Data center energy efficiency investment is expanding and is both a major driver and benefit of the convergence of facilities and IT in data center management. Three quarters of top decision makers in a recent survey commissioned by Schneider Electric indicated they have invested in energy efficiency programs in the past year and more than half project this investment to increase next year.
The results suggest business leaders are seeing a money return on convergence of IT and operational technology programs in data center management, particularly when it comes to efficiency.
Redshift Research conducted the survey on behalf of Schneider. It had about 300 employed respondents at companies with at least $50 million in revenue with a decision-making role in facilities management, operations management, technology management, supply chain management or energy management.
Convergence leads to efficiency
More than half of respondents cited the convergence trend in data center management as the biggest impact to business today and 61 percent said energy efficiency was the biggest benefit of convergence. Byproducts of increased efficiency include cost reductions (48 percent) and optimized business processes (43 percent).
The survey also acknowledged that this convergence trend comes with its own set of challenges, including more complex technology management (55 percent), security (54 percent) and conflict between IT and operations staff (47 percent).
“If you boil OT and IT down to the data center it’s about facilities and IT,” said Domenic Alcaro, vice president, mission critical services and software, Schneider Electric. “There’s that clear historical divide. The systems and people don’t communicate and they treat it as fiefdoms. For quite a few years there’s been this mantra that facilities and IT needs to come together, but you need tools to do so.”
Schneider pitches DCIM as convergence enabler
Schneider has a vested interest in promoting such convergence, pitching its data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software suite as a set of tools for managing a converged system.
Alcaro admits that the DCIM hype has been out of control. There’s still a lot of work to be done on Return On Investment (ROI) models.
But there’s a balance returning to availability and reliability with efficiency. There is investment both on the hardware and software side of the house, with software providing a united view into operations.
Operators take efficiency more seriously now
Alcaro, a longtime veteran who came to Schneider via the APC acquisition, gave anecdotal evidence for changes in the sentiment toward energy efficiency.
In the late nineties, APC acquired an uninterruptible power supply company with efficient UPS. Alcaro said the company approached customers with that message and saw that they only cared about availability and reliability. “It’s important, but it was too much the leading thought.”
A data center draws at least 10 to 20 times more power per square foot more than office space does. “Six years ago I saw a true interest in efficiency, but it peaked out in terms of hype. Now we’re at a point where people are investing. It would not be happening were there not a financial impact."