2011: The Year Ahead, Part 3

As energy efficiency and cost control drive decisions, enhanced metrics will become more important tools in data center design and operations.

We continue with 2011: The Year Ahead, our look at predictions for key trends in the data center industry:

More and Better Metrics

If data centers are built and managed in a more integrated fashion, performance metrics will need to expand and evolve as well. That means expanding beyond Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), the leading energy efficiency metric.

"Successor metrics to PUE and new metrics that focus on the entire data center and everything within as a system will become the de facto tools used to monitor and drive efficiency and lower total costs by the entire operational chain, including CIOs and CFOs," said Mares. "Total energy use and cost per final work output will be the end-goal metrics."

Mares says the next several years will see a "battle of the best metrics" as they expand to encompass all aspects of the data centers, including operations, servers, storage and even network efficiency.

Belady notes that the Green Grid recently introduced extensions to PUE that incorporate tracking of water and carbon.

"The discussion will move from power to the broader topic to sustainability," said Belady. "Microsoft has been proactively tracking carbon usage and water usage for the past few years, but with the emergence of the Green Grid's CUE and WUE, sustainability will become a multi-dimensional debate.

"I think we will see more discussion around the use of Renewable Power Sources in our industry,” he continued). We have seen signs of this over the past couple of years, including DCK’s story on Microsoft in 2008, as well as other recent stories on DCK. However, I believe we will see an acceleration of experimentation in 2011. I am looking forward to the industry’s response.” (See Special Report: Data Centers and Renewable Energy for more on this topic).

The bottom line for 2011: cost will drive new thinking and new approaches, and nudge the industry toward projects that afffect, well, the bottom line. "These changes in focus on total lowest cost …will shrink average costs to build data centers from around $10 million per MW of IT to levels in the range I've been working in of $3 million to $7 million per MW of IT load," predicts Mares.