Data Center TCO Factors You Can’t Afford to Overlook

(Sponsored) It’s no surprise that the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of data centers around the world. With the stress of managing today’s continued growth of data, the rush to the cloud, and diverse workloads and applications, total cost of ownership (TCO) remains critical…and it’s complex.

The efficiency and effectiveness of organizations in managing data and deploying data infrastructure often determines their success and longevity. Most often, this also does not determine who succeeds, but only who survives.

At Western Digital, we work with the largest search, e-commerce, social media, and other cloud giants around the world. This is what they tell us:

  • First and foremost, scaling efficiently and effectively is critical to their success.
  • Total cost of ownership (TCO) influences most of the decisions they make.
  • Achieving the lowest possible total cost of ownership fuels their revenue, services and innovation.

Don’t shop by price alone. You have to peel the layers because the purchase cost is just a fraction of the total cost of ownership. There are many other aspects that drive TCO, including location, density or space, performance, quality, reliability, cooling, weight, usage, quality of service, infrastructure management, and more. These can vary greatly depending on the type of data center.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to total cost of ownership (TCO) and which factors are most important. However, here are some insights from the biggest cloud and data center clients on TCO factors that you just can’t overlook.

Don’t underestimate the power effect

Every watt counts. According to the US Department of Energy, some of the world’s largest data centers consume more than 100 megawatts of power capacity, or enough to power 80,000 homes in the United States. Cooling accounts for approximately 30% to 50% of the total power consumption in a data center.

One way to save energy costs with storage is to use hard drives filled with helium instead of hard drives filled with air. Since helium is one-seventh the density of air, there is less turbulence within the drive. This provides countless advantages such as mounting more discs in the same 3.5-inch form factor, reduced drag on turntables, and ultimately lower power. When comparing 18TB helium-filled hard drives to 10TB air-filled drives, helium drives achieve greater energy efficiency with 30% less operating power and a 61% reduction in watts per terabyte.

Make the most of your space

As we’ve seen in the news, many ultra-wideband data centers are moving to cooler climates or wider open spaces to reap the benefits of total cost of ownership. Even if you don’t have the luxury of physically moving your data center, slot and floor space tax should be your top priority, as your existing real estate comes at a premium. Every floor tile and every square foot should be optimized to get the most out of it.

Storage slot tax is an important TCO factor for cloud, on-premises, and mass-location data centers, and can include a number of things. For some, this is the cost of the chassis, rack, power supply, and networks. For others, it represents all the infrastructure required to take a storage device and make it available in the data center.

Slot tax can be very significant if co-location is used. You may get a certain amount of floor space with a certain amount of energy. If you put in equipment that consumes a lot of energy, you may have to rent extra floor space (which you don’t really need) just because you need another drop of energy.

I also recommend getting the highest storage capacity possible. If you don’t, you’ll risk buying more later, whether that’s more storage subsystems, more racks, or more servers. Adding more later increases operational costs per device, along with introducing more points of failure, which can reduce reliability and affect service level agreements.

Get the most out of your data infrastructure

Today’s increasing and varied workloads affect how you access and manage your data. When it comes to improving your total cost of ownership (TCO), you have a choice: you can either add more servers and infrastructure using traditional methods or you can upgrade your infrastructure to increase the efficiency and performance of your storage capacity by adopting new architectures.

One of these new approaches is an open source, standards-based initiative called Zoned Storage. The Dedicated Storage initiative gives developers and architects the tools and resources to place data intelligently on both HDD and SSD media, optimizing for better performance, shorter latency, predictable quality of service, and most importantly, higher densities and overall cost. Less ownership.

Another way to optimize resources is to switch to a common model of configuring computing, network, and storage resources as needed. Configurable Detailed Infrastructure (CDI) gives data center engineers the flexibility to configure what they need when they need it from a common set of resources to support a specific workload. Being able to get resources “quickly” and as needed means you can be smart and avoid unnecessary spending to keep pace with change and improve IT resources. NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) acts as a ramp to CDI as it allows IT to configure, organize, and share flash storage on fabrics.

It is important to align the performance and capabilities of your storage system with the workload, specific bandwidth requirements, response time, and data availability. For example, if your business wants to gain greater insight and value through AI, your storage system must be designed to support the accelerated performance and scale requirements of analytics workloads.

Understanding your workloads today and in the future and investing in the “right” mix of HDD and SSD-based storage systems will give you the highest level of optimization and the best total cost of ownership.

Keep in mind that what worked in the past may not be enough. Now is the time to consider innovations and new architectures.

There is no one size fits all, but consider all to manage total cost of ownership

The total cost of ownership is complex. There are many factors in addition to management and maintenance costs that must be considered in the TCO equation. As your organization optimizes its data center today and in the future, you need to consider a multi-faceted approach that includes floor space, density, performance, quality, reliability, cooling, weight, utilization, quality of service, infrastructure management, and more to create a more efficient and effective data infrastructure at the lowest possible total cost of ownership. .

Strategically lowering your total cost of ownership will help you expand in the future. The faster you can scale and expand, the more you will be able to keep up with revenue opportunities. No matter how you look at it, a TCO helps improve efficiencies and can add value to your bottom line. Improving total cost of ownership frees up resources that can boost business growth. Our large cloud clients are actively looking for new business opportunities by reaping gains in one place and investing in others. And as they grow, storage is an essential part of their ability to rise to new heights.

Ehab Hammadi is a fellow and head of systems engineering at Western Digital. He is a renowned expert in the fields of computing, data storage, networking, and virtualization technology and solutions. Prior to joining Western Digital, Ehab was a Senior Technician at HPE Aruba, where he led the development teams that founded the OpenSwitch project and created the ArubaOS-CX network operating systems. Ehab has also held a large number of technology leadership positions with Broadcom, Emulex, and other companies. He holds a master’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Denver.

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