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Agents of Change: Techbuyer moves into data centre energy efficiency

Rich Kenny, IT Security Manager Jul 18, 2019

Techbuyer has begun an innovative 2 year Knowledge Transfer Project (KTP) this month, which aims to revolutionise the way data centre managers think about IT hardware configuration. In co-operation with the University of East London, the objective is to create a tool which allows us to model energy efficiency in data centres with an optimal hardware configuration. This has far-reaching ramifications for our industry and how data centres can approach energy and emission (in)efficiencies. This is doubly true given the fact we are refurbishment specialists.

Our core business - prolonging the life of components – entails significant savings on materials and on the energy taken to manufacture the hardware. This new project builds on this by finding better ways of reducing energy consumption during the use phase of equipment. This two-pronged approach, based on academic research and mathematical modelling, will enable us to offer valuable information on how to make the best use of resources to maximise performance efficiency and reduce energy waste.

A KTP brings together a University and a company to develop cutting edge technologies and tools for the business sector and is co-funded and supported by Innovate UK. A graduate with the relevant skills spends two years embedded in a company working on a specific project that is innovative and has a direct commercial application. During this time, they are supervised by an academic with relevant expertise and by industrial supervisors at the company who can provide guidance on how to bring the innovation to market.

As the industrial supervisor, I will ensure that Nour has everything she needs from day to day including knowledge of our systems, business processes and operations. In the latter part of the project, I’ll be working with her to integrate the tool into the company. This will involve training key personnel on how to use the tool, calibrate it to new hardware as it comes in, and expand how we benchmark performance.

The academic research to support this is supervised by a leader in the data centre efficiency sphere, Dr Rabih Bashroush of the University of East London. Rabih advises various governments on the topic including the UK, Ireland, and the European Commission, and has provided guidance on public sector data centre and Cloud projects totalling tens of millions of Euros. His work has influenced various policies and legislation including the European Union’s Environmental Management Audit Scheme for ICT, the EU Ecodesign Legislation for energy efficient servers, and the EU Green Public Procurement Criteria for data centres. He is also Research Director for data centre standards and trading body the Uptime Institute.

Developing a tool like this is a highly specialised process which requires candidates with finely tuned skill sets. Finding the right person for the job of associate involved reviewing 100s of CVs and finally interviewing eight international candidates, across 2 rounds, four of whom had PhDs. In a sector dominated by men, the final two shortlisted candidates happened to be women, which is unusual in the technology sector and even more so in the data centre sector. We were delighted when Nour, who was our first choice for the position, accepted our offer. With outstanding academic qualifications and experience of developing tools and applications for the business environment, we could not have asked for a better background for the job. We look forward to welcoming Nour to our Harrogate office and working together over the next 2 years.

© Techbuyer 2019