NAB shares insights on building cool data centres

CeBit preview: Data centre guru Glenn Allan

Ditch your regular servers for blades, consider tri-generation cooling and assess carbon costs over the long term.

These are some of the recommendations that will be discussed by NAB’s data centre platform specialist, Glenn Allan, at CeBit’s upcoming Future-Proofing Your Data Centre conference in Sydney.

The relationship between carbon reduction and cost cutting is simple — carbon reduction equals savings. There’s no need to toy with calculus or limits, Allan said, just establish how much you will pay per tonne to offset carbon, and you’ll see whether the cheap gas guzzler is really as cheap in the long term as it seems.

“That simple model can differentiate what looks like a quick win,” Allan said. “The cheap solution could cost you more than the sleeping giant in permanent, ongoing carbon costs.”

Allan should know: NAB is achieving some great savings by introducing tri-generation and monitoring the power output of its devices.

Tri-generation is an energy and power production technology that takes the now well-established co-generation an extra step, producing heat and power as well as chilled water for uses such as air conditioning.

Power and cooling costs can also be significantly reduced by replacing ordinary servers with blades and using virtualisation, Allan said. Blade servers are the staple in NAB’s data centres, and while virtualisation has been deployed extensively, Allan warns that the enterprise consolidation ratios may not reach some of the more optimistic predictions.

“It will lower the server-to-power ratio — NAB has 16 blades to six power supplies — and if you virtualise, the ratio becomes incredible,” he said. “The case for virtualisation is off the table; everyone should do it, if not for the power savings than for the improved change management capabilities.”

An IT Information Library (ITIL) pundit, Allan says virtualised servers allow for a hot CPU upgrade without interruption, which is a big tick for change management.

Allan will also talk on the sustainability of data centres and attempt to break-down the perception of the data centre as an energy-hog.

Throughout the industry, he says technologies such as cold and hot isle systems, tri-generation and co-generation power are ready to go, and researchers are working on other systems such as jet impingement cooling that could further reduce costs.

“And it is a matter of perception,” he said. “Data centres account for 2 per cent of the world’s energy costs [but] take away IT and see your carbon footprint grow.”

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Tags data centresserverscoolinggreen ITNABtri-generationGlenn Allan

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