Data center disaster preparedness key during regional emergencies

Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 30-10-2012

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As reports come in from the East Coast of data center operations impacted by Hurricane Sandy, it is important to consider your own organization’s disaster preparedness in the case of a regional emergency.

“The data center manager and their team should have dusted off a natural disaster plan days ago to review and prepare for what they are experiencing today,” said Keith Klesner, consultant with Uptime Institute. “The challenges of critical facilities in this case could include flooding, electrical utility transients, availability of diesel fuel for engine generators and availability of operations and maintenance staff. Any one of these elements could lead to an outage event for a data center.

“Significant weather events such as Hurricane Sandy can place major strain on data center infrastructure and cause outages for those operators who are unprepared. Most critically, data centers who have properly tested and operated on their diesel engine generators are better prepared for this type of event. Resilient data centers will have planned for several days of autonomy both with diesel fuel, staffing and provisions to support days of continued operations without utility power or outside support.”

Satellite View of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29Photo by NASA

According to Vince Renaud, Uptime Institute’s VP and Managing Principle of Uptime Institute Professional Services, one of the biggest challenges for data center operators in disasters of this magnitude is the ability to actually get more fuel. “Especially when a state of emergency has been declared, most or all fuel is directed towards hospitals and other emergency facilities. That is why we recommend the contracting (as a backup) with out of state sources.”

Our thoughts are with the millions affected by this storm.

Kill zombie servers: Join the Uptime Institute Server Roundup

Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 25-10-2012

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Happy Halloween from Uptime Institute…

The recent NY Times feature on data center efficiency may have the industry running scared, but you don’t to be just another victim! Fight back and Join the Uptime Institute Server Roundup.

The Uptime Institute Server Roundup contest was introduced around Halloween 2011 to encourage the removal and recycling of obsolete IT equipment in an effort to decrease data center energy use. Last year’s first place winner, AOL, rounded up close to 10,000 zombie servers and saved its organization over $5 million. That’s some scary savings.

Decommissioning a single 1U rack server can result in a savings of $500 per year in energy costs, an additional $500 in operating system licenses, and $1,500 in hardware maintenance costs.

Text of the video:
Sit back and let me regale you with a cautionary tale
of a data center gone rigid and stale, where the IT managers
cowered in fear of unplugging outdated servers and gear.
Obsolete applications ran on neglected racks, waiting
for long-abandoned business units to come back.
All the while, sucking up mechanical cooling from the CRACs,
and the dark lords of license fees collected their tax.
The worst part? It didn’t have to end this way… Kill zombie servers.
Sign up for Server Roundup Today.

Server Roundup Rules here, or email Matt Stansberry, Director of Content and Publications for more information: mstansberry@uptimeinstitute.com.

Spotlight your corporate Green IT leadership: Apply for a GEIT Award in Green Digital Infrastructure Strategy

Posted by Jeannette Beltran | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 12-10-2012

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GEIT

The days of meeting your IT-driven business objectives in a single data center are long gone. Many organizations own multiple enterprise data centers and use outsourced hosting providers and cloud services to address demand. While the market for new data center builds and retrofits remains strong, a recent Uptime Institute sampling of senior-level executives with responsibility for IT and data center facilities at large global companies found that the majority also use third-party compute services:

Type of Service

% using

Colocation or hosting services 85%
SaaS 54%
Public cloud 31%

 

Managing a global organization’s digital infrastructure portfolio is a complex task. When you include IT-driven sustainability initiatives throughout the organization, it’s almost mind-boggling … but the potential rewards of a holistic sustainable IT strategy are equally significant, both in terms of savings and corporate identity.

That’s why we’ve introduced a new category to this year’s Green Enterprise IT (GEIT) Awards competition: Green Digital Infrastructure Strategy. This Award recognizes exceptional energy and resource efficiency beyond an individual data center. Case studies may involve any or all of the following initiatives:

  • Facility builds and/or retrofits
  • IT upgrades (e.g., consolidation/virtualization efforts, de-duping and other ways of implementing efficiencies, etc.)
  • IT-related initiatives implemented across the entire enterprise (e.g., PC power management; initiatives that facilitate collaboration without requiring travel; telecommute initiatives; supply chain efficiencies; transparent eWaste recycling programs; use of BMS or similar IT-related sustainability measures in office spaces, etc.)
  • Use of outsourced service providers (e.g., colocation, hosted, or cloud-based services) that provide granular energy- and resource-use reporting and/or have transparent Green IT credentials.

The Green Digital Infrastructure Strategy category looks beyond an individual project or facility to spotlight the organization’s Green IT vision.  Your GDIS case study should display your corporate portfolio of Green IT initiatives.

Does this mean you can’t profile an exceptional individual project or facility by applying in another category?  Absolutely not! You are welcome to submit that individual project in one of our other categories as well.  That project or facility can still be included in your Green Digital Infrastructure Strategy case study, along with your other Green IT initiatives.

The 2013 GEIT Awards competition is now open. To be considered, applications must be submitted by January 18, 2013, but don’t put off applying … end-of-year reporting and the holiday season are closer than you think! Further information is available here.

 

Dams, trash, and cash: The impending collapse of disposable IT economics

Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-10-2012

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This is the second blog post in a series that features continuing discussion with various senior staff of the Uptime Institute in response to the New York Times feature on data center energy use. The following was drawn from a discussion with Julian Kudritzki, Senior Vice President of Uptime Institute.

Many data centers are inherently wasteful due to the governing (mis)economics of cheap, high-availability computing. As long as IT reaps economic benefits divorced of true costs, then discipline in server procurement, utilization, and data center management is a ways off.

These favorable economic conditions delay motivation to change, but once dissipated, will transform our industry’s characteristics.

DAMS
Hydro power west of the 100th meridian in the US is fundamentally government subsidized. (See Marc Reisner Cadillac Desert.) Federal investment in Grand Coulee generated massive amounts of inexpensive and reliable power. Today’s result is that Quincy is a desirable data center location. Power commissions seek data centers as the ideal customers of high concentrations of power. Now those bulk power deals are unavailable in the Pacific NW (scroll past login for full article).

Grand Coulee Dam

Cost are no longer sub-3 cents, but susceptible to market fluctuations. Arguably, Quincy’s data centers are the last IT beneficiaries of a federal spend made over 50 years ago. If new data centers flock to available bulk power, which is dwindling nationally, the cost repercussions will compel a new data center mindset that looks at the IT provisioning and utilization and data center capacity deployment with a much more clinical and harsh eye. And, if we look beyond western hydro, there will be cost and lifecycle consequences of the existing carbon-intensive power generation.

TRASH
The commodity server model allows for cheap and short-lived deployments. But, commodity servers are viable due to leveraged global labor pools and variable environmental regulations to dispose of the troublesome contents of a decommissioned server. Similar to hybrid cars, the sticker price does not reflect the cost of throwing it away. If foreign outsourcing of server recycling (i.e., teardown) was performed onshore at the scale of disposal, what would the total cost of a throwaway server become?

The consumer’s approach would evolve to extending the life of that server rather than replacing it. The irregular and need-based operation of diesel engine generators pales in environmental comparison to server disposal toxicity. Uptime Institute Survey shows 20% of IT departments pay their own power bill. Thus, is it safe to assume that the same percentage pay their own garbage bill?

CASH
For the enterprise, data centers and their contents are often treated as a cost center. For the IT and data center teams, the mission of uninterruptible uptime has been paramount. Thus, the prevailing management mode has been to hold nose and sign check. Budget reductions will threaten headcount in operations teams, but overall data center budgets continue to grow.

The unintended result of the favorable economic conditions is an unrealistic and unsustainable end user mindset of all IT functions available all the time. Many apps whose business value is not of the highest order have luxuriated in a ‘buy new now’ servers and enterprise-grade data center platform (i.e., power, cooling, monitoring, and automation infrastructure). Forward-thinking enterprises have been analyzing and distributing applications to match data-center infrastructure-level support to business value. But, these leading companies do not indicate industry prevalent behavior.

Debating whether server utilization is 7% or 12% or even 20% is a distraction. The issue is the economic factors that allow those low numbers to be perpetuated. There is a move afoot to compress IT, such as virtual server instances. But, the fact that this is an emergent trend shows how far we must travel and so fast.

OUTCOME: A BOON FOR OUTSOURCERS
A disruption in the economic conditions that IT has been enjoying will compel a new level of discipline and consequence in IT decision making. And, outsource alternatives will rush to propose a host of solutions to this economic crisis.

Many of these options will be so complex, or have such efficiencies of scale, that more enterprises will continue to divest themselves of data center facilities or entire IT assets.

A 2012 Uptime Institute survey of global owners revealed that 85% utilize colocation or hosting. Yet 54% had no confidence in their ability to compare outsourcing alternatives dependably. This is to the detriment of both enterprises and providers, as it calls into question the basis and viability of such commitments.

Previous IT decisions were based upon a narrower set of competitive offerings. Currently, the vast majority of enterprises deploy a hybrid computing environment. The decision is no longer binary—whether or not to outsource. It’s multi-faceted—how many and how much of each alternative to deploy.

Uptime Institute has been intensively developing the FORCSS methodology to weigh deployment alternatives with a full look at the major benefits and constraints of these options. FORCSS is the theme of Uptime Institute Symposium 2013. For more information on FORCSS click here.

Find the previous post in this conversation here. Photo of Grand Coulee Dam by Chris M on Flickr

2013 Green Enterprise IT Awards competition now open

Posted by Jeannette Beltran | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 03-10-2012

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Each year, Uptime Institute hosts the Green Enterprise IT (GEIT) Awards, an international competition that recognizes projects, ideas and products that improve energy productivity and resource use in IT. Although the categories in which the Institute grants awards may change each year, the objectives remain the same: to shine a spotlight on innovation and best practice in energy and resource efficiency. Through the GEIT program, we want to recognize and support change agents who lead by example.

GEIT is no popularity contest; our rigorous judging process is designed to select projects that demonstrate groundbreaking ideas that produce quantifiable, high-impact results. Our categories reflect an increased emphasis on converged digital infrastructure, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and improved resource efficiency in energy, water, and carbon use.

CATEGORY

DESCRIPTION

Audacious Idea New, unprecedented ideas for realizing energy and resource efficiency that are not commercially available in the IT and data center industries.
Facility Design – Implementation Cutting-edge data center projects that demonstrate energy and resource efficiency in a new, operational data center.
Facility Design – Innovation Cutting-edge data center designs that focus on energy and resource efficiency.
Facility Product Deployment Facility infrastructure products that significantly improve data center energy and/or resource efficiency, as demonstrated in a user deployment.
Facility Retrofit Data center facility retrofit projects that significantly improved energy and/or resource efficiency in an existing data center.
Green Digital Infrastructure Strategy Exceptional energy and resource efficiency beyond an individual data center.
IT Product Deployment IT products that significantly improve energy and/or resource efficiency, as demonstrated in a user deployment.
IT Retrofit Projects in which IT operations staff significantly improved energy and/or resource efficiency while improving IT effectiveness.

 

Organizations from 20 countries participated in last year’s Awards program, and six countries were represented among the honorees. Past winners of GEIT Awards include AOL, Bell Canada, Capgemini, Dell, eBay, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard, Helsingin Energia, Itaú, Kaiser Permanente, NTT Communications, Savvis, Schneider Electric, Tieto, and Verizon Wireless.

Completed applications must be submitted by 11:59 PM ET, January 18, 2013. Click here to learn more about the application process, or visit http://symposium.uptimeinstitute.com/geit-awards.