Top tips for data centre infrastructure efficiency

Date: 21 July 2017 Author: David Webb

Data centre energy consumption is responsible for two per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This figure is set to treble in the next decade due to the growth of cloud computing and IT consumerization which is driving data centre demand. To put this into perspective, a study suggests that Japan’s data centres will consume its entire electricity supply by 2030 if growth continues at the present rate. But as energy costs rise, along with efforts to reduce the carbon footprint, companies are finding innovative ways to go greener and reduce unnecessary capital and operational expenditure. Often including, staff reduction, cost reduction and evaluating the physical building space to achieve increased efficiency. Is your company doing all it can to improve the efficiency of its data centre infrastructure without compromising reliability?

The size of your data centre counts

If your data centre infrastructure pre-dates the advent of server virtualization, so the early 2000’s, it may be overbuilt for today’s equipment needs. Virtualization enables you to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer or server, which translates to increased productivity with fewer servers.

Since 60 per cent of payload power is consumed by servers, replace old servers with new. Typically, server performance erodes by 14 per cent annually. A five year old server delivers 40 percent less performance. Modern servers also improve the capability for higher virtual machine density and larger virtual machines. Fewer, more powerful systems mean reduced energy and cooling costs and data centre space requirements.

If you plan to build a new data centre, you can commission a modular design that breaks down into individual, adjustable modules for a more flexible design. Data centres no longer need to be full of featureless racks housed in large, open rooms. Data centres can be spaces of creativity and innovation as well as efficiency.

Know the power demands of your data centre infrastructure

Power usage effectiveness (PUE) ratios, used to measure data centre power usage, can be negatively affected by outdated power delivery systems, such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), power distribution units (PDUs) and transformers. It’s possible to achieve improvements and savings on your PUE ratios by assessing your current situation as well as possible future requirements and modern alternatives.

Since you can't manage what you don’t measure, knowing your numbers as well as what you’d like to achieve is essential, whether you use PUE, CUPS, SPECPower or a combination of measurement.

Data centre infrastructure efficiency

Google has cut total energy use at its data centres by 15 per cent by deploying machine learning from DeepMind, the British AI company it bought in 2014 for about £400m.

Optimise data centre cooling

Develop an air-management strategy. The first step should be the hot-aisle/cold-aisle layout for air management in data centre infrastructure.

Determine your actual data centre temperature requirements. Most data centres run at temperatures much lower than necessary for IT equipment. The optimal temperature range is between 68 and 71 degrees Fahrenheit. Google keeps its data centre temperatures as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce energy consumption.

Move cooling systems closer to the load. Cooling modules placed close to the source of heat reduce the distance fans must move air, and deliver as much as a 70 per cent savings on the energy needed to move the air.

Select the best data centre cooling method. Choose between air conditioning units (ACUs) and liquid-based cooling. ACUs are known to consume a significant portion of energy in most data centre cooling systems.

Water or refrigerant liquid-based cooling. More effective than air at transferring heat, these approaches benefit higher-density applications. Hot air passes through an air-to-water or air-to-refrigerant heat exchanger located near the heat load. Heat is then transferred to the liquid and efficiently removed from the building.

Access free cooling. The Green Grid's EMEA Free Cooling Map gives data centre managers in Europe the ability to input their specific variables to determine the potential energy savings for individual facilities.

Constantly monitor and measure

Data centre managers must optimise the use of capital spend and increase power, capacity and operational efficiency using diverse data from many different sources. An effective monitoring and analytics environment should include these three aspects:

  • Monitor details and activities across all systems and locations.
  • Analyse utilisation of data centre infrastructure to save energy and space or increase optimal use of existing equipment.
  • Automate for synchronised management across the facility, IT hardware, networks and applications.

Consider outsourcing to optimise data centre efficiency

A survey of Fortune 500 companies by Forbes reveals that most IT companies choose to outsource IT instead of running data centre operations in-house. Reasons include: reduced operational costs, better use of infrastructure, access to servers and computing/storage on demand.

Data Centre Outsourcing companies have invested considerable time, money and expertise in building data centres and are the way to go if you wish to shift the burden of building new systems or upgrading IT infrastructure to an outsourcing partner so your IT managers can focus their efforts on meeting the immediate goals of your business. 

Get in touch with Camworth today and see how we can help you implement optimal data centre infrastructure efficiency.


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