Efficient Data Centers
EMC IT continues to face the same challenges as our customers surrounding the growth of data and IT demand. By innovating and deploying new technologies, we advance our vision for secure cloud computing and Big Data while at the same time developing and redefining best practices that we can deliver to our customers.
EMC IT supports more than 70,000 “internal” users working in approximately 400 sales and corporate offices in more than 86 countries – not to mention the home offices of our large telecommuting population. EMC’s global IT environment spans five data centers with approximately 17,500 OS Images on servers of which 97 percent are virtualized, and hosts approximately 800 applications and 40 petabytes of information storage.
MODERNIZING THE DATA CENTER
The last five years have brought tremendous change to EMC IT with the transformation to an IT as a Service model. We have made significant changes in process and technology to create a more agile, contemporary structure that offers faster, more dynamic self-service offerings and support. In the last few years specifically, EMC IT focused on refreshing and modernizing the Hopkinton and Cork data centers. These data centers were on course to exceed manageable limits of energy consumption that would have resulted in soaring operational costs, power usage and infrastructure requirements.
Modernizing the data centers encompassed four core focus areas, described in more detail below:
- Migrating physical and virtual servers from Hopkinton to our state-of-the-art data center in Durham, North Carolina
- Increasing energy efficiency at the international data center in Cork
- Embracing Big Data analytics technologies
- Decommissioning legacy and redundant infrastructure
The International Data Center at Cork
In 2015, we undertook three major projects:
- Upgrade of three Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) provided 96 percent efficiency across their operating range.
- Completion of the Hot Aisle Containment Project resulted in improved air flow through static, vented tiles; prevention of cold air leakage by sealing gaps in server cabinets; and improved air flow efficiency through efficient separation of hot and cold air.
- Containment cooling of the data center allowed the team to safely increase interior temperature from 21⁰C (70⁰F) to 25⁰C (78⁰F) and reduce mechanical energy consumption by 24 percent.
OPTIMIZING ENERGY EFFICIENCY AT THE HOPKINTON DATA CENTER
In 2013, EMC IT initiated the Hopkinton Data Center Optimization program. Without the program, energy use at the Hopkinton data center would have increased an estimated 20 percent in 2015 (and nearly 100 percent since the start of the program) to nearly 2,542 kilowatts, well above capacity. This environment would have needlessly expanded EMC IT’s footprint, failed to meet EMC’s overall sustainability objectives, and disqualified EMC IT from benefiting from local electrical efficiency rebates.
Between June 2013 and September 2015, EMC IT decommissioned more than 1,244 virtual servers and approximately 350 physical servers in the Hopkinton data center, while migrating another 1,100 virtual servers to our Durham, North Carolina data center. Power and maintenance savings reached $1 million for Q1 2014 and power savings reached 430 kilowatts; over the next eight quarters, those numbers grew to $3.5 million and 1,244 kilowatts, respectively. Power utilization has held steady around 63 percent of capacity and remained within a four percent range for eight straight quarters.
The power savings met EMC IT’s goal of maintaining overall power utilization below 70 percent capacity, limiting data center footprint growth, and delivering a consistent user experience for our user base. During the program’s lifetime, actual power consumption has decreased from 1,388 kilowatts to 1,298 kilowatts despite growing resource demand.
Key objectives of this program were to achieve a total reduction in power consumption by 19 percent and power utilization of 54 percent. These changes are expected to extend the life of the Hopkinton data center by more than five years, enabling EMC IT to better serve higher network speeds and efficiencies, while lowering projected power consumption by 80 percent.
By modernizing and optimizing the Cork and Hopkinton data centers, EMC IT has reduced overall power consumption required to store, manage and support our data and infrastructure; reduced our footprint; and lowered capital and operational expenses while successfully increasing data transparency and delivery speed.
THE POWER OF BIG DATA AND ANALYTICS
EMC IT, like our customers, is facing exponential data growth. In 2015, the organization managed 40 petabytes of total information storage — an increase of 22 petabytes from the previous year. Accordingly, data center optimization became a proving ground for EMC IT’s adoption of Big Data and enterprise analytics so that we could empower IT decision-makers with greater data clarity and transparency. Leveraging IT’s own business analytics-as-a-service (BAaaS), the program team was armed with predictive and deeper analytics into application and device power usage.
Following a multi-tiered approach that brought together various EMC IT teams, the organization collected data into common databases to enable data sharing and feedback. Consistent data visualization and predictive analysis provided faster, more accurate infrastructure maintenance and removal; sharper choices in power reduction; and better strategic guidance into application power usage to better understand resource consumption and thus make better business decisions.
In coming quarters, further implementation of the EMC IT’s enterprise analytics portfolio will enable greater visibility, stricter governance, and tighter control of the environment, resulting in more efficient processes and resource allocation.