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.
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."