Tuesday, 13 December 2011


For about the last 20 years a lot of my time has been spent inside Data Centre's, It is rare that I see something that piques my interest, today I saw a gamechanger, a real disruptive technology, that will revolutionise the way that Data Centres are designed and built.
Now, many of you will be skeptical, many of you believe that Data Centres need to be cool, in order to manage the heat dissipated by the servers, switches and storage units.
What I saw today was a complete suite of liquid cooled compute components, the server, router, switches, storage, the ups all contained within a standard cabinet, for more information please look at the website here www.iceotope.com , if you want any further information please contact us directly for more information on how you can be a lead adopter of this technology.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Last Week Update

Phew, really tired this weekend, had lots to do last week and even more to do next week.

So, last week, well our presentation to the Local Business Accelerators "dragon" panel went well.
I'm often surprised that the lack of understanding about the science behind climate change when I talk to people individually or when I conduct my Green IT talks and I've prepared the first part of any presentation I do, to provide some basic facts about the global warming trend, firstly I use Michael Mann's "hockey stick" and then the recent Berkeley Earth Suface Temperature study, we then speak about what could potentially happen, in effect sea level rise and weather patterns changing etc.
In the UK I also talk about the impending "energy gap", this is when our nuclear power stations shut down in 2023 and due to the large combustion plant directive, coal and oil powered power stations are restricted to 20k hours of production or the installation of Carbon Capture and Storage technologies. All in all, this represents the loss of some 32% of generative capacity in the next 12 years, and could cause some real problems with intermittent power, blackouts and maybe rationing for large users.

So, we presented to the LCA panel and we await the outcome.
Then, I attended the judging for the DCD awards as a judge and reviewed a number of projects that were seeking an award, more details can be found here http://www.datacenterdynamics.com/awards
The awards are next Thursday, and I've had to buy a evening suit and all the gubbings, it should be a great event and I'm looking forward to meeting up with lots of friends and colleagues.
Before, that though I'm off to conduct a CEEDA assessement in the North, and then have a meeting with a client.
Friday I'm intending to relax and wind down for Christmas, although I have a trip to London the following week.

Have a great week.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Another Busy Week

After a very busy week last week, we have another this week.
On monday I was supposed to be at the Business Cloud Summit, but due to the fact that I am so busy I'm going to have to take a raincheque.
So,  Tuesday is my presentation at the Local Business Accelerators competition, we've been shortlisted in the Coventy and Warwickshire area. This is a competition run by Deborah Meadon a dragon for mentoring and advertising locally and nationally if your idea or company have potential. We think we've got bags of potential but our products and solutions are for businesses not domestic consumers so we're not sure how we'll fare, still, its an opportunuity to spread the message.
Wednesday, we're off to London to judge a competition.
Thursday, we back in the Midlands to visit a client and give them some information about their IT energy use.
Friday, we off an a Christmas canal cruise from Straford, well we are at the moment.
Saturday is a footie trip day, we may be off to watch Walsall v Charlton but we have to get permission!
We scaling down activities for Christmas, but doing lots of planning for early next year and beyond.
We'll have been trading for two years on the 1st January.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Environment 2011

We've been invited to speak on the subject of "The role of IT in environmental protection: data centre energy consumption", the event takes place at the Russell Hotel in London on the 1st December, more information on this link Environment 2011
This really takes in two distinct subejcts, the first of course is how IT can monitor the environment and the second is to manage all this data.
I've prepared a brief 10 minute overview and we'll just let the topic(s) flow.
It should be interesting, my fellow speakers are Bob Crookes from Defra, but also the chair of the BCS Green IT SG and Pete Green from SciSys.
Actually, I'm very excited about smart cities, that is to say the monitoring of systems within cities to provide more resource efficiency and information to users as I beleive it is really our one great hope into combatting climate change and carbon emissions, however we must be mindful of the impact this will have socially, although we are already the most monitored nation on Earth with 3million plus CCTV cameras.
Smart Cities, though are not just CCTV'ed up, they include smart (locally processing) sensor networks, intelligent lighting systems, water and air quality monitors plus a whole load of other stuff which would take me hours just to list.
Its all very exciting and I'm looking forward to the debate.

Busy Week Ahead

Well, we're all set up for a very busy week.
First off, I am taking my CITP exam on Tuesday morning, wish me luck!
Then, later I'm off to London to attend and speak at two prestigious events, the first is Data Centre Dynamics London conference, this is being held at the London Excel Arena, more information and to book please click here DCD London.
I shall be speaking on the subject of retrofitting energy efficiency solutions into existing data centres, for me this is very important as 88% of businesses still own and operate their own mission critical data centres, the move to the cloud in my opinion is overhyped and it is very amusing to see cloud services suppliers grasping at any straw that indicates a wide spread adoption of their services.
That is not to say that I am a cloud sceptic, far from it, I think the cloud is an excellent diverse and distributed compute product that does have its benefits, however do not tell me its green when it patently is not.

None of the major cloud vendors ever consider network energy in their energy saving examples, which is a shame as, in the UK at least, the 3 big network companies, BT, C&W and Virgin Media all feature in the CRC Top 50, in fact if you crunch the table to include carbon emissions without the weighted early action metric scores, BT are 3rd, C&W are 39th and Virgin are 50th, in fact there are 9 network operators in the top 100.
This is alarming to say the least as we have yet to see how much additional energy will be required for the Fibre Broadband rollout BT is currently undertaking. I can see BT being top emitter in a few years.
For clarity, the top 3 and their associated Carbon Emissions (Tabulated) are as follows:

MOD            1,754,541 tCO2
TESCO         1,562,532 tCO2
BT                 1,258,720 tCO2

Saturday, 19 November 2011

November Update

Well, I promised to update the blog with news from the Green IT expo and the BCS DCSG event so here goes.

Green IT Expo

The usual suspects were all there with the notable exception of Very PC, whom I know had some very important stuff to attend to, namely the take over of another green IT vendor, I cant say too much about this at the present time as I am sworn to secrecy. Peter will no doubt be available over the coming weeks to explain about his exciting new venture.
The quality of the speakers was again exceptional and Sara Clark and her team at Revolution Events are to be congratulated for the excellent exhibition and seminars. I understand that next year the event will be held once again at the QE2 Exhibition centre.
Both Chris Wallace and Bob Crookes were speaking (Chris is the Green IT Product Manager at the BCS and Bob is the chair of the BCS Green IT SG.
I will be with Bob on the 1st December at Environment 2011, where we will be heading the discussion group panel on the "Role ot IT in Environmental protection: data centre energy consumption", for further information and to register for the event follow this link Environment 2011 Registration.

DCSG Meeting
This meeting was to hear about Data Centre Infrastructure Management or DCIM tools, DCIM tools allow the real time management of Data Centres in terms of both the facilities side and the IT side, however as you can imagine, technicians on both sides of the fence have differing opinions on how this should be acheived with the result that many tools deal with the issues from their particular perspective.
The facilities side is dominated by Building Management Systems and the IT side with enterprise management products such as HP Openview or IBM's Tivoli and it seems with little interaction between them.
This is mostly historic, as BMS monitoring systems used proprietory connections and software as did the IT side, difficult to monitor an IBM Server with HP Open view for instance.
Anyway it seems that we've got to view the DC as a system, not a series of servers and manage the facilty as a whole not as separate entities.
So, what are we monitoring? well Temperature and Humidity, but also server health and utilisation to build up a environmental map for the whole data centre, and to be able to dynamically move vservers into optimum environmental areas as required.
In practice, lets imagine a 200 rack facility with 10 physical hosts per rack and most of the physical servers comprise 10 vservers each, thus we have 200 x 10 x 10 = 20,000 vservers, now most of these servers are used between 8am and 6pm, say 18,000 and we have 2,000 core servers available 24/7/365.
What DCIM allows you to do, is to vmotion the 18,000 servers into a parked state and putting the hosts into standby, thus saving energy and cooling across the facility, further that you put your core servers into the optimum zones for cooling/energy use.
DCIM requires the real time monitoring of temperature and humidity and this is where is all gets a bit interesting, the amount of data to be collected can very quickly become unmanageable and some clever stuff is used to minimise the amount of data transmitted across the networks to the monitoring server.
This particular company use a level of local processing, so whilst the monitors are polling at say 1min intervals, local processing means that only hourly averages get sent to the server, that not to say that data is lost, its just kept locally, for a set period then deleted, after all who needs to know the temperature at 1min intervals?
In the event of a "spike" the entire data set for a set period before and after the event is kept, a sort of overide and probably better than currently, where spikes would trigger monitoring events after the initial trigger point.
All in all very exciting stuff, backed up with the excellent Andy Lawrence from the 451 Group who gave us a sneak preview of his talk on the DCIM market that he will be giving at DCD on the 30th November/1st December at Excel further information and booking details here DCD London .
I'll be speaking at this event as well on the subject of retrofiting energy efficiency solutions into existing Data Centres.

Well thats enough from me, I appreciate that I promised a review of the Governments Greening ICT strategy and this is in progress, theres a lot to go through!
See you next time

Thursday, 3 November 2011


I've been in London attending the Green IT Expo and a DCSG event, so I've just got back and I have a lot of admin stuff to attend to, I'll be updating the blog over the weekend with some stuff from these two events.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Slight Delay

I know we promised to have our review of the Greening Government ICT document up by COP on Friday, but unavoidable circumstances meant that we have been unable to meet our self imposed deadline.
We apologise for this, we hope to have the review completed and online shortly.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Greening Government ICT

Busy little blogger today methinks, anyway we've been advised that the long awaited "Greening Government ICT document has been released today, its available on this link Greening Government: ICT Strategy.

We review it later today and blog our thoughts on it very soon but in the meantime we've pulled one very salient set of points that we are very pleased about:

Government to adopt the EU Code of Conduct for energy efficient Data centres
April 2012
Government to be registered as endorsers of EU code of conduct for energy efficient data centres and server rooms
April 2013
All Government departments
Government to require any data centre or cooled server room used in delivering a new ICT service to be registered as Participants under the EU Code of Conduct for energy efficient data centres
April 2014 onwards

This is excellent news and one we've been hoping for, for a while now, we do hope that this means that the new £60million cloud tender released this week on the procurement portal means that the winner will be a EU Code of Conduct participant and also a potential CEEDA award holder as a statement of intent by the government.

Anyway, off to read in detail the strategy with a pencil and notenook in hand, expect a reponse by COP tomorrow.

Thoughts on Data Centre energy metrics

So, we've had PUE/DCiE we've had DPPE, CUE AND WUE, we've got the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres, we got ASHRAE, we've got ETSI, we've got TIA-942 It seems that everyone and his dog are in the process of or have actually set down on paper a standard of what a Data Centre should aspire to.
And it is laudable that the industry does this, but the nature and complexity of Data Centres around the world means that one standard could not and should not be applied to all facilities.
In reality the only real standard should be that of energy efficiency, and we're given some thought on this and this it should be based on the PUE metric created by the Green Grid.
We think that we need to include the source of the input energy and the use of the output energy, we given this metric a name Total Power Effectiveness or TPE.
So, the first element "Input Energy" or (IP)is the amount of energy derived from the grid or on site renewable energy expressed as a %, so if your grid mix is 50% nuclear and 30% wind and 20% hydro, then the IP would be 50%.
We'll then use the conventional DCiE metric for the facility say 50%. we'll call this Facility Use or (FU)
Finally, we think that energy re-use (ER) should be considered in the metric and this will also be a % so if you collect 100% of your waste heat and pump it in to a district heating system or into a greenhouse, your score would be 100%.
So a facility that used 100% renewable energy (verified of course) had a PUE of 1.07 or DCiE OF 94% and reused 100% of its waste heat would have a TPE of 100%+94%+100% = 294%, correspondingly, if another facility had 0% renewables, a PUE of  2 or DCiE 50% and reused 25% of its waste energy then its TPE would be 75%.
Obviously the higher the percentage the better your facility is but it can never be in excess of 300%

Simples. comments as always please

Green IT Event - Cheltenham 26th Oct 2011 - Report & Feedback from Green IT Talks

This was an very early start, the whole family arose before 6am to get the car loaded and off to set up for the event.
We actually arrived quite early, but I've always said its better to be early rather than late.

Altogether there were about 60 delegates and 10 exhibitor stands will about 15 exhibitors, maybe more, but we digress.
I only attended the first four sessions of the event, this was the introduction, a chap who was talking very generally about Green IT and then a lovely Irish lady who works on a project for JISC, to do with the measurement of the financial benefits of moving to a Greener IT estate, rounded off by the IT manager of Gloucester College who gave us a run through on what they were doing, quite impressive if a little cautious in their approach.

We had a very long conversation with somebody from the rather large government organisation that is based in Cheltenham about Green IT, they did mention a few things which I was quite surprised at, but given their needs it makes sense for them to go down this route rather than adopt more conventional methods.
We also had a talk with representatives from the Environment Agency who were very interested in our PC power management solution and the low carbon, low energy compute solutions from Very PC, not for themselves unfortunately, but to advise their clients that such products are available.

We recognise that we are very knowledgeable about Green IT and what purports to be Green IT but isn't, but we are always surprised at the lack of knowledge in the general public and for that matter in some IT professionals so we like going to these events to catch up with Colleagues and to cascade our knowledge and thoughts around to others.
And on that note we've been very pleased we some of the feedback we've received as a result of our Green IT talks to BCS and UKITA branches over the last few weeks, we contacted a few of the people that gave the comments and requested their permission to quote them so heres a brief selection of them:

"Hi John,

It was great to see you at the UKITA CSW meeting last week.

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your presentation. It was genuinely one of the most interesting talks I have been to in recent years. Hearing some of the facts and statistics you put forward was extremely thought provoking and has really prompted me to now consisder more carefully the energy and enviromental aspects of the work I do with my clients.
I know some of my voluntary sector clients take the environmental side of things quite seriously, so I shall certainly pass your details on to them as and when appropriate.
You mentioned that the slides were available?

Thanks again.

Kind regards

Martin Bird, B.Sc.(Eng.) Hons.

Engineering and IT Consultant

Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
Quality approved member of the United Kingdom IT Association

Tel         0845 200 8540
Mobile  07770 660918
Email    contact@martinbird.co.uk

"Listened to you talk on Green IT at the Hampshire Branch AGM, very good and very interesting. I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn."

Paul Shonk BSc (Hons) MIfL MBCS Teacher of IT at Alton College

John for his helpful ideas for speakers for the February meeting and his excellent talk on Green IT."
Flick Wheeler UKITA Interim Chair CSW Branch

"many thanks for an excellent presentation - the feedback was great"
Margaret Ross, Chair of BCS Hampshire branch"

"Hi John,
Thanks for coming to give the talk and forwarding the slides. Some of the students are investigating Green IT as their dissertation, it’s good that you have given them some insight."

David Liewe BCS Cheltenham & Gloucester Branch Chair & IT lecturer at University of Gloucester"

Thank you all for inviting me to talk on this subject to your members, I find it very enjoyable and look forward to updating the talk in 2-3 years time, hopefully the doom and gloom would have lifted a little or I'll be able to report exciting new developments in either energy or IT that will go some way to allievate the problem.