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Facilities and IT are Still Like Separate Organizations: David Blumanis

Thanks to the ever-increasing volume and variety of data, the power and cooling needs of datacenters are also evolving simultaneously. David Blumanis, VP, Datacenter Solutions & Key Account Management, APAC & Japan, APC by Schneider Electric , speaks about how organizations can move along with the dynamism of datacenters using advanced power and cooling setups.

CW: Does BYOD change the power and cooling approach in the datacenters? How do you address this scenario?

It definitely does. Even a single click of a BlackBerry button, for instance, results in energy consumption, as the request travels across multiple networks, the Internet, and pulls out the required data from the source. People, now, want information at their fingertips, and handheld devices have become a part of our lives. As a result, companies are looking at different ways of delivering content. We have more and more data coming into the datacenter. That leads to high density storage and networking because the volume of data is now increasing. It also resulted in high density servers and virtualization. These datacenters are becoming very dynamic, and they need to scale up and scale down as and when required. Also, with virtualization, we are seeing the data moving around inside the datacenter. At Schneider, we have been quite conscious about this dynamic nature. We now have datacenter infrastructure management tools to improve the availability of power and cooling in virtualized environments. As a result, the power and cooling infrastructure also becomes dynamic. This actually results in reduced energy consumption and cost savings.

CW: Attaining energy efficiency is a big concern for the numerous legacy datacenters in India. Do you have a different approach towards such customers, compared to your greenfield projects?

India is a little bit conservative on adopting high density technologies. The datacenters here still have traditional designs. But I sense the shift happening now. A lot of companies in India now have virtualized environments. Besides, these companies are looking at a technology refresh at this point, as a result of which we see an uptake for high density services and cooling.

We have different offerings that make this transition possible. A high density zone, for instance. This can be built within their existing datacenters, and the customer can slowly grow that to cover the entire facility. But the fact is that not many people need a 100 percent high density requirement. They will have legacy systems that are still going to be of low density. Therefore, we see a mixed environment, especially in markets like India. At the same time, there are customers who are more forward-looking. So, some of the greenfield projects now are on high density technologies.

CW: Do you think CIOs, especially in Indian enterprises, give equal importance to power and cooling strategy, compared to their IT strategy?

A lot of CIOs have been building datacenters, and most are focused on purchasing the IT equipment without understanding what that IT equipment needs in the power and cooling space. So, facilities and IT are still like separate organizations. Energy should, in fact, be part of the IT strategic plan. And, when companies start doing that, it will be more than just power and cooling. While purchasing the IT equipment, they can start looking at new tools to monitor carbon emission and energy consumption of a particular project. They can change the way they run their IT organizations. Energy was never one of the metrics in the datacenters, but that is beginning to change as energy has become the biggest cost in datacenters. That's the reason we want to be the trusted advisors for IT people.

However, we now see a lot of customers bringing these two together to address this problem. In fact, at Schneider, we are trying to build a bridge between the two organizations. Our software gives a cross-functional understanding across the physical infrastructure, IT, and applications. We also ensure that the designs of new datacenter are flexible enough to address the future requirements. We are also offering our customers new services such as infrastructure management and energy management tools to understand why their energy consumption is growing. We, in fact, have tools that can monitor the energy consumption outside a datacenter, for the entire building. APC offers a lot of these tools as managed services

CW: How do you address the challenge of ever increasing capital cost of power and cooling infrastructure? While there is a clear 'capex to opex' shift when it comes to IT systems, what's the scenario when it comes to buying power and cooling solutions?

There definitely is a massive shift towards opex, and that is why we see a lot of co-location facilities. We see a lot of telcos building such facilities across the world and in India. CIOs are now looking at cost per square foot models. While for the CIOs this may mean that they don't really have to look at the energy consumption part any more, in reality, consumption has not actually reduced. Therefore, we are working with the co-located facilities to give them the visibility needed to charge back to their customers. We are working with them on aspects like modularity and scalability of datacenters. We do energy audits for them. Besides, we have leasing and funding options as well. We also have pay-per-use models for our customers. We see a lot of interest towards such opex-focused initiatives among commercial datacenters.


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