We asked IT executives and industry experts to dream big and tell us about their ultimate wish lists for a brand-new, built-from-scratch data center -- if money were no object. Here's what they had to say:
Rodney McPearson, project manager for data center build-outs, Cimarex Energy: McPearson's dream data center would have raised floors and plenty of power -- preferably from two different suppliers of electricity, as well as a backup generator in case both of the suppliers failed. It would also have plenty of cooling and lots of connectivity.
Joshua Aaron, president, Business Technology Partners: "I would have nearly infinite bandwidth and resiliency; I would have multiple providers and multiple carriers so we would have an unlimited supply of bandwidth available to us. I would implement the latest and greatest in blade server technology and server virtualization to try to maximize the consolidation of the equipment.
"I would have at least four hours available to me on UPS power for the entire data center, and backup generator systems that could provide me with at least two weeks of continuous runtime. Also, I'd want at least a 36-in. raised floor and the ability to run all of my cooling through the floor, in addition to providing outlets for all of my cables. I would want all of my telecommunications communications cabling to be on a modular infrastructure and have more than enough fiber and copper feeding every equipment cabinet. So I've created a data center where I can put any equipment in any cabinet, and as equipment changes, I would be able to scale and grow."
Bill Maguire, CIO, Virgin America: Maguire's wish list would include redundant communications, two separate power sources and a secure building. He would nix raised floors in favor of overhead wiring and cooling, and he would have two entrances. Location isn't as important to him; Maguire says it "only matters from a perspective of telecommunications and skill set -- everything else, I can get to the building."
Jeff Monroe, executive vice president of strategy and business development, DuPont Fabros Technology: "Regardless of the overall objective, you can actually get to a point where more money spent equates to more complexity, thereby reducing reliability. I think the ultimate goal is to develop and operate a data center where you maximize the utilization of power within a given space for the lowest life-cycle cost without sacrificing reliability."
Troy Toman, vice president of operations, Rackspace: "The ultimate in redundancy is the first thing that comes to mind. There are technologies that you can take advantage of that can basically leave no single point of failure at all in the data center. 2N is the ability to cover any failure in the data center. If you could do that at the same cost as you can currently build an N+1 environment, that'd be the first thing that comes to mind. Second would be if you could take advantage of some of newer green ideas, without any of the inherent risks that come with those (such as flywheel's short power life that leaves no room for error)."
Colbert Seto, IT director, Hawaii Pacific Health: "What I would like to see is a lights-out data center, where we have close to 100 per cent virtualization."
John Phelps, analyst, Gartner: Phelps says he would like to see no cables under the raised floors to interfere with the flow of cooling air and would locate the highest-density servers in a separate room with liquid-based cooling systems, which Phelps say are far more effective than air-based cooling systems.
Jim Ingalzo, assistant CIO, Pennsylvania attorney general's office: Ingalzo says he would like better physical security, with card-based or biometric access and tracking of all personnel entering the data center. He would also like to see more "modular" wiring to make it easier to relocate equipment as needed.
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