Powering the Future of Data Centres

Asia Outlook (AsO): Could you talk me through a brief history of Emerson Network Power, its core services and how the company has evolved over the years in Malaysia?

Hitesh Prajapati (HP): Emerson Network Power - a business of Fortune 500 Company, Emerson - is a global technology company that delivers software, hardware, and services for data centres, telecom, healthcare, and industrial facilities. We are a trusted industry leader in smart infrastructure technologies, providing innovative solutions that maximise the efficiency, capacity and availability of critical infrastructure, and ensuring business-critical continuity.

Emerson Network Power (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd has been in Malaysia since 1985, and throughout the years, we have been developing industry-leading solutions to address our customers’ critical infrastructure needs. We have highly-skilled technical and sales teams ready to address customer requirements.

In our 30 years in the Malaysian market, Emerson Network Power has established itself as a leading critical infrastructure provider in the country. We have handled hundreds of projects, from small and medium sized organisations to large enterprise businesses. These customers are varied and come from the fields of telecommunications, healthcare, education, banking and finance, manufacturing, and various other collocation and internet data centre facilities.

Our services are delivered through our Centres of Expertise – distinct areas of world-class products and services that help customers determine what they need and where. 

AsO: Malaysia’s leading data centre player, AIMS is one of your key business partnerships in the region: what are the key benefits that stem from this relationship?

HP: AIMS and Emerson Network Power share a long-standing and strong working relationship. AIMS first approached Emerson in 2005, when it decided to give its 10-year old data centre facility a major upgrade. Emerson Network Power stepped in and provided AIMS with a full-suite of data centre solution which made its data centre build more efficient, allowing AIMS to achieve ROI within 18 to 24 months and reduce energy consumption costs by 20 percent.

The above project was only a start. AIMS once again approached Emerson for its latest data centre build. As with the previous project, Emerson Network Power provided AIMS with its full suite of best-in-class solutions, making it resilient and scalable to meet future demands. The new data centre build enabling it to accommodate customer demands and requirements.

AsO: I understand that a key strategy of Emerson Network Power’s at present revolves around the ‘2025 data centre’?

HP: Emerson Network Power conducted the ‘Data Centre 2025’ global survey last year, which is an industry-wide initiative that gathered thought leaders from all corners of the data centre industry in order to explore potential visions for t​he data centre of the future. Emerson Network Power invited those who work with data centres – directly and indirectly – to participate by taking a survey or by sharing their thoughts in freeform.  More than 800 professionals from around the world took the survey and dozens more participated via email, interviews and videos. 

The results of the survey range from the expected—increased utilisation of the cloud—to the ambitious—largely solar-powered data centres with power densities exceeding 50 kW per rack. One thing was clear: Most experts believe the data centre as we know it will undergo massive changes over the next decade.

Experts predict density in 2025 will climb to 52 kW per rack. According to the Data Centre Users’ Group™ sponsored by Emerson Network Power, average density has remained relatively flat since peaking around six kW nearly a decade ago, but experts are anticipating a dramatic upswing in density that could radically change the physical environment of the data centre.

AsO: What key data centre trends are you monitoring in general within the industry at present and what do you feel needs to be done to adapt and capitalise on these?

HP: Emerson Network Power has identified the following six data centre trends for 2015. These trends are a response to dynamic market conditions, prompting data centre operators to seek ways to act as quickly and efficiently as possible:

Cloud comes of age – Cloud computing has become established in the data centre ecosystem as most organisations already use some form of software-as-a-service (SaaS). Now cloud is poised to expand from that foothold and become an engine of innovation. Forward-thinking organisations are combining cloud-based services such as analytics, collaboration, and communication to better understand their customers and bring new products and services to market faster.

The result is that a growing number of organisations will be managing hybrid environments in which on-premise IT resources are supplemented with strategic use of cloud and collocation services to enhance utilisation, resiliency and flexibility.  Cloud providers must demonstrate the ability to scale quickly while consistently meeting service level agreements, in order to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment. Cloud providers will drive innovation in the industry as they adopt technologies and practices that achieve high reliability at the lowest possible cost.

Integration extends its reach –With rapid changes in many markets being driven by innovation, digitisation and mobility, the need for speed that integration and convergence delivers is greater than ever. As a result, integration and convergence has expanded beyond the IT stack to the systems that support that stack.

Most notably, data centre facilities are now being designed and constructed from integrated, prefabricated modules. This new approach to facility development has enabled organisations, such as Facebook, to develop fully customised, high performance data centres in 30 percent less time than it took using traditional construction processes. Combining the attributes of fast deployment, inherent scalability and excellent performance, this approach is becoming an attractive alternative for supporting additional IT capacity.

Convergence goes macro – The telecommunications and IT industries are moving closer together as voice and data services are now routinely consumed on the same device. In fact, more than half of the participants in the Data Centre 2025 project predicted that at least 60 percent of telecommunications network facilities will be data centres by 2025, and 79 percent expect at least half of telecommunications companies to make collocation facilities part of their networks.

This convergence will drive more standardisation in the technologies used to support voice and data services and break down the silos that have traditionally existed between these two critical functions.

Software paves the way for more software – virtualisation marked one of the most significant trends in the data centre industry in the last twenty years. The impact of this development will continue to drive change for the foreseeable future as virtualisation extends beyond computing to networking and storage. One of the key challenges in this virtual revolution is going to be hardware management. Most organisations lack the visibility to manage virtual and physical systems in concert, and that gap must be closed to pave the way for the software-defined data centre. Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM) has emerged to fill this gap and early adopters are proving its value: data centres with DCIM recover from outages 85 percent faster than those without it, according to a 2013 study of data centre outages by the Ponemon Institute.

The edge gets stronger – After years of consolidation and centralisation, IT organisations are turning their attention to the edge of the network to improve interactions with customers and applications. As organisations grow their use of analytics, location-based services, and personalised content, edge of network facilities will become critical in achieving competitive advantage.

Capitalising on this opportunity will require standard, intelligent and high availability infrastructure deployed close to users. Enterprises that don’t address the networking issues related to the edge will find themselves unable to keep pace with the explosive growth in network traffic.

Security becomes the new availability – When it comes to risk mitigation, data centre managers have long had a singular focus: prevent downtime. Downtime hasn’t become any less of a risk, but a new threat has emerged in the form of cyber security. When one of the highest profile security breaches in the past 18 months was traced back to the HVAC system, data centre managers and IT security specialists took notice.

Increasingly, data centre and facility managers will have to work with their IT security teams to audit the technology and software of data centre equipment to ensure security and evaluate the security practices of the contractors and service providers that have access to that equipment.

AsO: Looking forward, how do you see data centre infrastructure evolving within the sector, and what steps are Emerson Network Power taking to keep ahead of the industry curve?

HP: The data centre as we know it is expected to evolve through the years to cope with changing capacity demands brought by ICT innovations like the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, big data, and virtualisation. As a result, today’s data centre manager is challenged by a wide array of data centre objectives—including capacity, availability, efficiency and performance—while adhering to budgetary limitations.

How IT departments approach their physical infrastructure strategies can affect their effectiveness in balancing these objectives as technologies and business requirements change. To address these demands, countless IT departments have refocused their approaches to data centre management to maximise efficiencies in infrastructure design/deployment, operations, management and planning. For these new strategies to be successful, a number of fundamental best practices must be observed.

While conventional approaches to data centre infrastructure design are also based on best practices and are effective in balancing efficiency and availability, for larger spaces requiring greater customisation, they can also be resource intensive. Some vendors have introduced new solutions that employ “integrated” infrastructure architectures in a variety of configurations to address organisations’ unique business needs while increasing efficiency, ensuring availability and reducing cost of deployment or ownership. These integrated solutions are modular and scalable and designed to be quickly implemented, often in spaces without existing IT infrastructure.

These integrated solutions—ranging from single row deployments to modular data centre enclosures—are preconfigured with power, precision cooling and management infrastructures in accordance with design best practices and optimised for the efficiency and availability needs of today’s data centre managers.

Emerson Network Power is one of the leading providers of integrated modular solutions in Asia. We have designed and deployed key solutions for the NBN project in Australia, Globe Telecom, in the Philippines, and Ooredoo in Myanmar. These integrated modular solutions are purpose built and designed for rapid deployment in far-flung areas, and are built to withstand even the harshest environments.