Dealing with the triple whammy

By Charles F. Moreira

The interior of data centres are enclosed spaces which pose a triple whammy for their operators, designers and maintainers, of having to find a compromise between the need to maximise on floor space use due to rising costs, the cost of electrical power to run the equipment and the electrical power for the air conditioning and ventilation systems to keep their internal ambient temperature within safe operational limits for the equipment within.

“Analysts say data centres waste energy because they are over-provisioned. For example, data centres today are being run at between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius but the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends 27 degrees Celsius,” Bernard Tan, Principal Consultant in Data Centre Software, Schneider Electric, told Enterprise IT News on the sidelines of the DatacenterDynamics Converged conference and expo in Kuala Lumpur on 21 May, 2013. Also server and storage equipment manufacturers now design them to run at higher temperatures.

Bernard Tan

A leading energy management company, Schneider Electric supplies data centre power infrastructure, cooling systems and the software solutions and systems to manage them. It also helps data centres reduce power consumption, energy wastage and to reduce costs. It helps customers design their power and cooling requirements and systems and the overall energy efficiency of their data centre, and also installs these on a turnkey basis. Schneider also provides consultancy services in data centre energy efficiency and design.

For example, its StruxureWare end-to-end data centre information management (DCIM) software suite lets data centres monitor and control their power supply infrastructure, cooling systems, security and energy usage through their IT system, as well as to analyse and plan their energy management.

Seeing eye-to-eye
“Also, data centres’ facilities and IT departments use different software tools,” said Tan. “For example, facilities might use a building management system, whilst IT might use tools such as Excel Visual, Visio or Autocad to manage their inventory, so tend not to understand nor communicate with each other.

“So, Schneider wants to create visibility and transparency between these two groups so they can work together on the design of their data centre to reduce power consumption and costs, and also to simulate the overall impact a change in the data centre infrastructure will have upon its overall IT system ecology,” he added.

StruxureWare includes integrated support for impact analysis, risk management and other functions in the infrastructure, based upon procedures, processes and best practices contained in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), the world’s most widely accepted approach to IT service management. The ITIL trademark belongs to the U.K. government.

It also helps data centres optimise on their IT assets. “For example, StruxureWare DCIM can identify the idle assets perhaps left over from earlier projects and recommend their redeployment to other productive uses.”

Serious work on DCIM began before 2008 and now is mature enough for systems can communicate with each other to model a complete data centre. However, since DCIM solutions are in their early-adoption phase, Schneider’s customers in Malaysia are taking a “wait and see” attitude.” In Malaysia, they mostly are in the government sector, while worldwide, they are in the banking, healthcare, telecommunications network operators and co-location (commercial) data centres.

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