What Could Data Center Regulation Look Like?

Mike Manos discussed data center regulation in this post.

Coming Soon to a Data Center near you, Regulation.

June 19, 2009 by mmanos

As an industry, we have been talking about it for some time.  Some claimed it would never come and it was just a bunch of fear mongering. Others like me said it was the inevitable outcome of the intensifying focus on energy consumption.   Whether you view this to be a good thing or bad thing its something that you and your company are going to have to start planning for very shortly.  This is no longer a drill.

CRC – its not just a cycle redundancy check

I have been tracking the energy efficiency work being done in the United Kingdom for quite some time and developments in the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).  My recent trip to London afforded me the opportunity to drive significantly harder into the draft and discuss it with a user community (at the Digital Realty Round table event) who will likely be the first impacted by such legislation. For those of you unfamiliar with the initiative let me give a quick overview of the CRC and how it will work. 

The main purpose of the CRC is a mandatory carbon reduction and energy efficiency scheme aimed at changing energy use behaviors and further incent the adoption of technology and infrastructure.  While not specifically aimed at Data Centers (its aimed at everyone) you can see that by its definition Data Centers will be significantly affected.  It was introduced as part of the Climate Change Act 2008.

Here are a list of some ways data centers could be regulated.

  1. What is your PUE.  A number too high may be penalized for inefficiency.
  2. Do you purchase carbon credits? Report the specifics
  3. How do you calculate your carbon footprint?  Submit your calculations.  Has reporting been audited?
  4. What % of your servers are ENERGY STAR? Tell us a number and how many more.
  5. What % of your servers are running virtualization? How many virtualized server images do you run?
  6. What is the water use of your data center?  What is quality of your waste water?
  7. What is average inlet temperature of your servers? Are you overcooling your equipment?
  8. What is your eWaste policy for IT equipment?
  9. What is your long term commitment to carbon reduction?  What is your current status?  What are penalties for non-compliance?
  10. What investments are being made in carbon neutral power?

These are just some ideas quickly jotted down, but i am sure the government organizations can come up with a lot more as a new revenue stream to tax the rich.  Yes, the large data centers are in general run by rich organizations.  You could exempt the poor and middle class corporations by defining a number like any corporation using more than 2mW of data center power.