Green data center threat level: Not green
IBM rolls out measuring tape, and researchers see red
Data centers are rampaging energy hogs. If you haven't been thoroughly beaten over the head with that fact already — you'll have to give us a tour of the underside of your rock some time. We're sure it's lovely.
No doubt there's big money to be sluiced from data center electricity woes. And just about every tech company is eager to sluice. All in the name of our Mother Earth, of course.
IBM this week at its Partner Leadership Conference announced the strengthening of some energy-efficiency programs to capitalize on the power glut.
Jim Stallings, general manager of IBM's Enterprise Systems Division, said at the event that data centers "are out of power, out of space and out of skills."
We'll just ignore the "skills" crack for now, and describe what IBM is doing.
The theme is better measurement and benchmarking. And first off, Big Blue is upgrading its power management suite, IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager (AEM).
AEM keeps track of how much power is being frittered away in a data center and allows users to set caps on energy use for servers, storage, networking and cooling. The upgrade includes receiving alerts and events from Liebert SiteScan regarding issues such as overheating and low battery power on interrupt-resistant power supplies. Integration with other third-party vendor products is planned.
IBM is also expanding to an additional 27 counties its program that lets companies earn and trade certificates awarded for verified energy savings. The program began last year with a scant seven counties being eligible.
Credits are now available in (deep breath): The US, UK, Canada, France, Ireland, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Luxembourg, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, India, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and Japan.
Data centers are so power-hungry.
How hungry are they? Glad we asked. It just so happens we have some new studies handy...
According to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, courtesy of statistics from the Uptime Institute — data centers produce higher gas emissions than Argentina and the Netherlands. [Argentina population: 40.6 million, Netherlands: 16.6 million] And data centers will be hacking up more carbon than the worldwide airline industry by 2020, according to the study.
The research blames corporate apathy towards purchasing green hardware, despite a raging enthusiasm from vendors to sell it.
The firms argue there is a gap between most businesses' Chief Information Officer (CIO) planning the infrastructure and the folks who pay the energy bill. It recommends creating an "energy Czar" position within the company to oversee data center efficiency. The study also calls for companies to adopt a new metric called Corporate Average Data Efficiency (CADE) - poor Mr. Metz - that combines IT and facilities costs to measure relative data center efficiencies.
While the recommendations appear sound as far as helping to come to grips with energy consumption — we can't help but wonder where the money necessary to get additional hardware and personnel would come from. Most IT departments aren't exactly flush with funding nowadays.
Still, there's plenty to be lost the way things are currently going.
Quarterly IT publication,The Data Centre Price Tracker reports  the average utility cost in the UK as of April 2008 was nearly 1,000 Euros per rack, per month (that's £780, $1,540).
"Industrial electricity prices are the clear and present danger to the Data Centre user and the IT community," stated Margrit Sessions, Managing Director of Tariff Consultancy in the release. "It is now being presented as a separate cost item to the purchase of Data Centre space,"
This report's recommendation? Pretty much move your machinery to France, Sweden or Switzerland, which consistently have enjoyed the lower range of electricity rates in Europe over the last 12 months.
The worst electricity rates are in the UK, Germany, and Italy. ®