Due to today’s constant changes and technological advances, the amount of data being created continues to grow at a rapid rate. More data being generated, translates into more robust data storage centers. Regardless of how long you’ve been using data centers for your business growth and storage needs, there is always room for improvement.
Enhancing the energy efficiency of your data center is just another important component to ensuring longevity, success, and continual growth of your business.
More often than not, data center energy efficiency boils down to two simple things:
1) managing the amount of power being consumed by the equipment
2) eliminating tasks and physical properties that hinder optimization
Energy usage is probably the highest annual expense for today’s data center managers, and it will only continue to increase in the future.
When examining a data center’s energy usage, it’s usually seen as a whole building consumption, rather than individual equipment.
In spite of this, there are still valuable steps that IT authorities or data center managers should practice to make certain that their equipment constantly operates at a more energy efficient level.
Start by decreasing the amount of unnecessary power going into IT equipment by checking the workloads of all operating assets.
Ask questions like:
“Is there any older equipment that can be retired?”
“Is there old data that can be backed up elsewhere or at an off-site location?”
“Can a bulk of my data be stored via cloud?”
“Are there other operations that can be carried out remotely?”
“Are there systems or workloads that can be combined?”
Whatever steps are taken in this manner, make sure that any efficiency checks don’t interfere with security. Data security should always be the number one priority.
Out with the Old, In with the New
Can you think of the last time someone performed a thorough equipment inspection of your data center? Has it been a while? Take a second and have a peak at how many servers are powered on, yet performing an insignificant task.
Hopefully your answer is none. An ideal data center will have all machines operating at the highest efficiency with business-critical missions. However, that’s not always the case.
If you have data center equipment that’s ready to be retired, then now is the time to look into an equipment buyback program. Let’s dispose of those old hard drives, servers, and other old equipment that’s collecting dust; while consuming energy and costing your company money.
If you’re already in the process of disposing of your retired equipment, it might be the perfect time for an upgrade. Usually as technology advances, it also reduces power consumption thus increasing data center energy efficiency.
Replacing older equipment with newer upgraded equipment can be a major difference in a data center’s energy consumption, saving your business thousands of dollars in the long run.
Data Center Facility Inspection
Not only can older data center equipment increase operating costs, but the facilities with which the data center is located can make a difference as well. The building’s construction, along with where it’s located can play a big role in power consumption and annual costs.
Older construction buildings not only increase liabilities in the event of a disaster, but are often not a great fit for modern technology. As opposed to a newly built facility, an older data center housing will cost more to maintain consistent room temperatures and may also be subject to leaky roofs or shaky foundations.
As cloud migration and the move to more virtually-based data continues to expand, it’s very possible that the data centers of yesterday are greatly overbuilt for any modern needs.
In such a situation, it may very well be time for a total data center decommission. An entirely new building may appear unnerving at first, particularly with the upfront expenses. Nonetheless a general downsize will make certain your data center isn’t consuming more power than it needs to.
Prime Real Estate
Data center operational efficiency doesn’t always refer to just energy consumption alone. The physical location of a data center facility may also have a direct correlation to the operating costs involved.
For example, a data center facility in New York City or Silicon Valley is going to cost significantly more than the same sized facility in Boise, Idaho. When taking location into mind, always take into consideration who your data center is serving.
Many data centers today have their facilities on the outskirts of major metropolitan cities. If it’s not absolutely necessary for you to operate near major metropolitan areas or more expensive markets, then take advantage of the opportunity to move to a less expensive area.
Keep “IT” Cool
It’s no secret to data center managers that powering the IT equipment is only fifty percent of the equation. The other half of the problem is sourcing the power to keep the constantly running equipment cool.
Similar to all of the mission-critical equipment that’s operating 24/7/365, there is wastefulness that can be tackled to ensure cooling systems and operations aren’t consuming an unnecessary amount of power.
The simplest way for any data center to improve the efficiency of its coolers is to install economizers. The overall effectiveness of the economizers will depend on the local climate your data center facility is located in. Yet another reason to consider location.
What is an economizer? Economizers are machines used to regulate indoor to outdoor temperatures. According to the United States Department of Energy, an economizer could be anything from outside air refrigeration systems to a rooftop ventilation system used to cool a room. If the outside temperature is slightly cooler than inside the data center, then economizers are a great option to improve cooling efficiencies.
Additionally, take into account the current standard of air conditioning practices and equipment in your data center. Making sure the server hardware and other IT equipment remains cool enough to operate is extremely important.
Now make sure you don’t overdo it too. There are times when data centers can be kept too cool. Fortunately, most newer servers today have built-in systems to stay cool, and do not need to be kept as cool as older models. In this case, the data center’s HVAC can be occasionally turned off as temperatures are monitored more closely by the servers themselves.
Data Center Energy Efficiency
If a majority of your data center’s energy costs are directed towards cooling, then it might be time to upgrade the cooling equipment. Possibly the air conditioning unit in the entire building needs repaired or replaced.
Another great energy saver is to house any data center equipment generating too much heat using isolation structures. These complex isolation structures can guide the heat entirely out of the data center to heat other parts of the building as necessary.
Other modern cooling and venting systems can help data center manager’s improve operating efficiency and lower any consumption costs as well.
Maybe consider installing vented floor tiles to improve overall airflow, or installing chillers that will absorb and transfer heat between physical systems. Anything to help improve the general day-to-day maintenance of your data center will save money in the long run.
No two data centers are exactly alike and every situation is unique. Nevertheless, most IT managers are facing the same physical obstacles in regards to improving energy consumption and overall data center energy efficiency.
The best thing to do is start by conducting a thorough equipment inventory check and look at your current systems. Slowly branch out from there in order to isolate and eradicate areas of deficiency.
Finally, if you find that the major efficiency improvements can only occur with an upgrade or complete face-lift to your data center, you may need a full-on data center take out.