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  • State of the Data Center: 2011

    In early 2011, SearchDataCenter.com released the Data Center Decisions 2011 survey to gauge trends and understand the factors that influence data center evolution in today's enterprise. We received more than 1,000 responses from IT professionals spanning numerous roles within the enterprise. In this special report series, we analyze what this data means and take a look at how the numbers compare to our 2010 findings. The articles in our State of the Data Center: 2011 report series examine several facets of data center design and management to identify interesting trends and surprising revelations about the state of IT operations across many industries.

  • Hot summer reads: From systems management to server hardware

    The summer sun has a way of distracting us from daily routines. For some, it’s the perfect time to take a vacation. For others, it’s a great opportunity to get some serious work done without all the day-to-day distractions. Whatever your style, chances are you may have missed a few of these essential tips. They cover a range of topics, from buying an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) to a mainframe expert’s analysis of the IBM and zPrime lawsuit. Before the weather turns colder, shake off your vacation slump and take another look at our best content from this summer. We’ve broken it down into three categories—systems management tools and analysis, data center server hardware and systems, and data center planning—to help you find what you are looking for. Whether you were out catching some rays or had your head buried deep in a summer project, these hot topics are worth catching up on.

  • Understanding server form factors: A guide to rackmount and blade servers

    As more data centers look to purchase new servers–often after long delays in refresh cycles–budget constraints and changing technologies mean purchasing decisions have become even more difficult. Sifting through the myriad of options and weighing the pros and cons of rackmount servers versus blade servers can complicate that decision. Today, IT professionals are taking a closer look at which servers are right for them and kicking an old trend of making purchasing decisions based on a previous relationship with the manufacturer. At a time when many shops are being asked to do more with less, it is now reliability and price that most influence a server purchasing decision. This guide to understanding server form factors can help cut through the hype and let IT professionals find the server that fits their budget and their needs.

  • Hardware upgrade and server refresh guide

    Selecting the right hardware directly affects the health and success of the overall business, so administrators should take the time to review their options and select systems that fit their business needs. But sometimes a hardware refresh isn’t that simple. Today, tight budgets and aggressive energy conservation initiatives have thrown a wrench into server refresh schedules in many organizations, leaving IT pros wondering how older server hardware will hold up over time. In this guide, we address several important aspects of the server hardware refresh process, including how to decide when it’s time to replace a server and how to get more out of hardware upgrade. We even offer advice for negotiating vendor contracts.

  • Server performance and benchmark testing guide

    Today’s servers are expensive, high performance machines. So, getting the most out of those machines and keeping them running smoothly is critical to maximizing their value. However, maintaining high levels of server performance and keeping up with growing computing demands doesn’t happen on its own. Tracking performance and making the most of hardware resources is an ongoing process that can keep data center administrators busy. But, there are ways IT professionals can simplify server management while maintaining top performance. Benchmark testing can help administrators monitor server resources, manage utilization, optimize performance and even identify problems before they occur. Simple server configuration tweaks can squeeze more performance out of both physical and virtual machines (VMs). This guide will cover best practices for benchmark testing and includes valuable tips from our data center experts on how to improve server performance.

  • SearchDataCenter's 2011 Products of the Year awards

    Every year brings new hardware and software that pushes the boundaries of what’s possible in terms of data center efficiency and performance. New technologies bring innovation and cost savings. And when implemented properly, new technologies can provide strategic and competitive opportunities or offer technical alternatives that might not have existed before. But products change rapidly and it can be difficult for busy IT professionals to keep up.

    There is a lot at stake when choosing products for a live data center environment. New products are often costly and challenging to deploy. Picking the right hardware and software can be the difference between IT perceived as a burdensome line item on a corporate balance sheet, and IT seen as an innovative and cost-effective business partner. It can be tough to cut through the hype, and even experienced data center professionals need help identifying the best products for their next refresh cycle.

    SearchDataCenter.com’s annual Products of the Year awards evaluate these products on a variety of important criteria, and award gold, silver and bronze winners in each of the three categories: infrastructure, systems management and computing hardware.

    For the past several weeks our independent judges have been poring over the dozens of submissions we received for our 2011 Products of the Year awards. In December, they narrowed down the entries to the top eight finalists in each category. Picking winners among such a strong crop of entries was no easy task, but our judges burned the midnight oil and chose the very best that the IT industry has to offer. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone who took the time to submit a product nomination!

  • Using hardware resources to maximize virtualization performance

    In today’s data center, IT administrators need their feet firmly planted in both the virtual and physical world. The advantages of virtualization — energy efficiency, adding space to cramped server rooms, workload flexibility — are clear. While modern hypervisors make creating multiple virtual machines on a single server a straightforward process, how do you avoid the big hurdles to maximize virtualization performance? This guide shares the tips from our experts that every IT professional should heed when making the virtual leap.

  • Data center systems and server technology collection

    There is no constant with server technology. The boundaries are constantly being pushed out as innovation marches on. Manufacturers push past the limits on a regular basis, fitting more processing power and memory into smaller, more efficient packages. Keeping on top of the rapidly changing server technology world and industry best practices is difficult at best. Purchasing decisions can be particularly agonizing, especially when an organization needs hardware that fits its computing demands without busting its budget. But we’re here to make sense of it all. We’ve assembled a collection of educational guides focused on server technology to help you make informed purchasing decisions, track and improve the performance of existing systems and manage complex virtual deployments.

  • How to navigate the SLA process

    Economic necessities require more companies to loosen the reins and put their applications, equipment — and trust — in the hands of a data center facility provider. Now more than ever outside services are part of the fabric of your company. How do you take steps to protect yourself in these arrangements?

    As part of the master agreement, service-level agreements (SLAs) outline the scope and cement the terms of your deal, but not all SLAs are created equal. Reading the fine print and scouting out the terrain will help you hammer out a contract that will ensure you receive the level of service your business needs.

  • Guide to smart power and energy in the data center

    Think about all the devices that make up your data center. What would they be without power? Scrap metal! Innovations come a mile a minute for many areas of data center design and technology, but one thing remains constant: You’ve got to power your machines and the accountants want you to do it as cheaply as possible.

    Power consumption accounts for a large portion of most companies’ operating costs so it’s important to factor that in when planning a build or updating an existing one. Unfortunately, there’s not one single thing you can do to achieve smart power consumption. Do you go with alternate power sources or do you try to reduce consumption of the current source? How do you keep track of your data center’s performance so energy costs stay low?

    Every situation is different but the team at SearchDataCenter.com has compiled this guide to power and energy in the data center.

  • Guide to mainframe performance

    Business demands have mainframe administrators using whatever techniques they have in their arsenal to maximize performance. Planning, modernizing and managing can help you stay current in your data center.

  • Guide to improving data center cooling efficiency

    Electronic equipment performs better in a cool environment, and though data centers can run at higher temperatures now, cooling is still required. A large part of an enterprise's budget is taken up with cooling costs so it's important to get data center cooling efficiency going early in the design process. Ultimately, the solution must be tailored to individual data center needs.

  • Guide to IT operations outsourcing

    The idea of outsourcing IT operations isn't new. As the need for handling big data grows, it may gain traction and make inroads to new industries. From small IT shops to large, running an in-house data center may be more work than an enterprise wants to handle. While moving some of your IT shop's operations can be a money and time-saver, there are things to look for when choosing an outsourcing vendor.

  • The data center guide to 'big data'

    Many enterprises use "big data" to guide business decisions, but what does it mean from the perspective of data center personnel? This guide helps systems administrators wrap their arms around common issues as they wrestle with the enormous size of big data.

  • Guide to choosing a colo or on-site data center

    When you have to decide between colocation services and building your own data center, ask yourself these questions: How many servers will you need? How much mission-critical data will you be running through those servers? Are there regulations associated with your business's data? If you're still not sure, consider the cost.

    New construction means a lot of capital investment, but it does allow full control of all aspects of the data center from design to completion. With a colocation (colo), you might save on costs at the expense of complete control. But will a colo be the right fit for your business needs? Learn more about each option in this quick guide.

  • Modern Infrastructure Decisions conference coverage

    In today's cutting-edge IT industry, IT pros are faced with challenges and decisions of an evolving market. Modern Infrastructure Decisions, in its premier one-day summit, will help IT pros navigate the changing tides in the technology industry, such as the evolution of cloud computing and consumerization, while building effective enterprise data centers. The Modern Infrastructure Decisions conference brings together IT experts and top vendors to dispense their insights and guidance to attendees looking to keep their IT infrastructure changing with the times.

  • Guide to modern methods for cooling data centers

    Every business has different requirements for its data center. IT administrators have to weigh all the variables to find the right balance of agility, scalability and environmental friendliness -- all while staying under budget. It's also important to explore the most efficient, cost-effective methods for cooling data centers.

    How do you decide what's good for your current needs, and what decisions are you making that will align with future data center upgrades? The cooling landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. This guide will assist you in your efforts to future-proof your data center and reduce your cooling costs now.

  • Quick guide to data center storage architecture

    The cooling infrastructure, servers and networking aren't the only places that need careful planning and thought. An enterprise must consider the type of data center storage architecture when buying new or upgrading storage.

    A shop that runs on virtual servers may benefit from a different storage setup than a shop with traditional servers.

  • A look inside the DevOps movement

    The DevOps movement has steadily gained traction among IT professionals. DevOps engineers looking for work don't have to look too hard; a quick scan on one job site turned up more than 300 listings. But what does a DevOps job entail?

    People fluent in DevOps have skills in both application development and systems operations to help push releases quickly. DevOps is also a philosophy to bridge communications gaps between groups. This guide details the varied aspects of the DevOps movement.