Unfriend coal to fuel data centers

High-tech heavyweights including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have made big investments in greener data centers.  Facebook has yet to join in – and Greenpeace has noticed. Greenpeace is asking people to “unfriend” coal to pressure Facebook to stop using coal and switch to renewable energy sources.

Greener data centers are good for all of us – so why not unfriend coal! Read more about Greenpeace’s campaign here.

Virtual and Greener

As all of us in IT know by now, the fastest was to decrease the size of your data center is to virtualize in some way or another.  For those of you who have not yet tried it you need to give it a shot.  For those of you who have some applications virtualized but not all, then take a look at what you are working with to see if you can virtualize even more.

With free basic software versions from VMWare, Microsoft and Citrix there is no reason to not try it out and see what you think.  Before you know it you will start seeing fantastic results in power reduction (and power bills), cooling, and physical space in your data center.  You can use capacity planners to figure out what to virtualize next.  These planners will detail all of the utilization numbers of your existing machines and then tell you what kind of a machine you need to put all your VMs on.

We have been seeing up to a 30 to 1 physical server consolidation ratio.  Imagine taking the power, space and manageability issues of 30 servers out of your environment!  What a relief. [Read more…]

Is the greenest data center in the clouds?

A New Report Reveals that the Most Efficient Data Center May be in the Clouds

The data center has long been the focus of IT departments looking to reduce overall IT operating costs because they consume enormous amounts of energy every year. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the amount of electricity consumed by U.S. data centers doubled between 2000 and 2006 and is expected to double again by 2011. The EPA further estimates that data centers eat up approximately 1.5 percent of all electricity in the United States and that nearly a quarter of that power is wasted. This coincides with results gathered by analyst firm IDC, which states that the un-utilized server capacity in North America equates to more than 20 million servers. Amidst the current shift towards achieving maximum efficiency within the data center, two major IT players have set out to redefine the existence of the on-site data center.

Steve Denegri of Virtual Strategy Magazine recently released a report entitled “Microsoft and Google: Cloud Computing Dominance through Renewable Energy” – revealing that both Microsoft and Google are busy building massive, energy-efficient data centers, and plan to offer cloud computing services to businesses. The services will range from providing small-scale storage space or server power to providing an entire outsourced data center. [Read more…]

Save your energy for Monday morning

Are your coworkers ending their days and starting their weekends by turning off their PCs? It’s an easy way to lower your carbon footprint and there are solutions available ranging from management systems you can buy to the tried and true method of clicking on the Windows logo.

But what about your servers? Ever wondered how much energy you’d save over a weekend if you turned off under-used servers during your off hours?  Software company IE is working on a server version of their management solution for PCs. They are inching closer to helping companies reduce their carbon footprint with a fail-safe power management system for the data center.  Read more.

Data center efficiency is more than hot air

Or is it? I just learned about an easy way to reduce cooling costs in the data center by using hot air.  The big problem with data centers is that they generate a lot of heat from all those racks of servers.  For every kilowatt used to run data center equipment, another kilowatt needs to be spent on air-conditioning to pull the heat out. Most datacenters are big rooms where cool air and hot air mix together.

So why not keep out the heat? The hot aisles can be blocked off with strip curtains, similar to ones used in meat packing plants. This allows  the hot air to be vented out of the building while the cool air can move through the data center – which means that instead of a 55 degree deep freeze, it’s could be a comfortable 74 degrees in the data center.  

One of our partners, NetApp, developed this setup which earned them an Energy Star rating.  You can read about it here:  http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/07/15/netapp-first-data-center-to-earn-energy-star-for-superior-energy-efficiency/

First steps: Reducing your Data Center Energy Footprint

Cooling is responsible for the greatest energy waste. The problem is that most don’t know where all the hot spots are, and instead cool the entire data center to a certain level. The reality is that the hottest servers probably consume a minority of floor space, so you can focus cooling on those that need it most. Once you’ve isolated your most power-hungry servers, turn up the thermostat on the rest of them. Most servers can operate perfectly well at temperatures of as much as 100° (be sure to check with your supplier) and each 1° increase in temperature can save about 4percent in energy costs.Several vendors also now sell server racks that are optimized for cooling.

The Raised Floor
If you look under the raised flooring in your data center, you’ll probably find pockets of cables clustered together. [Read more…]