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More tips to Green your data centre

Improving energy efficiency has saved some data centre operators 30 to 40 per cent, says Schneider Electric

With energy consumption by IT growing, CIOs should take steps to green their data centres, according to Schneider Electric. The Australian carbon tax, effective July 1, puts additional pressure on businesses to increase efficiency.

The data centre owner who consumes too much energy “will quickly disappear from the market,” says Schneider Electric IT senior vice president of Asia Pacific and Japan, Philippe Arsonneau.

“The growth in data centres is significantly increasing and impacting energy consumption at a global level,” says Schneider Electric vice president of IT for Australia, Paul Tyrer. He estimates that, globally, IT consumes eight per cent electricity now and will consume 40 per cent by 2030. “Data centre operators have got a significant responsibility to become far more efficient.”

Machine-to-machine communications is set to intensify electricity usage, and more appliances and other devices will be connected to the Internet, increasing the load for data centres, says Arsonneau.

Some Schneider customers have saved 30-40 per cent in energy costs by improving the efficiency of their data centres, though the exact amount will vary depending on the company, Tyrer says. Over its lifetime, a one megawatt data center can cost $20 million on electrical energy, “so if you’re able to save 30-40 per cent by smart, energy efficient design, you’re talking about a significant operational expense reduction.”

The Schneider officials offered a few tips for reducing data centre energy consumption:

  • 1. Measure.
    “We need to measure where the energy is consumed,” says Arsonneau. “That’s very important to understand the area of concern” and target areas to improve, he said.

    “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” adds Tyrer.

  • 2. Start simple.
    “There can be some very simple and practical things that can be done to drive efficiency … that cost very little money,” says. For example, one can add blanking panels to racks to separate hot and cold air. Such panels are “exceedingly cheap,” he says.

  • 3. Automate.
    “The data centre is a building,” so IT managers should ask “how can we improve the automation” of the building and its system managing the tuners and the cooling,” says Arsonneau.

  • 4. Don’t sacrifice reliability.
    Improving efficiency shouldn’t result in reduced performance or power issues, says Arsonneau. “When we’re working on energy efficiency, we need to be sure we’re still keeping the right reliability or availability of the system.”

  • 5. Keep measuring and adapt.
    Monitoring should continue permanently, even after improvements are made, say the Schneider officials. That’s because demands on the data centre may change over time.

    “The changing demands of IT can happen quite rapidly,” says Tyrer. “You need to have a data centre that’s designed from the outset in an agile way." It should be “a flexible, modular, scalable and redeployable data centre design so you can adapt to the changing requirements in the future.”

Click here for more tips on how to green your data centre.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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