More than 70 years ago, computers were powered by delicate tubes. If you had tried to set up a Google data center back then, it would have consumed as much energy as all of the Manhattan. Nowadays, cutting-edge cooling technologies and advanced data management strategies helped reduce energy consumption and cut down energy costs. Companies like Facebook or Google have created data centers in Scandinavian countries where the power grid is more reliable whereas Ebay managed to save over $2 million in data center energy costs by simply changing its code on some applications.
But, have these advancements made data centers more energy efficient?
Not as much as they should.
Data centers still consume far more energy than they need. According to one report from the National Resources Defense Council, data center energy consumption in the US alone could be cut down by 40% simply by implementing existing technology and effective monitoring.
As the demand for storing and computing data grows, so will energy needs and costs. While this exponential growth might cause anxiety among enterprise-owned data centers, it’s certainly only the beginning. Enterprises need to adapt and make efficiency a priority. How?
Here are three tips to make data centers more energy efficient.
Harvesting IT Waste
Today’s global market relies heavily on information. Rapid access to data is the backbone of any successful businesses and organization. Data centers now face new challenges and need to restructure how they store and manage data to stay effective. Reducing the IT load is one of the best ways data centers can save energy without capital intensive projects. In fact, many enterprises have improved energy efficiency simply by removing comatose servers. Not only that reducing the number of servers reduces power draw and cooling load, but it also impacts licensing and maintenance costs significantly. Pandora, for instance, managed to reduce server count by 40% and cut down energy costs dramatically.
Improved Air Flow Management
Taking steps to improve air flow in the data center is a primary step toward improving energy efficiency.
The principle of “once-through-cooling” is the target for optimizing air flow efficiency. Once-through-cooling means that every molecule of cold air, in which we have invested through our mechanical cooling system, passes through the IT equipment once and only once before returning to the air handler unit. If we have once-through-cooling, we have no recirculation air, and no bypass air inefficiencies.
Pragmatic Environmental Set Points
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, also known as ASHRAE, is the globally recognized reference for environmental set points in the data center. In its most recent guidelines, ASHRAE has strived to expend the limits for temperature and humidity allowed in data centers. ASHRAE 2011 guidelines provide the basis for chiller-free operation, but few enterprises are taking advantage of this.
The expanded thermal envelopes of ASHRAE 2011 give significant freedom in expanding environmental operating conditions, and expand the opportunity for maximizing free cooling in the data center.
Our digital society will demand that data centers use more and more energy. The mandate is that we use this energy with maximum efficiency going forward.
By Staff Writer