The British Computer Society (BCS) is calling on data centre operators to address growing power consumption and increased carbon emissions, in a white paper. The paper aims to develop understanding, methods and tools for the IT profession to address the cost and environmental impact of data centres.
Bob Harvey, chair of the BCS Carbon Footprint working group explains: ‘The BCS believes that it is important to develop an effective understanding of IT energy use and best practice to improve efficiency.
This white paper forms part of the BCS’ drive to stimulate discussion about the impact the industry is having on the environment and offer solutions to help reduce the carbon footprint. Our objective is, over time, to develop a series of best practice guides for the profession.’
The white paper was produced through consultation with the BCS Data Centre specialist group members and other external industry experts. It explains in simple terms the complex subject of data centre metrics and reviews why they are needed.
It compares current data centre efficiency metrics in terms of what they are useful for, what information they offer and what metrics are going to be needed in the future in order for businesses to gain effective understanding and control of energy and cost efficiency in their data centre. The paper also proposes a set of analysis methods and metrics for operators to complement the existing industry reporting metrics.
Zahl Limbuwala, chair of the BCS Data Centre specialist group and co-writer of the report says: ‘The data centre is a very complex environment that does not really lend itself to simple analysis and measurement. There are no effective standards for what to measure or where and how to measure it. To make matters worse, the industry metrics that are gaining some traction are simple reporting measures not intended to compare or benchmark data centres, although they are being used for that very purpose in the absence of more effective analysis metrics. We hope the white paper will explain the reasons why there is still much more work to be done in this area.’
The paper explores some basic questions about how the IT profession should think about data centre energy and cost efficiency. It also explores how to more effectively understand and represent the costs and delivered value of IT to the business.
Zahl continues: ‘Whilst many are asking: ‘how much ‘useful work’ is delivered per unit of cost or energy in my data centre?’ the BCS is asking ‘what is the financial and environmental cost for each service delivered?’ This allows us to consider cost and energy use in the context of the value delivered by the service or other environmental impact reduced by the service.
‘Our research has shown that there are many misconceptions about how to improve energy efficiency within a data centre, the main one being that there is a trade off between cost and efficiency. While money may be needed to make the changes initially, this will be more than recovered by the savings made by using less energy, this net improvement in the bottom line justifies the required changes - especially with today’s rising energy costs.’
Earlier this year the group announced funding from the Carbon Trust and Romonet to produce simulation software for data centre operators based on the findings of the white paper. Information about the simulation tool can be found at: http://dcsg.bcs.org/
The white paper can be found at:www.bcs.org/datacentreenergy