Suddenly IT finds itself more concerned with increased energy monitoring and cooling at the rack level -- having sufficient juice and cooling in the rack room is not good enough, says Gartner's Cappuccio. That rack-level focus is not an area in which facilities management is experienced.
Server chips from AMD and Intel can trigger automatic alerts when they detect too much heat and even throttle back the chip speed to reduce heat emissions. However, a simple solution like throttling back may not be the answer if those racks are running mission-critical applications during peak business hours. This goes way beyond the room- and building-oriented energy and cooling focus of traditional facilities management, instead requiring systems akin to network management, in which IT has experience.
When the facilities and IT networks are part of a single entity, the unified system will know when peak demand is expected and be able to react better. For example, the policies in such a system could turn on more servers or draw from on-demand resources to better distribute the load, rather than curb performance.
Another area where IT has the experience required for the new energy environment is in asset tracking, says Emerson's Kightlinger. It's not enough to track physical assets, he says; businesses need to also track the power consumption and usage patterns to figure out appropriate load balancing -- the kind of work typically handled through monitoring software IT has long experience with, all managed through a database. "IT managers run that [database]," he says.
But the systems IT has used for monitoring -- such as CA Unicenter, Hewlett-Packard OpenView, and IBM Tivoli -- haven't been designed to understand the implications of energy usage or of business implications of changes, says James White, a product manager at Managed Objects. However, that's beginning to change as "business service management" features -- specifically, ones related to facilities management -- come into the traditional monitoring tools from CA, HP, IBM, and Managed Objects.
The intertwining of IT and facilities outside the datacenter
The focus of cooperation and even convergence between facilities and IT in the datacenter is driven by ensuring business efficiency and continuity. But outside the datacenter, there's a simpler motivation: cost savings.
Traditionally, HVAC systems are overengineered, so there's redundancy and future capacity built in. That translates to extra ducts and greater cooling or heating capacity than needed -- a reasonable approach because it's been cheaper to allow such waste in return for not requiring major, expensive rework when your demands grew over time. But with ever-increasing energy costs, that approach no longer works well.
Today, IT has the ability to analyze data on energy usage, work patterns, and other facilities domains to reduce the need for such overengineering, thus lowering costs, says Tom Debin, CEO of Equity Through Energy, a building automation supplier. For example, analysis can tell you how many kilowatts are being used per square foot in a building, helping planners decide whether or not to close or renovate the facility.