With Western European datacentre electricity consumption at 56 terawatt-hours  (TWh) per year in 2007 and projected to increase to 104 TWh per year by 2020, energy efficiency has increasingly become a topic of discussion and concern among datacentre operators. The cost of this energy, the risk of energy shortfalls, the pressure of ever-increasing legislation on CO2 emissions  and the reputational risk of being seen as energy-inefficient have all driven datacentre managers to ask how exactly they can cut energy use in the enterprise.

The code of conduct on datacentre energy efficiency version 1.0 in October 2008 stated: “Historically, data centres have been designed with large tolerances for operational and capacity changes, including possible future expansion. Many today use design practices that are woefully outdated.  These factors lead to power consumption inefficiencies…”

The problem is compounded because datacentre managers are not necessarily experts in energy efficiency measures, with responsibility for providing and paying for energy traditionally part of a facilities management rather than an IT remit. Added together, these pressures and issues have generated an over whelming demand for some type of best practice advice and guidance that can help datacentre managers to implement best practice and operational efficiencies.

This is the value of the Code of Conduct. By creating a network of operators, setting rigorous standards and sharing best practice, the code sets out to bring practical measures, compliance – and financial benefit - to datacentre operators.  As the code is currently voluntary, it allows datacentre operators across Europe to discuss voluntary actions that can be taken to improve energy efficiency which will help them establish a favourable position if (or when) local or regional legislation for datacentre energy use is established.

The challenge for many datacentre managers, however, is working out where to start and finding the time to implement the required processes.  The six steps outlined below provide a simple way to get started.

  1. Assess the code and decide if the organisation wants to sign up and would benefit from signing up. Organisations can sign the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres as a Participant and/or as an Endorser. For more information visit the EU Code of Conduct web site http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/energyefficiency/html/standby_initiative_data_centres.htm
  2. If a decision is made to go ahead with the application, the next step is to quantify the scale and scope and build a list of equipment within the organisation or parts of the organisation that are to be covered by the EU Code of Conduct best practice.  For example, the number of datacentres (or part datacentres), the number of racks and zones to be included and the IT equipment within those racks and zones
  3. Perform a gap analysis on the selected datacentre(s) and equipment to identify what information is already known and what information needs to be collected
  4. Collect all the information needed and input into the “Reporting Form” available from the EU Code of Conduct web site
  5. Set achievable targets for improvement
  6. Submit the form for approval and acceptance

What are the main benefits of following the Code?

The EU Code of Conduct for datacentres is a critical step in the evolution of the datacentre industry as it provides a common set of management standards and best practices for these complex change environments, and a platform where innovation can be shared through a common language around carbon reduction and energy efficiency.

Being part of the code process brings that most vital aspect of business: financial gain. In a broad sense, energy efficiency is a business plus, directly affecting the bottom line through cost savings, and helping avoid risks associated with compliance, reputation and energy shortfalls.

The precise identification of installed IT equipment and the implementation of appropriate monitoring and management processes for datacentre change accompanied by accurate measurement of power used and cooling required will deliver rapid and immediate RoI. 

About the authors:

Marina Stedman, Marketing Director EMEA and Robert Neave, Co-Founder & Vice President Product Management of nlyte Software, which enables companies to optimally place datacenter assets to make the most efficient use of power, cooling and space, enabling a reduction in operating expenses by as much as 20 per cent