The Integrated Data Center - Logical Next Step for Cloud Based Data Centers

The physical structure of a Cumulus cloud doesn't have a fixed border and it can easily change. This basic capability characteristic of adaptability and flexibility should also be applied to a compute cloud.

If the "Cloud" isn't a fixed location, or shape, how then does it fit in today's overbuilt data centers? The simple answer is, it depends. In many cases the "Fort Knox" or "Maginot line" data center of today doesn't make sense in a cloud enabled world. So what should the strategy be, I suggest that flexible, highly sensored, relatively low cost, but geographically dispersed data centers are where we should all be headed.

Data Centers should be built low cost but very well monitored and measured. Your application availability protection will be designed into the "Cloud" platform. This means you can build two data centers for less than the price of one high availability facility. It also means that with two facilities you can enable geographic diversity to help protect against disasters.

Now for the cool part. I believe our next step in the evolution of the Operating Environment or Cloud platform will be the integration of the "Platform" with the building management systems. The benefits of tying the two things together is that now your Data Center team will have visibility into the entire system and the system can be trained to protect itself. That's right, when the data center facility is failing it can tell the "platform" to move critical applications to a sister facility. This strategy of tying the building and the IT platform together will create a number of opportunities. The opportunities associated with an "Integrated" data center are higher application availability, lower staffing requirements, much lower cost of ownership, and a system that can support and protect itself much faster than a person who has to be woken up at home.

Imagine being able to see the overall capacity and health of your system (the data center) through a single interface, maybe something that looks like a gas guage. If you've designed your compute infrastructure and infrastructure platform to support cloud operations your data center should now be acting as one big computer. So, it stands to reason that if your data center is one big computer you should be able to see the health and remaining capacity of your computer through a single interface. Now take the next step of automation and self protection. What if your data center facility systems (Power, Cooling, Security, etc) could talk directly to your cloud platform? I'm guessing your starting to see the possibilities. Here are a couple simple scenario's;

Scenario 1: A section of the data center has a rising temp problem and will soon reach a critical point. Your infrastructure platform shuts down non critical capacity and moves critical systems to other parts of the facility or even to another facility.
Scenario 2: A major storm is now within minutes of hitting your facility (think hurricane). Your systems automaitically send all production applications to a sister facility and follow protocols to safeguard systems by shutting down the facility.

The above scenarios are possible today. It will be easier 2 - 3 years from now, but essentially you could do this now assuming you were using a cloud platform and weren't still using silo's of hardware and software.


Further extend the building system redundancy

Why not add redundancy to the building systems as well, just as redundancy is built into the computing and power system units?

HVAC systems tend to exceed the operational requirements and high-limits of the IT systems while representing single points of failure. HVAC systems can provide complete redundancy within the local units without significantly increasing  costs (and perhaps decreasing costs through better managed climate control).

Benjamin Brink