Data Centre Innovation of the Year 2009

Winner – Migration Solutions

When it comes to the environmental impact of their data centres, most organisations do not know where they stand. That is where Migration Solutions’ Environmental Reporting Audit comes in.

The ERA creates a 360-degree profile of a data centre facility in terms of its construction, power and cooling, protection systems, layout, operational policies and procedures.

But while it maps the data centre environment, according to Alex Rabbetts, Migration Solutions’ managing director, it actually brings additional benefits to other departments.
“The IT director benefits from being able to create a more efficient data centre. The finance director is going to benefit by saving serious amounts of money. And you have the corporate social responsibility director who is going to be able to tick quite a lot of the [environmental] boxes,” outlines Rabbetts.

The reduction of power is the other face of that coin. By auditing the wider data centre environment, ERA can attack the power costs, and that might have nothing to do with the power infrastructure.

One university IT department saved 3% on its power usage after the ERA audit divined that the presence of cardboard boxes in its data centre was creating excess dust and so making the cooling systems work harder. “When you consider that a megawatt of power is around about £876,000 a year, that 3% was equivalent to a significant saving of just under £30,000,” says Rabbetts.

The ERA team builds the audit by examining over 150 points in the data centre. That provides a benchmark score against which improvements can be measured and a series of recommendations designed to improve both the environmental footprint and save the organisation money.

Clearly, in voting Migration Solutions’ ERA Data Centre Innovation of the Year, Information Age readers applaud that twin saving of power and environmental impact.

Runner-up – Telecity

Recognising that customers were looking to host 4 to 5 kilowatts of data centre capacity rather than the traditional 1 to 2 kilowatts, Telecity took a fresh look at the design of its data centres. Among other innovations, its new data centres keep hot air and cold air separate by isolating hot aisles with caps and doors.

Cooling is also deployed ‘in-row’ rather round the edge of the data centre. This benefits customers by enabling them to load more equipment in a single rack; spread it around the rack without regard to which equipment runs hottest; and have cooling systems that react with more immediacy to equipment generating heat.

The upshot is “happier equipment”, longer meantime between failure, lower costs as a result of machines running cooler, and easier maintenance because more kit is stacked in one rack.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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