Transform or trash old datacentres now: Schneider Electric

Organisations need to embark on the lengthy journey of making their legacy datacentres more power efficient, or get rid of them and start anew to avoid throwing money away in the future as energy costs continue to climb, according to the datacentre equipment vendor.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

Ageing legacy datacentres need to be dumped or start being more energy efficient right now, otherwise they will become a monetary black hole for organisations in the next few years, according to Schneider Electric Territory manager for the federal government and the ACT, Olaf Moon.

The elephant in the room for the datacentre industry is the cost of power in the next five to 10 years, he said at the Gartner IT Infrastructure and Data Centre Summit 2013 in Sydney. Power costs have increased significantly in recent times as the world continues to depend on finite fossil fuel to satiate energy needs.

Datacentres take a lot of power to run, and this is something that organisations will have to confront, according to Moon.

"Now is the time to think about it, because changing a datacentre cannot be done quickly," he said. "If you're building a new datacentre today and you're not aiming for a power usage effectiveness [PuE] less than 1.2, then you might as well burn hundred-dollar bills on the street."

Even new and refurbished datacentres need to be given a rethink, because many of them still use outdated datacentre design principles, Moon said. One example he gave was the fact that new datacentres still use raised floors for cooling, which, according to Moon, is unnecessary and a waste of money.

Not only does Moon advise organisations to exodus from their legacy datacentres as soon as possible, even though that may take a few years to achieve, he also recommended investment in modular datacentres or facilities that have factored in power efficiency from day one.

Moon understands that older datacentres created four to five years ago were meant to last for around 20 years, and that there are ways to make existing traditional datacentres more efficient.

"Here in Sydney, we changed the temperature in a client's datacentre to 1 degree Celsius warmer, and that saved the organisation AU$183,000 a year in power," he said. "There is still substantial benefits to be made in older datacentres.

"If it's older than five to seven years, ask about efficiency from your internal organisation or co-location supplier."

One of the biggest hurdles for enterprises that want to initiate cost optimisation strategies within their datacentres is the lack of understanding of their vendors, according to Moon.

"This might sound strange, but there have been a number of times I've gone to a customer who has spent money on a solution that they already own, and they would have discovered that if they had talked with their vendor, whoever that might be — it's a real issue," he said. "Vendors have moved so quickly in the last five years that you really need to devote some effort to understand what's going on with them."

This should go beyond just communicating with one sales representative within a vendor's organisation, according to Moon, but also to get to know the vendor in order to extract cost optimisation opportunities out of them.

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