Why care about reducing energy in the data center?


Data centers are the backbone of a company’s IT infrastructure. They can also be the most energy-intensive component of your IT operations.

  • The amount of electricity consumed by U.S. data centers doubled between 2000 and 2006 and is expected to double again by 2011, according to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • A typical 50,000-square-foot data center consumes about 57 barrels of oil per day.
  • About 40 percent of the power used by data centers goes to cooling, according to several estimates. About 60 percent of that expense is wasted, because data center heat distribution is extremely erratic, and spot cooling is complicated. [Read more…]

What to Do When Energy Issues Fall On Your Lap

High voltage powerlines.Historically the IT industry has been focused on one goal: Delivering faster and more reliable technology. Now a new demand has been thrown into the mix: Reducing energy consumption. When other departments were covering the electricity tab, IT didn’t have to worry about the harsh reality of rising power bills. But those days have come to an end.

“Most chief information officers don’t even consider electricity, so they don’t know that energy reduction should be on their radar. But many companies are asking IT to pay for its consumption and are building the reduction of energy consumption into compensation packages,” says Jose Iglesias, vice-president of global solutions for Symantec.

One of the biggest contributors to this problem is technology that is under-utilized (but sucking up energy still). Out of the seven million servers shipped worldwide, approximately six million are Intel x86 processors loaded with only a single application. This means that only 5% to 10% of a server is being used when the company is still paying for 100% of the electricity needed to run each server. With a server per application it’s no surprise data centers are getting crowded fast and the demands on cooling the data center just add to the electricity draw. [Read more…]

Organizations Reduce, Rather Than Shift, Emissions

Reducing one’s carbon footprint is a daunting task. Every operational activity a business undertakes results, directly or indirectly, in carbon emissions. As businesses strive to “go carbon neutral,” they are faced with two choices: reduce operational carbon emissions, or invest in credits or emission-neutralizing efforts to “offset” emissions that cannot be avoided. Many organizations that have historically employed this “pollute and pay” philosophy are rethinking their strategy, and opting instead to make meaningful reductions in work environment CO2.

When corporate environmentalism first took off there was no easy way to cut operating carbon emissions. Instead, companies invested in a form of emissions trading by buying “carbon credits.” These credits, sold by a number of third-parties, are a way to cancel out their projected emissions. Common carbon credits include investment in renewable power or the planting of trees. [Read more…]

If You Measure It, They Will Green

Data Center Energy Efficiency Metrics

A significant shift in data center economics is occurring, and threatens to overwhelm years of chip technology leaps. Data center energy costs are approaching 20% of the overall data center bill, and the purchase of a new server is often exceeded by the cost of power and cooling infrastructure to support that server. The data center power bill will continue to rise, and lifetime energy costs will soon exceed the cost of servers.

In August 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that U.S. enterprises spent $4.5 billion in 2006 on data center power bills. If current trends continue, this figure will rise to $7.4 billion in 2011. The projected load will require ten new power plants, while carbon emissions will rise 63%. Indeed, beyond the significant cost of energy, businesses and governments see this as a serious environmental issue. They recognize the need to increase power-consumption efficiency of data centers to reduce costs and environmental impact.

Download the full research note here

It explains three popular metrics: the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE), and Data Center Productivity (DCP) ratio.