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In 2010, the U.S. federal government launched its ambitious Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI), with the aim to close 40% of its 3,133 data centers by 2015. That’s 1,253 data centers – in 5 years.
Reports are that the effort isn’t quite on track, but at the Schneider Electric Xperience Efficiency 2013 event early this month in Washington, D.C., Jay Owen hosted a session that offered a strategy for how any large organization can achieve significant data center consolidation quickly and with minimal up-front expense. I caught up with Owen, who is VP of Government Sales for Schneider, for a quick video interview during which he explained the idea.
Essentially, the strategy is to enable organizations to consolidate multiple existing data centers into one already existing data center, Owen says. The idea is to carve out a section of an existing data center and implement a hot aisle containment system in order to enable that section to handle more IT load. Alternatively, the company could use modular, high-density data center pods to achieve the same result. All the infrastructure from the other facilities goes into the pod.
“Over time, as IT equipment refreshes, you go to more of these high density pods and it dramatically increases data center efficiency and allows you to do consolidate for a minimal cost,” Owen says.
The pods don’t need to be fed by the power and cooling infrastructure that services the rest of the data center and don’t require raised floor or air supply, he noted during the session. And their power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating is typically less than 1.4, whereas the average PUE in a federal data center is 2 or more – approaching 3 in some cases.
One of the primary drivers for that increased efficiency is the cooling infrastructure. Many older data centers are designed with much lower power density and use perimeter cooling systems. Using close-coupled cooling and containment systems is far more efficient because it eliminates the mixing of hot air exhaust with cool air coming from the air conditioning systems.
Owen also explained how federal government agencies are taking advantage of energy savings performance contracts (ESPC) to fund the consolidation effort. “An ESPC is a mechanism where you can fund energy improvement or savings projects using private financing and it’s paid for through utility savings over time,” Owen says. The strategy is common practice in the government space, although it’s typically used to fund construction of whole buildings or campuses; it’s relatively new in the data center space. “As a provider, we’re trying to educate customers that you can use this type of a mechanism to accomplish data center consolidation,” he says.
You can also turn to Schneider for services to help with all kinds of data center work, from actually operating the data center to determining the best approach to consolidation. “Helping the customer figure out where to get started with the consolidation, which data center would be best to consolidate into and how you go about performing the upgrades are all areas where our professional services group can help out,” Owen says.
The Dallas edition of Xperience Efficiency 2013 wraps up this Thursday, June 20. Check it out to learn more about how Schneider can help with all sorts of data center projects.