The “data-center-in-a-box” concept is becoming reality as data center operators look for solutions that are easily replicated, scaled and deployed following a just-in-time methodology.

Rack scale design is a modular, efficient design approach that supports this desire for easier-to-manage compute and storage solutions. 

What is Rack Scale Design?

Rack scale design solutions serve as the building blocks of a new data center methodology that incorporates a software-defined, hyper-converged management system within a concentrated, single rack solution. In essence, rack scale design is a design approach that supports hyper-convergence.

Rack scale design is changing the data center environment. Read on to discover how the move to a hyper-converged, software-defined environment came about; its pros and cons; the effects on the data center infrastructure; and where rack scale design solutions are headed.

What is Hyper-Convergence?

Two years ago, the term “hyper-convergence” meant nothing in our industry. By 2019, however, hyper-convergence is expected to be a $5 billion market.

Offering a centralized approach to organizing data center infrastructure, hyper-convergence can collapse compute, storage, virtualization and networking into one SKU, adding a software-defined layer to manage data, software and physical infrastructure. Based on software and/or appliances, or supplied with commodity-based servers, hyper-convergence places compute, storage and networking into one package or “physical container” to create a virtualized data center.

Make the Most of Data Center Space without OversizingDemand is Increasing

Data volume is growing exponentially, as digital buildings and IoT continue to permeate the market. With new software and applications being developed at much faster speeds to support these developments, businesses need to scale quickly (or shrink quickly) in response to market demand.

In turn, IT is tasked with supporting this increasing demand with its infrastructure. To keep up with these changes, IT is doing more with less – lower budgets and fewer staff resources, just to name a few. Hyper-convergence can reduce the demand placed on IT staff by allowing them to manage compute and storage systems all in one device. It can also support edge data centers, which require highly flexible systems to satisfy the increasing demands of social media, broadcast and streaming requirements.

Benefits of Rack Scale Design

Hyper-convergence, supported through rack scale design, offers many benefits to data center managers:

  • Reduced ROI. Instead of forecasting storage requirements for a storage-area network (SAN), teams can implement a hyper-converged solution and “turn on” a new system whenever it’s needed instead of designing, building and managing a static storage system that offers limited capacity.
  • Easier Implementation. End-users can streamline work processes and timelines by working with one vendor that packages software, hardware and management systems into one offering.
  • Reduced Operating Costs. By decreasing the overall size and power/cooling requirements of a data center, monthly operating costs may be lower; however, it’s important to note that individual rack power density may increase in a hyper-converged environment that uses a rack scale design.
  • Streamlined Support. The IT support team can manage fewer resources and spend its valuable time on other pressing issues.

Potential Challenges of Rack Scale Design

As with any data center solution, there are also a few challenges to consider with rack scale design:

  • Reliability. Depending on service-level agreements (SLAs) and uptime requirements, end-users still need to develop a redundant model. This may require replication of rack scale/hyper-converged systems, increasing capital expenses and reducing overall operating expenses – ultimately lowering ROI.
  • Increased Risk. Although there are benefits associated with relying on one vendor for software and hardware, there are risks as well – especially if the vendor relationship doesn’t last, or if there are problems along the way. Innovative, custom solutions could also be hindered by a single vendor’s rigid compute, storage, power and cooling requirements.
  • Capacity Issues. In legacy facilities, existing power, cooling and connectivity systems may not have the sufficient capacity or redundancy to accommodate a rack scale design solution.

Bringing Rack Scale Design to Life

Rack scale design solutions using a hyper-converged, software-defined data center philosophy are turning the data center environment upside down. They affect not only technology hardware and software solutions vendors, but also the physical data center. Due to hyper-convergence and rack scale design, the data center of tomorrow will look very different.

Belden can provide the foundation and structure for a rack scale design that helps enterprise data centers resourcefully combine critical infrastructure. Stay tuned for the next blog in this hyper-convergence series, where we’ll discuss how rack scale design will drive future data center design and configuration. Subscribe to our blogs now so you don’t miss it!