The potential energy and financial savings that data centres could make are entirely overlooked by a measurement like PUE, and the industry's recent fervent fixation on the metric has caused many to miss some much more transformative methods of measurement.
However, despite this, there are some forward-thinking data centre managers who realise that intelligent solutions can step in and play a critical role in boosting energy efficiency in the data centre. Historically, 'basic' solutions have only provided straightforward power connectivity and routing for all the IT components. However, newly developed intelligent solutions not only understand which servers are idle, but also offer data centre managers the option of switching individual or group outlets on or off in response to real time needs. This removes the need for permanently switched-on stand-by, massively reducing energy consumption and creating a far more cost-effective alternative to a complete data centre retrofit.
Performance is key
More progressive companies are not looking to single metrics, but rather to their overall performance in comparison to the energy they consume. Their goals are now to obtain the maximum level of performance for the minimum level of energy consumption.
One such company is online auction goliath eBay3. The website is taking a more holistic and effective approach to increasing its energy efficiency by measuring how many auctions and searches it can process per watt hour of energy used.
PUE is without a doubt useful, but only when used in context and shouldn't be considered as the default tool that will paint an accurate picture of your data centre's energy usage. It's impossible to compare a data centre's performance against its rivals by quoting its PUE as these figures are incomparable.
Those who only quote their PUE will be missing a trick in a competitive situation as they'll clearly be under - or over-selling their data centre's performance. Data centre operators who don't appreciate the importance of accurately managing and measuring their data centre energy usage will fall behind those who do. The reality is that some may find themselves moved aside by data centres operated by forward-thinking managers who want to be part of the next generation data centre landscape.
Mike Jansma is co-founder and Global Head of Business Operations, Enlogic.
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