European regulations focus minds on best practice data center management (part 1)

By Rob Neave

Why European Data Centers Need a Code of Conduct
According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), Western European data center electricity consumption will rise to 104 TeraWatt Hours (TWh) per year by 2020, nearly double the level consumed in 2007, when the figure was approximately 56 TWh1. Such growth has been necessary to support widespread adoption of online services, but it clearly flies in the face of EU targets to reduce carbon emissions. Therefore, it is no surprise that formal initiatives have been introduced to curtail the industry’s demand for power.

While much of this growth in power consumption has been necessary to support increasing Internet use, inefficiencies within data centers have unnecessarily inflated this demand. This stems from the fact that many facilities rely on outdated design practices where only a fraction of the grid power consumed actually reaches the information technology (ITS) systems. Compounding this, many of these IT systems run at low utilization rates and include purpose-designed duplication and redundancy to ensure high availability with some in-house data centers utilizing just 5 to 10 percent of their computing capacity2. Although high levels of redundancy may guarantee performance, cut risk and underpin reliability, they also bring additional power and cooling costs.

Furthermore, in Europe, where demand often outstrips supply and organizations are particularly mindful of having enough capacity to support future business growth, data centers have traditionally been designed with large tolerances. These allow for operational or capacity changes, as well as future expansion. Such tolerances, along with the associated design flaws, exacerbate power consumption inefficiencies.

In the past, overprovisioning has seldom caused concerns for organizations. This is the result of energy costs being relatively small in comparison to the IT budget and because environmental responsibility has not fallen under the remit of the IT department. However, in the last few years, increasing emphasis on corporate social responsibility means that there is a real desire to “green” the data center. Rising energy costs also mean that it is now financially imperative to make operations as efficient as possible. According to IDC, approximately 40 percent of today’s data center costs are powerrelated; however, by 2015, this figure will exceed 50 percent3.

Reprinted with permission from BICSI News Magazine September/October 2011.  To view the article in its entirety, please visit: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/bicsi/news_20110910/#/48

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