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Encouraging the adoption of energy efficient data centres

Nurdianah Md Nur | Nov. 25, 2013
Governments should be leading the change by providing organisations with incentives as well as using legislative measures to encourage them to improve the energy efficiency of their data centres.

Even though we are constantly reminded of the benefits of green data centres, not all companies are embracing it. This leads to the question of who is responsible for driving the efficiency improvements in data centres, which was addressed during the panel discussion at the recent Data Center Dynamics Singapore event.

Panelists of the discussion include Ed Ansett, managing partner at i3 Solutions; Johnson Tan, Barclay's director and regional head of engineering Asia Pacific and Middle East; and Wong Ka Vin, managing director of 1-Net Singapore Pte Ltd.

According to Ansett, governments should be the overall driver of encouraging efficiency improvements in data centres. Echoing his sentiment, Tan said that governments can do so by providing data centres with guidelines.

When asked if governments should adopt the stick or carrot approach to encourage organisations to improve the energy efficiency of their data centres, the panelists unanimously agreed that either method work. The carrot approach works as it rewards companies with green data centres with economic incentives. On the other hand, the stick method - which includes taxing on carbon emission and penalising organisations that stubbornly refuse to improve the energy efficiency of their data centres-is effective as it is legislative. However, Wong advised governments that are using the stick approach to do so with care as being too rigid might deter investors from setting up data centres in those countries.  

Mike Jansma, co-founder of Enlogic and moderator of the discussion, believes that the combination of the two methods would be a more "effective motivator" to the adoption of green data centres. According to him, governments should implement a carbon tax through the use of carbon credits. By doing so, companies failing to meet certain carbon usage benchmarks will be penalised while green companies are rewarded as they would be able to sell the credits to the former.

Energy efficiency metrics
Power usage effectiveness (PUE) represents the ratio of the total amount of energy that used by a data centre to the energy delivered to computing equipment. The energy that reaches the computing equipment is considered productive while energy used for infrastructure, such a cooling, lighting, and security, is viewed as waste.

PUE is a de facto standard metric for tracking the energy efficiency of data centres. Wong and Ansett attributed the popularity of PUE in the enterprise to it being straightforward and easy to understand. However, all the panelists and moderator believe that PUE alone is no longer enough to determine if a data centre is using energy efficiently.

Today's energy efficiency metrics should focus more on energy consumption. "Rather than focus solely on the physical support infrastructure effectiveness (as PUE does), perhaps organisations can drive the development and adoption of meaningful standards to help data centre users quantify Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for their infrastructure equipment; therefore realising the total energy impact of their decision making," said Jansma.


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