Lights Out Data Centers Explained

November 20, 2020

If you hear about a data center “going dark,” you may assume it’s because of an unintended outage. However, in recent months, data center experts have been discussing whether a lights out approach to data center management is the future. Due to the global pandemic, organizations are seeking ways to safely and efficiently control the data center environment. That means fewer visits to the premises where the computing and storage units are housed.

What Is a Lights Out Data Center?

A lights out data center is an isolated computing or server room that is managed remotely and keeps human access to a bare minimum. Lights out data centers can also be referred to as a dark or darkened data center.

Without humans in the data center, server management primarily becomes leveraging secure and reliable remote access systems. A geographically separated data center can function just as efficiently as a traditional, on-site location, as long as the right control optimizations are made.

What Makes a Lights Out Data Center More Energy-Efficient

With the data center closed from most activities, the lights stay off and all entryways remain shut, keeping the proper temperature stable for longer. This type of climate-controlled environment removes the slightest fluctuations in cooling and humidity, preserving the equipment. Sensors and programs handle the monitoring and help sustain optimal conditions. If you’re looking for ways to save energy and spend for your data center, going dark can provide extra resources for IT and other branches of your organization.

Do Darkened Data Centers Save Money?

Significant planning has to go into configuring a darkened data center. However, that investment goes into limiting human error, one of the costliest mistakes a data center can face. This issue happens more often than some organizations realize — in fact, human error is often a top source of unplanned data center outages.

The more often people travel in and out of the server rooms, the greater chance of a cable or power cord being stepped on or pulled loose by accident. Utilizing remote access hardware and resource management software makes it possible to conduct day-to-day data center operations from a nearby cubicle or a work-from-home office.

Will My Data Center Be More Secure?

When the physical data center is open, there’s a risk of server tampering, damage or memory theft. Lights out data centers provide fewer opportunities for direct data breaches, and this minimized risk can lower insurance costs as a result.

Cybersecurity is still crucial for remote data centers. IT administrators must maintain a thorough contingency plan and oversee measures that monitor for outside digital intrusions. Despite how much of the data center operations could be hands-off, there should still be a system that initiates updates and administers patches.

How Can You Implement Lights Out Operation for Your Data Center?

Until robotics can reliably swap servers and other IT components with little to no human input, workers will need occasional access to the server room. So what other innovations are driving remote data center management?

We can expect cloud migration and colocation to rise in priority for businesses looking to process and store their data off-premises and reduce the computing architecture they have to power. This will also trim the volume of equipment that employees will have to support.

IT vendors should prepare to step up their offerings for smarter remote access technologies. Virtualized server management products like KVM over IP allow for remote control of servers connected to a switch. Other technologies can measure power consumption throughout different points in the infrastructure and conduct performance benchmarking. Paired with a remote-capable DCIM, this layout helps technicians govern the energy distribution from abroad and lets them receive automated alerts to intervene when necessary.

As data-driven industries learn to adapt to a post-COVID-19 world, we’ll likely see new and improved technologies contributing to the evolution toward truly autonomous data center operations. Large server sites managed by AI instead of humans might become a reality sooner than we thought.

Choose DataSpan for Your Data Center Consulting Needs

As you consider changes and improvements for your organization’s data center, it’s important to ensure your plans are feasible and beneficial to your bottom line. The experts at DataSpan can help manage your data sites through state-of-the-art products and services, supporting your strategy and business operations. Our best-in-class solutions include customized IT infrastructure and cloud management consulting.

Learn more about partnering with DataSpan by contacting us online or finding a representative in your area today.