Know your data centre…

For the past few weeks, I’ve been knee-deep in reporting on how companies can extend the life of their data centres. The advice I garnered from analysts and technology executives is not only applicable to IT, it can serve as fodder for finance discussions, too.

The average data centre refreshes every five to 10 years. Large data center investments such as a refresh can cost upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars. As Gartner Research Vice President Rakesh Kumar told me: “…that’s a lot of money, so companies are looking for alternatives,” he says.

High up on the list of alternatives is trying to extract more from existing servers, switches, storage, bandwidth, power, cooling and floor space. Without this optimization, you’ll hit the wall on data centre capacity well before the anticipated data centre expiration.

And that’s where you come in, my friends. Every finance officer should know when the data center was constructed and its expected retirement. A few years into the data center’s existence or a major refresh, the CFO should knock on IT’s door and ask if each area of the data center has been fine-tuned to its most efficient state. For instance, are thermal sensors ensuring that the temperature is within an acceptable band? Have enough applications been virtualized? Are there standards in place for procuring and replacing servers, switches and storage? Are racks being placed and filled with an eye to energy efficiency?

Asking any of these questions could very well lead to thousands of dollars in savings. Asking all of them and more could reap the reward of years added to the overall life of the data centre.

It’s essential that finance executives play a role in this process because you’re the first ones who’ll be asked to loosen the purse strings for a data center expansion, renovation or relocation. If you step up early, you could avoid unnecessary budget pressures and data center upgrade nightmares.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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