1E Introduces “Useful Work”-based Data Center Governance, at Data Center Dynamics Converged, 2012 Washington DC

Data center performance metrics have struggled to accurately represent business value of IT assets invested in the enterprise data center.  Data center metrics are either constrained to raw power usage data, or make vague approximations about business-relevant performance through assumptive percentages or abstract proxies. At Data Center Dynamics in Washington, DC this week, 1E’s Data…

Data Center Efficiency Metrics: CADE

Data center efficiency metrics have matured over the past few years.  These metrics arose with the recognition of the data center as a primary industrial consumer of energy.  The data center was once thought of as a controlled environment for data processing equipment.  From an energy consumption point of view, it is a factory.

In the United States alone, in 2010 data center energy consumption represented somewhere between 1.5% and 2% of all energy consumed in the country.  That is expected to double in just two years’ time.  In other regions of the world, data center energy consumption is a major driver of carbon emission control legislation.  In other regions still, it is recognized that efficiencies need to be improved in a sense of proper stewardship of natural resources.

PUE Hype and Setting Realistic Expectations

Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) is a metric created by The Green Grid to determine the energy efficiency of a data center. PUE is a ratio, with overall efficiency improving as the quotient decreases toward unity.  In other words, PUE measures the extra power needed to power, cool, protect, and manage the IT load in a data center.

Since the issuance of PUE, many data center managers are under pressure to drive the PUE of their facility lower.  The notion of driving energy efficiency is a noble one, but the drive toward a PUE target is not a pragmatic endeavor.

PUE should be viewed as a tool, not a destination.  While the PUE is based upon very simple math, PUE comparisons are very difficult.  In fact, it’s dangerous to compare PUE values between data centers because so much depends upon where (with respect to the facility infrastructure) PUE readings are taken, as well as which data center energy components are included in the scoring.  There are simply too many variations from facility to facility and from operator to operator to know if one has a true “apples to apples” comparison.

Modularity and Emerging Trends in Data Center Design

TrendData Center Dynamics is always a great reading on the pulse of the industry, and the December, 2010 conference in Richardson Texas set the sounding board for contemporary developments in modularity and efficiency in data centers.  The following are thoughts and reflections on the discussions held during the conference.

Data Center Design:  From Traditional to the Future

The shift in computing paradigms over the past fifty years has, to some extent, followed generational timelines.  Early in the computing evolutionary timeline, computing and storage existed in a centralized in a consolidated data processing footprint, optimized for efficiency driven by high cost of systems.  End users reached their data and application through thin client devices.  The upfront costs for hardware and software were very high.

Data Center Containers – On the Move

We’ve written quite a bit in this forum about containerized data centers, and our hope that in addition to providing great utility in current high density data processing implementations, they would also pave the way for a more pragmatic, modular approach to building data center space.¬† We still feel that there are improvements to be made regarding the cost of scaling the data center in alignment with near-time scaling of “the Business.”

After a period of many months during which there seemed to be little movement in the container world, the past few months have shown numerous new container product releases and announcements of new container concepts from an even wider array of suppliers.¬† It seems too, that the idea of “containers” is busting out from the limitations of shipping container form factors.¬† This development, we think, is indication of an approaching evolutionary step in the use of containerized space as a useful modular scaling option.

We will introduce a few of these new developments here, in order to present a view of the direction of new work in this area, and save detailed discussion on individual products for later posts.

Energy Efficiency Improvements Need Not Be So Tough

This week, I had the pleasure of touring a data center developed and operated by a provider that has sites in only two cities in the US so far.  I’m intentionally not mentioning the name of the provider, but would like to share some of the things they’re doing that impressed me.  I was impressed because these are basic energy efficiency and capacity optimization features that for many larger providers, are deliberated to the point of indecision, but for these guys are done almost casually and with ease.

Data Center Cage as Storage Facility

As someone with a strong operational ethic, one of my pet peeves is the colo site that resembles a monthly self-storage facility.¬† I’m referring here, to allowing (or tolerating) tenants storing boxes, material, and debris in their cages.

A colocation facility that has cardboard and other such material in customer cages shows very poorly.  That is, new customers touring the site as a potential future data center will not be impressed by the apparent state of operational controls when trash is visible in cages.

More importantly though, storage of cardboard and packaging material on the IT floor is a security risk.  This material is likely the most flammable of any present in the environment, and fire is an availability and safety exposure.