How effective is PUE as an industry standard for measuring data centre efficiency?

(This is our final blog in our PUE series)

When measuring efficiency in the data centre PUE gives us a starting point but, as with most standards, does not necessarily meet all the needs of the industry. Although we’ve touched on some of the limitations of PUE in our previous blog, it’s important that data centre specifiers and managers are aware of the challenges of using the PUE metric as an indicator of overall efficiency and are not mislead by some PUE claims.

Calculating the PUE metric takes time and effort and although the guidelines are very specific, it can be challenging. As we close off our series on PUE here’s our top five list of points to note when looking at PUE figures:

  1. Collection of Data

The time of day, the points at which the monitoring takes place, and the frequency that data is collected all influence the PUE results and make it very difficult to have an accurate comparable PUE indicator. There will be spikes in loads at different times in the day and even different times in the year. A simple example is that on the hottest day of the year more cooling is going to be needed than on the coldest day of the year. (See the full list of requirements on our first blog – What is PUE and Why is it Useful?)

While yearly results can help at an overview level, the ideal is to have continual daily monitoring to get a genuine impression of efficiency in a data centre. This can be quite an undertaking for a data centre manager and is more suitable to some environments than others.

  1. Partial PUE

Different data centre settings need different metrics. PUE is based on the premise that the data centre facility is only used as a data centre and does not factor in that other departments might also share space in the facility. It does not work well with the business model of data centre services or colocation providers either when they are not operating at maximum design capacity.

This has resulted in the Partial PUE metric that allows the active data centre zone to be measured instead of areas not being actively used for data centre services. This means that the partial PUE will indicate how efficient a data centre is at part or low load which is imperative to data centre services companies, (see our blog When is PUE not PUE).

  1. Miscalculating and Misreporting

Some managers find it difficult to understand the PUE metric and may report a PUE value of less than 1.0. This is impossible to achieve because all energy will have an output of at least 1.0 and therefore anything lower is not achievable.

Not all reporting is accurate because some of the aspects of the data centre have been excluded for example, calculations have been based only on the cooling system.  Or in the case of modular designs only the electricity supply within the modular environment has been measured rather than including the electricity points actually supplying the electricity to the modular unit.

  1. Non Comparable

Although PUE can provide an overview of how a data centre is performing over time, the complexity of the calculations and different data centre environments means that comparing the PUE across data centres is not very meaningful. To make useful comparisons, we need to look at the PUE calculations and reporting in detail.

  1. Limited scope

Efficient sourcing of energy is not included in the metric so energy-saving generation measures such as cogeneration, waste-heat re-use and local power generation are not reflected in the PUE value.

In conclusion, while PUE is a useful indicator, it is not a case of one-size fits all and analysis needs to be tailored so that it is relevant to the individual data centre environment. Correct monitoring and management, that are able to drive actionable insight are required to deliver real efficiency cost savings. You can find out more about our monitoring solutions here

Keysource hosts customer event in London

Yesterday Keysource hosted its latest customer event with exclusive use of the basement bar at the New Moon pub in Leadenhall.

Joined by 60 or so of our London based customers we booed, cheered and then cheered again as we watched England beat Wales 2 – 1.

Our competition to guess the minute the first goal was scored (42nd minute) was won by James Macdonald – Congratulations! Enjoy the Champagne and an England shirt will be winging its way to you next week!

It was a fantastic afternoon and we would like to thank everyone that attended and hope to see you at the next one!

Keysource opens new London Office

Following on from the recent announcement of Keysource’s international work in China, the company is now proud to announce the opening of its new office in the heart of London!

Located at 99 Bishopsgate, just a two-minute walk from Liverpool Street Station, the new premises will supplement Keysource’s current portfolio of offices in West Sussex, Hong Kong and its highly secure 24/7 managed office in Woking.

Keysource is the leading provider of turnkey solutions for data centres and business critical environments from consultancy through to on-going operation. With over 30 years’ experience working across all sectors, its expert in-house teams continue to deliver industry-leading solutions for multiple organisations across the globe.

Stephen Whatling, Managing Director – CAPS at Keysource said:

The business has seen significant growth over the past three years and we’re confident that the new London office will provide Keysource with a hub in Central London to serve our increasing customer base.

Keysource scoops top award for Jaguar Land Rover facility

It may be a sunny Friday morning, but there is another reason why the Keysource team are celebrating after we secured a top industry award last night. Keysource triumphantly took home the trophy for New Design/Build Data Centre Project of the Year at the 2016 DCS Awards.

We scooped the award for the delivery of a new external modular data centre for Jaguar Land Rover at the company’s site in Wolverhampton. The facility delivers 1,100 square feet of data centre space and hosts storage data and processing power for the systems driving Jaguar Land Rover’s new Engine Manufacturing Centre. The core data centre module houses up to 30 racks with a capacity of 320kW, whilst the power module is based offsite to ensure easy onsite integration and scalability as the load increases. In addition, the facility features innovative air-to-air cooling systems and boasts a PUEL2YC of better than 1.2.

The gala ceremony – held at Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London – provided the perfect opportunity to catch up with old friends before the winners were revealed, with our CEO Mike West taking to the stage to collect the trophy!

Commenting on the evening, Mike said:

We are absolutely delighted to have secured this leading award in such a prestigious category. The success of the Jaguar Land Rover project is testimony to the hard work and ongoing dedication of the entire Keysource team, who delivered this fantastic and truly innovative facility on-time and to budget.

Design for operation is the key to success

When customers are looking to build a new data centre, they often lose sight of the operational aspects of the facility.  ‘Design for operation’ is an  approach which focuses on the long term running of the facility when considering the initial design and one that we, as an industry, should be championing. Richard Clifford, Data Centre Consultant at Keysource explains.

Data centre standards

Whilst there are some good standards in our industry around data centre design including the Uptime Institute’s established Tier system, there is very little guidance in the market around the actual operation of a facility.  The Uptime Institute have introduced their Management & Operations (M&O) Stamp of Approval but it is relatively new and is not compelling for consultants and specialist contractors who are not involved in the ongoing management of the data centre. This means that organisations need to manage their risk carefully or they may end up with an expensive facility that is expensive to run and not fit for purpose.

The data centre design tenders and contracts we’ve seen rarely reference any kind of operational or FM standards and I would go as far to say that in many cases they are not considered at all. This can be for a number of reasons, the main one being that often the team that is tendering and procuring the data centre design is not the one that will be responsible for operating and maintaining it and these teams have not been consulted.

Importance of early engagement

Having over 30 years of experience designing, building and then operating data centres and other businesses critical facilities, we always encourage different stakeholders, both internal and external, to be part of the process from the outset, as we feel that this delivers the best results. This early engagement is key as not having all the stakeholders involved may mean that the team fails to consider the design implications on the maintenance requirements, Total Cost of Ownership or understand the risks around downtime as they often don’t have a specialist subject knowledge. This can be a key challenge for public sector organisations or SMEs where cost is the key driver and in-house resources are scarce.

The importance of this cannot be overstated and companies need to ask themselves operational questions, such as whether the design can continue to support the critical business services under maintenance conditions and how the maintenance will be undertaken? Can the design help to streamline the ongoing operation of the facility reducing risk and cost? For example does work need to be delivered out of hours, or can it be done during normal working hours thereby reducing servicing costs.

The design and build team may not understand the resilience factors but the FM teams will know that the data centre cannot be taken offline, and that concurrent maintainability should be considered as part of the solution.

The future of the data centre design

As an industry we need to put more of a focus on ensuring that data centres are ‘designed for operation’ and the team responsible for maintaining and running the facility is engaged from the outset.

Bringing together multiple stakeholders is always a challenge and it will need the industry to work together and be more open and engaging to share best practice and insight.  We should remember that the life of the data centre could be up to 25+ years and by taking a little more time in the early stages organisations can  ensure that the design will meet their requirements operationally and provide the best value for money at the lowest risk

Originally published by Digitalisation Word 


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