How do you select an energy provider for your datacenter?

How much are you paying for your datacenter energy needs? And who's negotiating the price?
Written by David Chernicoff, Contributor

With all the press releases, vendor contacts, PR announcements, and media coverage of new products and technologies, it can be very easy to lose site of the fact that the majority of datacenter operators are looking to improve their existing infrastructures without replacing it with the latest and greatest technology. Part of the reason that technologists tend to overlook the easiest starting points is because they fall under the auspices of facilities management, rather than IT. This is especially the case when the datacenter shares building space with the general business facility.

I was reminded of this as clients started contacting me this week about guidelines for shopping for power. I had to let them know that this is not an area where I have any experience; Pennsylvania is allowing a major increase in electricity costs starting in January, and there is a full court press going on from the various providers looking to get a share of the residential and commercial energy market here with the presumption that customers will want to move off of the traditional providers who plan on major price increases.

Curiously enough there is very little information easily accessible on the competing providers, which is likely why clients were contacting me about the issue. No one is discussing actiual rates at this point, and though some vendors are offering price guarantees 912-month lock in with no increases) there is an absolute dearth of information on what will be happening with the cost of power in this state in the next few months, though everyone I talk to on the provider side is certain that rates will be spiking significantly, and that discounts based on of-peak and volume utilization will be reduced or removed completely.

Being tied into the grid for all your power needs makes your business susceptible to the fluctuations on the price of energy in ways you may not have considered. Perhaps it is time to sit down with your facility management team and get involved in the process.

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