Avoiding a collision course between FM and IT

Article By: Eddie Desouza, Global Marketing and Communications Director of Enlogic

With increasing pressure from rising energy costs, the industry is currently facing a crisis with facilities management and IT departments often at loggerheads. As stakeholders at two ends of the spectrum, power supply and power demand, the two influential parties are on divergent paths.

Both FM and IT play a huge role in the successful running of a data centre. Although it varies per business, FM personnel manage the supply of power into the building, while IT personnel manage power distribution to and within the data centre. If they aren’t working in harmony, energy and power are wasted and the data centre becomes unprofitable.

How can we turn this estranged partnership into a marriage, creating a better work environment for all? To help broker the marriage and achieve cost efficiency and productivity, a common goal and language is needed.

Imbalance has major financial consequences. In a data centre the costs are much greater than at home, causing a global energy and financial predicament. Although the electricity bill in a data centre is generated largely by the IT team, the overall bill can come out of the FM budget.

A recent survey of data centre professionals[i] highlights the issues of ownership: although 48 per cent believed responsibility lies with both FM and IT, 24 per cent believed it lies only with IT and 28 per cent believed it lies solely with FM. Without accountability there can be no responsibility, and with data centres using approximately 30 billion watts of electricity worldwide this is not acceptable.

Communication lines between FM and IT need to be opened. Only then can the two sides integrate and understand how they affect each other. A new age of transparency, led by the injection of new technologies, can then flourish, where any culture of blame and misplaced responsibility among FM and IT can be eradicated.

The issue won’t go away.

In the real world, when fuel prices rise, do we change the way we drive our car or do we just budget for the extra expense? A data centre cannot afford to blindly accept mounting energy bills, especially as oversizing energy budgets remove vital liquidity from other parts of an organisation. Energy is scarce and its inefficient utilisation will leave the next generation with even more problems.

A date centre business will always need to consume vast amounts of energy and will never be able to control the cost of this energy. This is dictated by world markets, taxes, global wars and government agendas so energy costs will never decrease.

The power supply and distribution across the data centre can no longer afford to be a passive process and both sides need clear guidelines on what they can and cannot do.

The answer lies in managing risk together. Only then can an informed decision be made to achieve optimum business efficiency and effectiveness.

FM and IT need to unite to understand problems that arise and deliver in the most productive way, making substantial cost savings and creating an efficient data centre. This can only be achieved when both departments are given the right tools.

Will FM or IT make the first move towards a more efficient data centre environment or will all this speculation be in vain?

[i] Survey undertaken at DCD London 2012

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