Planning Ahead: Data Centers and Ensuring Business Continuity

Companies have invested a lot of resources in the theme of digital transformation for several reasons: to become faster, explore new ways of doing business and to access their customers, automate processes, and others. On the other hand, this also increases dependence on IT systems.

The 2020 pandemic has shown us that we increasingly need to be prepared for the unexpected. The best way to face the unexpected is to think and plan ahead. Therefore, in IT environments, technology and data centers need to work on concepts of increased availability, resilience, and disaster recovery in their design phase so that business continuity is not affected when the unexpected knocks on our door.

Recently, standards, certifications, companies, solutions and professionals dedicated to developing the theme of increasing availability in IT systems and data centers have emerged. As an example, I can cite the Uptime certification for mission-critical environments that classifies projects and operations at levels of redundancy and availability.

Manufacturers like Furukawa have developed solutions and programs for their customers that address the theme of high availability from project design through to operation. Obviously, the market has chosen to adopt solutions that are adherent to this theme and that are resilient when unexpected problems occur.

I often say it’s very difficult to have fail-safe systems. Therefore, it is important to be prepared for as many problems as possible and still be able to cope with failures quickly and with ease. Nowadays even systems that are part of physical segments and network infrastructure have provided tools and solutions that contribute to the rapid recognition of failures and unexpected operations. Ordinary actions, such as a simple maneuver of an optical cable can be monitored and a very large problem can be avoided with the use of these devices.

The issue of cybersecurity and hackers has also become a point of attention. The problem has plagued IT system managers and when these problems happen, they are directly linked to large financial losses and to the image of companies.

Because most services are in the cloud or depend on it for their operation, it is important that we keep it connected from an infrastructure perspective. Based on this view, we can say that the cloud is a set of points connected globally by a network of optical cables, satellites and others. These points scattered around the planet are the data centers and in this intricate network is where the cloud, the data transport and the services work.

It is important for all these points to be connected with homogeneous performance, so that problems arising from performance mismatch and increased delays and failures are minimized. Three factors are important for maintaining network performance: increasing speed and availability and reducing latency.

As already mentioned, prior assessment of the design and topology helps to increase availability of the system, foreseeing alternative routes, applications and types of transmission. Choosing the right fibers and cables as well as the quantity directly impacts speed and latency, because optical interface options that can be directly connected reduce the possibility of delays due to electronics and processing. Flexibly designed systems give the operator a variety of options to respond quickly to changes without harming services.

When seeking to homogenize cloud performance, it means that these variables should be matched as much as possible both within the data center (intra-datacenter) and on the connections between them (inter-datacenter). Transport networks and DCI (datacenter interconnect) and internal networks with very different performances harm the cloud as a whole, as everything is interconnected.

The corporate world is increasingly challenged to evolve with speed and agility to adapt to business needs and meet growing consumer demand. Along this path, good data management will be essential, as it will allow anticipating trends and detecting business opportunities.

“In recent years there has been an unprecedented increase in information traffic that has been demanding, not only reliable connectivity networks, but also greater storage, response, and management capacity in data centers. This new reality requires investments in infrastructure prepared for data transmission, protection, and maintenance, with high availability as close as possible to 100 percent,” explains a      Furukawa specialist.

The data center plays a vital role in responding to the demand for high-value-added services, availability, processing, and storage of large-scale digital data required by hyperconnectivity, especially since the pandemic. That is why scaling IT infrastructure is a great opportunity to reduce operating expenses, streamline processes and become more efficient and reliable every day even though it’s a challenge for organizations, but one that definitely pays off when overcome.

In conclusion, the issue of increased availability should be addressed right away in the design phase. Dealing with this issue in a system that´s already in operation will certainly cost more and require many more resources.