By Rob Neave
Although voluntary and applying only to data centers located in the EU, the EU Code of Conduct provides a useful blueprint for any
organization that wants to reduce its carbon footprint, improve operational efficiency and insulate itself from rising energy costs and potential power shortages. It sets minimum standards to ensure that participants commit to a useful and substantial level of energy saving. These include decommissioning unused services, reviewing the cooling strategy and instigating a data management policy.
The Code of Conduct focuses heavily on the introduction of management best practices for all areas of the data center. Its five main
focus areas are as follows:
- Utilization, management and planning—The Code of Conduct calls for a holistic management strategy, building teams and improving communication within the data center. It also strives to improve efficiency of space provisioning and of power and cooling, making full and effective use of all the facilities within the data center.
- IT equipment and services—the Code of Conduct prescribes the selection of, for example, appropriate hardware, software and deployment methods as recommended by the Energy Star program. It also stipulates that demand for power and cooling generated by the installed IT equipment must be managed. Cooling—According to the Code of Conduct, airflow, cooling systems and overall temperature and humidity must be closely monitored to drive better efficiencies.
- Power equipment—Data center operators must also centrally manage uninterruptable power supplies, power distribution units, cabling and backup generators. Other equipment—The Code of Conduct stresses the importance of managing non-mission critical equipment (e.g., lighting and office space).
Organizations can sign the Code of Conduct as a Participant (for operators that are prepared to commit to energy reporting and
implementation of best practices) or as an Endorser (for organizations involved with operators, but not running their own facilities).
To participate, an organization must first build a list of equipment that is impacted by the Code of Conduct. This will comprise the data
centers (or parts of data centers), racks and zones plus all the IT equipment housed in these areas. The organization must then perform a gap analysis to identify what information is already known about the efficiency of this equipment, taking steps to collect all missing data. Before submission, businesses must also set achievable targets to improve their energy efficiency. Once the plan is accepted, organizations must develop strategies which ensure that these targets are met.
Challenges of Meeting the Code of Conduct
Prior to submitting an application to follow the EU Code of Conduct, organizations are required to demonstrate an accurate understanding of their data center infrastructures. This must be delivered at a granular level (e.g., showing power consumption per rack and per server). A major challenge here is that surprisingly few data center managers can provide information in this detail. In fact, IDC research shows that 31 percent of European IT departments do not even know the total amount of power consumed by their data centers; of those that do measure consumption, very few have any insight into the consumption generated by different devices and racks4. A complication here is that power consumption is often the responsibility of facilities managers rather than IT personnel.
In order to sign up for the Code of Conduct, let alone develop ongoing strategies to measure consumption and drive further efficiencies, organizations must find ways to automatically gather and track information pertaining to the usage and efficiency of their data center assets. In response to this need, the last few years have witnessed the rapid maturity of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software.
Reprinted with permission from BICSI News Magazine September/October 2011. To view the article in its entirety, please visit: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/bicsi/news_20110910/#/48