Before virtualisation, designing the datacentre environment for mission-critical applications meant looking for the most robust, high-spec servers the customer could afford, and checking that the power supply and cooling was adequate to prevent hotspots.
But as virtualisation enables these virtual server loads to move around the datacentre according to demand and available server space, the entire datacentre must now be of a high enough specification to support critical applications.
Explaining this to customers is crucial, and provides opportunities for consulting on the physical datacentre design side, but it is often forgotten in the rush to virtualise IT resources or move to the cloud.
In some ways, the migration to virtual and cloud deployments is actually more difficult than many first anticipated. First and foremost, it means getting back to basics and concentrating early on the physical infrastructure.
Looking at power, cooling and cabling design is just as important as the IT side in delivering what the customer wants, and it will have a big impact on the running cost of the facility.
One approach vendors are suggesting is a modular datacentre strategy. This simplifies the installation and design phase, as pre-built components with server, storage and compute power and even large prefabricated shipping containers full of assets can be delivered and deployed very quickly this way.
Using a modular approach, channel providers can deliver new services in days rather than months. Modular datacentre units can be built with optimal cabling and airflow top of mind, and can therefore tackle temperature control and energy consumption in one go.
This does, however, remove some flexibility from the technology, for both customer and partner. A tight configuration makes it more difficult to swap the datacentre design around in future. Customers will have less choice, while there are potentially fewer services and consultancy revenue opportunities for partners that concentrate on one area.
The added value will come from thinking more broadly than the physical or virtual side of an implementation to tailor the right offering for the customer, and help them plan ahead for update or expansion.
Steve Luczkiw is vice president of channels for Panduit
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