Wall Street and Technology, Data center energy management company TrendPoint Systems is offering a four-point plan for “green data centers”.

Wall Street and Technology, Data center energy management company TrendPoint Systems is offering a four-point plan for “green data centers”.
By Penny Crosman @wallstreettech
Data center energy management company TrendPoint Systems is offering a four-point plan for “green data centers”. Although the plan leads into a pitch for TrendPoint’s product, it includes some helpful hints for those who find their data centers to be energy hogs. A recent study by McKinsey & Co. predicted that data centers will surpass the airline industry as the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 and called for data centers to double their energy efficiency by 2012. According to the McKinsey study, data centers need to utilize their servers more efficiently – most are run at only 6 percent capacity, on average — as well as better control their cooling units, one of the largest sources of energy consumption in a data center. If they do not, the study estimates that carbon dioxide emissions attributed to the electricity consumed by data centers will rise four-fold over the next 12 years, putting data centers at the top of the list of the world’s largest polluters. “The general office building out there uses roughly 10 watts per square foot,” notes Bob Hunter, CEO of TrendPoint. “Whereas even an average data center uses 100 watts per square foot and it’s not atypical of Wall Street data centers to have 200 or 300 watts per square foot of energy usage.”

Managing energy usage is not only critical for decreasing the carbon impact of data centers, but for preventing costly downtime caused by overloaded circuits – the leading cause of business interruption. At a recent global data center conference in India (Data Center 2008), it was predicted that over the next five years, power failures and limits on power availability will halt data center operations at more than 90% of all companies. The four-point plan includes these points: Set an energy budget – Just as companies set and manage travel budgets, data centers need to be able to set energy and carbon budgets that can be broken down along established parameters such as department, site, etc., all the way down to the circuit level. Employees accountable for those budgets need the ability to view and manage their individual budget segments securely, against assigned metrics. Co-location facilities, in particular, need to be able to access and manage their own energy and carbon budgets so that they can bill back to customers appropriately. Virtualize servers — Companies can reap instant savings by consolidating underutilized physical data servers onto “virtual machines” that act like physical computers, but don’t require the space, management time or energy of individual servers. But Trendpoint cautions against virtualizing without proper cooling management since virtualized servers generate enormous heat. Without proper cooling, they will develop “server thermal inversions.” Just as smog recycles and builds up in an atmospheric thermal inversion, a server can develop an inversion that causes cool air to be trapped and recycled, wasting cooling resources. “Server thermal inversion” will not only eat up all of the energy savings in increased cooling costs, but is a leading cause of costly downtime in a data center. Equalize heat and cooling balance – Data centers waste enormous amounts of energy by overcooling the majority of their data cabinets. This is because they make macro-cooling decisions based on the heat generated by their hottest cabinets. By matching cooling resources (from floor vents or liquid cooling units) to the actual needs of each individual cabinet, data centers can realize significant savings on energy use. In addition, further savings can be achieved by balancing heat loads on an intra-cabinet basis. By grouping servers in a minimum of two and preferably three zones within a cabinet and moving towards equalized heat loads between the zones — thereby avoiding “server thermal inversion” — users will reap additional cooling savings of 10-30%. Manage to the metrics – As data centers add, move, and change servers, many on a daily basis, they need to continue to monitor and manage heat generation and cooling requirements. TrendPoint provides technology that monitors energy usage at the circuit-panel level, at about $75 per device. Central software can provide a dashboard of users’ and groups’ energy usage and alert to any potential problems. “One customers decided to deploy a hot aisle/cold aisle strategy [for reducing cooling and energy costs],” Hunter says. “While they were expecting savings of 60%, they found they were getting 5%, maybe less, and they couldn’t figure out why. At the end of the day, they discovered that their hot air and cold air was mixing and watering down the results.” View the article at WallStreet & Technology

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