Two Financial Times Articles on Green Data Centre

I saw one Green Data Centre Article in the Financial Times, but didn’t blog it, then 2 days later another, so it seemed worthwhile.

First one I saw was my Hitachi Data Systems’s Alec Selvon Bruce, saying Green Data Centres are an oxymoron.

Green data centres are an oxymoron; eco-friendly data centres are not

By Alec Selvon Bruce of Hitachi Data Systems UK

Published: October 8 2008 17:00 | Last updated: October 8 2008 17:00

Two of the US’s largest online businesses recently relocated their data centres close to a hydroelectric dam. After employees, their largest operating cost was electricity.

The move towards what are eco-friendly data centres that draw on renewable energy resources is expected to reduce power consumption dramatically and save considerable sums of money. In the UK, the average cost of running a data centre is about £5.3m a year. This is predicted to double to £11m within five years, according to the BroadGroup consultancy. One of the main reasons is the spiralling cost of power.

Gartner, the IT industry analysts, have pointed out that IT managers are running out of the power required to run their data centres. Illustrating this, new data centres and expansion of existing facilities in the City of London has been blocked. Companies are restricted from adding more computing equipment because the required power is not immediately available. Energy suppliers are attributing this to the need to prepare for the surge in demand that the 2012 Olympics will bring.

I am going to London in November for Data Center Dynamics London event, and found this point interesting.

The UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has acknowledged the deleterious impact of surging power consumption. It currently estimates that the IT industry accounts for 4 per cent of UK CO2 emissions. In the next two years, this is set to grow by 180 per cent. In a bid to head off the damaging consequences a raft of new standards are emerging to inform best practice energy-efficient data centre design.

And, Alec goes on to discuss PUE.

Power usage efficiency (PUE) is a metric used to measure the energy efficiency of a data centre. Most data centres are currently running at a PUE of 3.0 which means if a server demands 500 watts then the power from the utility grid needed to deliver the 500 watts to the server is three times that amount, or 1500 watts. This figure alone illustrates the enormous energy consumption of data centres, relative to their output. Most new data centres today are targeting a PUE of 1.7, but a PUE of 1.6 is certainly achievable and there are some data centres under construction aiming for even lower PUEs.

PUEs are important because they also provide clients who use hosted data centre services with an indication of energy consumption. In the near future, they will be used by potential clients as a deciding factor as to which data centre service to use.

Second one, says it’s not easy to be green, but not impossible by Mark Nutt, managing consultant with Morse.

It’s not easy being green – but it’s far from impossible

By Mark Nutt, managing consultant with Morse

Published: October 10 2008 17:25 | Last updated: October 10 2008 17:25

As new “green IT” products are released every day, many businesses feel they are being told that the only route to green IT is to discard all existing equipment and replace it, even if it still works perfectly.

Ripping and replacing a whole data centre is far from environmentally friendly, thanks to the costs in producing new hardware and disposing of used equipment. It also discourages organisations from making green IT a priority; a recent Vanson Bourne survey found that 53 per cent of businesses thought greening the data centre was too expensive for them to contemplate.

Mark goes on with some good overview for those new to Greening a  Data Center. One of Mark’s best points in towards the end of the article.

Finally, becoming green must be part of the overall IT strategy, with defined targets put in place to reduce energy consumption underpinned by fundamental changes to IT’s operating model. In order for targets to be set, businesses must know how much energy the data centre is currently using and then set a reduction target to be reached.

This knowledge is both the greatest opportunity and simultaneously the greatest obstacle to IT departments. Currently, a mere 11 per cent of organisations know how much energy their IT department uses, while only 24 per cent have set targets to reduce this. Without knowing how much energy is used, there is no way of knowing whether any form of “green” initiative will be successful.

As well as setting energy use targets, businesses also need to change the way devices such as servers and storage are purchased, by moving towards a service-orientated approach to IT. Instead of allowing departments to purchase hardware whenever they wish, the IT department should allocate them the resources needed from a central pool. This way IT maintains control over the infrastructure, allowing it to maximise the utilisation of each device while preventing other departments from falling victim to a “newest and best” syndrome.