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Integrated business approach is key to data centre optimisation

Businesses need to take an integrated approach if they are truly to understand the environmental and financial impact of their IT infrastructure, according to Mike West, managing director of Keysource.
Speaking at the: CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme – What You Need to Know seminar – held at the HQ of Hammonds solicitors in the City of London – he explained that organisations needed to work together across all areas of the business to measure the cost of their data centre usage and potentially reduce the energy consumption by as much as 25%.

'Data centres can make up as much as half of a company's energy usage but often it is not clear who pays the bill. It is certainly not the IT department or the CIO,' explained West. 'There has to be a joined up approach between facilities, IT and finance, along with buy-in from the board, to achieve the substantial environmental and financial savings that are available.'

West went on to say that it was possible to achieve more with less, and data centres that use more energy on power and cooling than the actual technology housed within are unacceptable, and unnecessary.

Such facilities ensure companies will ultimately be penalised under CRC, when substantial savings could be made without large-scale investment.

He highlighted a data centre developed for Petroleum Geo Services, which has increased efficiency by 45%, saving £650,000 in its first year and achieving 2.9million kg reduction in annual CO2 emissions.

The facility is expected to pay for itself in two to three years and has reduced overall consumption by more than 20%.

Elsewhere, Yorkshire Water reduced the power usage of its data centre by 25% simply by undertaking an energy efficiency assessment. This process identified quick wins and best practice to achieve these savings with virtually no investment.

'With data centres already responsible for 2% of UK emissions, and this figure expected to triple, there is an opportunity to achieve substantial benefits and take advantage of some of the opportunities CRC presents.

However, people within organisations need to work together to implement not only operational but also behavioural changes that will start to build some momentum,' concluded West.

The event, included speakers from Hammonds LLP, WWF and Baker Tilly, and discussed the main issues around CRC including compliance, accounting and IT infrastructure to provide useful insight into the implications to affected businesses. It was hosted by commercial law firm Hammonds LLP and was attended by senior decision makers and influencers from leading private and public sector organisations.

'Thousands of UK businesses are currently expected to fail in meeting their obligations under the scheme according to recent figures released by the Environment Agency,' said Adam Langridge at Hammonds LLP.

'These companies need to act quickly to ensure compliance and better understand the rules that apply to their operations, what exemptions and reliefs may be available and how the rules on disaggregation work.,' he added.

'WWF usually asks the Information and Communications Technology sector to focus on developing new technologies which enable low carbon lifestyles rather than trying to reduce its small carbon footprint,' said Patrick Laine, director Corporate Partnerships, WWF-UK.

'However, the inefficiency of typical data centres is alarming with emissions forecast to exceed those of the airline industry by 2020. The real danger is that the cost and investment required to run inefficient data centres will crowd out more strategic ICT investment which is needed if business is to meet carbon reduction objectives of 2050.'
14 September 2010

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