With global energy prices soaring to historic highs, data centre operators and business owners with in-house data centres across the UK are feeling the heat when it comes to containing the costs associated with the delivery of round-the-clock digital services for customers and users.
As long-term fixed price energy contracts come up for renewal, many companies report they are struggling to find deals that will deliver adequate protection against future price hikes on the horizon.
Indeed, according to the CBI, more than two-thirds of UK firms are already predicting their energy costs will rise by more than 30% in the next quarter. Worryingly, one-third confirm these price rises will negatively impact their planned investments in energy efficiency or Net Zero measures.
For energy intensive operations such as data centres, the ongoing volatility in energy prices means management teams now have to maintain a pin-point focus on what has become a top priority task – finding ways to reduce energy consumption while they pursue more flexible energy models for the future.
In the light of the recent report by FTI Consulting showing that energy prices in UK data centres have risen by over 600% since January 2021, it’s a pressing and business-critical challenge for data centre managers everywhere.
Rationalising legacy data centre infrastructure is just one of the ways organisations can fast-track a reduction in their DC energy consumption.
The rapid pace of digitalisation, combined with a drive to constantly introduce new commercial services, all contributes to server sprawl over time. In our experience up to 20% of data centres have orphaned legacy servers that could be safely and securely removed to help reduce electricity bills and boost environmental compliance.
By rationalising their server, storage and networking assets, and decommissioning any identified redundant legacy assets, organisations will also be benefit from being able to reduce their operational footprint. A move which, in turn, reduces the amount of physical equipment that contributes waste heat to the overall DC environment. Heat that needs to be dissipated and managed using cooling technologies that also consume energy.
Future proofing the data centre by implementing the latest energy efficient technologies is another key strategy for addressing the energy reduction challenge.
With energy costs set to continue to spiral, installing servers and other systems with minimal power consumption in mind is just the start. Today’s servers come with a number of energy-saving features but these will need to be activated to ensure that processors actively reduce power consumption during times of low utilisation.
Similarly, assessing whether servers are running to full capacity and if it’s possible to consolidate and remove unneeded hardware is another key way to generate further cost savings.
According to the Uptime Institute, fewer than 50% of organisations say they track their server utilisation, network or storage utilisation. That’s a lot of organisations that are missing a trick when it comes to aligning their business and sustainability goals.
By putting more applications on fewer machines, and clustering or virtualising machines, energy consumption and waste heat generation can simultaneously be reduced. Similarly, organisations that implement more efficient data storage measures will be able to both reduce the amount of data they store, and ensure this data is stored more efficiently.
To guarantee their data centres are operating optimally, are well-managed, and operate with as little waste as possible, organisations need to constantly monitor and assess everything from asset utilisation to energy efficiency.
Going forward, investing in technologies and services that make it possible to actively monitor, manage and maintain systems for enhanced efficiency and reduced energy usage will be critical. That includes having the ability to regularly audit IT infrastructure efficiency and power usage effectiveness (PUE).
The aim of the game here is to optimise data centre operations as a whole and making energy efficiency a top operational management consideration.
By implementing the right data centre optimisation strategy, many of the organisations we work with achieve ROI within 90 days. But knowing where to start isn’t easy and that’s where Bell can help. We’ve enabled blue chip organisations and small in-house DCs to discover where and how their business can take action.
We’ve then helped design and implement an optimisation programme that enables them to do more with less and significantly reduce their energy consumption along the way.