Turning the Tide: Three Simple Imperatives for the Energy Efficient Data Center

I’ve  been doing a fair amount of travel for speaking lately for speaking engagements. One of the great things about all that time on the road is getting direct feedback and information about what people are thinking about.

One of the areas I’ve been helped is in crystallizing some ideas about actionable  priorities for fixing data center energy efficiency. Most of the problems aren’t really all that new, but I think we sometimes get hung up on different interpretations of the same message. So I worked with some folks to get a kind of “simple” mantra we can all remember.

What did we come up with? Organize, Modernize, and Optimize.

Org Mod Opt.bmp

Let me talk about the motivation and thinking for each one:

Organize: One of the biggest problems (still!) in the data center is getting started. Making just a simple change to organization responsibility of ensure data center owners are responsible for the site energy consumption is probably the most impactful long term change a CEO or CIO can make. Beyond that, measuring costs, power consumption, and data center productivity are about all you need to start making the right decisions.

Modernize: The next step is to make sure the IT equipment in the data center is a efficient as possible. In many cases, this in and of itself can make a tremendous difference in energy consumption. For instance Television Suisse Romande just reduced the number of servers by about 50% through consolidation.

Optimize: The last big step is making the entire data center run as efficiencly as possible. Why do this last? Well, you can’t really optimize it if you can’t measure it, so you need to get organized. And if you have missed the opportunity to reduce the number of servers by 50%, why take 10% off your PUE when, in a few months when you do need to replace those servers, you’ll just have to do the work again. For example in the Datacenter2020 collaboration the results indicated cooling did not need to be as high as initially anticipated.

So there you have it. Three priorities for data center optimization that you can remember:

  • Organize
  • Modernize
  • Optimize

Your call to action as CIO: don’t let your people talk to you about progress on the second or third step until you are comfortable with progress on the preceding one. It will dilute accountability and results.