In advance of his talk at the Green Data Center Conference, vice president of market development at Emerson Network Power, Jack Pouchet, sat down for a Q&A with IT Innovators about the environmental impact of cloud technologies. A board member of The Green Grid Association—a global consortium including companies, government agencies, educational institutions and individuals dedicated to driving effective and accountable resource efficiency across technology ecosystems—Pouchet takes the pulse of the IT industry and identifies opportunities for innovative solutions that address its dynamic needs.
What is one of the biggest issues facing the IT industry?
Cyber security is top of mind with all of our customers, and all of their customers. It certainly is top of mind with the government agencies, and it’s changing how we operate the existing infrastructure we have, the existing buildings we have. It’s changing how we update the existing facilities and how we plan for the cloud; do we go to a hybrid cloud, do we go to a public/private cloud, or do we build our own data center and go to the cloud?
What advice would you give IT professionals considering private or hybrid cloud?
Ask the questions: “What happens when…What happens to us when whoever we went to goes down? What happens to us when whoever we went to gets hacked?” Those are the things you need to be prepared for and there’s certainly a ton of providers out there that can put in place the security, the data integrity. There are HIPAA-approved cloud providers out there and HIPAA has some pretty strong frameworks around it.
What are some pitfalls you’d warn against?
Think through regional events, a regional power outage or widespread power outage, any sort of natural disaster. What’s your recovery plan? What’s your resiliency plan? What if there’s a major network outage of some kind that takes out the fiber carrier? You have to have plans for that sort of thing when you’re going to the cloud.
How has cloud computing shaped the data centers of today and in the future?
What companies are saying is, “We have a fungible asset in that we can expand into the cloud. We can take non-critical workloads and move them so as IT demands wax and wane, we can go take advantage of what’s out there.” That allows them to make more intelligent decisions on the core building they already have. If it’s more than 3-5 years old, there’s probably a lot of opportunity to make it better. The cloud is allowing people to have a little breathing room. Take advantage of that to make your facility better, more robust, more efficient.
What are the cost savings associated with energy-efficient data center deployments?
For the vast majority of our clients, the Energy Logic strategies net out to a two to three year payback. We encourage data center operators and owners to hire trained professionals when evaluating their existing facilities and to help develop sound, reliable energy-saving solutions that will not jeopardize their production environment, will produce savings and, when properly executed, will lead to a more stable, robust and resilient IT environment.
What options should IT professionals consider to reduce environmental impact?
One thing to consider is the concept of server idle energy. One of the things we know in the IT world is that the vast majority of servers sit idle for a large part of time. We know from Jonathan Koomey’s recent study that up to 30 percent of servers are what we call “comatose,” meaning that there has not been a known workload applied to that device in the last 6 months. Guess what? While it’s sitting there idle, it’s using 40, maybe 50, percent of the energy the working ones are using. So if we did nothing else but just replaced servers as we migrated to ones that only use 10 percent or less energy when they’re idle the savings would be huge.
What are the most significant data center trends in energy that you are seeing?
Clearly what I see is the move to 100 percent renewable energy; going to renewable energy—either buying it or doing microgrids—and then looking at low water or waterless cooling technologies. In the data center world, I think the next thing that’s coming is that people will be held accountable for how much water they are using. How wet is the cloud?
What do you hope to accomplish at the Green Data Center Conference?
What the big players are doing in the marketplace, you can do as well. We’re asking you to take a look at what’s getting done and how we can parse out some of the innovation that has been developed in building what we call these “hyperscale” data centers and apply those principles and practices to what you’re doing. And along the way, speed up your time to execute your time to delivery, your time to deploy, whatever metrics that are important to your business. Those players have done some incredible innovation, some brilliant work, and you can benefit.
Christy Peters is a writer and communications consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a BS in journalism and her work covers a variety of technologies including semiconductors, search engines, consumer electronics, test and measurement, and IT software and services. If you have a story you would like profiled, please contact her at [email protected]
The IT Innovators series of articles is underwritten by Microsoft, and is editorially independent.