This is the 901st post of this blog. Huh.
ComputerWorld had a major article recently, "Your Next Data Center
", subtitled, "Companies are outgrowing their data centers faster than they ever predicted. It's time to rethind and rebuild."
That is not the case with us. Ours is shrinking, and I'm not alone in this. I know other people who are experiencing the same thing.
The data-center we have right now was built sometime between 1999 and 2000. I'm not sure exactly when it was, as I wasn't here. I like to think they planned 20 years of growth into it, as that's how long the previous data-center lasted.
When I first started here in late 2003, the workhorse servers supporting the largest percentage of our intel based servers were HP ML530 G1's (here are the G2's
, the same size as the G1's), with some older HP LH3 servers still in service. The freshly installed 6-node Novell NetWare cluster had 3 ML530's, and 3 rack-dense BL380's. If I'm remembering right, at that time we had two other rack-dense servers. The rest were these 7U monsters, and we could cram 4 to a rack.
With the 7U ML530's as the primary machine, it would seem that the planners of our data-center did not take 'rack dense' into consideration. This was certainly the case with the rack they decided to install, as they planned a very old-school bottom-to-top venting scheme; something I've spent considerable time and innovation trying to revise. They also heard about the stats like "20% growth in number of servers year-over-year," and planned enough floor space to handle it.
Right this moment we're poised to occupy a lot LESS rack-space than we once were. For this, I thank two major trends, and a third chronic one:
- Replacing the 7U monsters with 1U servers
- No budget for massive server expansions
We're still consuming the same amount of power as we were 2 years ago, but the rack units drawing power has reduced. We still have most of those ML530's, but they've all been relegated to 2nd or 3rd line duties like test/deployment servers or single function utility servers. They're all coming off of maintenance soon (they're like 5-7 years old now) so I'm not 100% sure what we're replacing them with. Probably more VM servers if we can kick the money tree hard enough.
One thing we have
been having growing pains over is power draw. The reason we're drawing the same as we were 2 years ago is largely due to us coming close to the rated max for our UPS, and replacing the UPS is a major, major capital-request process nightmare. It would seem that upgrading our UPS triggers certain provisions in the local building code that will require us to bring the data-center up to latest code. The upgrades required to do that are prohibitive, and most likely would require us to relocate all of our gear during the construction process. Since I haven't heard any rumors of us starting the capital-request process, I'm guessing we're not due for another UPS any time soon. This... concerns me.
One side-effect to being power-limited, is that our cooling capacity isn't anywhere NEAR stressed yet.
But when it comes to square footage, we have lots of empty space. We are not shoe-horning in servers into every available rack-unit. We haven't resorted to housing servers in with the sys-admin staff.