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The cloud is scalable but are data centres?

Darren Lee, Segment Leader – Mission Critical (Asia Pacific), Cummins Power Generation | Oct. 20, 2015
As workloads grow heavier and more complex, data centre design must treat the scalability of physical infrastructure as a core focus, instead of taking it for granted.

Coping with rapid change
While business changes, such as an increase in the number of clients to be serviced, will affect workloads to a large extent, the nature of data centres is such that workloads are highly dynamic, and infrastructure systems should be able to cope with rapidly changing needs. For example, data centres typically have an above-average proportion of non-linear loads such as rectifiers, servers, UPS systems and digital loads; legacy power generators are unable to compensate for the resultant irregular sine waves, potentially damaging the system. As such, power generator systems should be specifically designed for the unique requirements demanded by data centres. For example, Cummins Power Generation has developed a new Data Centre Continuous (DCC) power output ratings category for data centre applications to ensure total reliability and dependability for data centre operators.

Power systems take priority
Power is a major business concern for the data centre sector: a data centre's power generation system has a major part to play in ensuring that expectations of near-perfect uptime records can be fulfilled, while electricity forms a large portion of the costs involved in running a data centre. This is particularly relevant here, with the APAC region alone accounting for 26.5 percent of the total energy used by data centres globally, with power providers having increased prices by at least 10 percent in the last few years.

As mentioned earlier, data centre operators should consider making their power systems modular, as this would improve reliability and scalability. This can be achieved by using paralleled generator sets to provide power to a common load. Some operators avoid such a system, as paralleling generator sets used to require expensive additional equipment, but technological advancements and latest system architecture designs have addressed such concerns.

Paralleling power solutions that offer high power output along with small physical space requirements allows for a rapid expansion in power capacity while minimising physical data centre footprints. Another example of this is the QSK95 Series generator sets from Cummins Power Generation, which results in less space used, lower installed costs, and fewer generators needed to achieve the total power output required.

As the Southeast Asian region continues its explosive growth rate, it is inevitable that data centres will come into greater demand. To ensure that they can cope with future growth, data centres must be designed with scalability in mind, and this is most easily achieved through the use of modular and space-efficient systems that will ensure that data centres have the physical room to grow.


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