By Zac Amos, Features Editor,

Pursuing data center optimization is an excellent way to remain competitive in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Taking the right steps can reduce costs, minimize risks, and help the facility maintain productivity. These five tips offer an excellent start.

1. Create a digital twin of the data center

One of the challenging realities about making changes to a data center or any other facility is that it’s often hard to gauge the effects of a change before implementation. However, a digital twin alters things. It’s a digitized representation of real-life assets.

Data center managers could build a digital twin to see how power usage effectiveness changes with the building’s expanding footprint. People might also run digital twin simulations to improve disaster preparedness plans. Using digital twins in data centers is still a relatively new option. However, it’s worth exploring, especially since such tools allow comparisons of how certain changes affect overall outcomes.

2. Deploy automation for tighter cyber security

Cyber criminals aim to maximize the effectiveness of every attack. They often do that by trying to disable critical services or infrastructure. That’s troubling, given how many websites, organizations, and applications require data centers to function. However, using cyber security automation could reduce attacks. Automation generally operates around minimizing the human involvement required to keep networks safe.

A November 2022 report indicated that 63% of senior cyber security professionals had explored automation use cases. Moreover, 98% of respondents said they’d increased their automation budgets. Cyber security automation in a data center might mean investing in solutions that can triage potential intrusion attempts. Some automation solutions simulate attacks, showing cyber security professionals which areas need work. Others collect data, supporting cyber security management.

3. Review data center cooling options

Determining the most appropriate way to keep a data center cool can help a person optimize a data center in terms of sustainability, money saved, and more. A practical way to get started is to assess how the facility gets cooled now, as well as any associated pros and cons. It’s then easier to confirm whether everything’s working well or whether there’s room for improvement.

Hot and cold aisles are one of the most popular cooling layouts for data centers. It involves arranging the servers to take into account how they draw in cool air from the front and expel warm air out the back. However, some larger facilities use waste heat for secondary reasons, such as to generate power for a surrounding community. Remaining aware of the options and understanding how they stack up against a current data center setup is an excellent optimization strategy.

4. Tackle the skills gap

As more data centers get built worldwide, the number of people needed to run them rises. Many sources already report on pressing and growing skills shortages in the industry. When data center managers realize that they need to hire more workers, the best approaches often include thinking outside of the box by going beyond typical hiring options.

One possibility is to look for talent in unconventional places. That might mean considering hiring veterans or people looking for career changes who haven’t worked in data centers. Targeting the skills gap could also involve upskilling current employees and giving them the knowledge needed to transition into more advanced roles that are particularly hard to fill with external candidates.

5. Identify physical security shortcomings

People pay a lot of attention to cyber security in the data center, and they have good reasons for doing so. However, they must also devote time and energy to physical security. Andrew Barratt, a principal consultant at security firm Coalfire, said people view physical security as a presumed commodity and almost always overlook it when designing and managing their data centers.

Physical security encompasses security cameras and electronic key readers, but it also extends to teaching people how to avoid social engineering attempts that occur in the physical realm. Imagine if a person dressed as a plumber asks a data center worker to hold a secured door open for them so they can get in. Most people would comply out of politeness. However, that seemingly minor choice could erode physical security.

Data center optimization is worthwhile

Data center optimization can’t happen overnight, and people should always choose a few priorities before diving into the task. The tips here will provide valuable inspiration concerning the various ways to make a facility operate better than ever and allow managers to pursue continuous improvement.

For more from’s Features Editor, Zac Amos, click here. Lastly, to receive cutting-edge cyber security news, exclusive interviews, expert analyses and security resources, please sign up for the newsletter.