For datacenter operators, plenty of change is in the air. They have the ever-shifting and generally increasing demands for processing power and storage capacity. There are the swelling prices and shrinking supplies of power. Moreover, there's forthcoming change to environmental legislation that could have a profound impact on how -- and where -- a company bases its datacenter operations.
I had an opportunity to hear firsthand how one datacenter operator is dealing with these changes during a visit to RagingWire, a managed datacenter host in Sacramento that happens to be SMUD's (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) largest customer. During the tour of the 12.6MW, 110,000-square-foot datacenter, James Kennedy, RagingWire's facilities manager, shared with me some of the strategies he's undertaken to cut energy consumption and costs associated with running the datacenter. Moreover, he discussed future challenges the datacenter industry is facing and how current and forthcoming environmental regulation will alter the datacenter landscape and drive cloud computing.
Like any cost-conscious IT company, RagingWire cares about uptime, performance, and keeping energy costs down. To that end, the company has invested in an array of monitoring tools to track the performance of its systems, as well as the environmental conditions of the datacenter. Its tools of choice include Liebert SiteScan, which monitors and controls Liebert precision cooling, power, UPS, leak detection, control panels, and other equipment; GE's iFIX, a SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) engine; and SynapSense, which employs wireless sensors to monitor environmental conditions in real time.
These tools prove helpful in tracking of the datacenter, equipping RagingWire with real-time alerts when problems arise; current data to calculate such metrics of PUE (Power Utilization Effectiveness) on a regular basis; and the ability to generate reports to present customers with a breakdown of the performance and costs of their respective leased sections of the datacenter.
[ PUE is a useful metric -- but the Uptime Institute warns not to put too much stock in it. ]