Much ado is being made about the massive data centers being run by the Googles, Facebooks, and Amazons of the world. As these data centers began springing up they were touted as the medicine to cure the economic woes in America’s small towns. Jobs were being created and tax revenues generated. But recently, The New York Times has released a series of articles highlighting the extensive energy use and lack of energy efficiency existing within these data centers. The direct cause being the need to provide on-demand, anytime internet access that you or I require in this ever more connected world.
Now the debate is raging. Whether this wasteful and inefficient depiction is accurate (IT experts have been quick to refute), the argument should not keep you and your organization from taking a look at the available technologies that suit your needs. If you run or work at a small- or mid-sized business, chances are high that you don’t own massive data centers in the Pacific Northwest or even the Arctic. You won’t demand instant access to your data servers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year. Leave Facebook to worry about that for their consumers. Take a look at what your needs are and work from there.
In this economy and into the future, cost reduction is and will be a chief priority. That is why more and more organizations are looking to reduce their own operating costs while still providing a high quality service and meeting stakeholder expectations.
To address this point is where energy conservation measures (ECMs) come in. Implementing these will reduce overhead costs and improve those financial results at the end of the day. However, the fact of the matter is that data centers and IT infrastructure draw a lot of power in the scope of an organization’s total electricity usage, so simply changing to LED light bulbs just won’t cut it when seeking to benefit from ECMs.
So take a look below to see where you can make some decisions to improve your own data center.
Virtualization – It might be time to rethink the fundamentals of your IT system. Virtualization is a way to simplify your IT infrastructure and create a more flexible and dynamic system. Virtualizing physical servers takes advantage of improved processing technology and increases server utilization rate. Servers running at a higher utilization rate are more energy efficient. Virtualization allows for server consolidation (fewer servers able to provide the same number of resources) and reduces IT expenditures and maintenance costs.
Hot-aisle containment – A great deal of inefficiency lies in the manner by which temperature management occurs for the data center. In many cases, servers are housed in a room on racks without any enclosures to separate hot and cold air. Implementing a data center design which takes into account the need to properly separate hot and cold air allows for more efficient cooling of the data center and less wasted energy.
Raised data center room temperature – Your server room shouldn’t feel like the Arctic. Data centers do not need excessive cooling, and in fact, modern technology allows data servers to operate above room temperature (72 F). Be sure to check the limits of your data center and find that optimal temperature.
Free Cooling – Sometimes Mother Nature provides all the cooling (through lower temperatures and wind) you need and although this won’t work everywhere, it might be worth checking out. Nothing better than having zero cost associated with cooling your data center.
Now how do you know whether these measures have had any impact at all? You can look at the absolute energy consumption and see how you stand in relation to your legacy system. Unless you expand your capacity to meet growing demand, there should be a decrease in consumption. Also, you can use the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) measure developed by The Green Grid, which tells you how effectively a computer data center uses its power. A low PUE is indicative of a energy efficient data center. According to the Uptime Institute, the average PUE in 2011 was 1.8 and with the technology available today, that is obtainable no matter what the size of your organization.
These are not the only steps you can take to make your data center more energy efficient, nor will you need to implement all of them to obtain savings. Even implementing just the virtualization could potentially save 50% in hardware costs and 80% of your energy expenses.
If your company is interested in understanding or optimizing your data center, then contact us to find out how.