CyberTrails, an IT consulting and data centre operator in Phoenix, has done three things that help reduce energy consumption and improve cooling efficiencies in the data centre. First, it replaced traditional floor-based cooling with an in-row water-based chiller system, combating heat sources closer to the source. It also installed modular uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs), hardware that helped reduce energy costs by more than 20 percent per kilowatt hour; the old system was operating at just 60 percent energy efficiency. And it transitioned to "virtual machines" instead of continuing to add servers.
Kris Domich, director of data centre solutions at Dimension Data, a $3.1 billion IT services and solutions provider, says another way to limit power use is to keep people out of the data centre. Not only are people effectively mini heaters, they also need light. Lighting and other ancillary environmentals can account for 10 to 12 percent of total power, Domich says. Use of motion switches that activate lights only when needed can help.
Enabling the "green" control within servers also makes a difference. This ensures that servers are throttling the amount of power they consume based on actual load. These controls can step down the frequency of the servers during low load, which will translate to less power consumption.
You can also place remote sensing equipment in each logical cooling zone. Domich says studies have shown that 20 percent or more of power consumed comes from the HVAC systems (varying amounts based on cooling technology). By tying the sensing equipment into actual server load or watts generated, cooling systems can react intelligently and specifically to a given situation. This is in contrast to the "maximum cooling at all times" principle followed in many data centres.
"Consolidation is another positive step towards being more green. Idle capacity comes at the expense of a power overhead just to 'keep the lights on'. Reducing this capacity will reduce power consumption," Domich says. "The growing trend to locate new data centres near power generation facilities is a great thing. This greatly reduces transmission distances and wasted watts during the transmission. Power plants are statistically safe enough to locate a data centre nearby."
And he advises companies to make use of the heat generated by large data centres. This heat can be channelled to other parts of the building to produce a benefit, he says.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.