The industry that has grown up around making Data Centres more resilient and efficient seems to me to be in a bit of crises. There are a lot of brilliant and knowledgeable people in this industry with far greater understanding than me of the physics involved in powering and cooling computers, but judging from the frustrating comments I hear from colleagues and read on social media the solutions we are proposing are not being invested in as fast as logic suggests they should be. While not everyone has the budget to invest in a high CAPEX solution, even if it reduces the Total Cost of Ownership and delivers a provable Return on Investment, there are occasions when even a moderate investment up front with proven ROI is refused on the grounds of budget. Even the most obvious of solutions such as Aisle Containment which usually delivers a very rapid return on investment often less than 12 months can be rejected because there is no available budget. Of course there is budget, what is lacking is the political will to secure it. Decision making in most organisations remains hopelessly silo’ d. The people who hold the budget don’t get the physics; the people who get the physics don’t hold the budget or want to wait and choose to fight a different battle. Purchasing teams are not incentivised on the TCO, Data Centre Managers are not incentivised on efficiency just resilience.
So what do we do? We have to get smarter in how we sell these solutions; we have to target more senior decision makers and we have to present them as a service not as components or tools. I recently attended a Data Centre Conference where a speaker was trying to do just that, presenting their frankly poor monitoring software as a revolutionary service to optimise cooling by measuring the cooling load and power consumption of individual CRAC units. They had done a great job re-inventing the wheel, presenting a standard service offered for years by many data centre services companies as something radical and revolutionary. It was a real “Emperor’s New Clothes” moment!
Is this what we have to do to encourage best practise? Productise basic knowledge and repackage it as a brand? Maybe it is. So many good Data Centre managers have retired in recent years that end users are now rushing to outsource, host or put in the cloud their computing capability. However there is an alternative! No need to re-invent the wheel. Engage with a knowledgeable Data Centre Services company not a VC backed marketing front, put your trust in them and champion their recommendations.
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