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GCN : November 2013
66 Optimizing Data Center Energy Consumption that once supported a needed application that over time has been moved or decommissioned, but the hardware remains running. ese energy hogs double down on inefficiency; they not only no longer provide a useful service, their outdated engineering consumes excessive amounts of electricity compared to the latest server designs. "A best practice is to do an assessment periodically to make sure you're not paying for any of these ghost machines," says Charles King, principal analyst with the information technology industry analysis firm Pund-IT. Some vendors of power and cooling products, such as Schneider Electric, also offer software designed to identify any obsolete servers still consuming energy so organizations can keep close tabs on their environments in between full walkthroughs. " e application looks at each device on the network to see if it's pulling power and to determine whether it's performing properly," says Steve Carlini, global director of data center solution marketing at Schneider Electric. 3 Implement quick-win solutions. ASHRAE, a standards organization for the heating and cooling industry, has good news for power-conscious CIOs. Today's servers can run at higher temperatures than what was considered safe in the past, which means organizations can spend less to cool their data centers. " is is probably the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to improve the energy efficiency of the data center," Carlini says. Another economical measure is to implement containment systems that enclose aisles around server racks to prevent hot air from mixing with cold. is strategy is particularly important because some industry estimates gauge that 70 percent of the energy data centers consume goes to systems for cooling and managing air, notes Craig Watkins, product manager for rack and cooling solutions at Tripp Lite. Cold-aisle containment systems are relatively easy to retrofit in existing data centers and can help organizations optimize the refrigerated air they produce to keep servers cool. ey offer another noteworthy advantage: eir economical upfront costs, combined with their effectiveness in reducing cooling expenses, yield fast investment returns. "Cold-aisle containment is low- hanging fruit for energy management. Organizations typically see a payback in about six months," Pouchet says. Hot-air containment systems are also an option. ey require more retrofitting than cold-air solutions, but these specialized duct rack enclosures keep data centers cooler by directing hot air outdoors or into air-conditioning systems, Watkins explains. Quick-win opportunities may also materialize with blanking panels, which enclose open spaces in racks that currently aren't being used to house servers. Panels from Tripp Lite and others are designed for the IT staff to easily plug into empty spaces without the need for special tools, which simplifies installation. Finally, IT managers shouldn't overlook the most basic energy economizer of all: untangling the balls of cables that build up around racks and other equipment that keep air from flowing efficiently. 4 Upgrade equipment to the latest energy-saving designs. Purchasing computers, servers, displays and other technology equipment with an ENERGY STAR certification can reduce power consumption and help organizations save significant money. For example, program officials estimate that over a five-year time frame organizations can save $500 per server because certified equipment averages 30 percent higher efficiency rates than standard gear. If all servers sold in the United States met the specification, energy cost savings would approach $800 million per year, ENERGY STAR experts say. IT managers can adopt additional optimizations by shopping for the latest server designs that draw power dynamically, based on prevailing workloads. "In the past, servers used the same amount of power if they were sitting idle or running at high capacity," Carlini notes. "Today's energy-efficient models can reduce their energy consumption thanks to internal power management features." Buying the latest servers also will produce a ripple effect. Pouchet says servers have demonstrated significant gains in compute performance with each new generation, which means that running servers three or more years old creates unnecessary costs. "You've got to know the age of the equipment you have and when to get rid of it," he says. Saving one watt of electricity by implementing a more efficient processor results in cumulative savings in power distribution, cooling and other costs of approximately 2.84 watts of total consumption, he explains. Energy-saving modernization opportunities exist for other types of data center equipment, too. Watkins advises organizations to modernize older uninterruptible power systems with energy-saving devices that run more efficiently and produce less heat, in turn reducing the strain on cooling systems. Source: Energy Star A UPS with an Energy Star certification can reduce energy losses by 30% to 55%, which means that a 1000kVA UPS in a large data center could save $18,000 annually.