Kate's Comment

Thoughts on British ICT, energy & environment, cloud computing and security from Memset's MD

BCS Data Centre Cost & Energy Simulator beta released

The British Computer Society’s Data Centre Specialist Group has released a beta version of their data centre cost and energy simulator to members of the specialist group. The simulator has come out of the Carbon Trust’s Low Carbon Collaboration initiative jointly funded by BCS and Romonet.

I was at the preview of this tool on 30th April in Southampton Street, and it is an amazingly powerful tool. It allow you to rapidly put together a simulated version of your data centre (including characteristics of everything from power cables to server virtualisation systems to external temperature variation), and then ‘run’ it over a period of time to see the costs and power requirements.

During the demonstration in April, Liam & Zahl (the technical and business brains behind the project) used the tool to great effect, neatly and intuitively demonstrating some of the following:

  • The inadequacies of DCiE/PUE as useful a metric due to variation with light work loads; you need to measure facilities power and IT power separately.
  • How virtualisation drops the total cost of a datacenter by 75% or more (or you can migrate to us and save >85% of course ;).
  • How simply changing from nameplate (typically >400W on the label on the back of a£1,000 1U server) to peak power provisioning (most modern 1U servers never use more than 150W) reduces the 4-year lifetime server cost from £8,000 to just £5,000.
  • That a modular build-out is good, but to be most energy- & cost-efficient you really need a dynamic modular approach so that you can switch M&E equipment on/off with diurnal load variations.
  • How data centre costs vary with geo-location! Putting it in Iceland does not save you much after all, contrary to popular belief.

The simulator itself is a pure command-line driven tool that has been released under an open source software licence (OSL V3.0), but there is a Web-based interface that is now available to DCSG members, here, although you will need to read the user guide first unless you have a brain the size of a planet.. If you are a member of the BCS but not of the DCSG, you can find out information here: bcs.dcsg.org. If you are not a member of the BCS but are British and an IT professional, then shame on you!

The beta test is likely to last until Autumn, and feedback is welcomed so that the tool can be further improved and any bugs ironed out. Also, the Carbon Trust and BCS are looking for members willing to trial the tool on a case-study basis over the next few months. If you are interested, visit the Carbon Trust data centre sub-site.

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