Networks Europe Issue 19 January/February 2019 - Page 35

PRECONFIGURED INFRASRTUCTURE By Oli Barrington, Managing Director United Kingdom & Ireland, R&M www.rdm. The definition of a data centre is has fragmented into multiple sub-definitions in recent years. Hyperscale, enterprise, modular, edge and micro are just a few examples. Each definition has emerged from new requirements, not only derived from how we use data, but also out of how we collect and disseminate it. The development of physical infrastructure solutions is fragmenting along with the definition of data centres. The needs of different ‘sub- species’ of data centres are becoming more diverse, and there’s a growing need to accommodate everything from purpose-built white space to locating compute assets in an automated factory and everything in between and beyond. The ‘one size fits all’ approach across product development is no longer suitable for today’s data centre landscape. The ways in which we house, connect, power, cool and manage systems in these different kinds of environments become more niche to each given application. Infrastructure providers have started to develop solutions for specific types of data centres. One example would be OCP for the hyperscale market. Preconfigured cabinets The concept of a cabinet pre-fitted with power, connectivity, cooling and management components before being shipped to the customer has been in the wings of data centre solution portfolios for several years. When physical infrastructure requirements were less diverse, and in many cases less specialised, this approach often seemed to be an expensive way of doing things. However, recent developments have resulted in a greater need for compute functions at the edge. The preconfigured cabinet has come of age. 35 Choosing preconfigured cabinet solutions for the evolving data centre Truly preconfigured cabinets are not just cabinets fitted with power, cooling, security and connectivity – the real value is in these infrastructure elements communicating with one another. The fire suppression system, for example, can communicate with the cabinet’s PDU’s, cooling and locking systems to provide a more effective, multi-layered response to fire. Preconfigured solutions make it possible to carry out work that can be done far better away from the customer site – and at a fraction of the cost – before shipment. This includes configuring services to communicate with one another, physical installation, ensuring components consume as little space as possible in the cabinet and ensuring control and communication cables are dressed unobtrusively, to name just a few examples. Many benefits of preconfigured cabinets are related to deployment and commissioning of services. This often requires multiple skills: electrical contractors, cabling engineers, IT personnel, HVAC engineers and more. As compute services are moved out to the edge the locations become less installation-friendly. In this case, it makes sense to carry out as much of this work as possible at a production or pre-staging facility, where personnel, tools and equipment are readily available. On-site work is minimised and deskilled, which reduces installation costs – and time. Choosing a solution When selecting preconfigured cabinets, it’s important to ensure that they suit the different environments in which edge computing is a requirement. In office spaces, for example, solutions must be aesthetically aligned with the room. In manufacturing facilities, cabinets must protect