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A green data centre is not a data centre strategy

by Staff Writers •
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It was announced last week that after almost a year, approval to build the $1 billion green data centre in Canberra may be imminent.

However, while governments should be encouraged to consider green issues in the planning of future data centres, a 'green' data centre is not a strategy, according to Data centre consolidation specialist, Rob Aalders.

According to the developer, Technical Real Estate, a feature of the new data centre, to be built in Hume, is its green credentials. TRE claims this data centre will produce 40 per cent less greenhouse gas per unit of computing output than normal data centres.

It’s clear government involvement would be key to this project’s success, and data centre consolidation is a hot topic for many in the public sector.

The Federal Government has certainly adopted data centre consolidation as a priority. Data centre consolidation was one of the recommendations of the Gershon Review. Sir Peter suggested savings of $1 billion could be achieved in a decade by rationalising data centres in Federal Government.

According to Rob Aalders, green issues are just one of the issues that should be on the table in any plan for consolidation of government data centres.

According to Rob, the level of current thinking (about data centres) is dangerously narrow, focused and too much on energy, bricks and mortar. There is not enough attention being given to long term government directions, alternative data centre models, and the issues of process and people.

He says what is missing from most government data centre consolidations is strategy, meaning long term thinking about possible future scenarios!

Being capital intensive and costly to construct, government data centres are expected to meet requirements for a long period of time, certainly not less than 10 years and generally substantially more.

The choices facing government or private enterprise in data centre consolidation are not simply do or don’t.

  • Data centre consolidation will be increasingly hard to avoid for agencies
  • Projects will become large-scale in terms of capital and organisational transformation, as well as promised benefits
  • A range of skills is needed
  • Mistakes will be very public
  • Data centre consolidation is much more than shifting boxes and cannot be left to technologists alone
  • There will almost certainly be resistance to change

It seems many are at risk of being dragged down into detail before important macro level issues are considered.

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