How to achieve and sustain peak performance in your data center

Star athletes have training methodologies; data center managers can have their own principles to ensure optimal performance: the DCM10 method.

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As Tom Brady once said, “if you don’t play to win, don’t play at all.” This mantra is reflected in Brady’s TB12 Method, a holistic lifecycle based on 12 principles that make up the optimal approach to exercise, training and living a life of vitality. It’s built on the premise of stopping an accident prior to it happening through pre-habitation and taking intelligent, strategic preventative measures. And while implementing all 12 principles is not required, their effect is cumulative: the more you can incorporate, the better your results will be.

While this methodology applies to training superior athletes, data center managers have their own set of principles to ensure optimal data center performance. What we’ve dubbed the DCM10 Method, there are 10 fundamental steps every data center manager should use to evaluate their current data center and help transform its functionality. Similar to the TB12 Method, while not all of these steps are required to create a successful strategy, the more best practices applied will result in higher performance across the board.

To achieve and sustain peak performance in your data center, every data center manager should channel their inner Tom Brady and begin following the 10 steps below:

1. Utilize hybrid environments

By using a mix of solutions for your IT infrastructure, your organization should gain better visibility and control to access key insights that move the needle. Whether this means on-premises, a colocation data center, or in the cloud, reaching peak performance means creating a flexible, scalable, sustainable and reliable data center that can meet business needs both today and in the future.

2. Optimize power and cooling

Most companies using high-density servers are generating massive amounts of heat and consume more power than older, legacy equipment. As new technological advancements are added such as big data and machine learning, this increase in power and subsequent heat will only grow. With a typical rack’s power density ranging anywhere from 5kW to 40kW, data center managers need to put new procedures and software in place to receive real-time insights that anticipate newfound cooling requirements.

3. Start thinking 'green'

No, not avocado ice cream but in addition to monitoring power and cooling, data center managers should evaluate "green" alternatives to increase energy efficiency. By using renewable resources like wind power or solar panels, organizations can transform their data centers strategy to include environmentally-friendly practices and optimize their existing data center infrastructure.

4. Conduct automated health checks

Through ongoing analytics, diagnostics and remediation, data center managers can conduct regular health management checks to address the risk of costly downtime and outages. By monitoring for data anomalies or potential threats on a consistent basis, organizations can protect their facilities by planning and addressing any issues that may occur within their system to help automate business processes.

5. Take a proactive vs. reactive stance

Alongside regular health checks, monitoring your data center in real-time allows you to prepare for the worst and take a proactive stance against any unforeseen threats such as a natural disaster. This means having a pulse on anything from the daily performance of your data center to putting a disaster recovery plan in place.

6. Balance your budget

Without an up-to-date data center facility and IT equipment, organziations can fall behind taking a direct hit to their business success. With only a certain portion of the IT budget dedicated to the data center, data center managers must keep function, efficiency, space and cost top-of-mind and only implement smart upgrades that directly correlate to their data center’s performance, reliability and agility.

7. Receive buy-in from the C-suite

While this might seem table stakes, one of the biggest disconnects in an organization’s data center strategy is getting buy-in from the C-suite. To ensure a successful DCM deployment, the entire team – from IT managers, system architects and C-suite – must all work together to utilize the solution stack to its full capacity.

8. Evaluate management processes

Organizations that deploy DCM solutions can automate the change management process areas and log any changes made in the equipment. This means getting real-time insights into how to manage change, the impact of that change, and when that change will be complete. For companies not using a DCM solution, this is a manual, time intensive process that takes up the valuable time of a data center manager.

9. Ensure flexibility & scalability

Data center managers must to be able to grow their deployments as needed, without being limited by current hardware or software. This means not being afraid to bring in new solutions such as field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) that tailor compute power to specific workloads or applications to increase both flexibility and scalability.

10. Stay on the cutting edge

Whether this means adding edge computing to offload your latency dependent services or incorporating an AI solution to detect any red flags, staying on the cutting edge is critical in today’s fast-paced business environment. While no one can predict what the future holds, modernizing your data center strategy will ensure you stay two steps ahead versus one step behind.

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