Fujitsu Siemens Computers says it can cut the energy costs, operating costs and space footprint of UK data centres by at least 40% – and promises to pay ten thousand pounds to a charity every time it fails to hit that target – but is the offer as green as it looks?
FSC is convinced that data centres are sprawling masses of servers greedily sucking up power for their operations and taking up far too much space. It quotes a 2006 BroadGroup study that claimed the average UK data centre has the same carbon footprint as the city of Leicester.
This makes one ask 'what is a data centre?' because there is no way a collection of twenty servers, some network boxes and a drive array will put out the same carbon emissions as Leicester. Leicester itself contains at least a few such sites, run by companies like Iomart.
FSC limits the offer to FTSE 350 businesses; other companies will have to pay, and it stipulates: "The delivery of a value study is conditional upon an initial assessment meeting and qualification by Fujitsu Siemens Computers. The scope of the value study must include all aspects of the data centre and will require allocation of resources from the recipient. The value study is also conditional upon the recipient signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement protecting both parties."
In other words FSC is under no obligation to disclose its failures. However it may well trumpet its successes, stipulating that participating companies must: "agree to allow Fujitsu Siemens Computers to use their name as a participant in the value study and to issue a press release detailing the top line results of the value study." Perhaps potential participants will not relish the thought of FSC issuing a release saying, in effect, "Company X's wildly inefficient data centre has been identified by FSC."
Also, it is obvious that FSC is hoping to recoup the costs of this through sales of hardware, software and services to the participants. Given the recent advances in blade and virtual servers and consolidated, networked and virtualised storage, it seems apparent that most, if not all potential participants could spend a million pounds with FSC and make the 40% energy cost and space savings.
FSC is not directly funding carbon offset trees with its £10,000 donation to The Climate Group charity www.theclimategroup.org/. Instead the money will be used for “reducing the world's greenhouse gas emissions by catalysing leadership on climate change in order to put the world on track for a low carbon economy,” which contains nothing you could actually measure, unless there is some measure of exactly how you 'catalyse leadership’.
Whereas other data centre IT suppliers Dell, HP, IBM and Sun, have set themselves challenging goals to cut their own carbon emissions, or have introduced zero carbon emission policies for their products – 3PAR and Dell - FSC is doing little more than wrapping a green cloak around pre-sales fishing expeditions into FTSE 350 accounts.
It has joined The Green Grid however.