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Data Centres Hit Capacity Crunch, But Efficiency Is Ignored

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Despite a lack of capacity and power, data centre owners are ignoring efficiency measures, says a survey

A lack of capacity and power issues is keeping data centre operators and managers awake at night, according to the latest annual data centre trends survey.

The survey, which was undertaken by nlyte Software Ltd, a data centre performance specialist, also revealed that many organisations remain blissfully aware of the arrival of the CRC carbon tax.

Capacity, Power And Cooling

The company surveyed 100 IT professionals at the recent Data Centre World Conference and Expo in London to get their input on the current state of their organisations’ data centre estate.

For the second year running data centre capacity concerns, and a focus on cutting IT operational costs (such as power and cooling) continue to cause the most headaches for IT professionals, leading to concern that companies aren’t thinking strategically about data centres.

One third of respondents (37 percent) said that increased capacity demand in the data centre was the top driving factor for data centre enhancements and upgrades. This is more than doubled from the 16 percent in 2011, and demonstrates the increasing importance of the data centre within the corporate jigsaw puzzle.

But what is driving the need for more data centre capacity? Not surprisingly,  the top answser was cloud computing or virtualisation (27 percent), while power management technologies showed strongly on 21 percent.

The report highlighted the challenge of finding suitable power, as well as dealing with the consequences of out-of-date or inaccurate information, and the overloading or overheating of assets.

Poor Management

nlyte Software warned that relatively few organisations (17 percent) were planning on introducing data centre infrastructure management (DCIM) software and tools in 2012, with more than half of the organisations (52 percent) thinkg that keeping data centre asset information in Excel spreadsheets as an acceptable way to measure and track them, “when in reality this method is largely inaccurate and wholly unmanageable,” said nlyte.

“While it’s reassuring to see a wider recognition of techniques like DCIM, which have the potential to overcome these data centre inadequacies, there is a clear discord in terms of implementing such transformational technology,” said Rob Neave, co-founder and VP of IT and sustainable initiatives at nlyte Software.

“Whether this stems from budgeting issues remains to be seen, but what is clear is the fact that far too many organisations still rely on outdated and inadequate technology to run the data centre,” said Neave. “This begs the question, are organisations really taking their data centre estate seriously?  As the IT backbone of any company, to not invest enough in fundamental resources is a reckless decision that threatens to grind the entire business to a halt.”

CRC Apathy

The nlyte research also found that despite the publication of the CRC Energy Efficiency League Table in November 2011, and the threat of financial penalties in 2013, many organisations are not proactively reducing the carbon footprint in the data centre.

Worryingly, there was a slight rise in the number of respondents who did not know what measures their organisations had introduced to comply with CRC guidelines, while almost one third (30 percent) had still not introduced any measures at all.

“Without technology that gives data centre mangers a true, real time picture of the data centre, little can be done in the way of green initiatives – this may be the reason why the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme has had little impact,” said Neave.

“Organisations need to start putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to data centre management, and invest in technology that allows the data centre manager to take charge, and project the future of the data centre, rather than fall victim to it,” he said.

London Cooling

Meanwhile another survey, this time from data centre provider Node4, revealed an exodus from London caused by power squeeze concerns.

Node4 says that said that as a result of these growing concerns about the power demands of London data centres, its own data centres outside of London have become much more attractive to firms looking to avoid the limited power resources within the M25.

Node4 said it has already seen a surge of interest from customers who are apprehensive about the rising costs associated with London data centres as well as ongoing anxieties about terror threats.

“Although most are hoping the Olympics will go without a hitch, IT managers aren’t leaving things to chance when it comes to related pressures on their data infrastructures,” said Andrew Gilbert, MD of Node4.

“There has been much talk previously about the issues faced in London with regards to the growing number of businesses fighting for finite sources of power and during the Olympics, a time when many businesses want to put their best foot forward, data centres could face downtime,” Gilbert said.

“The results could be damaging, particularly for companies where a continuous level of service is vital,” he added.

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