Three data center questions that administrators are afraid to ask

Every administrator has a question about their data center or IT roadmap that they're afraid to ask. On April 1, we answer three such questions.

IT experts have a wealth of knowledge on topics from server consolidation to the best location for new facilities. But there are some data center questions that admins haven't asked. And the answers may surprise you.

Does my server think I'm sexy?

Server admins are attracted to different models for different reasons. Maybe you like a substantial, powerful server that can be tailored to your application's exact needs, while your buddy in development just wants a simple all-around server that can spin up new virtual machines with each project. But have you ever asked if your server is attracted to you?

Studies show that a server will hit higher utilization rates if it has a crush on its admin. With today's server admins taking care of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of servers at a time, it can be a lot harder to establish that critical bond. Here are a few tips.

Always give your servers a friendly name that flatters. BigBertha201 isn't going to endear you to the Web server, even if it does carry a lot of extra processors.

Play romantic music in the server room, and dim the lights.

Always remember important holidays, and buy your server a card. A memory card, preferably. Be sure to find out your server's preferred interface first: SATA, SAS or PCIe.

Will global warming hurt Linux adoption?

Linux is the base for many distributions of open-source operating systems created exclusively by penguins, which is where the penguin logo originated. Penguins live on the polar ice in Antarctica. As the climate warms, this ice melts. If we lose the penguins, we lose Linux, with the exception of a few distributions that are built by ghosts wearing hats and by warm-weather lizards.

Some speculate that Microsoft Windows, another popular choice for server operating systems, were left open all winter long, pouring hot air out into the atmosphere.

Which saves more energy: Plein-aire or underwater data centers?

Cutting-edge data centers are adopting submerged server racks, but bringing the whole data center underwater is the next level. The drawbacks? Investing in scuba suits and diving lessons for all of the administrators who need access to servers, storage arrays and other pieces of equipment. If you're going underwater, now's the time to invest in automation and remote management. The reward? High security, nonexistent cooling bills and -- if you manage the facility correctly -- a beautiful coral reef that naturally grows on mainframes.

But what if you want to move into a private, hybrid or public cloud infrastructure? Plein-aire data centers take away all the boundaries of walls, ceilings and facility overhead, making clouds readily accessible to your existing compute footprint. You might be concerned about cooling a plein-aire data center, especially in hot, sunny climates. Site selection for high wind speeds is key, and you should price out white cabinet options that will reflect, rather than absorb, the sun's heat.

And if you've made it this far, I hope you've taken copious notes. Because the most important tip I can give you is to laugh at least once a day.

April Fools'!

This was first published in April 2014

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