An Opportunity for CIOs to Do More with Less

Environmental sensors in a data centre can help a CIO add both to the top- and bottom- lines. He not only stands to save precious capital annually, but over time, will end up buying more without spending anything.

Do you want to save on cooling costs in your data centre? Do you want to ramp up your data centre uptime? How about minimising the hours needed to track IT assets? If you put any of these questions to a CIO, the answer certainly is affirmative. All these are possible through a comprehensive environment monitoring to IT racks in a data centre. Unfortunately, very few facilities have the desired level of sensors deployed in them.

“The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends measuring the cool air entering IT equipment near the bottom, in the middle and near the top of each IT rack. But today, that is hardly considered as a best practice,” says Sanjay Motwani, Director - India & SEA at Raritan International.

“The truth is that every rack behaves differently and you need sensors to help you understand how each rack is behaving. Air flow movement in a data centre is not uniform. Hot air rises, thus typically we will have a higher temperature at the top end of the rack. So, one needs to know what is happening at the top, middle and bottom. Ideally, therefore, there should be three sensors per rack to get this insight,” he says, on the need for deploying sensors.

There are enterprise technology leaders who focus on power consumption at the data centre level, some at the aisle level, and a few at the rack level. Motwani, however, believes they need to go a step further.

“We have to go to a more granular level. Why do you want to stop at the rack level? You should go down to the device level – otherwise you will not know whether all the 20 devices in a rack are running at 60 to 70 per cent of the utilisation or not. The reality is, because of the lack of this visibility, most of the devices in a data centre are running at 20 to 30 per cent of their utilisation,” he says.

While there is a strong case for comprehensively covering the data centre through such environmental sensors, facilities in India fall woefully short on this front. Some of the better data centres in the country have one sensor per rack. On the other hand, the state-of-the-art facilities in developed countries have as many as four sensors per rack – three at the back and one at the front.

“For a CIO wanting to deploy sensors, there is a strong ROI case. He will not only save on power but also on future investments. By leveraging sensors, a CIO can minimise the hours needed to track IT assets. Such tools will provide him insights into how each server is behaving over the last 6 months. He will have critical data available on his fingertips, thereby saving time and money,” says Motwani.

“In addition, a CIO can ensure uptime by monitoring racks for possible hot spots, and save on cooling costs by raising data centre temperatures. This lends him the power to optimise strategic and tactical decision-making for the IT environment by tracking IT changes and growth in real time,” he avers.

“The money that an enterprise technology decision maker thus saves annually – can then be utilised in deploying new equipment. Over a time, a CIO will end up buying more without spending anything from their pockets,” he says.

Drawing an interesting analogy on saving power costs, Motwani adds, “It is like; you are standing in front of a a red signal. Would you want to turn off your engine for two minutes or not to save costs? That is your choice. But, can you save? Yes, you can save.”


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