Among all of the creative holidays to honor, National Fossil Day on October 14 should have a unique place in the hearts of data center managers and information technology (IT) professionals. Technology advancements are fossilized faster than anything else in our innovation-driven world, but we can’t sit back and marvel at how far we’ve come without recognizing the evolution that has paved the way for today’s solutions.
Whether preserving the past or laying the framework for future innovation, some technologies we thought might become obsolete have more importance today than we realize. A number of popular technologies have evolved over time to serve our modern society – for instance, the rotary phone has its place in the timeline of advancements that led to today’s smartphones. Other technologies have surprised us in their steadfastness. For example, if archaeologists dug up some of our first electric batteries from the early 1800’s, they would find the properties have remained relatively unchanged.
This same notion holds true in data centers, where certain systems and solutions have evolved over time while others remain unchanged as technology continues to advance. In honor of National Fossil Day today, we are sharing five solutions that have resisted becoming fossilized and withstood the test of time.
1. BMS (Building Management Systems) – These proprietary systems that help manage mechanical and electrical equipment were thought to be ephemeral in the data center. Proving to be quite dedicated and useful, these systems have actually become even more functional and secure as they’ve evolved into the BAS (Building Automation Systems) we use today – offering capabilities to seamlessly monitor and control mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems.
2. Preventive Maintenance – With advances in monitoring and management, it was thought that data centers would one day not require human intervention. The reality is, however, that trained personnel performing maintenance remains advantageous. This is especially true when it comes to electrical equipment and power management solutions aiming to unite human expertise with innovation. Collecting and analyzing data in real-time has launched a host of new solutions for remote monitoring and management, with exciting implications for future developments as analytics play a bigger role in predicting and ultimately preventing costly power events.
3. Locks on Rack Enclosures – With remote monitoring and dual-level security at the data center entrance, there would be little concern for who is doing what in the data center. However, with constant changes in technology and less space between IT and data center infrastructure in newer applications like multi-tenant facilities, locks on rack enclosures are needed now more than ever. With the growing complexity of the data center, these solutions complement a comprehensive data center protection platform.
4. Data Center UPS – IT equipment and architectures have advanced dramatically, allowing data center operators to question the old mantra of ‘availability at all cost’ and move towards the right balance of efficiency and redundancy. With that, it was thought that data center UPSs might phase out due to their once low efficiency levels in the 80-90 percent range. But the desire to balance availability, efficiency and operational costs while minimizing nuisance interruptions has led to vast improvements in design that now deliver double-conversion efficiencies of up to 97 percent. Multi-mode UPSs can also rapidly switch operating modes depending on utility voltage conditions to deliver up to 99 percent efficiency. These systems allow today’s data center operators to quickly match the operational mode to risk, combining capabilities for maximum efficiency and control.
5. Water in the Data Center – Yes, mainframes are cooled with it, but who would ever want that dangerous liquid near modern IT gear? Leveraging the properties of water has actually endured as one of the most popular platforms to cool today’s busy data centers. Counterbalancing escalating power and cooling requirements, water delivers exceptional efficiency and density for data centers powering modern society.
As new technologies continue to rapidly emerge, today’s innovations may become fossilized before we know it. But, as demonstrated by some of the data center’s most useful systems and resources, there will always be certain technologies that surprise us in their ability to remain timeless despite the ever-changing technology landscape.
Philip Fischer is the Global Data Center Segment Manager for Eaton. In this role, Phil serves as the strategic leader for all of the Eaton’s activity in the global data center industry. He has over 20 years of data center industry experience in business development, strategy and execution, and various sales and marketing roles; and holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Phil is an avid triathlete, runner and cyclist; you will find him off in all types of weather training/racing in events that range from a local 5K to an Ironman Triathlon.