Beyond the closet: What’s in your enterprise OR Co-location. Location. Location.
When it comes to data, space matters – and we’re not talking outer, interstellar, or underwater (yet).
For some organizations, there isn’t enough space to store, manage, and access their enormous amounts of bits and bytes. Or terabytes. Or even peta-, exa-, zetta- and yottabytes. What? Yottabytes are 10008 bytes. May the force be with us!
To protect proprietary information, companies and institutions often maintain their own centralized group of servers in one location or use many interconnected locations and servers. These in-house enterprise data centers are wholly supported by the owner, such as a hospital, university, or large corporation. Additionally, a large portion of the organization’s existing software may still run in highly inefficient data centers, like the small enterprise IT facilities, built years ago for banks or insurance companies.
Today, some companies have moved their data into third-party operated, or co-lo, facilities to eliminate the need to maintain their own data centers—it’s more cost effective to transfer the responsibility of running and expanding data capacity to someone else.
How do you manage the electrical and environmental needs of a bundle of power-eating, heat-generating data center equipment?
Data centers will have more demands placed on them in the future. In 2000, 800,000 petabytes of data were stored in the world. This is expected to reach 35 zettabytes by 2020. Currently, Twitter generates more than 7 terabytes of data each day, while Facebook generates more 10 terabytes of data. This means that data centers, driven by social media and normal business operations, will need to be larger, and will therefore consume more energy.
Chief Information Officers now have critical decisions to make about managing their company’s data:
- Do we work with an existing structure of servers in my office, in my building, in my company?
- Should we build a data center on site that’s large enough to handle my needs?
- Does it make sense to move our storage off site to a co-location service?
Data center owners/operators also must balance the trilemma of risks, savings, and costs, including:
- Forecasting the space requirements for the foreseeable future
- Determining the ability to expand
- Retaining and growing internal expertise in cybersecurity, reliability, and rapidly changing technology.
The risks are balanced against the internal labor, utility, and facility costs versus the increased cost of leasing co-lo space.
Opportunity for utilities
These types of data centers are a true growth sector for energy efficiency (EE) implementation programs. By designing a program with incentivized energy-efficient measures that address the needs of data center operators, utilities can make a major impact not only on overall energy usage, but on the unique challenges faced by these operators.
A program that offers an option to relocate IT to a more energy-efficient co-lo facility can tackle the challenges that come with maintaining a large data center: ever-rising costs of ownership, finding a balance between operational costs and remaining technologically relevant, or lowering operational costs to invest in more advanced technology.
A well-designed data center EE program can address operational costs by: 1) incentivizing upgrades that help control or decrease environmental systems consumption, 2) offering rebates on data center management system (DCMS) upgrades, and 3) providing incentives toward the purchase of more energy-efficient servers (such as those that are ENERGY STAR®-rated).
Post script: DNV GL and data centers
DNV GL has successfully designed and implemented data center energy efficiency projects on behalf of our utility clients for more than eight years. Our team has significant experience on both new construction and retrofit data center EE projects, from small server closets to co-lo facilities. We work through the entire cycle of project identification, justification, and evaluation, and follow this up with detailed engineering analysis and post-installation review, assuring that the promise of a data center EE project is fully realized.
Our team also is available to work directly with enterprise-wide data center operators to assist them in company-wide EE initiatives. For more information, contact John J. Greco. John is a D.O.E. Certified Data Center Energy Practitioner, Certified Energy Manager, Certified Measurement and Verification Professional, Certified AEE Building Sustainable Energy Technician Trainer, Certified Lighting Energy Technician, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from the State College of New York.