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With the arrival of the Fourth of July, the dog days of summer will soon be upon us. With them come rising concerns over energy costs, brownouts and rolling blackouts as utility companies struggle to keep up with demand.

For a solution provider, this convergence of electrical woes creates an opportunity to have a really strategic conversation about its customers data center strategy. This conversation can not only help reduce its customers’ expenses but also create new product sales and service opportunities for the solution provider.

For instance, one of the more intriguing pieces of advice being promulgated by APC-MGE, a manufacturer of power management systems, is that U.S. customers may be needlessly expending energy by converting power currents. According to APC-MGE Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Neil Rasmussen, most of the power in the U.S. is transported at rates of 400/230 volts and is then converted down to 208/120 volts for consumption by U.S. customers.

PointerAPC Channel Chief, Robert McKernan, talks power and cooling solutions in this Changing Channels Podcast. Click here to listen.

But Rasmussen points out that in Europe they don’t ratchet down the voltage levels. As a result, just about every piece of IT equipment is designed to work on either European or U.S. voltage standards. This means that U.S. IT customers could potentially save a lot of energy by eliminating the conversion process that reduces the voltage ratings coming into their data centers.

Rasmussen is unaware of any company in this country that is doing this at the moment, but believes that the reason has more to do with ignorance than with any technical hurdle. In fact, it is the sheer ignorance concerning power management that is creating all the opportunity in the channel. Key facts to consider this summer include:

1. APC-MGE estimates that about 24 percent of all IT organizations will experience a power issue this year.

2. Upgrading to more power efficient processors is the only way IT organizations can add additional processing power because they are already consuming the maximum amount of power allotted to them by their utility company.

3. Redesigning data centers has become unavoidable because blade servers require a different approach to thermal dynamics.

4. The quest for lower cost power is pushing many IT organizations to consider relocating their data centers to be closer to cheaper source of electrical power, such as power plants located on rivers.

There should be a lot more focus on this area as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) begins to pay more attention to the amount of energy being consumed by data centers, which in some regions of California can be as much as the amount of energy consumed by a small city. That’s good news for the channel, though there is one major issue: a severe lack of people in the channel who know anything about power management issues.

Hopefully, this is an area where the distributors and vendors can find common ground. In the meantime, the solution provider that is able to master these issues first is going to have a hammer lock on what is rapidly becoming the single highest cost issue facing its customers, and that can never be a bad thing.