So how many major corporations does it take to improve the efficiency of the data center? Now guess how many more it takes to extend that efficiency to a building or an entire campus?
The answer, at least according to IBM and Schneider Electric, is just two. In several independent, but related announcements issued at the recent West Coast Green conference, these two giants seemed to have found that working together to improve energy efficiency in the data center can also work for an entire building.
Schneider, which makes electrical equipment, owns APC and MGE, and is well entrenched in the data center's power infrastructure, is supplying the energy monitoring and control equipment. It has also taken the APC InfraStruxure management software, which was originally designed as a management console for the data centers, and expanded and tied it into its EcoStruxure management software for the building.
But wait, you ask, how does IBM fit into all this? Apparently, IBM, under its 'Smart Buildings' initiative, has been developing its own analytical software to take the information from the Schneider systems and other existing building management systems (BMS) to analyze and review what is happening in real time. In an interview, Natasha Roukos, Director of Smarter Buildings, IBM, and Chris Davis, Global Strategic Alliances, Schneider Electric Buildings Business, explained that beside the normal alarm type reporting that existing BMS systems might do, the IBM analytical software can look for anomalies and energy usage trends and send alerts for preventive maintenance to improve energy efficiency or prevent equipment failure. One of the existing IBM management packages, Maximo, can even do temperature mapping in the data center.
In a follow-up interview, I had the opportunity to speak with Rich Siedzik, Bryant University's Director of Computer & Telecommunications Services. Bryant University's data center was cited in the press release as an example of the start of the energy improvement project for the entire campus. The press release stated that 'by using IBM and Schneider's energy optimization technologies, Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island has seen a 15 percent reduction in energy use in its data center, with similar savings expected campus wide-- across 50 buildings and 428 acres.'
Rich Siedzik explained how a combination of server upgrades and consolidation in conjunction with a virtualization project allowed them to reduce their energy usage and data center space requirements from 1,200 SF down to 500 SF, while increasing the available computing capacity. Even more interestingly, it seems that it was a mutual learning curve for him and the university's facilities team, which ultimately led to greater cooperation and the decision to expand the energy savings technology project to the entire campus using IBM and Schneider.
While IBM and Schneider are certainly not alone in the race to improve efficiency in the data center and the commercial building arena, they do make sort of an interesting 'Dynamic Duo' (perhaps even wearing green costumes).