White Paper: Predicitive DCIM

How short term operational decisions impact the return on capital investment in the data center

Compute capacity is the amount of IT equipment that is intended to be loaded in the data center typically expressed in terms of kW/sqft. This specification is the primary cost driver for the construction of the data center facility. Most data centers never achieve the compute capacity they were defined for and fall well short of a full return on the capital investment. The cost of this lost compute capacity dwarfs all other considerations for a data center owner/operator.

Often 30% or more of design compute capacity is lost in operation. On a global scale, out of 15.5 GW of available compute capacity, a minimum of 4.65 GW will go unutilized. At industry averages, this amounts to about 31 million square feet of wasted data center floor space and $70B of unrealized capital investment in the data center. The numbers are staggering.

Gartner has found that "70% of data center facilities have failed to meet their capacity requirements without some level of renovation, expansion or relocation." In an Uptime Institute survey of 21,000 data center operators, 54% of respondents ranked "data center capacity" as the driver for their long term approach to data center energy efficiency outweighing by far all other drivers.

Given the stakes, why isn't much being said about the elephant in the room? Because compute capacity losses are due to fragmentation of infrastructure resources - space, power, cooling and networking - that build slowly and unperceptively early in the data center life span. As resources fragment, the data center becomes less and less able to support the full, intended IT load. Only well into the operational life of the facility, when the margin on capacity has closed is the problem discovered. Lack of visibility and the delay between cause and effect conceal the elephant in the room: Lost Capacity.

This paper addresses the causes of lost compute capacity, the challenge of early detection and avoidance, the business impact, and proposes a way forward for data center operators to start reducing the effects.

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