Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Cloud Computing, Data center availability, Data center energy efficiency, Data center media | Posted on 04-10-2012
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.
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).
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.
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?
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.
Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Data center energy efficiency, Data center media, Green IT, IT and Facilities Management Integration, Uptime Institute Symposium | Posted on 25-09-2012
This post is the first in a series, a conversation about the NY Times articles on the data center industry.
On Sunday, September 22 the New York Times published the first article in a series about the physical structures that make up the cloud, and their impact on our environment. The first article, “Power, Pollution and the Internet,” focused on the inefficient operating practices rampant in the data center industry. Kenneth Brill, Hank Seader and Bruce Taylor of the Uptime Institute were quoted in the article. The Sunday issue of The New York Times has a circulation of just over 2 million and NYTimes.com is the most popular American newspaper website averaging more than 30 million hits each month.
Uptime Institute is pleased to see this issue receiving attention in the national media, but the initial article on the front page of the Sunday New York Times did not recognize the progress that’s been made by the industry, and did not reflect the path that the industry is on for even further efficiency gains.
In fact, in the six years since Uptime Institute took up the task to improve the economics and sustainability of global enterprise IT, the data center industry has dramatically improved energy efficiency.
These improvements have come from the data center facility management and design field – the traditional constituency of the Uptime Institute – and are largely attributable to data center designers and operators providing more efficient cooling of IT equipment.
Companies are taking a number of steps to improve data center efficiency, especially related to airflow containment, increased inlet air temperature on servers, and increased monitoring of cooling. This is a positive trend in terms of cost, efficacy, and enhanced consciousness of the industry overall. These improvements can typically be accomplished inexpensively and with current staff resources.
The graphic below from the Uptime Institute 2012 Data Center Industry Survey outlines the steps large organizations (data centers managing over 2,000 servers) are taking to improve data center efficiency. These large organizations have the resources and financial incentives to wring the most effectiveness out of their data center infrastructures.
Let’s try to put this efficiency improvement into quantifiable terms, specifically improved PUE.
Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is a metric used to determine the energy efficiency of a data center’s facility infrastructure. In 2007, Uptime Institute surveyed its Network members (a user group of large, traditional enterprise data center owners and operators) and determined the average enterprise data center had a PUE of 2.5. This means that for every 2.5 watts in at the utility meter, only one watt is delivered out to the computing load. According to our 2012 survey, featuring 1,100 enterprise data center end users, the average global, self-reported PUE is between 1.8-1.89, a significant improvement over early estimates.
Uptime Institute acknowledges that self-reported, averaged PUE numbers are a blunt tool for assessing data center infrastructure efficiency. But companies measure PUE with increasing accuracy and detail and PUE is an accepted indicator of the industry’s progress.
Steps to further improve mechanical efficiency are necessary but will be incremental, and minor compared to the potential for energy savings on the IT side, as reducing the IT load has the double benefit of reducing the required mechanical load as well. Yet, IT practitioners are not incentivized to reduce energy consumption, as typically IT organizations are not responsible for paying the power bill.
Only 20% of IT Departments pay the power bill
The first round of data center efficiency gains were low-cost improvements, self-funding projects. Facilities executives led the first charge to improve data center energy efficiency because the cost of inefficiency was allocated to their department. Uptime Institute has long maintained that future improvements in data center efficiency will depend on incentivizing IT practitioners to take the next steps.
IT operations staff can drive exponential improvements in data center efficiency and effectiveness. IT organizations that will benefit most are those that take a systematic approach, starting at the application and data layers: consolidating applications and servers, de-duplicating data, removing comatose but power-draining servers, building redundancy into the applications and IT architecture rather than physical systems, improving server utilization; these initiatives will result in the most significant efficiency gains and drive the next wave of energy-efficiency innovation. But today, according to the 2012 survey data, only 20% of organizations’ IT departments pay the data center power bill.
Driving behavior and deployment changes to IT from the facilities operations side is a difficult task, but there is one area where both sides of IT delivery can come together and make a significant impact on data center energy consumption is killing comatose servers.
Uptime Institute conservatively estimated up to 10% of enterprise servers are running obsolete or unused software, have no function at all, yet remain in operation. Decommissioning a single 1U rack server can result in $500 per year in energy savings, an additional $500 in operating system licenses, and $1,500 in hardware maintenance costs. But it takes hard work to identify comatose servers and many organizations do not go through the effort. Last year, Uptime Institute introduced an annual contest (Server Roundup) to encourage the removal and recycling of obsolete IT equipment in an effort to decrease data center energy use.
Uptime Institute strongly encourages participation in this year’s contest, details and rules posted here. Last year’s first place winner, AOL, rounded up close to 10,000 servers and saved its organization over $5 million.
Since 2006, the mission of Uptime Institute Symposium has been to continuously increase uptime and global IT productivity through benchmarking and collaborative learning. Over the years, the Institute focused on identifying practical, immediate data center design and operations improvements that yield significant energy savings without capital expenditure, and offering strategies for breaking down the organizational barriers that undermine progress.
Uptime Institute Symposium has been a driving force for progress in Green Enterprise IT – challenging the largest data center operators in the world to deal with runaway energy consumption, making IT energy efficiency a C-level issue, and providing the platform that launched The Green Grid.
Engage with us at our annual spring event that brings together industry stakeholders in enterprise IT, finance, executive management, data center facilities, and corporate real estate to deal with the critical issues surrounding enterprise computing. At Symposium, the best minds in the business meet to share knowledge and discuss how the IT industry can meet its collective goals of performance, availability, energy efficiency, and profitability.
At Symposium, Uptime Institute grants Green Enterprise IT (GEIT) Awards to projects, ideas, and products that significantly improve energy productivity and resource use in IT. The Awards are open to applicants in all countries and are carefully judged by a committee of independent experts. These provide groundbreaking, repeatable case studies and the industry’s highest honor for corporate IT sustainability.
-Download the full survey report
-Sign up for the Server Roundup
-Read about how AOL saved over $5 million removing 10,000 obsolete servers
-Stay up to date on Uptime Institute Symposium
-Apply for the 2013 GEIT Awards
Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Data center media, Digital Infrastructure, IT and Facilities Management Integration, Uptime Institute Professional Services | Posted on 17-11-2011
Uptime Institute recently participated in SearchDataCenter.com’s Data Center Advisory Board Q&A on capacity planning. In the article, Steve Carter, Uptime Institute VP of Digital Infrastructure Services explains how companies can start looking at long-term planning.
Carter warns that traditional capacity planning forecasting practices will lead to over-building:
“Many new data centers are significantly over built. My belief is that using common capacity planning forecasting practices in use today will lead to at least 2X over specification of spatial requirements. Common capacity planning practices are not keeping pace with the realities of advances in hardware and the software that enables visualization/consolidation capabilities.
“I believe this gap is and will continue to lead to over-specification of total data center infrastructure requirements from the IT load perspective. Understanding how application load drives IT infrastructure requirements, and how IT infrastructure requirements drive data center facilities requirements needs to be better understood at more granular level. In the past, a lot of this was guesswork. We can no longer estimate future IT electrical loads by simply projecting past IT load parameters based on historical UPS electrical load profiles.”
Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Data center media, Data center operations, IT and Facilities Management Integration | Posted on 01-11-2011
Uptime Institute Executive Director Pitt Turner wrote a column this month for Mission Critical Magazine, exploring the top challenges facing data center executives over the next five years. Turner describes the future of data center financial management, availability requirements, operational best practices, and staffing.
Posted by mstansberry | Posted in Data center design, Data center energy efficiency, Data center media | Posted on 22-07-2011
Tags: SearchDataCenter.com, Survey
A few stats from SearchDataCenter.com’s annual data center survey:
-In 2011, 40% of respondents said that the IT department is responsible for paying the power bill, while 60% do not. The matter of IT departments footing the utility bill is in decline from 2010, where 47% of IT departments paid for power and 53% did not.
-In 2011, 51% of IT professionals reported using ducted or plenum containment to control air flow in the data center, 43% use hot-aisle containment and 39% use cold-aisle containment. These findings are similar to 2010 results, except for a slight uptick in 2011 in ducted and cold-aisle containment use. There was also a small decline in the use of hot-aisle containment.
-In 2011, 54% of IT respondents reported using raised floors, while 40% deployed slab floor. This is a notable change from 2010 where 58% of IT professionals used raised flooring and 33% used slab flooring.