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Green for green: Let IT look after power bills and you'll be saving more than the planet

by UliPlechschmidt on ‎07-16-2009 09:45 AM (429 Views)

From Wingspan Guest Blogger Uli Plechshmidt, VP EMEA Sales:

If you are anything like me, the utility bill landing on the door mat is something to dread.  The thoughts that go through your head upon opening the demon mailing include: How much is it this time?  Did I really have the heating on that much?  I should really go out and buy those energy-saving lights I’ve been promising to get for months.  However, spare a thought for the poor souls who pick up the power bills for the data centre.  IDC* analysis indicated that global data centre electricity usage roughly doubled between 2000 and 2005 (to c. 158 billion kWh with Europe accounting for more than a quarter of all consumption).  But what does this mean in financial terms?  The average electricity (kWh) price in Europe is €0.107**, so, based on these figures Europe spends €4.22bn per year on data centre power alone†, and that’s before you add to the equation CapEx and other costs.  It’s a huge amount and one that can be easily reduced.

IT utility costs are a huge issue in business today, but according to research we have just conducted there seems to be a disconnect between IT and the bill payer – in most cases facilities management.  Brocade surveyed 1,050 senior IT decision makers and found that while the majority are under pressure from management to cut power-related OpEx, in over half of cases the power bill is not managed by IT but by facilities management.  How and why should IT integrate business planning to influence something for which it isn’t responsible and into which it has little, if any, visibility?  The answer is it can’t, which is why IT power requirements and billing should be owned and managed by IT.

Brocade has been investing heavily in R&D to ensure that its products’ energy credentials are market-leading.  The Brocade DCX Backbone, for example, is 10 times more power efficient than its competition, but IT leaders shouldn’t just take our word for it (even though you can trust us with your life) – they should proactively monitor and assess energy usage to make sure their IT environments are as efficient as possible.  If the CEO tells you to cut OpEx, you want to be darn sure you are doing everything in your power to make that happen and show him/her the results.  Our research shows that when facilities management owns the bill, this doesn’t happen (60 percent of cases).

The chart below confirms that the closer the IT department is to the power budget the more likely it is that assessment and amendment processes exist.  Where IT looks after the power budget, that organisation is 50 percent more likely (60 percent vs. 40 percent) to be measuring IT power consumption, and making the changes needed to keep it low.

Correlation between where IT power budget is managed and existence of procedures in place to measure hardware consumption.


This begs the question: “Are facilities managers feeling the pressure to reduce power consumption LESS than IT heads?”, or is the facilities function so stretched that it has not got round to measuring IT power consumption yet?  Either way, it looks as though if an organisation wants to reduce IT power consumption, make it the responsibility of, or at least closely collaborate with, the IT department.

This is common sense.  IT leaders across the globe are under intense scrutiny to optimise every asset within their environments, and with every Euro spent being analysed for ROI they are in the best place to know what is working and what is not.  If IT takes responsibility, and is effectively incentivized to reduce the power bill, you are sure that they will do everything in their power to implement the most energy efficient products on the market to reduce OpEx.  Obviously, this means buying Brocade, but that’s common sense as well!

† 158bn ÷ 25% = 39.5bn
39.5bn x 0.107 = 4.22bn

*  Source:
** Source: