Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Australia starts work on new data centre metrics

itnews in Australia reports that that the Federal and State governments have come together to develop new metrics to measure energy efficiency in data centres.

There is already a National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) - similar to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the US Green Building Council – managed by the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW).  But a data centre is a very different beast, in terms of power consumption, to your average building, so specific metrics for data centres are to be added.

Two companies have been chosen to develop the metrics; Xergy, which helped develop NABERS, and Connection Research, which specialises in analysis of sustainability issues.  Connection Research has put together a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to provide input to the methodology for developing the metrics. 

I’ve said before that I’m not keen on the proliferation of standards around green IT – the more universal measures are then the more likely they are to be adopted, particularly internationally.  But the PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) measure from the Green Grid is pretty crude, a ratio of the total data centre power to what’s used by the IT equipment.  There are a number of issues around the way it’s measured and, in particular, in comparing data centres.  It doesn’t, for instance, take into consideration increased utilisation rates through virtualisation, or any additional levels of reliability/availability that are built in.

As Graeme Philipson, Research Director at Connection Research pointed out, there are other organisations around the world looking at better data centre metrics, including the Green Grid itself and the British Computer Society.  Hopefully emerging metrics will be compatible, as well as taking into consideration existing guidelines on data centre operation, for example the EU Data Centre Code of Conduct.  But then, having worked with Connection Research on other aspects of green IT assessment, I’m sure they’ll do a thorough job.

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