Darwin and the evolved data center.

Tonight I happened to run across a discussion of evolution and data centers. In this post, I’ll examine if this is applicable and also how to insure that a data center can survive evolving.

In a nutshell, the theory of evolution says that organisms adapt to fit their environments. Organisms that are too slow or unable to adapt to changing environments are evolutionary dead ends and are replaced by more adaptable ones.

This is clearly applicable to data centers. Data centers designed in the 60s and 70s have a vanishingly small application to the requirements of data center customers of 2009. Since the customer evolves, the business must evolve also.

So, how can you make sure your data center is positioned to evolve and survive? After all, you can take the best guess about where things are going but in the end result, nobody has a crystal ball.

The answer is two-fold. Be as flexible as possible and recognize quickly when a change isn’t working. Examples of flexibility include having far more power capcity than required. More than a few otherwise decent facilities have stumbled by running out of power far faster than running out of space. Make sure your facility has more floor load capacity than the usual 250 lbs sq ft to handle higher and higher densities (we locate in a facility with floor capacity of almost 1000 lbs sq ft). Make sure never to load the facility to 100% capacity. Leaving some capacity that isn’t locked into today means you’ll have somewhere to go for tomorrow.

In addition to preserving data center flexibility, the important thing is to be able to recognize what is working, what isn’t, know when to ditch changes that aren’t helping, and actually do it. Remember, evolution won’t show you any mercy if you don’t stay ahead of it.

Don’t let your data center go the way of the dinosaurs.

Vern, SwiftWater Telecom


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