Data Center Metering, UK based AdInfa’s Way

As I write my daily blog, some readers contact me via several media, such as LinkedIn and email. My blog covers the United States and Japan, but not Europe, for the simple reason that I live in the U.S. and originally came from Japan. When you cover a market of a specific country or region, you need to have a good idea of the market.

I received a message from Philip Petersen, CEO of Ad Infinitum Multimedia (AdInfa) in the U.K., who wanted to chat. His company develops the InSite software suite which, like several others I have written about in my blog, provides metering and monitoring functions to data centers.

Unlike my other meetings in this space, this interview was conducted via Skype. The eight-hour time difference worked very well (my 8 a.m. is his 4 p.m.).

 

Petersen’s concern about my not covering the U.K. was not a problem for me. On the contrary, it was a great chance for me to understand the energy efficiency space of the U.K. market. The U.K. and other E.U. countries are, in general, ahead of the U.S. in the area of sustainability. The U.K.’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) is to go into effect this April, and many companies need to start measuring and metering power consumption (converted into GHG emission quantity that is to be regulated).

As I interviewed several metering companies, I got pretty good at asking questions so that I could compare the companies later. Here are some of the highlights of my conversation with Petersen:

  • There are very few metering companies in the U.K.
  • Customers include Equinix U.K., whose parent company is U.S. based.
  • InSite can measure at any IP-addressable point – device, sensor, power strip, UPS, PDU.
  • InSite can collect data from network management tools in addition to power consumption, temperature and humidity, and present it through a single web interface.
  • InSite’s dashboards aggregate and integrate the collected data and display them in an easy-to-follow, interactive fashion.
  • The entry price point is moderate for SMBs and the solution scales to enterprise level.
  • InSite can be deployed on a licence or managerd service basis



 

Let me elaborate on some points. In spite of the imminent imposition of CRC—in less than three months—Petersen does not see much competition in the U.K. market yet. Having limited competition is good and bad news at the same time. Usually, the existence of competition assures the existence of a market. As the deadline for CRC comes near with little competition, it looks like smooth sailing ahead for Petersen and AdInfa.

We also chatted about where to measure and meter power consumption. The EPA’s Energy Star specification for data centers is in the final stage of development and is scheduled for release in April. The measuring point is at each UPS because most data centers measure power consumption at the UPS level. InSite can monitor power consumption at any point where there are metering devices; often customers want to do it on the PDU, which is more accurate than at the UPS.

Also of interest is the number of data points. In addition to information about power consumption, temperature, and humidity, there are much more data we could collect, especially from the building management system (BMS). This is what OSIsoft does. Sentilla collects what is available from network management tools. Arch Rock pushes IP as far as possible with a few prominent protocols from BMS. AdInfa takes an approach similar to Arch Rock’s and interacts with SNMP and others. It is not always true that more data points are better than a small but well-selected set. Personally, I think data from power consumption, along with that for temperature and humidity, should be combined with data collected from network management and some main BMS sources.

Finally, AdInfa is in an interesting position. The market for metering power consumption for containing GHG emissions is ripe and real in the U.K., and there is little competition. U.S. metering companies are mostly startups, with the exception of OSIsoft. Those U.S. companies are busy with the U.S. market first and will not concentrate their efforts on the U.K. or other European markets anytime soon. What AdInfa may want to do is to obtain as many U.K. customers as possible before U.S. companies enter the E.U. market. The metering space is in its infancy and will be too crowded in a year or two. After mergers and acquisitions begin to take place, the surviving companies will be sure to enter the U.K./E.U. market. AdInfa wants to have a majority of the U.K. market before that. If it does, it would be in an ideal position to select the best future course of action.

Although my main focus is the markets for the U.S. and Japan, I am more than happy to cover other territories in the world. If you have a great technology or an energy efficiency company, please contact me at info at alteterra dot net.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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