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6 Things to Consider for Effective Data Center Capacity Planning

Posted by E-I Engineering on Mar 2, 2017 4:26:54 PM

With the dynamic nature of modern business, demand on the resources and capacity of data centers is rapidly increasing. Companies now have to support ever-growing user counts as well as more data. Modern companies can’t function without reliable access to their data and data centers cannot afford to run the risk of suffering downtime or running out of capacity.

Capacity planning brings together all the key resources within the data center including hardware, infrastructure, power and personnel. Accurate capacity planning is the key to understanding and optimizing the cost of running your data center to ensure that it has the ability to meet current and future needs.

Below are 6 factors that should be considered when initiating a data center capacity plan.


‣ Industry regulations

Regulations vary according to the type of business, and the location of the data center. There are two types of taxes that will affect capacity planning:

  • Carbon tax
  • Privacy & data protection

Enhanced security procedures must also be considered for state and government customers.

A smart option is to look at ways of achieving, external accreditation by working to ISO 9001/2001 standards in Europe, or with ASHRAE standards in the US.


‣ Rack optimization

Power draw can range from 3KW to over 40KW per rack. Traditional capacity planning has allowed IT departments to over-provision their resources. Improving utilization by consider high density racks instead of standard cabinets can lead to major savings.


‣ Power utilities

Power costs should be an important part of capacity planning. New build data centers should understand the differing prices of power throughout the world and use this information to inform their decision for locating in an area. Negotiating long-term contracts, for example 10-15 years, will provide a degree of certainty and reasonable prices for the foreseeable future.

Businesses that use colocation facilities often pay per circuit rather than metered electricity usage, which pushes the responsibility back onto the supplier.


‣ Cooling

Understanding the requirements for cooling is essential for accurate data center capacity planning. This includes understanding how requirements may vary at different times of the day, during different seasons and with different power loads. Typical cooling methods include cold-aisle containment, chimneys to vent equipment and free cooling, which takes advantage of the external climate.


‣ Green/corporate and social responsibility

Companies that have significant commitments to ‘green’ initiatives will aim to keep the PUE readings as low as possible. Purchasing (or offering) ‘green’ power and working with environmental teams is an important part of data center capacity planning.


‣ Budget

The typical costs of major changes to the white space can be a heavy burden on data center operators. Smart planners are able to extend the life of existing facilities by adding extra components over time and by installing flexible hardware e.g. open channel busway systems. For colocation suppliers, additional resources and challenges have to be addressed at shorter notice as the business acquires new customers. Slow response, caused by a lack of budget could lead to a loss of business.


At one time, data center capacities were built with the next 10 years in mind. However, with increased costs and idle hardware, over-provisioning proved to be not such a cost-effective solution.

Now, data centers must operate on a needs-based approach. Thanks to DCIM software, data center capacity planning has been revolutionized; with better planning, capacity is optimized to the needs of IT and business services.

Alongside DCIM software, successful and efficient capacity planning can be done in the following steps:

  1. Outline all of the required components for new equipment to be implemented and installed in the facility.
  2. Measure the current usage level of the required component. Are they fully utilized or do they have additional capacity?
  3. Create a list of capacity requirements
  4. Build a plan, outlining how you will provision for the new equipment
  5. Issue work orders to physically provision the new equipment
  6. Audit the provisions and update the DCIM database to show the level of capacity utilization.


Whilst business critical services are increasing, planning capacity is an ongoing process. Data center capacity planning not only helps to achieve efficiencies with the physical infrastructure but also helps identify potential issues, predicts failures, improves efficiency, and ultimately provides quality business services.


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