. They are developing integrated technologies and design approaches to address key challenges faced by today’s dynamic business environment. The challenges facing the business and Datacentre can be categorised into a few main categories:
Where once enterprises built out capacity to meet future requirements, the drain on capital and operating costs inherent in that approach, combined with the pace of change, have rendered it impractical. Today, enterprises need to deploy new applications quickly and not just through the cloud. Cloud services have a place in the enterprise but their value has to extend beyond speed of deployment. Ideally, enterprise Datacentres can deploy applications on-premise fast enough to make decisions about when to use cloud services independent of speed. In other words, using cloud services where it makes the most strategic sense and not just because it enables faster deployment.
This has been priority No. 1 for most Datacentre professionals for most of their careers. However, managing availability is becoming more complex in the current ecosystem. In some cases, it may not be about building a five-nines facility; it is about matching availability requirements to the needs of the application so that an appropriate level of availability can be provided at the lowest cost possible based on the criticality of the application. In addition, there is now more opportunity to transfer loads across the Datacentre ecosystem in the event of failure, which is creating more flexibility in how availability is managed.
Of the 800-plus professionals who participated in the Datacentre 2025 survey, 44 percent don’t expect to be working in the field in ten years. As an industry, we need to work aggressively to train the next generation of Datacentre managers, while also ensuring that the personnel working in Datacentres are using appropriate tools and being as productive as they can be. This is an aspect of efficiency that sometimes doesn’t get enough attention. We aren’t going to be able to get the most from our resources, or attract the best talent to our industry, if we are managing assets in spreadsheets and monitoring equipment by walking the floor.
While reducing costs takes a backseat to supporting agility, nobody has unlimited budgets and IT can’t afford to be seen as inefficient or bloated. It limits the ability to acquire necessary resources and prevents IT from being perceived as a strategic partner with other areas of the business. Externally the perception of an inefficient energy-wasting operation can bring negative publicity and, from an industry perspective, invite regulation.
Events in recent years have highlighted vulnerabilities in Datacentre systems, that when exploited, create huge business losses. IT security has been siloed in many organizations, but forward-thinking, risksensitive businesses now realize Datacentre management must be security savvy and that Datacentre systems must be part of a comprehensive security strategy.
Steve Hassell, Emerson Network Power president and former CIO at Emerson and two other companies, says: “What is interesting to me as a former CIO is that all five of these issues ladder up to one larger concern. Vendors love to ask CIOs “what keeps you up at night?” My answer to that question was always: it’s not the tactical management issues I spend my day on, it is the fear that IT, when we are needed most, will be an inhibitor rather than an enabler of what the business needs to accomplish. All five of these issues, if not managed effectively, can prevent IT from enabling necessary business change.”