Green Grid Plans Online Data Centre Efficiency Tool

Users will be able to compare data centre efficiency using an online tool from the Green Grid

Data centre owners will be able to measure their data centres’ maturity, and compare with industry averages using an online tool soon to be delivered by the Green Grid.

The industry consortium, which advises on data centre efficiency, is testing an online tool which lets users measure their data centre against the Data Centre Maturity Model, which the group launched in March. The tool, shown at the Green Grid’s European conference in Paris and London this week, will let users produce a “graphic equaliser” style diagram showing their own data centre, and compare it with information stored online about the average status of data centres in their industry or in their country.

Sharing your best practice

“It is an assessment tool to share and show how your data centre has got to a certain level,” said Mark Monroe (pictured), executive director of the Green Grid, and a former sustainability leader at Sun Microsystems. “They can benchmark themselves and filter by industry type and country. We expect people will assess multiple data centres, and track their progress over time.”

When launched, the Maturity Model consisted of a spreadsheet, with no easy way to produce a measure of a data centre’s performance, but the Grid’s online tool will let users produce their own set of green bars to show their progress.

At first this will only be available to Green Grid members, but it will soon be online free for anyone to use – and will give access to (anonymous) data about all the sites which have used the tool. “The data gets aggregated and we never share whose data it is,” said Monroe. “You can drill down, but not to specific data centres.”

Practical Guidance

The Grid is also publishing a survey of the use of free air cooling provided by economisers, which shows greater use of the technology than Monroe expected. Economisers allow companies to switch off their data centres’ refrigeration units, but moves to make them compulsory in building regulations have been controversial.

“The members were split 50/50 between using economisers and not using them,” said Moneroe. “We though it would be about 25 percent.”

Economisers only work when the outside air temperature is below a certain level, and the companies using free air cooling use it for as many hours as they can, said Monroe – averaging at more than 4,000 hours, which represents half a year.

Future papers from the Green Grid will concentrate on other practical issues, Monroe said. A forthcoming white paper will look into the relative merits of containerised data centres versus modular ones, and another will examine the different carbon tax regimes in different countries (such as Britain’s CRC scheme), and the extent to which this should influence data centre owners’ decision on where to set a new centre.

The Green Grid’s own IT needs are served from a small rack of virtualised servers, with very low energy needs, said Monroe.