Five tips to prepare your data centre for the carbon tax

There's no escaping the carbon tax, so it's important to act now, industry experts say

With the carbon tax set to take effect July 1, data centre owners and end users shouldn’t wait to make their operations more efficient, according to industry officials and analysts at a VMware event in Sydney. Here are five of their top tips for taking control of power usage and reducing a business’s tax.

  • 1. Measure power consumption. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” says Ovum analyst, Steve Hodgkinson. “The sensors are becoming so small now that they can be applied in very many parts of any production process. [Businesses] just stick them on.” A particular type of sensor called a “parasitic mote” runs forever by taking its energy from the vibration of what it’s monitoring, he said. Companies like Sydney-based East River Software make software-as-a-service apps to crunch the data, he says.

  • 2. Virtualize most everything. Reducing the number of servers in a rack through virtualization saves a “huge” amount of energy, says Macquarie Telecom managing director of hosting, Aidan Tudehope. It’s not just servers that can be virtualized, he says. “You now can put every physical device known to man on a virtual machine.”

  • 3. Not all metals are equal. Some metals are more energy-efficient than others, Tudehope says. He compared the choice of metal to picking the most efficient fuel for moving an automobile.

  • 4. Think “outside the box.” Consider “how much does it cost to run the bits that are outside the router,” Tudehope says. Racks produce almost as much heat as they consume, he said, so cooling is a critical element that also consumes a great amount of energy. Greening cooling systems can be expensive without proper scale and expertise, but outsourcing to a centralized data centre is a convenient answer, he says.

  • 5. Don’t wait and see. The best approach is to act early, Hodgkinson says. “The drivers are increasing energy costs and a global movement toward the regulation of carbon,” Hodgkinson says. “That’s not going to go away.” Tudehope agreed it’s important to move ahead: “It’s the greenest data centre that will win.”

    Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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