Data centre energy and competitive advantage

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The start of a new year is a traditional time for taking stock.  For data centre owners and operators that should include reviewing how you meter, monitor and manage energy.  Saving on energy improves the bottom line – it is a business issue not just a technology one.  Failure to address this is not only wasteful but irresponsible.  It’s time do something about it and turn data centre energy management to competitive advantage.

Research carried out by Quocirca [1], on behalf of Oracle, shows that more than a third of data centre managers do not see the energy bill and that a further 10% doubts that anyone else sees a copy of the bill for data centre energy usage.  If you don’t see the bill, how can you even begin to manage energy!  A 2011 study by DatacenterDynamics [2] estimates that the UK data centre market consumes around 6.4 GW of electricity annually – (that’s the same as around 6 million homes!) – and that this is growing by almost 7%.  So, combine huge scale consumption with increasing costs per kWh and the need felt by all organistations to reduce costs and what does it add up to?  A compelling business reason for investing in metering, monitoring and management and at a granular level (service, device, rack, department etc).

Yet deployments of automated energy and infrastructure management software solutions are relatively few and far between.  I think there are several reasons including:

  • not knowing what is possible;
  • lack of awareness of available solutions;
  • many solutions are very complex to deploy and very expensive;
  • technology is only part of it – data centre energy management is a business issue and the solutions need to be usable by business people;
  • fear of the potential disruption to operations that deploying some solutions may create (e.g. deploying infrastructure hardware).

We speak to data centre managers from all sectors, from service providers and colos to corporates, and often it is the issues above that are raised as they describe their current situation.  Faced with escalating costs, limited budgets and increasing demands from the business they are looking for help.  So, we show them InSite, describe how it leverages the infrastructure investment they have already made, show the real-time management reporting, talk about customers who have achieved RoI in only a few months, and demonstrate how easy it is to take the first steps with a trial.  That moves the conversation on to a more collaborative footing and moves the focus on to the business benefits.

Data centres are a business asset and represent major investments for their owners and operators.  Organisations, whether public or private sector, large or small, depend on them – they are business critical.  Data centres are complex environments.   They cost a huge and growing amount to run and that cost must be managed because it is financially irresponsible not to.  Above all, data centres represent a source of competitive advantage for the organisation.  That is something data centre managers – and businesses – cannot and must not ignore.

[1] Quocirca/Oracle report

[2] DCD report


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