Data Center and Efficient Energy Usage

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Data Center Energy UsageThe rising costs of energy have caused data center providers and business leaders to analyze power usage very closely.

Even though equipment manufacturers remain focused on improving the energy efficiency of their products, certain industry dynamics are putting pressure on power consumption.  For example, the increase in big data initiatives will require additional data center traffic and compute capacity.

One study estimates data traffic will soar by approximately 30% each year.  The persistent need for additional hardware to support the ongoing surge in data traffic, along with rising power costs, makes energy efficiency strategies a constant priority.

The Two Sides of Power Consumption

Power usage can be divided into two areas within the data center:  the IT side and the facilities side.  Often, business leaders associate high energy costs more with facility operations because this is where the utility bills are paid.

However, IT assets represent a significant portion of a company’s total energy usage and costs.  Servers processing increasing amounts of company data and applications have become major power consumers.

To lower costs, business leaders must find ways to reduce power consumption at the server level.  In addition, they need to partner with data center providers that have proven power solutions and energy efficiencies.

Energy Efficiency Opportunities on the IT Side

According to the Uptime Institute, data centers consume as much as 3% of all global electricity production and emit approximately 200 million metric tons of CO2.  Therefore, energy efficiency strategies are critical for cost savings, but also for environmental purposes.  Fortunately, several opportunities exist to improve efficiencies on the IT side of operations:

  • One area of potential energy savings involves the amount of electricity used to power servers. Often, data center servers use only a small percentage of the electricity supplied.  Servers rarely perform at 100% capacity.  This area represents a prime target for power savings.

Business leaders need to analyze their company’s server power usage.  Then, they must develop strategies for reducing power consumption at the server level, such as consolidating server operations.

  • IT workload also affects power usage. However, in many cases, business leaders cannot simply reduce workloads and application use without negatively affecting company performance.

Tools, such as non-disruptive power management software, are continually being developed to provide insight into how IT assets are consuming power.  These software tools will improve in sophistication over time and will help companies monitor and control energy consumption at the server level.  They will help business leaders identify when servers are actually productive.

  • Hardware manufacturers are continually designing better power controls into their products to conserve energy. Although these measures don’t provide the power management capabilities delivered by the software tools discussed above, business leaders should still focus on configuring energy-efficient hardware.

Energy Efficiency Opportunities on the Facility Side

Data center power involves more than powering servers and support systems that requiring power.  Some examples include generators, UPS devices, cooling systems, heating equipment, ventilation systems, air handlers, lighting, fire suppression systems, and alarm and monitoring systems.

Many contributing factors affect the amount of power consumed by a data center.  Primarily, the size of the facility, the number of servers, the type and number of other installed devices, and temperature control systems represent the largest power users.

To improve energy efficiency throughout the data center facility, a provider can implement these measures:

  • Configure advanced cooling solutions within the data center provider’s facility. To maximize efficiency, providers must ensure hot air containment.  For example, physical barriers can prevent cold air in data center supply aisles from mixing with hot air in the exhaust aisles.
  • Reduce power consumption and improve efficiencies by actively monitoring and managing air flow and temperatures. These systems use intelligent sensors to gauge when increased cooling capacity is required.
  • Use motion-activated lighting systems to reduce power consumption. In addition, motion activation reduces the amount of ambient heat generated by lights in operation.

When evaluating potential data center providers, business leaders need to understand their power requirements.  Then, they must match a provider’s capabilities to those requirements.  Because power consumption has such a major impact on cost and performance, business leaders must continually evaluate usage and develop strategies to reduce consumption and improve efficiencies.

Using advanced distributed redundant power architecture to achieve 2N power levels, CyrusOne offers a 100% uptime Service Level Agreement to guarantee no interruptions in power availability.  The company’s power architecture includes separate parallel transformers with separate parallel underground utility feeds; dual power feeds from multiple power distribution units within each enclosure; and multiple generators, fuel tanks and batteries for seamless power continuity.

CyrusOne knows how to find the perfect balance between energy efficiency and customer performance demands.  By using less energy, facilities save money and contribute to a healthier environment.

Continue to read the CyrusOne Blog for information about data center power.