Data Center Efficiency: 10 Tips to Boost Productivity, Reduce Power Usage

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-05-24
 
 
 

Reduce Cooling Power Consumption

In a typical data center, only about half the power available is actually used by the IT equipment, with the rest going mostly to cooling. Much of that power can be reclaimed by eliminating cooling inefficiencies, upgrading the cooling system to allow for variable cooling or making greater use of outside air. Additional efficiency can be achieved by right-sizing the UPS and power-distribution equipment.

Reduce Cooling Power Consumption

Consolidate and Virtualize

Poor server utilization is one of the biggest sources of waste in most data centers. Virtualizing the servers can increase overall utilization from around 10 percent (typical of dedicated servers), to between 20 and 30 percent, and more than 50 percent with more dynamic management systems. Successful consolidation and virtualization initiatives can also reclaim a considerable amount of rack space and stranded power.

Consolidate and Virtualize

Calibrate and Monitor Cold Aisle Temperatures

A best practice today is to adopt a hot/cold aisle configuration and increase the cold aisle inlet temperatures to 80.6°F (27°C) as recommended by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). But hot/cold aisle configurations can create hotspots that waste power and cause outages. Balancing the equipment and then calibrating and continuously monitoring the cold aisle temperature maximize cooling efficiency and minimize problems.

Calibrate and Monitor Cold Aisle Temperatures

Match Server Capacity to Load in Real Time

Even the most virtualized and recently refreshed server configurations waste power during periods of low application demand. Total server power consumption can be reduced by up to 50 percent by matching online capacity to actual load in real time. Runbooks can be used to automate the steps involved in power-capping and de-/re-activating servers, whether on a predetermined schedule or in response to unanticipated events.

Match Server Capacity to Load in Real Time

Correlate IT/Facility Emergency Procedures

The lack of complete correlation between facility and IT emergency procedures can unnecessarily cause or extend application outages. Fully correlating and automating these procedures minimizes the impact outages have and also reduces the UPS/generator load during an outage, thereby extending the availability of power.

Correlate IT/Facility Emergency Procedures

Determine Actual Power Consumption

Older equipment often uses power inefficiently, and newer servers with a high idle/peak swing (above 50 percent) can overload circuits more frequently when incorrectly allocated and aggregated. Using the PAR4 methodology specified in the Underwriters Laboratories UL2640 standard to determine actual power consumption makes it possible to maximize server capacity while eliminating the risk of overloading circuits under peak utilization.

Determine Actual Power Consumption

Eliminate the Transfer Switch

While the use of an automatic transfer switch between the grid and the generator is a common configuration, an AC or DC distribution bus is far more efficient and just as effective during a power outage. The bus configuration seamlessly integrates all sources of power, including any on-site fuel cells and solar/wind energy while enabling generator maintenance cycles to be put to good use.

Eliminate the Transfer Switch

Load-Balance by Following the Moon

Many organizations operate redundant data centers to satisfy business-continuity needs, but very few take full advantage of this powerful configuration. Having multiple, strategically located data centers enables loads to be shifted to where power is currently the most stable and the least expensive. Because power is invariably most abundant and least expensive at night, such a "follow the moon" strategy can result in considerable savings.

Load-Balance by Following the Moon

Promote IT, Facility Management Consistency

Maximizing data center efficiency (which also helps minimize capital and operational expenditures) will require an unprecedented level of cooperation between IT and facility managers. At a minimum, all aspects of monitoring and managing the data center infrastructure should become both consistent and pervasive across the IT and facilities organizations. Achieving the best results requires a holistic view of power consumption, environmental conditions and resource utilization together with utility grid and weather conditions. Such transparency can help delay new data center construction and expensive equipment purchases and should be on the must-have list for every CFO.

Promote IT, Facility Management Consistency

"Monetize" the Data Center

Electricity is expensive, and data centers will continue to consume an ever-increasing amount of it. The AC or DC distribution bus configuration mentioned in slide 7 better prepares the organization to reap financial rewards by participating in the Smart Grid's ancillary energy markets and demand-response events, or through distributed generation via net metering with a microgrid powered by sources of renewable energy (the other "green" in this opportunity).

"Monetize" the Data Center

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