Shockingly the latest report from Forrester Research effectively ends up telling us exactly what we all know already; that the majority of CIOs, CTOs, and other IT leadership and operations management, are not interested in power saving.
As reported recently by The Register in the article “Study finds IT heads not interested in power saving” (available here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/30/pc_power_saving/) which confirms what most of us in the IT industry know to be true, in that in the majority of cases because power consumption comes under the remit of Facilities Management in most organisations the IT department is not responsible for paying for Power Consumed (whether that be for compute, storage and network infrastructure itself, or the cooling equipment that is required to maintain that infrastructure either) and so has no reason to be concerned about the size of the companies power bills (or the effect of poor IT power efficiencies on those bills).
Also in almost all companies the Facilities Management department is much larger, and has a much larger budget, than the IT department; easily often in the magnitude of ten times that of the IT department (in some organisations the IT department is part of the Facilities department, and we most often encounter this model when the organisation in question sees IT purely as organisational ‘infrastructure’ and tends not to see IT as a means to deliver competitive advantage).
Encouraging IT management to be concerned about power efficiency is still highly problematic whilst the IT department is not accountable for managing that Cap-Ex spend, although things are getting better, albeit slowly. Day to day I see large numbers of IT departments and management thereof being set targets for power savings, however I infrequently see any genuine penalties or incentives that ensure these targets are even remotely met (in most cases I see IT departments focus being that of maintaining business critical systems, especially during processing runs, whilst still attempting to build out new functionality at the same time, how little things have really changed).
What constantly amazes me are the number of organisations planning, and determined to, build out new data centre facilities, even now during the downturn. Many of these organisations would be much more sensible to look at refreshing there existing infrastructure, reducing server footprint, getting better energy efficiency and performance, as long as the risk impact and analysis of risk is low, and possibly even reducing their data centre footprint, but that would mean shrinking peoples corporate ‘power bases’ and personal ’empires’ and so often receives a lack of genuine support.
Frankly this would become an important topic if those responsible for the facilities budget where also responsible for the IT budget, but this is rarely the case; IT usually reports to Operations (which may also contain facilities), Finance, or occasionally even the the Main Board or Marketing (including Sales), followed rather infrequently by facilities (this becomes more complex when looking at the IT departments remit, and whether they have significant influence, or control, over the application development team and the business analysts from the profit generating business units).
The most obvious answer would be to get IT and Facilities to work much more closely together, and at least be set joint targets, which are ‘SMART’ (stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-framed”). The other that I’ve heard becoming more popular recently has been to redirect Facilities budgets to IT departments for them to run technology refresh programmes, with a recent example looking at an unprecedented 10% of Facilities budget being transferred to IT, nearly doubling that IT departments budget for the year.
Personally I don’t think this will be addressed well in the short term, but I’m hopeful that using budget earmarked for Facilities for Technology Refresh, and planning facilities reductions becomes a more widely recognised and sensible approach to help drive down the amount of energy consumed by the technology at use within enterprises, because, frankly, something needs to be done to reduce enterprise consumption of power and space resources.
Links for this article: