When management suites first emerged, companies were concerned with items such as, "Is the server up or down?" or "How much network bandwidth is being used?" With those issues now sitting firmly in the rear-view mirror, businesses are looking for new types of management solutions. Datotel, an IT data center services provider, based its recent purchase on an emerging area: "We needed to get a better understanding of our energy usage," notes David Brown, president of Datotel, which now finds itself at the forefront in the use of such products.
In business since 2004, the company operates a 34,000-square-foot data center in St Louis, Mo., that provides businesses with co-location services, managed services and cloud computing resources to enterprises. The corporation, which has a staff of about 40 employees, started out using Dell servers to support its services and recently began relying on VMware virtualization software.
Datotel’s data center has 15T of storage and more than a 1,000 devices, whose deployment often occurred in a hodgepodge fashion. The corporation started with legacy hardware (mainly Wintel and Unix systems), and added new solutions whenever it landed a new client.
The business managed the various data center elements in an autonomous manner, with a variety of tools examining the distinct elements. In 2007, Datotel wanted to get a more comprehensive view of what was happening in the data center so it could proactively oversee its resources. The IT service provider looked at management solutions from CA, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Datotel quickly realized that the power used by its data center systems, backup generators and UPSes represented a significant expense, one rivaling its hardware and personnel expenditures. But the company did not know how much energy it consumed until the local power company’s bill arrived at the end of the month. In addition, the staff was not sure how the various IT data center products devoured electricity and had zero visibility into usage among energy related devices, such as racks, generators and cooling units.
Therefore, the IT services provider had no insight into how much energy its customers used. Consequently, the company established fixed monthly fees for different data center devices, so energy hogs paid the same rate as energy savers. Compounding the problem, customers frequently added servers, moved applications and retooled their configurations, often without any input from Datotel personnel. As a result, some systems were not optimally configured and wasted energy.