The Role of Wireless Technologies in the Data Centre Industry

It’s is difficult to fully gauge how the data centre community views the introduction of wireless technologies, it would probably be fair to say that at the moment opinion is pretty divided on this particular issue. On the one hand there is a high level of scepticism particularly around the perceived issues surrounding security with wireless technology, businesses want an assurance that the sensitivity of both their data and that of their customer isn’t, (a) going to fall into wrong hands, or (b) get lost out there in the ether failing to reach its designated destination.

Some view wireless applications as being suspect under certain conditions, where a loss of signal leads to a loss of data. So for sections of the data centre industry wireless will continue to create major concerns until total confidence is proven with the operating of wireless technologies.

There are those however who would argue that wireless technologies do have a strong role to play particularly where there are constraints in the data centre, these include aspects such as:

  • There are those who believe that it will help to reduce the constant physical constraints that some data centres are battling against with ever changing business demands and continual technology advances.
  • Another major consideration is the ROI (Return on Investment) and subsequent TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of wireless based technology against the wire based applications over their projected lifecycle.
  • Mobility is another key consideration that wireless applications could provide much needed support with providing flexibility through quicker deployment to support infrastructure changes.
  • For some the introduction of wireless technologies may present another way to reduce the demand for constant wire based installation requirements. Which for many has caused considerable adverse impacts with filling the floor voids with present and legacy cabling infrastructure and thereby dramatically reducing the effectiveness of the air based cooling systems.

Regardless of particular views and research, new wireless products are regularly being announced and the indications are that there will be significant opportunities for wireless technology to play a major part with the measuring and monitoring of the main energy use systems within the data centre. This is likely to raise considerable interest as energy efficiency is now at the forefront of the data centre industry as everyone strives to meet Energy Efficiency targets whilst also aiming to reduce their respective operating costs, but still being capable of meeting the desired Business Needs.

A well-publicised example is the introduction of wireless sensor networks that can be utilised to provide quality energy efficiency measuring and monitoring capabilities creating an accurate understanding of the operating parameters of the cooling systems.

This has encouraged some data centres to forge forward to deploy wireless into their data centres, will high levels of reported success. It should be pointed out that the wireless applications being deployed into data centre environments are not the suspect applications you regularly encounter in hotels and coffee establishments around the UK. Companies such as WiMax can offer a wireless option that has encryption built in, along with its short range and high-speed ability to carry hefty data rates.

However despite wireless applications being available at present, wireless deployments in data centres today are relatively minimal and analysts have advised businesses to be cautious, wait and see what happens with coverage and technology costs in the future. So time will tell but it is still early to dismiss the concept of wireless applications, further reports detailing whether wireless deployments have failed or been successful will ultimately shape how the data centre industry will view the longevity of wireless.

Posted: 6/03/2013 11:04 AM