With Western European data centre electricity consumption of 56 TWh per year in 20071 projected to increase to 104 TWh per year by 2020, energy efficiency has increasingly become a topic of discussion and concern among data centre operators. The cost of this energy, the risk of energy shortfalls, the pressure of ever-increasing legislation on CO2 emissions and the reputational risk of being seen as energy-inefficient have all driven data centre managers to ask how exactly they can cut energy use in the enterprise.

Historically, data centres have been designed with large tolerances for operational and capacity changes, including possible future expansion. Many today use design practices that are woefully outdated. These factors lead to power consumption inefficiencies.

The problem is compounded because data centre managers are not necessarily experts in energy efficiency measures, with responsibility for providing and paying for energy traditionally part of a facilities management rather than an IT remit. Added together, these pressures and issues have generated an over whelming demand for some type of best practice advice and guidance that can help data centre managers to implement best practice and operational efficiencies.

This is the value of the Code of Conduct. By creating a network of operators, setting rigorous standards and sharing best practice, the Code sets out to bring practical measures, compliance – and financial benefit – to data centre operators. As the code is currently voluntary, it allows data centre operators across Europe to discuss voluntary actions that can be taken to improve energy efficiency which will help them establish a favourable position if (or when) local or regional legislation for data centre energy use is established.

The challenge for many data centre managers, however, is working out where to start and finding the time to implement the required processes. The six steps outlined below provide a simple way to get started.

  1. Assess the Code and decide if the organisation wants to sign up and would benefit from signing up. Organisations can sign the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres as a Participant and/or as an Endorser. A Participant operates one or more data centres or equipment within data centres and commits to energy reporting and implementation of certain practices from the Best Practice guide. An endorser (which is an organisation involved with data centre operators but not running its own data centre) commits to support the code and Participants through the development of products, information, services, education or other programs.
  2. If a decision is made to go ahead with the application, the next step is to quantify the scale and scope and build a list of equipment within the organisation or parts of the organisation that are to be covered by the EU Code of Conduct best practice. For example, the number of data centres (or part data centres), the number of racks and zones to be included and the IT equipment within those racks and zones.
  3. Perform a gap analysis on the selected data centre(s) and equipment to identify what information is already known and what information needs to be collected.
  4. Collect all the information needed and input into the “Reporting Form” available from the EU Code of Conduct web site.
  5. Set achievable targets for improvement.
  6. Submit the form for approval and acceptance.

What are the main benefits of following the Code?

The EU Code of Conduct for data centres is a critical step in the evolution of the data centre industry as it provides a common set of management standards and best practices for these complex change environments, and a platform where innovation can be shared through a common language around carbon reduction and energy efficiency.

Being part of the Code process brings that most vital aspect of business: financial gain. In a broad sense, energy efficiency is a business plus, directly affecting the bottom line through cost savings, and helping avoid risks associated with compliance, reputation and energy shortfalls.

The precise identification of installed IT equipment and the implementation of appropriate monitoring and management processes for data centre change accompanied by accurate measurement of power used and cooling required will deliver rapid and immediate ROI.