Intelligent IT investment in 2013

Steven Foster, managing director of Siemon, a global infrastructure specialist, shares his views on the trends and innovations for the coming year in three key areas of networking: the data centre, virtualisation and disaster recovery

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Intelligent IT investment in 2013 The Middle East is way ahead of other parts of world, such as Europe, in terms of building networks that efficiently provide infrastructure for intelligent buildings, according to Steven Foster from Siemon.
By  Steven Foster Published  March 10, 2013

Steven Foster, managing director of Siemon, a global infrastructure specialist, shares his views on the trends and innovations for the coming year in three key areas of networking: the data centre, virtualisation and disaster recovery.

There are surprising things about the market in the Middle East and, in some cases the choices made here create very different trends to other parts of the world. One is in convergence; building networks that efficiently provide infrastructure for intelligent buildings. Here, the Middle East is definitely way ahead of other parts of world, such as Europe, with the vast majority of new build enterprise projects specifying converged networks.

This is entirely sensible and it is likely that other markets will play catch-up with the Middle East to capitalise on this design advantage and energy efficient approach. Converged networks, whereby all applications such as data, voice, security and Building Management Systems (BMS) run on one IP data network, are fairly standard with any new build in much of the Middle East; whereas years of different trades performing these multiple works in markets such as Europe, means there is a historical mindset to overcome. The concept of convergence makes sense – fewer cabling systems on one platform means less cost and a greener overall infrastructure.

The other point of difference is the demand for self-owned data centres, rather than outsourcing and collocating, which is now growing rapidly in Europe and the USA. The Middle East continues to demonstrate considerable appetite for building data centres, with the finance and education sectors leading the way in this region.

In Europe, while many end users continue to build and run their own data centres, we see big growth in outsourcing IT to co-location companies. Many end users who once believed they would retain their data centres are now considering co-location space. Whilst in the Middle East co-location is present and growing, we do not currently see the same levels of penetration – data centres are primarily owned by the end user.

Reasons for this may be the cost pressures European companies find themselves under and the limitations on space. It is likely that in future most companies will look to outsource as this is a definite and growing trend – accessing and paying for IT as you need it rather than building and maintaining IT capacity (at a premium cost) just in case. It seems there are lessons we can learn from one another – Europe has some great experience regarding data centres and outsourcing, while the Middle East is leading the way with building new data centres and creating converged networks.

Data centre development

Given that companies are clearly building their own data centres, it’s worth considering the likely elements of focus for 2013: This will certainly be the year of 10GBASE-T and also the year of efficiency and optimisation, with power monopolising the headlines.  Optimisation will now look more towards the best utilisation of everything in the space – an example will be tackling the vast amount of top of rack switch ports that can’t be utilised due to power constraints limiting the number of servers in a cabinet.

There is lots of new technology surrounding cooling, containment and improved ways to use water and air to cool critical loads.  More forward thinking firms are already designing these new technologies into data centres and, as such, we are likely to see a basic shift in this direction. Lower power electronics that work at higher temperatures will also provide some relief on power costs. New UPS technologies are shifting data centres away from traditional battery rooms and intelligent PDU’s will help companies determine the most efficient equipment based on power utilisation statistics.

The Year of 10GBASE-T

With 10GBASE-T now viable from a power perspective and also included native on all Intel motherboards, larger data centre zones can be designed using structured cabling to reach a larger segment of server cabinets and decrease unused switch ports. As we cascade up to aggregate and core, it will decrease unnecessary equipment and maintenance purchases as well. There are many benefits to structured cabling and the industry has worked hard to develop industry standards to enable open systems, instead of using proprietary and encrypted cables that require end-users to replace cabling with every hardware purchase.

This practice is wasteful and unnecessary, especially considering the 10GBASE-T open options on the market.

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