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Operational costs and carbon footprints

08 May 12

The message is simple. In order for IT and data centre managers to reduce both their operational costs and carbon footprint, they need to start assessing their infrastructure and IT to identify where legacy systems may benefit from upgrades and quickly deliver ROI.

These challenges mean energy efficiency and security are becoming a core focus for business, and data centre managers are likely to reap the benefits of investing in more efficient technologies to drive down energy use and costs. 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.

This means that a lot of New Zealand’s data centres are housing old, inefficient technology which doesn’t have the power management or cooling capabilities that today’s products are able to deliver.

One of the biggest challenges IT and data centre managers currently face is the increase in energy costs to run their operations. A very obvious way to help is to invest in upgrading IT equipment to the more modern and efficient IT technologies of today, which will lead to long term cost and energy savings.

Channelling opportunities

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

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.

Understanding energy management

Energy management platforms will be of increasing importance as requirements to report on carbon emissions increase. Ultimately this will span the office environment and data centre, where all energy data will be stored, managed and compiled for instantaneous reporting.

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 resellers who can accurately advise green conscious organisations on measurable IT investments will gain competitive advantage.

Planning for the future

CIOs and data centre managers need to plan for the future. To do this, they need to start looking ahead and assessing data centres on a timeframe. Looking at their data centre infrastructure use over one, three, five and 10 year periods will provide a rough indication of how much a data centre is likely to cost over time 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 and position them based on various scenarios – capex vs opex, events such as power failures and the introduction of new technologies.

Customers are increasingly looking for energy management advice and consultancy and 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.

Enhanced efficiencies

Through the right knowledge, consultancy and practical advice, organisations can signficantly enhance data centre efficiencies. IBM New Zealand now experiences a PUE (power usage effectiveness) of 1.34, making it one of the most efficient data centres in New Zealand, after partnering with Schneider Electric to decrease their energy footprint and manage power more reliably. The testing outlined savings of up to 20,000 kWh per month during cold weather through the installation of new technology.

Simon Smith is IT business regional manager, New Zealand and South Pacific for Schneider Electric. This article originally appeared in the April issue of The Channel.

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