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IT FOCUS AREA: Data Center Facilities
more in Data Center Facilities

Gimmes for a Greener Data Center: 8 Ways to Save You Money

AUTHOR: Steve Harris
Golf Ball Money

Much like a gimme in golf, data center gimmes are the fastest, most immediate steps you can take toward going green and saving green.

As a chief information officer (CIO), you may feel that green initiatives will involve a significant amount of time, a large capital investment, or extra resources you don’t have. But there are many short-term opportunities within your current environment that can optimize your existing technology and investments.

8 Energy-Efficient Tips

Following are eight quick tips, or gimmes, that can help green your data center over the next 24 months.

Many of these pointers may seem obvious—others require a little more time, planning and budget. However, don’t underestimate the cumulative impact any of these tips can have on your environmental efforts and your budget.

Before taking any steps toward creating a greener data center, you may want to establish a benchmark. This way, you can accurately measure the problem areas and identify potential places for improvement. By knowing the average power-spend up front, you can determine whether, and how much, your adjustments are saving.

1. Locate and Turn Off Lights and Unnecessary and/or Unused Equipment

Of course you know that consuming less power lowers your electricity bill— period. Although the power bill is generally not the CIO’s domain, a data center can often be the largest drain on a company’s power. Some equipment, even when turned off, will continue to draw power. Because of this, you may want to consider unplugging any infrequently used equipment. Many businesses have realized as much as 5 percent savings with these simple adjustments.

2. Improve Airflow

One of the easiest ways to improve airflow is to simply tidy up the data center and unblock covered air vents. However, if you’re prepared to embark on a more ambitious solution, you can set up hotaisle/ cold-aisle arrangements. For an even greater commitment to improving data center airflow, consider purchasing an innovative rack design that matches the ventilation configuration of the active equipment. Some racks contain baffles and perforations that help better direct airflow and allow for more efficient exhaustion. And, by using cabinets with creative fan solutions, you can maximize the distribution of cold air and minimize the temperature of exhausted hot air.

3. Use Blanking Panels

When you install blanking panels, you will prevent any warm air from being reintroduced at the front of the cabinet, therefore, keeping your equipment cooler.

4. Reduce Cable Congestion

When using a raised floor, avoid filling the underfloor area with too many cables. Your best way to achieve this is to keep all of your cables overhead. Another way to minimize congestion is to run your power cables under the floor and your communications cables overhead. No matter what cables you’re placing in the floor, be sure to use an underfloor raceway designed to keep cables in designated pathways.

5. Consider Power Management Tools

There are three types of power strips typically used in data centers:

  • Dumb power strips - simply deliver power. 

  • Monitoring power strips – allow you to see the electrical current draw but not adjust it.

  • Monitoring / management power strips – the greenest and most cost-effective option –give you the chance to cycle power in and out depending on use and need. Companies that utilize these efficient power strips can often minimize their power consumption and realize significant savings both in the short- and long-term.

6. Adjust Temperature

The standard data center temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. However, newer IT equipment can withstand higher temperatures. Today, 74 degrees might be a more optimal temperature, which could substantially impact your power savings now and in the future.

7. Consolidate Servers through Virtualization

Organizations with the goal of “going green” and saving money have significantly benefited from introducing virtualization into their data centers. Consolidating many servers – each with their own power supply – into fewer, more efficient servers running from one power source, will help conserve power and save money. And, if that’s not incentive enough, some utility companies offer incentives to organizations willing to incorporate these power-saving technologies into their data centers.

8. Establish a Strategic Server Replacement Policy

Traditional tower-format servers have been replaced by rack-mounted units, which in turn are being superseded by potentially more power-efficient blade servers. As technology evolves and newer, more compact and efficient servers are developed, a solid, internal server replacement policy can help determine whether the future servers will be two-way or single-processor / dual-core. Whatever your specifications, you will have confidence knowing that any newly acquired equipment will fully support your overall plan for a greener data center.

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

As energy costs continue to rise and CIOs are faced with the challenges of saving money and creating a greener data center environment, don’t forget these eight tips for significant, often immediate benefits. Changes don’t have to happen overnight. In fact, concentrating on any one of the areas can help you realize savings. And, as you continue to optimize your data center, implementing best practices and new hardware/software (where budget and resources allow) all make a difference. Your green efforts, and your savings, will make you a winner within your organization.

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