Over the past year, the European Commission has been sponsoring the development of a Data Center Code of Conduct to address the increasing energy consumption, environmental, economic and supply security concerns of the data center community. If you’d like to read it for yourself, it can be found here.
This is an interesting endeavor, especially with a “Code of Conduct” nomenclature attached to it.¬† Participating in this initiative is voluntary, and has brought together stakeholders from the areas of owner/operators, manufacturers, vendors, consultants (yes), utilities, and of course government.¬† Those that “sign up” for the Code are not legally bound but are expected to abide by the provisions of the Code and help to facilitate the goals of the initiative through leading by example.
There has been participation from “across the pond” in the meetings held by this initiative, and perhaps we’ll see this evolve into an international standard in the way that so many similar initiatives have matured during our time.
My own articles on data center power consumption (you’ll find some in this blog) are but a tiny blip in the universe of articles written about this problem.¬† This issue is well understood across the industry at this point.¬† However, besides the ability to continue to scale, many data center operators are not aware of the financial, environmental, and infrastructure benefits to be gained from improving energy efficiency.¬†
It is a goal of this Code of Conduct to define a framework for good decision making in the multidimensional challenge of optimizing growth, power distribution, cooling, and IT equipment efficiencies.¬† Furthermore, it is a goal of this initiative to coordinate the objectives of projects such as US EPA Energy Star, Green Grid, Climate Savers Initiative, et. al.
It should be said that this Code of Conduct is still very much in draft form.¬† Much has been done in resolving the “what” and “why,” so now on to the “how.”¬† In that regard, the Code is starting out by asking data center owner/operators to report and monitor energy consumption based on Green Grid’s Data Center Efficiency (DCE) metric.
DCE = (IT Equipment Power) / (Total Facility Power)
There is a working group established to collate and analyze the data and determine whether and how to set targets to be used within the Code.
Besides the necessary work to set targets and define decision-making frameworks for managing data center energy consumption from a financial and environmental perspective, it’s important to recognize the security-related aspects that are at play here.
Global IT infrastructures, social and political dependencies on the Internet, trends toward cloud computing, and so many other rapidly maturing technology transformations are manifesting in the proliferation of deployments of extremely large data centers.¬† The result is a progressive physical consolidation of data and data processing on which personal, business, and political life increasingly depends.¬† This physical consolidation of high-value assets is a formidable risk management problem.¬† The dependency on public utility capacity and availability amplifies this risk.
The development of the EC’s Code of Conduct for Data Centers is a welcomed initiative that is deserving of our attention and support.