Data center monitoring lessons for telecommunications firms
Wednesday, Jul 10th 2013

Telecommunications companies are increasingly utilizing data centers and digitized infrastructure, but these firms may not be operating their facilities as efficiently as possible because of an overall lack of data center monitoring, Light Reading contributor Dawn Bushaus wrote earlier this month.

Telecommunications companies have long relied upon copper wires, switchboards and other similar systems to provides their services to customers. However, due in part to the rise of the Internet and cellphones, this infrastructure is no longer sufficient to facilitate these interactions. As a result, consumers are increasingly using digital communication pathways. For example, a recent report from Infonetics Research predicted that the number of subscribers of mobile voice over Internet protocol rose 550 percent over the course of 2012, going from 640 million in 2012 to close to 1 billion by the end of this year.

"Each of us increasingly connects to the network via multiple devices in our always-on connected lifestyles," Suraj Shetty, Cisco's vice president of product and solutions marketing, said in May. "Whether by video phone calls, movies on tablets, web-enabled TVs, or desktop video conferencing, the sum of our actions not only creates demand for zettabytes of bandwidth, but also dramatically changes the network requirements needed to deliver on the expectations of this 'new normal'."

To accommodate this shift, telecommunications firms now have to further invest in data centers to power these new communication technologies. Their customers are further clamoring for these solutions, so telcos are making the necessary infrastructure upgrades to adopt to the times and meet rising end user demands.

Using data center monitoring to make telcos more efficient
However, just because telecommunications companies are increasingly building and utilizing data centers does not mean that they are maximizing their investment. In particular, Bushaus noted that major Internet companies are putting greater onus on energy efficiency and power usage effectiveness in their data centers, investing in alternative energy sources and other means to reduce the annual costs incurred by these facilities. However, this zeal is not yet shared by the telecommunications industry.

According to Bushaus, this lack of enthusiasm is a fatal flaw. Even if a company does not have the same resources as a company like Google to invest in green data center initiatives, taking a closer look at electricity usage and other data center monitoring variables could still yield enormous benefits. Armed with these metrics, companies could make sure that a data center is providing the best possible service to customers and is yielding the highest return on investment possible.

"Telcos can learn a lot from companies such as Facebook, eBay and Google," Bushaus wrote. "Even if they can't afford to build state-of-the-art data centers powered by renewable energy, they can take steps to figure out how much energy their existing data centers are consuming and make them more efficient."

Why telcos should embrace temperature monitoring
In particular, telecommunications firms may want to leverage state-of-the-art temperature monitoring equipment in their data center facilities. One of the biggest worries that data center managers have to deal with is the possibility of server rooms becoming too hot and causing hardware to break down. To avoid this potentially disastrous scenario, many companies keep their computer rooms at 55 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Energy Star.

However, considering that data center equipment can safely withstand temperatures of up to 80 degrees F, keeping the room at cooler temperature all the time means that the company may be spending more money than is necessary just to power the air conditioning unit. Energy Star reported that by raising the server temperature by 1 degree over 55 degrees, a facility can reduce its annual energy bills by up to 5 percent. Nevertheless, unless the telecommunications firm has at least one temperature sensor in place, it has no way of knowing if these kinds of savings are possible.