Data Centers Don’t Have to Choose between Uptime and Efficiency

Comrent is providing solutions for mission-critical power testing infrastructure.

Energy efficiency investments could potentially create total returns of $18 trillion worldwide. This staggering number, released in a 2014 report from the International Energy Agency, is roughly the equivalent of all of North America’s economies combined. As the push towards energy efficiency continues, the value in adopting energy efficient measures remains strong across the consumer and business landscape.

According to an article published in Energy Manager Today, Taking a closer look at where and how our power is being consumed can help determine where energy efficiency efforts should be focused.

Data centers account for about 2 percent of our nation’s electricity use, and the rate is climbing – making data centers a prime target for implementing energy efficiency measures, according to the US Department of Energy. As a result of the growing percentage electricity use by data centers, the U.S. government recently challenged 19 out of approximately 3 million US data center operators to improve energy efficiency by 20 percent.

However, despite the fact that many operators believe data centers must choose between uptime and efficiency when optimizing and allocating resources, that fact alone is keeping data centers from fully capitalizing on these tactics and other energy efficiency technologies.

In today’s data-driven landscape, data center operators and owners are largely measured against uptime and the expectation is that their data center services are connected and available 24/7. While consumers are quick to complain when a website is down, they rarely inquire about the energy efficiency of the data center behind it.

“In order to accommodate the demand of always-on availability and the power and cooling infrastructure necessary to provide it, data centers are typically oversized in terms of capacity so that it’s easier to meet potential demands for increased services further down the road,” the Energy Manager article explains.

While this strategy drastically reduces overall energy efficiency, those responsible for data center uptime are often not in charge of actually paying the utility bill – making it a business implication for owners.

Next, that poses the question of whether or not data centers can have both uptime and efficiency. By investing in the right efficiency measures and ensuring proper planning, it will not only decrease energy consumption, but will also reduce overall operational expenses and reduce overall risk.

Suggested tactics to enable data centers to improve energy efficiency without sacrificing uptime include:

  • Implementing hot and cold aisles can be done quickly and cheaply, greatly increasing energy efficiency.
  • Improving airflow management through separation and containment also increases energy efficiency and does not take up extensive resources or time.
  • By raising data center temperature to adhere to ASHRAE guidelines, cooling units are more efficient but infrastructure performance is unaffected.
  • However, there are other methods to consider as well, depending on the needs of the organization, including the fact that data center O&O’s can’t improve their data center efficiency if they don’t have a baseline to measure it from.

While so-called “zombie servers” should be put to rest once and for all because of the drain they put on energy and valuable whitespace, “economizers”, which take advantage of ambient temperature to cool a data center, can and should be considered a good investment for the right data center.

Being sure that your data center operator selects components and designs with good partial-load efficiency will minimize the impact of their energy-use. During the design phase, consider the partial-load specs of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), computer room air conditioners (CRAC) and computer room air handler (CRAH) units, chillers and pumps.

When deploying new data center builds and working on existing facilities, consider implementing modular, scalable power and cooling equipment so owners and operators can add capacity as needed, instead of having to overbuild in order to accommodate potential future demand.

You can also consider modernizing your infrastructure and removing outdated equipment to improve efficiency and ensure uptime during a power outage.

Any work being done that involves an electrical system is ALWAYS critical which is why owners and operators should have a schedule they adhere to, to perform maintenance and inspections on a regular basis.

By only investing in the infrastructure your data center needs to fit current capacity needs and reduce utility bills by implementing the methods.

Consider asking a Comrent data center solutions expert about our new industry-leading data center solution, the AUDIT-BUDDY. AUDIT-BUDDY makes environmental monitoring simple and cost-efficient, and helps your data center engineer quickly pinpoint, diagnose and fix airflow issues.

With AUDIT-BUDDY, you don’t have to wait. When you have a hot spot or need to baseline your facility, simple take AUDIT-BUDDY out of the box, scan, and get the information you need to fix your data center environment.

AUDIT-BUDDY is the ideal tool:

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