Feds Push Datacenter Monitoring Tools

August 18, 2016 By Carl Weinschenk

datacenterThe current administration has shown a great interest in pushing renewables. That’s important: The government has huge buying power. This in influences vendors which in turn, changes the equation for everyone who deploys datacenters.

On August 1, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) said that its Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP) will be the managing partner for the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI).

That’s a lot of acronyms. The bottom line, as outlined at ExecutiveGov, is that the DCOI is an effort to fulfill datacenter provisions in the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act. At least some of these related to datacenter efficiency. A goal is to build upon the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative that was enacted in 2010.

To some extent, the news is about the arcane elements of how the federal government actually implements things that are mandated in regulations and laws. It’s a bit of inside baseball. But the bigger picture is that the federal government is not slowing down in its desire to cut datacenter energy use. That they are moving in this direction will have a big impact far beyond the government.

One of the GSA’s mandates concerns how datacenter energy is measured and monitored. Brian White, the Director of Strategic Alliances at TrendPoint, in response to emailed questions from Energy Manager Today, pointed to the feds’ desire to keep closer tabs on datacenters. One document — Executive Order 13693 — requires the installation and use of “advanced energy meters in data centers by September 30, 2018.”

These meters and the associated tools are a big deal. At The Stack, Michael Adams, Panduit’s EMEA Director for Integrated Data Centres, pointed to the importance of DCIM in general.

Operators can now have a centralised, real-time and historical visibility of power, environmental conditions, capacity and security in the data centre using granular operational data captured by the DCIM tools and system – and accumulating trend data also allows the operator to drive increased efficiencies throughout the data centre.

The government is the tip of the iceberg. Datacenters are the biggest concentrated users of energy in the telecommunications and IT sectors. Great efforts, at many different levels, are ongoing to manage the process in the face of accelerating demand. Microsoft’s project Natick is looking at cooling datacenters by submerging them in the ocean.  More recently, Google showed that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) holds the promise of cutting datacenter energy use in half. Other progress – some from smaller companies – are just as impressive.

Advanced measuring and monitoring tools have evolved to the point that they can make the goals that these projects hint at an everyday reality.

We’re seeing new momentum in both federal and private sector datacenters. Both federal and private sector data centers have new energy efficiency requirements coming in via corporate initiatives, customer requirements, and/or state and federal legislative efforts.  Commercial buildings are also facing similar requirements to meet efficiency standards and adopt advanced monitoring systems that are required to collect, aggregate, and report compliance data.

Data centers always have aimed at efficiency. Often, however, they lacked the technologies to make it happen. Now, there increasingly are sophisticated automated energy monitoring systems that are scalable, flexible and easy to implement. These tools derive meaningful insights from operations — in government datacenters and beyond.

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