Do Shared Service make Sense?

Interesting debate today at the Data Centre Efficiency event that the SusteTECH project has put on in Bristol. John Milner from the JISC laid out the case for the JISC run, HEFCE inspired Universities Modernisation Fund in providing a brokerage service that will deliver cost efficient cloud resources for the sector. The debate is around whether this type of provision can match a properly designed and engineered local institutional data centre.

Another pint being made is that PUE is a bit of a trap as a measurement of data-centre efficiency. Because PUE is a simple ratio of IT energy  load against total energy load for the data centre, it can hide the fact that one way to tackle the question of data centre energy use is to start to address the IT load. How can we do this? Projects like the Cardiff University Planet Filestore project show one approach to reducing the load by shifting seldom accessed files to lower tiered storage, but there are other approaches that might provide some ways to tackle this. One is to look at the efficiency of the software and its use of computing resources, another to look at the overall provision of IT – and here the work of JISC’s Flexible Service Delivery Programme has relevance as it is helping institutions to makes sure that their IT provision is actually aligned to the needs of the business.

All in all, a very stimulating and enjoyable morning, with a visit to the University of Bristol’s HPC facility to round things off.

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