Bit of a conference whirlwind in the past few weeks - this is the first of a series recalling memorable themes form the events.
I attended all three days of the 2011 Uptime Forum in Santa Clara two weeks ago (and that's a long slog!), with the added bonus of sheparding two of my utility clients around the conference as they attended for the first time.
The 451 Group and their varied consulting groups (including Uptime) established a broad conference theme around the industry disruption that is or will occur as users move IT activities to cloud providers. I was most interested in the program on day three, which explored the energy and environmental impacts of this trend.
My "star turn" was to act as the moderator at an executive lunch session sponsored by Panduit and Power Analytics (formerly EDSA). They were joined by Byron Washom from the University of California San Diego, who is running what is essentially a highly integrated utility on campus featuring self generation of a variety of types, along with demand control and extensive metering and monitoring.
That setup lead us to our primary discussion, which centered on why data center operators are loathe to consider self generation, demand response, and load shifting opportunities. I had to get things rolling by calling on some participants (it's a good thing I knew at least half of the folks in the room!).
Many commenters posited that critical facility operators are too concerned about reliability to be open to supply and demand management. Byron truly put that in perspective by pointing out that his campus supports data center infrastructure, but that isn't even his critical load - he has medical facilities including a hospital with critical care units, and a storage facility for ice core samples dating back a century.
My ultimate assessment is that data center operators should be thinking about supply and demand management, and that there are good tools (including gear from Panduit and Power Analytics) that can get them there. The industry is no better or no worse than other sectors when it comes to engaging more fully in these areas. Ultimately, some leaders will break out front, and they're likely to leverage the benefits by being a more competitive cloud service provider, search provider, or e-tailer.