on365 Issues CRC Advice Amid Awareness Concerns

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

A data centre specialist has warned that many organisations are still unaware of the pending legislation over their energy usage

on365, a data centre planning and management specialist, is concerned that many organisations are unaware of the pending legislation over their energy usage, and has identified three critical steps to help ease the burden of the CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment).

The UK’s CRC is a mandatory cap and trade scheme, due to be introduced on 1 April this year. It will apply to large organisations in the public and private sectors, and could help cut carbon emissions by 1.2 million tonnes per year by 2020, according to government figures. However the CRC has come under fire because it conflicts with existing green energy subsidy schemes, causing some companies to kill renewable energy projects.

And on365 is worried that many companies are unaware that monitoring energy usage for CRC begins in under three months time. “In general, customers are not phoning us saying they are really concerned about CRC,” said Chris Smith, sales and marketing director at on365, speaking to eWEEK Europe.

“The bulk of our customers are being driven by cost reduction pressures, or they need to get more out of their existing data centres (sweating their assets). That is the two main drivers we are seeing at the moment,” he said. “CRC is not a real issue until they start getting hurt in their wallets, as it seems not to be a headline issue for them at all.”

“People are at the moment looking to reduce costs, and if they call it green, then all well and good,” he added. “However they are looking to ROI, and we are seeing customers trying to release more power in the data centre, because the economy is expanding.”

Smith therefore makes the following recommendations to help IT and data centre managers to ease the data centre management aspects of the CRC compliance burden:

  • Step one – show me the bill. Operating the data centre is reckoned to be the fastest growing area of many companies’ energy consumption and IT, data centre and facility management (FM) professionals are often failing to share information to simplify energy efficiency measures. Research of IT and data centre professionals and finance staff by Loughborough University and on365 in 2009 showed that 56 percent of these staff do not even see their data centre’s energy bill.
  • Step two – put in a dashboard. IT industry analysts such as Gartner recommend setting up a dashboard of data centre performance. on365 is using software tools that enable IT managers to manage energy consumption in the data centre – even down to individual servers’ energy use or power needed for specific tasks. This ‘dashboard’ approach will enable IT managers that are reconfiguring or virtualising data centres to plan outcomes before key IT infrastructure changes are made.
  • Step three – asset management: the information is out there. IT managers are under huge pressure from their CEOs to cut costs but help is at hand with the EU Code of conduct on data centre efficiency. This contains energy efficiency planning resources such as balanced scorecards to help managers reduce energy consumption. It also includes practical advice for managing existing IT assets, helping data centre managers to optimise existing IT investments’ performance without embarking on further capital outlay.

“What I have seen of CRC is that other than the cost angle, companies could be forced to address it if they start appearing on the league tables of companies not doing or performing very well,” Smith told eWEEK Europe. “If they rely on good karma in the market, it could force some issues.”