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3 straightforward strategies for reducing costs in the data center

By Max Burkhalter
August 30, 2015

As an IT manager, you've got to deal with an endless stream of requests from higher up the food chain to reduce costs, improve system efficiency and demonstrate ROI for any relevant investments. Balancing these blanket expectations with the nuanced needs of your system architecture is often a challenge all its own. That's why it pays to think outside the box and reflect on small but critical system-wide adjustments that can ease the burden of your IT staff. Focusing on low-hanging fruit also allows you and your team to make improvements without drawing too much time and focus from day-to-day workflows. These are the perfect types of solutions to deploy when dealing with heat from the C-Suite. Implement some or all of the following efficiency tips if you've got to get your data center running more cost-effectively in a flash:

"Ideal infrastructure conditions are often upset by daily operations."

1. Address airflow to avoid trouble
In the data center, hot exhaust air goes one way while cool air travels in the other direction. Ideally, they never meet. Airflow management may seem like a no-brainer in terms of making the data center more efficient and cost-effective, but ideal infrastructure conditions are often upset by the daily goings-on of the data center. Server stacks are adjusted and moved as IT staff perform maintenance updates.

Likewise, airflow is often taken for granted when making partial reorganizations of infrastructure. Unfortunately, even a small misstep can have significant ramifications with regard to the efficient flow of cold and hot air through your data center.

That's why it makes sense to take another look at your data center's layout when the network's efficiency takes a dip, said Reorienting server racks will ensure that cold and hot air supplies remain separate, while changing up the speed on the facility's variable fans could help to maximize efficiency even further. Asking your IT team to make a habit of reviewing airflow when making repairs will help prevent this maintenance task from slipping to the back burner.

2. Control the cost of growth
Chances are that decision-makers at the top of the company don't always consider how their IT staff will address growing needs for data capacity. That's why IT managers are often hit with surprise requests for storage availability. The easiest way to address these issues is to continue purchasing storage to live on-site, and in many cases the added physical infrastructure is absolutely necessary. However, there are many ways to ensure that this expansion does not come at the expense of the IT team's current budget or the technical needs of your company.

"High-performance hardware will help to reduce inefficiency in the long run."

Analysis by research firm Gartner points toward virtualization and improved storage management as critical solutions. In fact, The Data Center Journal noted that facilities can reduce their costs of operation by half if they deploy virtualized servers in lieu of purchasing additional physical stacks. If data center must expand on-site, there are also means of minimizing the cost of this upgrade. Using an Ethernet media converter, for instance, would allow your team to extend hookups to additional hardware while avoiding the full cost of fiber.

3. Choose upgrades over replacements
Often today's extra investment turns into tomorrow's big payoff. Consider this sentiment when infrastructure grows outdated and in need of repair. Switching out inefficient architecture is key as the presence of outdated and obsolete material can compromise the entire network. Instead, make sure that new pieces of equipment are selected to act as more than simple replacements. Choosing to upgrade the part with high-performance hardware will help to reduce inefficiency in the long run.

Advanced features that are not relevant now may help to future proof the data center down the line. Make sure your team does its research to determine which gear is worth the extra upfront costs.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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