January 05, 2009

The Battle for Data Center Efficiency - Who Owns it?

It is clear that most every company now realizes the importance of controlling the efficiency of data center environments, regardless of company size. We are finally starting to see all IT vendors realize that they need to be part of the solution. Server vendors were the first to recognize this, since the increase in chip power consumption and heat dissipation was the first obvious problem. However, all elements in the data center need to contribute to improved power and cooling metrics.

We are finally starting to see network equipment manufacturers own up to this, with Cisco Systems Inc. starting to increase its focus and marketing on energy awareness. I also expect to see a great deal of hype and marketing in the storage community. We started to hear a lot last year about solid state disks (SSDs), which dramatically reduce power while increasing performance of storage arrays. The costs today are prohibitive to consider a complete replacement of fixed disks for most business, but I expect to see them used in niche high-performance environments and also bundled in tiered storage solutions by companies such as EMC Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

There is still some confusion about whether the data center environmentals are the responsibility of data centers or facilities, but there is no disagreement on the fact that both of these groups need to work very closely together to make sure current and future data center requirements are feasible from all aspects of power, cooling, IT systems performance and costs.

I have been working on several committees over the last couple years to work through the trends and best practices on these issues, including the Next Generation Data Center and the Blade Systems Insight. While the focus is shifting from being green for green's sake to being green to save money, the good news is most of my research has shown that increased attention to environmental considerations usually saves companies a tremendous amount of money, so it makes good business sense to be environmentally aware in the data center. Some of the new topics I expect to come up in future conferences are how to analyze the return on investment (ROI) for IT equipment replacement decisions, as they relate to power and cooling, and whether the dynamics for managed services change are a way for companies to look at outsourcing strategies for saving money.

The bottom line, as I see it, is that EVERYONE owns responsibility for data center efficiency, especially the responsibility for coordination across all IT disciplines and facilities management to make sure any initiatives have taken all aspects of efficiency into consideration for future data center growth.

by Jerald Murphy January 5, 2009 in Energy Efficiency
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