Thomson Reuters’ data centre efficiency drive

News and information agency Thomson Reuters’ business is highly dependent on its IT infrastructure. But with more than 20 data centres worldwide that between them consume 30 megawatts of energy, its power costs are considerable.

With energy costs predicted by Ofgem to double over the next 15 years, the company knew that it had to address the efficiency of its data centres. “By becoming more energy efficient today, we’re mitigating against future cost rises,” explained Harkeeret Singh, global head of energy and sustainable technology, at the Future of the Data Centre conference.

The resulting efficiency drive, as spearheaded by Singh, has seen the organisation conduct a full data centre audit. It has also ramped up virtualisation and hardware utilisation, allowing it to decommission much of its IT estate.

“The best way to save power is to turn things off,” Singh explained. Thomson Reuters has also increased the temperature at which servers will operate. “If we raise the temperature of our data centre, it’s going to reduce the energy consumption of servers,” he explained, although he admits that this requires an element of ‘balance’.

Singh has kept a close eye on the data centre electricity bills, allowing him to see how energy is being consumed and identify areas for possible savings. “One of the big things we found was by looking at the utility bills and questioning what’s on them,” Singh said, which has so far resulted in “some weird and wonderful” discoveries about the company’s energy costs.

An important part of the company’s efficient energy scheme has been to overcome the tendency for departments to work in silos, Singh explained. “No-one was talking to each other, so the biggest opportunity was to join these things together,” he said. As a result, he is currently working on “a set of metrics” that will allow a more holistic approach, whereby potential energy-saving opportunities are “cascaded through the business”.

Singh encouraged delegates to challenge their suppliers – both of IT equipment and of energy – to prove the energy efficiency of products and services that are so badly needed. “We need to get more engaged with the industry,” Singh claimed. “We need to tell them what we want.”

Peter Done

Peter Done is managing director of Peninsula Business Services, the personnel and employment law consultancy he set up having already built a successful betting shop business.

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