A brief history

Developments over the last two decades have brought with them enormous changes in our society and our economy.  Methods of communications and the exchange of information have been turned completely upside down. One example of this is the shift from the letter to the telefax to the e-mail. The transfer of data is becoming increasingly simple and swift. The role of the Internet is growing from one day to the next. This is also reflected in the fact that even senior citizens and retired people are familiarising themselves with such new technology as the Internet, e-mail and mobile phones.

The business world has recognised the potential offered by electronic data processing and communications and has taken it on board without lengthy consideration. In the early days, hardware and software were scarcely affordable and only large firms, insurance companies and banks could afford to purchase them. But the heralded development in the sphere of IT and EDP was unstoppable and it advanced at an ever more rapid pace. As prices plummeted, demand extended to the entire business world, as well as the private sphere, and nowadays there is hardly an enterprise that does not use the new information technology in some way.

This also gave rise to a high degree of dependence - something that is greatly underestimated by many individuals and companies. Many people are not aware of this dependence or ignore the consequences that might result in the event of loss of data, power failure, or even a natural disaster. Assessing risks is something that many people do not pay much attention to.

IT security, viruses, hackers, worms and spam are all buzzwords that regularly appear in the press and are debated in detail. Whenever in the business world a virus causes damage totalling millions or even billions of dollars, it sensitises us to the enormity of the problem and forces us to ask ourselves: Is my system adequately protected?

However, when natural disasters, such as flooding, hurricanes and earthquakes, hit a particular area, the focus is invariably - and quite understandably - placed on the people affected and their personal tragedies. The same applies to natural hazards such as fires, water damage, landslides, hurricanes, thunder storms and lightning. The material damage is assessed according to what is visible. The data loss incurred (for example, the entire customer database, inventory, bookkeeping and correspondence) and its impact is hardly an issue among the public at large. But is it possible to estimate just like that the damage to or value of something intangible?

In our opinion, judgements and evaluations of this kind are more often than not underestimated, and only when an exceptional situation occurs does the real scale of the damage and level of dependence become apparent. After an incident of this kind, once the hardware has been replaced, the computer programs have been reinstalled and you finally start up Outlook, the consequences suddenly become crystal clear. For suddenly you find yourself gazing at a blank screen. No agenda dates, no addresses and contact details, an empty mailbox. Everything gone! After all, who thinks about doing –- and actually does – a back-up every day? Who bothers to store this data separately in a safe place? Who actually reckons with the possibility of being without email or internet access for several days or even weeks, and as a result lose important business? After all, in the electronic world, not being reachable is the same as being non-existent!


   

What impact has this development had?

The introduction of electronic data processing has led to a wave of rationalisation. The business world suddenly started to use information technology. Everyone wanted to take advantage of this new technology to make their business processes faster and more efficient. This was followed by steps to network with other companies. The wishes and requirements placed on the systems increased. The volumes of data achieved growth rates that were beyond all expectations. Newly developed software provided increasingly user-friendly interfaces and more and more functions, which in turn boosted the demands made on both the processor performance (CPU or computing power) and the hardware memory products.

Das Mooresche Gesetz sagt aus, dass sich die Integrierten- Schaltungen alle 18 Monate verdoppeln.
 Increase in computing power by integrating more and more transistors on a practically unchanged surface area.

Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors placed on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every 18 months.

Steigerung des Energiebedarfes
 Increase of energy required by processors (CPUs) on a practically unchanged surface area.
The concentration of the circuits resulted in the servers and processors taking up less and less room, yet without forfeiting any of their electric power. This meant that a server of the newer generation with at least the same power normally needed less than half the space required by its predecessor. The server racks were suddenly able to contain several times as much hardware as before, which, however, was also reflected in both the amount of electric power required and the heat emission. We can therefore say that at the beginning of the 1990s, a rack unit in a server rack could carry a load of between 20 and max. 50W. (A server rack is approximately 41 – 46 racks high: one rack = 44.45 mm). Nowadays the situation is somewhat different. The concentration of power has increased almost tenfold. A rack unit can carry a load of over 350W, which is the equivalent to a rack performance of around 15 kW.
Chart kW/Rack

This has led to server room areas and even entire data centres being assessed in a completely different manner. The energy requirement of 250W/sq. m that applied 20 years ago has in the meantime continually increased and now lies at 2000W/sq. m. This has meant that the cooling systems have had to develop correspondingly. In many places, conventional room cooling systems using server racks with perforated doors are already encountering massive problems.

Chart W/m2