How Data Centers Can Save 1 Million Kilowatt Hours Using 11 Best Practices

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-11-13 Print this article Print

Data center managers can achieve substantial electrical savings annually if they implement a list of 11 best practices, according to IT analyst company Gartner. Most of these projects could be completed with little or no budget or effort, says Gartner researcher Paul McGuckin, and these green IT efforts can get formerly unconnected corporate departments together on the same page.

IT research company Gartner reported Nov. 13 that it has identified 11 relatively simple best practices for data center managers that could save millions of kilowatt hours each budget year.

The practices include plugging holes in data center rooms, establishing cold-air/hot-air aisles between the racks and using cool air from the outside whenever possible.

"What is really surprising is the egregious amount of power that is wasted each day in most data centers," Paul McGuckin, a data center research vice president at Gartner, told me. "Virtually all data centers are using inefficient cooling designs and systems.

"Even in a small data center, this wasted electricity amounts to more than 1 million kilowatt hours annually that could be saved with the implementation of some best practices."

In a conventional data center, McGuckin said, anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of the electrical energy consumed is for cooling, compared with 15 percent in "green" data centers run according to best practices.

Click here for Gartner's list of 11 best practices for efficient data centers.

The most surprising find, McGuckin said, is the one involving cold/hot aisles between server racks. The major reason for the waste in conventional data center cooling is the unconstrained mixing of cold supply air with hot exhaust air.

"By channeling the hot and cold air into different aisles [and using drop-down plastic partitions to keep the air separated], a data center can save anywhere from 20 percent to 30 percent of the annual energy draw," McGuckin said. "That's a huge amount."

The idea of green IT-saving bottom-line dollars and conserving power draw at the same time-is becoming one of the best ways to get previously unconnected divisions within enterprises, IT and facilities staff members, to talk to each other.

"In a lot of companies, this conversation hasn't even started yet," McGuckin said. "In most enterprises, the IT guys never see the power bill, and the facilities guys certainly don't know all the details of the issues the IT guys have to solve.

"In many cases, green IT is bringing people together who don't normally work together. To accomplish this, there usually needs to be either a project to accomplish or an emergency situation, and this is beginning to happen."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel