Data centre and IT managers are not paying sufficient attention to the process of measuring, monitoring and modelling energy use in data centres, according to a recent interactive poll conducted by Gartner.
Gartner says that, unless users start to create accurate dashboards, they will not be able to reduce energy costs and meet compliance requirements.
The Gartner webinar conducted in April 2009 among more than 130 attendees from the infrastructure and operations (I&O) management found that although green IT issues remain at the top of the agenda, respondents consider vendor and green procurement a low priority activity for the next 18 months.
Although 68% of respondents thought data centre energy management is their most important green IT issue for the next 18 months, only 7% consider green procurement and pushing vendors to create more energy efficient and greener solutions as their top priority.
“This finding is further affirmed in client conversations which reveal that, although the green IT and data centre energy issue has been on the agenda for some time now, many managers feel that they have to deal with more-immediate concerns before focusing attention on their suppliers’ products,” says Rakesh Kumar, research vice-president at Gartner. “In other words, even if more energy efficient servers or energy management tools were available, data centre and IT managers are far more interested in internal projects like consolidation, rationalisation and virtualisation.”
Despite this apparent lack of concern for the measuring and monitoring of energy use, around 63% of poll respondents said that they will face data centre capacity constraints in the next 18 months. More importantly, 15% said that their data centres are already at capacity and will be forced to build new sites or refurbish existing sites within the next 12 months.
Gartner said that energy management (both in terms of capacity and cost) can only be effective through advanced monitoring, modelling and measuring techniques and processes. However, when asked which energy management metrics they will use in the next 18 months, 48% of respondents have not even considered the issue of metrics. However, without metrics it is impossible to get accurate data, which is essential to evaluating basic costs, proportioning these costs to different users and setting policies for improvement.
“These metrics form the bedrock for internal cost and efficiency programmes and will become increasingly important for external use,” says Kumar. “Organisations that want to publicise their carbon usage through green accounting principles will need to have their basic energy use continuously monitored.”
Kumar also urged organisations not to rely on internal metrics saying that evaluating server energy needs to be done in an open and transparent manner.
In order to include metrics, measurement and modelling in a data centre’s green IT strategy, Gartner recommends that data centre and IT managers implement the following recommendations with immediate effect:
* Raise the temperature at the server inlet point up to 24 degrees Celsius (71 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit), but use sensors to monitor potential hotspots;
* Develop a dashboard of data centre energy-efficient metrics that provides appropriate data to different levels of IT and financial management;
* Use the SPECpower benchmark to evaluate the relative energy efficiencies of the servers; and
* Improve the use of the existing infrastructure through consolidation and virtualisation before building out or buying new/additional data centre floor space.