Gold in data centres

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The message is simple: in order for IT and data centre managers to reduce their operational costs and carbon footprints they need to start assessing their infrastructure and IT, to identify where legacy systems may benefit from upgrades.

Making the right investments in the data centre is where the biggest cost and power savings can be made in an office building.

But while technology gets updated every few years, physical infrastructure such as power and cooling does not.

According to IDC’s 2010 Data Centre Report, data centre managers are replacing technology every three years, but taking up to six years to upgrade their infrastructure. This means a lot of Australia’s data centres are housing old, inefficient technology that doesn’t have the power management or cooling capabilities that products of today are able to deliver.

One of the biggest challenges IT and data centre managers face is the increase in energy costs. A very obvious way to help free-up IT budgets is to upgrade.

What does this mean for you?

The channel has an opportunity to educate customers about how to manage their energy in the most effective way, through monitoring and measurement of all IT systems. The subsequent reductions in energy consumption will reduce organisations’ carbon footprint and energy bills.

The best way to achieve this and increase data centre efficiency is to conduct a holistic data centre assessment and monitor and manage power from the point that it comes into the building, right down to the power at rack and row level.

Understanding the cost of energy and where it is being used is the first step in managing energy effectively.

From here it is possible to benchmark usage, monitor trends and measure reductions in energy use (and corresponding cost savings) through the installation of “greener” data centre technology.

Scalable, adaptable physical infrastructure can reduce opex by up to a thrd through more efficient power and cooling and by eliminating unnecessary capacity and technology.

Knowing how to measure the energy and cost saving from efficient data centre technology is critical for the channel. Customers are wary of “green washing”, so those who can accurately advise green-conscious organisations on measurable IT investments will gain competitive advantage.

Plan for the future

CIOs and data centre managers need to plan for the future. They need to start looking ahead and assessing data centres on a timeframe. Looking at your data centre infrastructure use over a one, three-, five- and 10-year period will provide a rough indication of how much your data centre is likely to cost both for IT investments (capex) and running costs (opex). The channel can help with this process through operative consultancy.

While many resellers understand the theory on what needs to be done and why, vendors can assist with the practical side and training to help channel partners properly diagnose the data centre opportunities.

Channel partners need to highlight the business costs associated with ongoing opex through energy costs and contrast that with capex investment in greener data centre technology that will pay itself off over a clearly measurable life cycle.

We have been warned that we are likely to see a significant increase in electricity costs over the next couple of years.

IBIS World forecasts Australian energy costs will rise by 9.3 per cent ($3.6 billion) this year.

The rises have been largely blamed on an increase in network costs and compliance to government regulation.

Data centres alone account for 2-3 percent of total world energy use. With IT contributing 4-5 percent of total energy, greening the IT department is a critical step towards environmental sustainability and carbon reduction.

Coupled with this, the Government is tightening energy efficiency requirements through legislation such as the Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Bill (passed last July), which requires all commercial offices larger than 2000 square metres to have an energy efficiency rating.

The other major consideration for small businesses and enterprises is the introduction of the Government’s carbon tax. At present, the majority of IT companies are confused about what the tax could mean for them and their operations, which is why planning for the future is more important now than ever before.

All these challenges mean energy efficiency and power management need to be a core focus for business, and data centres will reap the benefits of investing in more efficient technologies to drive down energy use and costs.

If IT and data centres are aware of the cost of power and cooling in the data centre, the next step of deploying the products and infrastructure to address this will be made a lot simpler.

Through the right knowledge, consultancy and practical advice – they absolutely can.

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