Data centres are expensive. Whether you have one in-house or have chosen to outsource, there’s a fighting chance it carries a big pound sign.
While energy companies have been criticised for their role in pushing up household bills, the financial impact on businesses is something companies of all sizes have had to tackle.
It is also a cost that has been traditionally difficult to predict. Thankfully, the world has moved on. There has been an emergence of smarter, more efficient data centres that mitigate the traditional risks faced by the CFO.
PUE – What it is and why it matters
PUE (power usage effectiveness) is a measure of how efficiently a data centre uses energy. In other words, how many kilowatts of power it takes to support an equivalent kilowatt of technology.
PUE can be your new best friend because it provides visibility on how well the data centre is running, which translates to how much it costs you in pounds and pence.
It can also be your enemy if you don’t understand how the figures are calculated and what is included in the figures you are being ‘sold’ – are your teams and/or suppliers calculating the real efficiency of the data centre? Do they know how to?
We find most companies tend to run at a PUE of 2.5 or higher. If you could attain a PUE of 1.2, there is potential to achieve savings of around £1.2 million, per megawatt, per year. From an environmental perspective, that’s 6,000 tonnes of carbon that you could potentially be taxed on.
Operating an efficient data centre is better for business. We know that we can’t control energy prices but you can control how much you use and how it’s measured.
It can be compared to running a car – you can’t control the price of petrol, but you can choose whether you buy a car which does 50 miles to the gallon or one that does just 15.
Not everyone is a data centre expert
Once upon a time, the data centre itself was once seen as the domain of the IT department but technology budgets are on the rise.
And as tech falls to a CFO to consider, that means getting to grips with the costs of a data centre’s property, running costs, maintenance and resourcing.
But not everyone is a data centre specialist. Why would you be? You have a business to run. There are some questions you can ask if you’ve outsourced or are mulling it as an option:
1. How are your providers coping with rising energy prices and what are their strategies to safeguard any long-term investment that you’re considering?
2. What is their stability?
3. How financially secure is the data centre itself and what kind of investment do they personally have?
4. Do they own the land themselves or are they leasing it? This affects both stability and cost.
5. Lastly and perhaps most poignantly, what happens once you sign on the dotted line? Does their support and interest end there?
The real value will come down to the type of people that you engage with. Will they work with you to solve your problems? Will they proactively help you to tackle issues like rising energy costs? I certainly hope so.
Data centre efficiency has changed beyond measure and it will continue to evolve. It used to be that predictable wasn’t cool…
Well, times have changed.
Ian Perryment is Finance Director of Ark Data Centres