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BT’s head of datacentres reveals energy-saving secrets

buzbybtjpg.jpgFinlay MacLeod is one of those guys who keeps you on your toes. You can’t lose his trail for a second because he keeps asking questions to ensure you’re listening.

Greenbang caught up with Finlay, the head of data centre transformation for BT, to find out how the company is tackling growing energy costs, and what innovation can do to help…

He didn’t have a photo for us 🙂

Greenbang: Energy costs are rising for everyone – as data centres are the engine room of a business, how do you keep those costs down? Can you give examples at BT?

Finlay MacLeod: BT has an aggressive initiative around virtualisation, consolidation and decommissioning, thereby reducing the number of servers taking power in the data centres – this helps take away the source of the “problem” (heat – therefore reducing any cooling and associated environmental needs).

BT are also looking at the efficiencies of the data centre mechanical and electrical equipment by measuring the PUE [Power Usage Effectiveness] figures for all the data centre’s in the UK – this gives us a broad brush method to identify which sites have the greatest inefficiencies in the M&E infrastructure.

We’re doing this on a monthly basis and are constructing energy improvement plans for the worst sites.

What are the reusable assets from data centres? Have many people succeeded with recycling the heat, for example?

BT are looking to reuse any useable recycling of waste from the data centre such as heat – one such initiative is where we are using ground water cooling to subsidise the cooling requirement for one of our
data centres in Italy.

What will carbon taxes mean for BT’s business? And how will you manage these?

Carbon tax will mean additional focus on a company’s carbon footprint and power consumption in far greater detail than we probably look at today – BT have been looking at their carbon footprint forensically and have a market leading methodology to assess the carbon associated with data centres and their operations – we are looking at all sorts of different ways to reduce our carbon across the company.

The main aim is to ensure that for each carbon tonne/kwhr we are getting the maximum benefit from it in terms of business value.

Where are most of the mistakes being made in managing data centre energy and carbon output?

I think the major mistake being made in managing the data centre is the fear of change – we all seem to be very comfortable with the traditional model of managing and running a data centre when uptime and processing
power was the priority.

However power consumption and carbon footprint have joined if not jumped above these priorities in terms of cost and importance.

What are the business opportunities in this area?

There are significant business opportunities with the rising power prices, constraint of further supply and the pending carbon tax.  I think the first step in order to improve in this area is to have the capability to measure your current position.

There are a number of companies that don’t know their power consumption across the data centre
Once the current position is known there are a number of improvements that can be made from just plain best practice across to major changes with varying costs – we have just undertaken this analysis for our own data centres and are looking at implementation plans.

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