How to Reduce Data Centers Energy Consumption and Power Costs

By CIOReview | Friday, September 23, 2016

Data centers are a lynchpin of the modern economy as all businesses–SMBs or large organizations–are utilizing them to run servers. Companies have started using more data centers to handle the explosion of digital content intern causing them to consume more electricity. Being the backbone of company infrastructure, a company needs to manage all costs related to data centers to keep them efficient and effective.

Data center managers’ works to handle challenges by increasing data, limited budgets, and minimal IT resources. They seek ways to decrease operating expenses. Power availability is one of the significant challenges faced by the managers and data center emits a large amount of energy that heats up active components and reduces their efficiency which affects server operations. Organizations install cooling devices to keep their data servers cool. Cooling equipment deployed for servers influences the power demands and adds extra pressure on operational procedures of the data center.

As companies are facing escalated global data consumption needs, scaling of energy usage has become an important part to ensure effective cost management. Poorly distributed data center workloads and power wastage lead to increase in operational costs, profitability reduction and, financial inefficiency. Data center managers make proper plans on the basis of the current rate of expenses spent on operations and equipments of data centers. Plans also involve the prospects of massive energy consumption by the data centers and how it impacts working of data storage. Implementation of power savings approaches demonstrate effectiveness with little investment and offers faster payback.

Data centers use a large amount of energy which affects both company infrastructure and environment because the increase in energy consumption leads to more CO2 emissions that disrupt ozone layer. Implementation of energy-saving strategies reduces power consumption and eliminates roadblocks in achieving energy efficient data centers.

The processor used by the company servers affects the energy consumption of data centers. Organizations mostly use processors with high thermal design power (TDP) because of its economical price. Processor manufacturers also provide low voltage versions of processors that provide same compute performance at a premium price. Using low power processors reduces power consumption of whole data center.

Server virtualization is another strategy that increases the operational ability of a company and decreases power consumption. The virtualization process involves merging of multiple independent servers into a single one. A single server will work more efficiently and reduce power costs.

Power Distribution Units (PDUs) escalates the uptime, growth, and efficiency of data center and installation of recessed PDUs further decreases the power consumption. Recessed PDUs connects environmental sensors that enable operators to monitor humidity, airflow, and temperature, and optimizes troubleshoot efficiency of the data center. PDU distributes necessary voltage to all servers without causing overheating. Data center managers also need to implement power management policy in which the idle IT equipment will be turned off because the ideal equipment consumes the same amount of power as other working assets.

The demand of power can be decreased by using high-efficiency UPS. Most of the IT equipment is not directly powered by the power source, but power passes through UPS for current supply and PDU for power distribution. PDU operates at high efficiency, but UPS consumes some power to do its job. Therefore, managers need to evaluate the efficiency of involved UPS and power loss with it as the minor increase in working efficiency of UPS will save more power. High-efficiency UPS also increases the battery runtime and generates cooling conditions inside the UPS to keep components at a lower temperature and extends its life.

Devising a green strategy for company data centers helps in reduction of energy consumption. Data center assessment is the first step in the deployment of green strategies. The assessment includes determining the amount of energy company storage consumed. Data center managers can install temporary meters on the electrical circuits providing power to storage devices to measure power consumption. After determining the amount of energy consumption, managers can reduce temperature by different ways like adjusting temperature and humidity, installing air-side economizer and water-side economizer. The air-side economizer is a process of bringing natural air from the outside environment into the data center building. The water-side economizer is a process of leveraging the evaporative cooling capacity of the cooling tower to generate chilled water and then using it to decrease temperatures of data center machines.

The Modular Cooling Systems (MCS) are the reliable and cost-effective option, which works as the refrigerated chillers for the data centers. MCS control the temperature of the equipment and keep it according to the ambient temperature. Modular systems are very efficient and easy to operate.  The heat exchanger is the most important component of MCS, which works to provide optimum performance. Integrating MCS with the data centers helps in reducing energy emission, power consumption along with increasing efficiency of the components.

There are other tasks that companies can deploy at their data center to decrease its power consumption. Other tasks include relocating data centers to the area having low power cost and mild weather, painting data center to white, implementing airflow management technologies, buying power from the most economical provider, conducting an energy audit, among others. The small changes made in the data centers can lead to big power savings and implementation of some radical methods can reduce power costs. The managers need to prioritize actions that reduce the power consumption of data centers and implement it in the whole infrastructure.

The data center designers and managers, infrastructure providers, and IT equipment manufacturers need to collaborate in the process of reducing power consumption of data center energy. In the immediacy, there are multiple other activities; managers can implement to decrease energy consumption while liberating physical space and cooling, and power capacity to reinforce growth.