Taking a holistic view of data centre energy matters

One of the biggest challenges facing Facilities Managers (FM) in data centres is achieving a more balanced and optimised approach to power, energy and environmental management.

An unprecedented growth in data processing combined with the increasing power and cooling demands of new technologies means many data centres are being stretched to their limits, threatening resilience and business continuity.

Of course, FM professionals are well aware that both legacy and new build data centre operations bring with them significant energy management challenges. Apart from the pure running costs where cooling systems alone can account for as much as 45 per cent of the total energy bill, there are also the environmental issues to consider.

It is estimated that 10 per cent of all UK carbon emmissions stem from IT resources and 25 per cent of these are emitted from data centres.

Add to this IT’s insatiable appetite for power to meet growing data processing requirements and it becomes clear that FM has a considerable challenge to deal with: Reducing, conserving and optimising energy consumption across the whole facility without compromising overall resilience and business continuity.

A fundamental step towards a more balanced energy management strategy is to fully understand what the facility’s overall consumption is and pinpoint exactly where it is going at any given time. From there one can more easily make informed decisions and manage an effective way forward.

What is needed is a way of uniting the traditional domains of the FM department with those of IT, enabling all concerned to work smarter with the benefit of a holistic view of the entire data centre estate, from building point of entry down to individual server payload.

Such an approach relies upon historic and real-time data readings polled regularly from all critical FM and IT zones within the facility, including the Network Management (NMS), Building Management (BMS), Property Management (PMS) and Fiscal Primary Metering systems.

However, the essential ‘missing link’ here is an enterprise software platform capable of consolidating all of the data being monitored and capable of generating highly detailed and meaningful reports for a wide range of management information purposes.

These would include power and energy load draw; alarm status; PUE and data centre infrastructure efficiency (DCiE); CO2 tonnage; temperature/humidity; capacity management; asset management; and CRC compliancy.

The good news for FM is that growing numbers of ‘early adopter’ corporate organisations have begun to recognise the value and strategic importance of a more integrated approach to FM and IT in their data centres.

This has been a key driver in shaping the design of next generation power management and monitoring technologies as well as the software platforms necessary for providing the all-important holistic management and reporting intelligence.

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Simon Terry received a formal engineering training and qualification in the defence industry, supporting the Trident nuclear submarine programme within the Nuclear Controls Division at Fisher Controls. Having gained valuable experience in the project management of high value engineering contracts, he gained a post graduate diploma in Strategic Marketing and moved into Sales where he held a series of senior international sales and marketing positions within technology-based companies. In 2002 Simon was appointed to the position of Managing Director of Knürr UK heading up all operations of the enclosure manufacturing facility and in 2005 joined Comrac as Managing Director, where he led the company and drove the merger between Comrac and Sinetica. In June 2007 he was appointed as Group Chief Executive of Unite Technologies.