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Data Center Efficiency Begins with Green Data Cabinets
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Green Data Cabinets Feature Editorial

July 09, 2009

Data Center Efficiency Begins with Green Data Cabinets

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

There was a time when innovative technologies were developed purely for the sake of innovation. Those times are a distant memory, and today’s knowledge workers have a near-singular focus, which is to drive operational efficiency while lowering costs. In an era of increased global competition and increased fiscal pressures that are only exacerbated by the current recession, the ability to accomplish these feats is critical to business success.

When considering the enterprise data center, the motivation for transforming to a next generation data center stems from a need for not only faster and more efficient server, switching, storage, and data transport technologies, but also from a clear directive from senior level executives to cut costs and tear down existing silos. It is that directive that has paved the way for initiatives like Panduit’s Unified Physical Infrastructure (UPI) vision, which is founded on the principle that data center convergence is creating a definitive need for solutions that enable increased infrastructure efficiency, scalability, and sustainability via an integrated management solution.
The notion of a unified physical layer infrastructure lends itself well to the development of Green Data Centers, since a consolidated management platform allows for now connected systems – computing, communications, power, security, control – to derive benefits from the latest Green IT solutions, because their usage can be controlled to provide optimal efficiency at any time and any point in the infrastructure. Existing power and cooling systems, for instance, can be optimized to handle twice the server capacity by leveraging state of the art cabinets, like Panduit’s Net-Access line. These Green Data Cabinets also come with the benefit of supporting environmental and eco-sustainability initiatives and reduction of footprint, and the cost benefits that go along.
The Net-Access line of cabinets represents a baseline for the data center infrastructure, quite simply because their life cycle extends through two, three, or even four generations of active data center equipment (i.e., servers, switches, etc.). As a general rule, most active equipment refreshes every three to five years, but cabinets, connectivity solutions, and other physical infrastructure components are designed with a lifespan of 15 years or more.
For that reason alone, importance of choosing the right infrastructure components is fundamental to ensuring infrastructure efficiency and data center productivity in the long term. Today, that selection comes down to much more than capital expense and current demands. Businesses look at flexibility and scalability, thermal and power efficiency, and footprint, all of which are critical for both upgrades and greenfield deployments.
To deliver the maximum efficiency in all of these variables, Panduit has developed its Net-Access line to allow data centers to accomplish their goal of getting as many servers into their existing footprint as possible without sacrificing power, cooling, or other related costs.
“For example, when Cisco (News - Alert) recently launched its 7018 Nexus switch, Panduit designed a specially defined cabinet with all the necessary cable management pathways.  It really helped Cisco solve some of the power and cooling challenges, since it was specially designed for that,” explained Panduit's Vice President of Global Marketing Vineeth Ram.  “We optimized the cabinet design and fully integrated it with cable management. Now we can go and translate many of the logical parameters into what that means from a physical deployment perspective.”
The new Net-Access cabinets can hold 45 RU (up from the standard 42 RU). They also offer vertical patching capabilities for even more efficient space utilization. They also include passive cooling capabilities, like passive thermal ducting, allowing exhaust to flow directly out of the cabinets. Panduit has also added baffles and a vertical exhaust system for improved airflow, which it says delivers a 25 percent increase in efficiency. All of these capabilities are designed to save energy and space, which represents a significant cost savings for any data center.
The Net-Access cabinets though are only one piece of Panduit’s overall UPI vision. In order to achieve maximum operational efficiency and minimize downtime, heating, thermal, cooling, computing, and all other systems must be connected and effectively managed. For example, if you have additional power capabilities, but no room for servers, the system as a whole is running below peak efficiency by wasting power. Likewise, too many servers with not enough power to accommodate them results in slower data transfer and even network downtime.
These are only a few examples of the challenges facing data center management, who are all looking to optimize their infrastructures without absorbing high capital expenses. Panduit, in addition to providing the physical components that help achieve these efficiencies, works with customers to customize and optimize the solutions that fit their individual needs.
Of course, Green Cabinets, Smart Data Centers, and the UPI vision sound promising, but the real test lies in true deployment and an ability to justify spend through quantifiable benefits and quick ROI. According to Panduit, its customers can see a tangible return in as little as six months, which makes their decision to adopt the UPI vision easy.

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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