It's highly likely that a major disruption to corporate computing operations is going to come from increasing energy requirements and the actions we need to take in order to minimize their impact on the services we provide. It's not just that energy costs are rapidly rising, but the use of that expensive energy is rising along with it.
Large scale data center operators are already heavily engaged in these discussions as evidenced by an interview Searchdatacenter did with Jeff Lowenberg of The Planet, a hosting company in Houston, TX. Jeff talks about a number of interesting things, including how they caulk leaks in the floor to keep from losing cold air and how they maintain their diesel generators. The last part on maintaining diesel fuel probably has excellent tips that anybody depending on large generators for backup electricity needs to know.
There's going to be new concepts, vocabulary and acronyms to learn, such as air mixing, hot aisle, cold aisle, chiller, CRAC (computer-room air-conditioning system), close-coupled cooling, PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) and DCE (Data Center Efficiency).
The good news is that fairly simple things can be done to improve the situation, without having to take more extreme measures as relocating to Iceland. Dell's Dr. Albert Esser, who wrote today on Inside IT, was also featured in a recent article on the Computing site, talking about how temperatures in data centers can be kept warmer than people commonly think. This article in CIO magazine also has some fairly simple ideas for more efficient cooling.
One of the biggest hurdles we face is getting senior management engaged. This recent survey by the Uptime Institute (you've read about them if you read the other links in this post) contains fascinating information about the awareness of power and cooling as an issue. Many readers will likely identify with their findings that two thirds of those polled said their companies do not C-level sponsorship for green policy or governance mandates. FWIW, The Uptime Institute puts on seminars for high density cooling, as well as other energy topics. This podcast of an interview with Robert Sullivan is an introduction to those seminars. Not having been to one of their seminars, I don't want this post to be perceived as an endorsement of their seminars – but if readers have comments to make about them, I'm more happy to post them.
I have a feeling this is going to be a huge deal and there will be lots of confusion and many opportunities for people to help each other out. What are you seeing? Is this stuff on your radar yet? Is it front and center in your company or are you going it alone?