Ah, the mantra of the ‘90s: Bigger. Better. Faster. Cheaper. More!
It was a mindset that permeated everything in business, right down to our data. Remember when it was no big deal if computers in your data center were running at half capacity, or less? Remember when the heat generated by patching in racks and racks of servers and storage devices was considered a mere nuisance, a simple problem solved with the installation of yet another air-conditioning device?
Of course, these days, things are different. Haphazard grids of energy-guzzling data centers are now technology non grata, and if you haven’t recently done an energy audit of your data center, you need to. It’s one of the first places to look when you want to cut energy costs and improve efficiencies.
• Sun Microsystems reports that in just 12 months, it compressed the data center space in its San Francisco Bay-area portfolio by more than 60 percent. Thanks to this reorganization, Sun retired more than 5,000 compute devices and chalked up big savings on space, power, cooling and taxes. What’s more, the company earned more than $1 million in utility rebates and efficiency rewards.
• When Hawaii Pacific Health, the largest private health care provider in Hawaii, consolidated its IT and business processes, the result was a 25 percent reduction in IT management costs and a 15 percent reduction in the tab for administrative overhead. Five business offices were reduced to one, average billing cycles were reduced by at least 20 percent, and patient care reportedly improved as a result of streamlined access to clinical records.
• In May, Crossbeam Systems released a white paper which outlines how companies can reduce the energy consumption of all security-related data center equipment by 50 percent.
Case study after case study proves the point, and it’s clear that many companies are taking a hard look at data center management – and with good reason. All of which brings up another fundamental question: Are there enough green data systems engineers to go around?
The New York Times recently delved into this issue. According to the article, Digital Realty Trust, a data center landlord with more than 70 facilities, says customer demand for new space is soaring. (U.S. companies used 2.6 million server computers in 1997. A decade later that number had surged to 11.8 million.) At the same time, businesses now want their IT systems running smart and running green.
So, data centers –and the people who design, build, and run them –have become a driving force in the evolving green economy. Today, salaries for experienced data center engineers are topping six figures. Five-figure signing bonuses, retention bonuses, and stock options are commonplace in their contracts, as well.
Why? Because we need these green engineers –and we need them quick. Believe it or not, a recent study from McKinsey & Company predicts that by 2020, the world’s data centers could surpass the airline industry as a greenhouse gas polluter. Think about that for a moment…that’s serious stuff.
But all this pressure, and the relevant outcomes we’re seeing, point to a growing priority and some tangible results in greening the data center. The world is changing fast, and the demand for green data systems engineers is clear indication that we are slowly but surely getting our collective act together.