3 min read

No magic bullet for optimizing the data centre

Softchoice gets help from Toronto Hydro to develop new incentive plan for the data centrernrn

Toronto – Softchoice Corp. (TSX: SO)is taking dead aim at the data centre opportunity in the Canadian market place.

During its Optimized Data Centre event yesterday, the top solution provider in the CDN Top 100 rankings along with its customer partner Toronto Hydro announced a new incentive program for companies who are interested in optimizing their data centre.

Called the Data Centre Incentive Program (DCIP), Toronto Hydro, one of Softchoice’s customers who is being used as a partner in this endeavour, will be offering it through the utility in conjunction with its partner PowerStream. The two firms highlighted for vendors and customers in attendence a new program for customers that can put more money back into their pockets through optimized data centres.

Stephen Walker, director of IT infrastructure at Toronto Hydro, said the program incents businesses to reduce peak energy demand by paying out $300 per kilowatt to a maximum of up to 50 per cent of the project cost.

“Data centres consume 10 to 100 times more energy per square foot than a typical office building,” Walker said. “DCIP is designed to offset the cost for energy efficient equipment and design, helping data centres cut electricity use and to benefit from ongoing savings.If you can be more efficient in the data centre, this will contribute to your overall green strategy and improved energy utilization in the data centre while also reducing equipment footprint.”

Walker listed several technologies that work to reduce power consumption, such as server virtualization, consolidation, power supplies, controls and management, floor layout and lighting.

Customers who wish to participate in the DCIP are asked to visit the Toronto Hydro Web site, Walker said. Once the program application is received, Toronto Hydro and PowerStream will then complete a site assessment to verify the existing equipment and to start measurements and verification. Once the approval’s granted, he said the data centre project must begin within 90 days from the application approval. Once completed, Toronto Hydro and PowerStream will complete a post-site assessment to determine what the final kilowatt savings are. Customers can then send the invoice and in return, are paid their incentive.

“A data centre with one megawatt of demand load can earn a $30,000 incentive plus ongoing annual electricity savings of $90,000 by reducing the load by 15 per cent,” Walker said. “We’re looking for all data centres to get involved in this (program), not just the larger customers.”

But there is no “magic bullet” for optimizing a data centre, said Keith Baskin, director of storage technologies for Softchoice’s enterprise architect group. Baskin said deduplication can also be used in the data centre to help reduce hardware footprint. However, convergence is the primary driver that’s leading companies to want to simplify and optimize what’s in their data centres today, according to Softchoice.

“Virtualization, platform consolidation and deduplication will help, but really, you need to evaluate everything using a holistic approach. This begins with an assessment and a conversation (with customers),” Baskin said.

Frank Ball, Softchoice’s director of Cisco Solutions, said there are lots of opportunities out there for customers and partners in the data centre.

“Especially with storage, people are spending money on this and it’s complex and is growing at an alarming rate,” Ball said. “You need to take a holistic approach when looking at a virtualization strategy in order to develop a plan for an optimized data centre.”

Softchoice president and CEO, Dave MacDonald, said the data centre solution space and storage will be key growth areas.

“Today, we have 14,000 customers doing business with us,” MacDonald said. “Our number one goal is to continue to hold and increase that base by adding solutions, services and productivity. Softchoice is positioned well in the marketplace to build out a brand with a solutions and services focus as we move forward.”