There are three key pain points for every modern data center: the rapidly increasing pace of business, growing densities, and extensive energy consumption.

These challenges may initially appear to be three separate issues for data center managers, but they’re actually intertwined and can even influence one another.

And it’s how they relate that indicates the need for a refreshed approach to managing data centers that’s based on simulation. Before we explore this further, we must first understand how these challenges influence one another.

Business is moving at an accelerated pace

Firstly, the increasing pace of business and rising densities are intrinsically linked because the growing demand for organizations to deliver more online services is supported by data centers and their evolving capabilities.

Where in the past high-density, high-performance computing was the preserve of advanced research, modern digital transformation requires this kind of technology across the entire business world to deliver the kind of data-driven applications that meet the expectations of both customers and business leaders.

As a result, IT manufacturers are producing more high-density IT equipment, which is more powerful than ever, even though the costs of computing capacity are halving every 18 months.

Densities are rising

The densities we’re seeing in 2022 would have been unfathomable 10 years ago. Although these advancements mean data centers can operate at higher levels of capacity and efficiency to meet business demands, they’ve also created new challenges for facility managers.

These extend beyond how to implement new high-density equipment to managing the variation of equipment density across the entire facility.

Consider a legacy data center designed to meet much lower levels of density variations than are required today. One zone could be managing web traffic and therefore have a relatively low density.

Meanwhile, another zone could be hosting artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) applications with a higher density of 15 to 20 kW per cabinet.

The overall power density across the center may not be more than was originally expected, but the variation between zones, racks and servers will be.

This break from the original design considerations means operations teams have an increasing number of factors to coordinate and creates competition between data center management silos. The result being that IT is placed at risk and service delivery times are reduced.

Physics-based simulation with a data center digital twin – a 3D, virtual replica of the physical site – can help tackle these challenges by offering a holistic view of the facility and enabling managers to collaborate on establishing the best possible data center layout.

With this technology in place, they can trial different operating scenarios before they’re implemented in real life to identify potential issues ahead of time and therefore mitigate risk. Notably, safely testing the most effective layout for managing various densities and then actioning this in the actual site.

Power demands and energy consumption are growing

Rising demand and increasingly powerful IT has also meant a jump in power demands and energy consumption. This raises several challenges for data center managers.

The first is managing an increased requirement for power. If an increased power requirement is improperly handled it will result in outages with damning knock-on impacts for the associated businesses.

Luckily, digital twin technology can help here by providing an overview of power supply from the grid down to each piece of equipment, facilitating the testing of power connections, and enabling the simulation of failure scenarios.

This predicts for cascade failure, so managers can prepare for potential outages and even protect equipment from downtime.

What’s more, data center digital twins can help protect against power distribution fragmentation triggered by operational changes, by enabling the visualization of power distribution and supporting the safe introduction of new high-density equipment to the power network.

The other major challenge stemming from increased power consumption are the environmental consequences. Simulation with a digital twin can help minimize these by empowering managers to optimize the facilities’ performance, so the use of available capacity can be maximized without risk to the IT equipment.

Not only will this make the existing data center more efficient, but delay the need to build a new facility until absolutely necessary, both of which are greener for the planet.

Tackling data center challenges for the future

Accelerating business, rising densities, and extensive energy consumption are all interlocking challenges that data center managers face.

While their existence isn’t going away, they can be effectively managed with a singular solution – physics-based simulation with a data center digital twin. Armed with this knowledge, managers should explore introducing the technology today to discover the benefits it could unlock for their facilities.

For more information, please visit the Cadence website.