Difference between white space and gray space in data centers

Server room interior

Companies are becoming more and more technology oriented and getting dependent on IT for almost all of its operations. This has led to the growth in demand for data center services. As a result, the data center managers are faced with the challenges of optimum utilization of available data center space for improving the efficiency. One of the best approaches to deal with such challenges is to consolidate the white space and gray space in the data center to improve the operational capabilities.

First let us understand the difference between White space and Grey space in data centers:

White space in data center refers to the area where IT equipment are placed. Whereas Gray space in the data centers is the area where back-end infrastructure is located.

White Space includes housing of Grey Space includes space for
   
Servers Switch-gear
Storage UPS
Network Gear Transformers
Racks Chillers
Air conditioning Units Generators
Power Distribution system  

Below are few strategies to consolidate white space and gray space in order to improve data center operational efficiency and availability. These may relieve the burden for data center managers in an effective way.

White space efficiency techniques: To save usable space in data centers

  • Virtualization is the key to efficiency: Virtualization replaces a large number of less-efficient devices with a small number of highly efficient ones. It saves a lot of space in data centers. VMware and other virtualization management systems can be deployed to create a fully virtualized environment.
  • Leveraging cloud computing resources: Cloud is gaining popularity today as the organizations can lessen down the number of servers they have by using public cloud data centers which make use of the public internet to transfer data. Less number of servers means saving of space.
  • Data center capacity planning: Data center asset management tools help in estimation for power and servers requirement currently as well as in near future. It helps in optimal sizing of data centers, saving the wastage of space due to lack of planning.
  • Switch to SSDs: SSDs are faster, energy-efficient and they have no mechanical components. These are much more compact than the disk-based storage systems.

Gray Space efficiency techniques: to save space for storing infrastructure

Latest energy storage technology: Technologies like flywheels help in increasing the momentum of the machine. In cases of power fluctuations, the disk continues spinning because of this momentum, producing additional power which UPS uses as the emergency brief standby power. In a way, it reduces the number of batteries required for power supply which in turn saves space for storing them.