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Lessons for the Data Center Novice

August 17, 2011 at 9:00 am PST

Early in my days as a Data Center manager I attended a series of talks focused on Data Center energy efficiency.  The sessions covered everything from hardware chip design to application performance to physical infrastructure.

Even for a beginner, two things were immediately obvious.  First, Data Centers consume more energy than other buildings – much more.  Second, with so many different components drawing power there are a lot of opportunities to make a server environment more energy efficient.

One presenter, from a manufacturer of Data Center standby electrical systems, mentioned during his talk that electrical components operate more efficiently at higher loads.  The closer they are to maximum capacity, the better they perform.

I thought about this for a while and at the conclusion of the session, asked:  “If electrical systems operate more efficiently at higher loads, why do operators of Data Centers with redundant electrical infrastructure split the load evenly between the A and B sides?  Why not put the entire load on side A and nothing on side B?  Wouldn’t that be more energy efficient?”

To my surprise, the question stumped the presenter.  Eventually, one of his co-workers in the audience stood up and said they had conducted experiments with that configuration and found that although it was more energy efficient, when a failure occurred on the A side and the full power load (in his words) “came crashing onto the B side,” the components sometimes failed.  The redundant electrical infrastructure could reliably handle a sudden jump from 40 percent loaded to 80 percent, but not from zero to 80 percent.

Oh.  Enter my third Data Center lesson for the day:  energy efficiency is important, but ensuring availability is much more important.

Speaking of availability and Data Center power, this week’s question explores the use of rotary UPS systems that employ flywheel technology versus traditional battery UPS systems.  See below for discussion of the pros and cons of each.

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Cisco Signs on for Xerox Managed Print Services for its Global Workforce

I’m thrilled to announce that Cisco has named Xerox as our new IT partner to manage Cisco’s global print operations, making printing services more accessible to our employees who work from different locations using a variety of desktop and mobile devices. 

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The 7 Habits for Successful Video Management

Preserving a consistently reliable, accessible, high-quality video experience for users is paramount to realize the value of video conference as a business-enabling communication service. The better the user experience, the bigger the transformational potential of business video. Read More »

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What Price Capability?

August 3, 2011 at 10:00 am PST

I realized a few years ago that all Data Center challenges can be solved with the sufficient application of money.

Need more computing capability?  Buy new hardware.  Struggling with hot spots?  Purchase supplemental cooling infrastructure.  Don’t have enough physical space?  Pay to expand the Data Center or lease additional space.

More performance means greater cost, though.  Some energy saving technologies buck that trend when compared to conventional facilities, but generally the more capability you want from a Data Center the more it will cost to build and operate.

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Where Cisco IT Deploys Cisco Unified Communications Manager Clusters … and Why

Cisco IT currently has approximately 21 Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM) clusters worldwide to support our global voice communications in the production environment. Where we deploy these clusters around the globe reflects our user concentrations, their requirements for call performance, and the availability of and regulatory considerations for network infrastructure in different parts of the world.

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