The lesson data center designers can learn from IT

Data center designers who are planning infrastructure systems for their clients’ facilities can learn a lesson from the IT professionals who work there.

Not long ago, whenever corporations wanted to expand their size and capabilities, they needed to add more servers to their technology centers. Every new application required a dedicated server. Eventually, however, the computer industry learned how to virtualize servers so that many different operating systems and applications could run on a single server. The results have been considerable savings on equipment purchases, maintenance and upgrades as well as an overall reduction in the technology’s footprint that has generated more savings in the costs of real estate and the power to cool the servers.

Data center infrastructure has followed a similar course. Today, a large proportion of data centers still are buying separate systems for building management, power management and energy management. These individual technologies have been designed primarily to monitor commercial buildings, but tying them all together to try to monitor a data center frequently becomes a practice in jerry-rigging. The overall system can be replete with potential points of failure and does not offer the degree of robust reliability that a data center should achieve.

ABB, however, has developed Decathlon technology that integrates all the monitoring systems that a data center should have into a single software-based system. Moreover, ABB Decathlon not only monitors the entire data center infrastructure but also provides automated control of building, energy and power operations.

ABB Decathlon employs the same core technology that ABB has used for industrial applications all across the globe for the past quarter century. With more than 10,000 installations in manufacturing plants, utilities, transportation companies and other heavy industries, Decathlon technology has proven to be a nimble, easily scalable and highly reliable way to monitor and control infrastructure systems.

With the availability of ABB Decathlon for data centers, it makes sense to push all the control of mechanical, electrical and even IT systems onto this single platform. ABB Decathlon can keep data centers up and running on its own, without the need for personnel to monitor systems. To respond to alerts and impending issues discovered by Decathlon, a single operator can keep an eye on and control the data center landscape through an Extended Operator Workplace.

ABB Decathlon will scale up from the smallest implementation to the largest imaginable number of control points without any changes in the basic technology. The same applies to developing new capabilities. Without changing the core technology, ABB Decathlon enables data centers to advance simply by adding modules for new high-end capabilities, such as adopting condition-based monitoring that schedules maintenance only when an issue is imminent, optimizing the placement of assets, and taking advantage of rapidly changing energy prices.

IT managers do all they can to integrate, streamline and condense their technology; infrastructure designers should do the same by capitalizing on the amazing range and depth of ABB Decathlon.

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About the author

Jim Shanahan

Jim Shanahan works with ABB's data center automation business covering Decathlon DCIM, data center consulting, plus onsite and remote services. He helped to define ABB's overall data center strategy covering equipment, software and services for clients and also in delivering data center services to ABB’s employees. He has previously run the international business of Lee Technologies, the US-based data center operations specialist acquired by Schneider. Before that, Shanahan held executive positions in automation and data center design houses, having started his career with Amdahl Computers. He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and postgraduate degrees in Management and Marketing.
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