Room to RoamFolks are you feeling just a little squeezed lately? Have your hot and cold aisles merged to become “balmy”? Did the guy you sent to swap out a server last year ever return? Does your raised floor resemble a scene from that show, “Hoarders”—without, of course, someone finding that mummified cat or the remains of a five-year-old Big Mac. If you answered “yes” to any one of these questions you’ve got a bit of a capacity problem—if the affirmative was your response to all four, you’ve got issues that can’t be addressed in a single blog. What I’m talking about here people is space, and for many of you it’s a critical element lacking in your data center.

The whole issue of available data center capacity has been with us since some guy at IBM decided that the best environment for the mainframe’s great-grandfather was a special room whose most distinguishing characteristic was a temperature slightly north of “meat locker”. There just never seems to be enough raised floor area in your data center. It’s kind of like that old phrase that says, “you can never be too skinny or too rich”. In data center parlance this translates into “you can never have too much space or kW”. Not quite as catchy, but true nonetheless.

As we all know, these special challenges manifest themselves in different ways. Certainly migrations are an issue. When things in your data center are tighter than a fat lady’s girdle, you are going to have to shut down and remove equipment to make room for their new replacements as opposed to staging the new gear in one area of the raised floor and smoothly cutting over from the old equipment to the new configuration. The lack of space may also limit your ability to add applications or require you to incur the expense of adding new capacity before you had planned. Even in a virtualized environment, when you’re out of room, you’re out of room.

In the near future the physical space within data centers may become an even greater issue. 451 Research currently predicts that lower density applications will come to dominate the data center. Obviously, this trend won’t result in facilities packed tighter than a New York subway car at 5:00 on a Tuesday, but it will lead to your racks being laid out over larger swathes of your raised floor thereby maxing out your physical space in leaps and bounds rather than baby steps.

So what does this mean for the erstwhile prospective data center end user? Fortunately, special considerations don’t necessarily mean that your need a larger raised floor area. In this case, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. What is does mean is that your raised floor must provide the flexibility to support a variety of layout options and high and low-density applications. Essentially, in the area of raised floor capacity, the fundamental choice becomes one of flexibility versus physical size.

Overcrowding of anything tends to lead to negative effects. If you remember of those experiments that you learned about in psychology class where they put too many rats in a cage you know what I’m talking about. Your data center is no different. When it comes to available space, everybody likes a little room to roam.

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