Data center budgets, along with just about every other budget in the business world, are being evaluated for 2009 and undergoing more scrutiny than usual due to uncertain macroeconomic conditions.
So, with data volumes growing at 60 percent to 70 percent per year (Gartner’s educated guess), and power costs expected to increase by 15 percent (the power industry’s educated guess), how does an IT manager make peace with the very real possibility that he or she won’t be able to buy as much power and capacity this next fiscal year?
“Although we could talk about 21st-century, Buck Rogers-type stuff that we would love to do, the reality is that data centers can do things right now, today, to cut down on power draw; there is definitely low-hanging fruit,” Jack Pouchet, director of energy initiatives at Emerson Network Power, told me.
Emerson is an international power-supply and IT infrastructure provider.
“As the father of teenagers, I can tell you that some of the things we’re doing at home are much like the data center. That is: All the lights are on, the oven’s at 400 degrees, the doors are open, the refrigerator’s open, the faucets are all running … we tend to run our data centers that way,” Pouchet said.
Put Heating, Cooling in the Right Places
Data centers may have a hot spot in one area, and they may be overcooled in another area. Big waste of energy, in either case.
“If you go into a grocery store, there are places that are really, really cold, like where the ice cream is kept,” Pouchet said. “A couple of aisles over, they’ve got these rotisserie chickens for sale. How do they do that? It’s because they know where to put the power and the cooling. They have people to help them do that.”
Similarly, that’s why you bring specialists in to help identify heating and cooling issues in the data center. “They can find things you’ll never think of,” Pouchet said.
For example, just the way the server racks are laid out can make a big difference in the amount of cooling needed to keep them operational.
“If you’ve got open spaces in the racks, all through a 10-row data center, let’s say, then you’ve got hot air flowing right through them, and that will mess up your cool airflow pattern,” Pouchet said. “And that cool air is being wasted in all 10 aisles.”
There are a number of opportunities like these to identify, and for a small amount of money, a company can get an assessment that will really help, Pouchet said.
“The coming year will undoubtedly require data center and IT managers to get maximum value from their facility without making significant enhancements,” said Chuck Spear, president of Liebert North America. Liebert is a division of Emerson.
“The good news is that numerous opportunities exist throughout the data center to do more with less. Businesses that have already invested in adaptive technologies are poised to easily grow as they’re able. Those that will spend on data center support systems must demand flexible, efficient products at the lowest total cost of ownership.”