Nowadays, with the advent of the 5G era and the advancement of technology, more and more enterprises rely on IT for almost any choice. Therefore, their demand for better data center services has increased dramatically.
However, due to the higher capital and operating costs caused by the cluttered distribution of equipment in data centers, the space has become one of the biggest factors restricting data centers. In order to solve that problem, it's necessary to optimize the utilization of existing space, for example, to consolidate white space and gray space in data centers.
Data center white space refers to the space where IT equipment and infrastructure are located. It includes servers, storage, network gear, racks, air conditioning units, power distribution systems.
White space is usually measured in square feet, ranging anywhere from a few hundred to a hundred thousand square feet. It can be either raised floor or hard floor (solid floor). Raised floors are developed to provide locations for power cabling, tracks for data cabling, cold air distribution systems for IT equipment cooling, etc. It can have access to all elements easily. Different from raised floors, cooling and cabling systems for hard floors are installed overhead. Today, there is a trend from raised floors to hard floors.
Typically, the white space area is the only productive area where an enterprise can utilize the data center space. Moreover, online activities like working from home have increased rapidly in recent years, especially due to the impact of COVID-19, which has increased business demand for data center white space. Therefore, the enterprise has to design data center white space with care.
Different from data center white space, data center gray space refers to the space where back-end equipment is located. This includes switchgear, UPS, transformers, chillers, and generators.
The existence of gray space is to support the white space, therefore the amount of gray space for equipment is determined by the space assigned for data center white space. The more white space is needed, the more backend infrastructure is required to support it.
Building more data centers and consuming more energy is not a good option for IT organizations to make use of data center space. To increase data center sustainability and reduce energy costs, it's necessary to use some strategies to combine data center white space and gray space, thus optimizing the efficiency of data center space.
Virtualized technology: The technology of virtualization can integrate many virtual machines into physical machines, reducing physical hardware and saving lots of data center space. Virtualization management systems such as VMware and Hyper V can create a virtualized environment.
Cloud computing resources: With the help of the public cloud, enterprises can transfer data through the public internet, thus reducing their needs for physical servers and other IT infrastructure.
Data center planning: DCIM software, a kind of data center infrastructure management tool, can help estimate current and future power and server needs. It can also help data centers track and manage resources and optimize their size to save more space.
Monitor power and cooling capacity: In addition to the capacity planning about space, monitoring power, and cooling capacity is also necessary to properly configure equipment.
State-of-art technologies: Technologies like flywheels can increase the power of the machine, reducing the number of batteries required for the power supply. Besides, the use of solar panels can reduce data center electricity bills. And water cooling can also help reduce the costs of cooling solutions.
Compared with white space efficiency techniques, grace space efficiency strategies are pretty less. However, the most efficient plan is to combine data center white space with gray space. By doing so, enterprises can realize the optimal utilization of data center space.