Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Sustainable IT: EC Code of Conduct for Data Centres

This article examines the European Commission’s Code of Conduct on Data Centres Energy Efficiency.

What is it? It is a voluntary initiative that aims to inform and stimulate data centre operators and owners to reduce energy consumption in a cost-effective manner without hampering the mission critical function of data centres.

Why do we need it? Many data centres are poorly designed with large tolerances allowing for capacity changes, and possible future expansion. Thus they end up using significant power, the majority of which is consumed by redundant power supplies and cooling systems. Hence selectively switching off IT systems does not result in significant energy savings.

Power used by data centres contributes substantially to the overall electricity consumed in the European Union commercial sector. Also, power costs are rising as a percentage of overall IT costs. Hence there is an urgent need to encourage data centres to take remedial action.

But don't we already have such measures within the industry? Yes, we do. But there is a risk of confusion, mixed messages and uncoordinated activities. A central, EC-wide Code of Conduct helps the cause.

Who should take note of this Code of Conduct? Data centre owners and operators, data centre equipment and component manufacturers, service providers, and other large procurers of such equipment.

The Code of Conduct classifies organisations as Participants (Data Centre Owners and Operators) and Endorsers (supply chain and service providers including vendors, consultancies, utilities, Government, Industry Associations/Standards bodies, educational institutions).

How does it aim to achieve its objective? By proposing general principles and practical actions to be followed by all parties involved in data centres, operating in the EU.

The Code of Conduct considers the entire data centre as a complete system. It provides guidelines and best practices for existing and new data centres covering IT Load and Facilities Load at Equipment Level and System Level.

What are the components of the Code of Conduct? It has a Secretariat and three Working Groups to establish and monitor commitments, and oversee the Code. 

Working Group
Best practices
Liam Newcombe
BCS Data Centre Specialist Group
Explore and exploit energy saving opportunities in the data centre
Energy efficiency metrics and measurements
Jan Viegand
Danish Energy Agency and the Danish Electricity Saving Trust
To develop a method to measure the electricity consumption and energy efficiency of data
centres and server rooms
Data collection and analysis
Anson Wu
UK Department for Environment (DEFRA)
To measure the energy consumption, calculate the energy efficiency of data centres and establish performance benchmarking

The Secretariat is composed of representatives of the European Commission DG JRC and the chair persons of the three working groups

What could we do next?
  • Initially: To qualify as a participant, submit an initial report describing the simple physical and operational characteristics of your data centre along with the most recent one month facility and IT energy consumption details.
  • Regularly provide energy usage details to the designated working group of the Code of Conduct.
  • Within 3 years plan to meet Expected Minimum Levels of energy saving. These levels are identified out of best practices documented by the Code of Conduct.
Who is already part of the Code of Conduct? Some of the participants include: Fujitsu, HP, Intel, the Met Office, Microsoft, Business&Decision, evoswitch, Lamda Hellix Datacentres, Memset, Petroleum Geo-Services,, TCN, Telecity Group, Telekom Austria, VCD and Vodafone

DSKTN View: The EC Code of Conduct provides a framework which helps data centres to target energy reductions in a more structured manner, leading to financial, environmental and infrastructure benefits. Also, flexibility and continuous improvement methods built into the code make it easier to adapt to a variety of national efficiency programmes, climates and energy infrastructures.

We suggest participants consider the following to help comply with the code
  • Modern process architectures such as multi-cores
  • Virtualisation to increase hardware utilisation
  • Carbon costs associated with software enhancements, replacements, retirement
  • Value of IT to minimise/avoiding travel and deliver services
  • Embrace cloud based services where possible – even the futuristic Data Center as a a Service
We will endeavour to bring experts associated with the Code of Conduct to you as soon as possible. We encourage you to join our Sustainable IT Special Interest Group on our website.

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