Earlier this year, I was fortunate to take a tour of one of Fujitsu UK & Ireland's data centres. While I know that many of us have had too many tours of rows and rows of servers, disk storage and network cabling, I thought that you might find this one very different and therefore demonstrate what can be done if one really wants to make an environmental statement!
First, housed in a very non-descript building in North London, I was stunned that I was not going into a modern, purpose built glass tower, but rather entering a re-developed brownfield site and a refurbished existing warehouse. How many times have we heard that it's too expensive to retrofit our data centres in favour of building on greenfields?
In this case, Fujitsu spent around $70M to get a data centre that became the Uptime Institute's first Tier III in Europe, and then to go on and run the facility with an energy efficiency above 70% or the Green Grid's PUE of at least 1.4. In other words, it uses about half the energy of typical data centres in the hosting and cloud services market, and by default should have lower operational expences.
There are many environmental features in the new Fujitsu data centre. For example, Fujitsu uses a low energy evaporation tower to cool the chilled water cooling system when the outside temperature is low. In addition, when the temperature drops below 56 degrees Fahrenheit, the cool air is drawn in from the outside (free cooling!). The intelligent cooling system in conjunction with variable speed fans, pumps and heat exchangers significantly reduces the energy used to keep the IT systems cool, saving enough energy to power over 2,000 households every year.
However, through its modernisation programme and taking full advantage of the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) business model where data centre modularity, consolidation and virtualisation play leading roles, Fujitsu expect to save enough energy to power up to 6,000 homes.
In the lead up to the 2012 London Olympic Games, where energy shortages are already predicted, it was encouraging to see Fujitsu get ahead of the challenge and make their data centre operations as efficient and sustainable as possible.
With this as a backdrop to CIOs looking to make a decision whether to use a Cloud Services provider for aspects such as IaaS, or Platform as a Service ( PaaS) , please take a moment to make sure they have also made commitments to energy efficiency. These suppliers will tend to be better run, have worked out how to be very competitively priced, and will be able to scale their ICT operations without any service interruptions.