As the cost of data center power continues to go up and the demand for more power increases exponentially, data center managers all over are looking for ways to make their data centers more efficient and enjoy cost savings.
“Their interest in efficiency is really about saving money and cost,” Server Technology’s (News - Alert) Senior Director of Software and Firmware Engineering Calvin Nicholson told TMCnet in a recent interview. “We like to believe that they want to save the earth and that they are green, and I think some of the California companies take that seriously, but in general it’s because they see that it’s really affecting their bottom line.”
“Because of that, there’s a bunch of different areas where things have changed,” Nicholson said. “They are looking at efficiencies of the devices that are in the data center. The UPSs that are on the data center floor have gotten a lot more efficient, and the power supplies and the servers and the devices have gotten a lot more efficient.”
Server Technology, a company that works to design, develop and provide the world's best power management products and system, has been a leader in the industry for the past 25 years.
During that time, the data center industry has seen some definite changes including the fact that data center managers are overseeing more facets of the data center than ever before and the fact that virtualization projects have begun to gain momentum, Nicholson said.
A few years ago, a manager may have been focused on just monitoring data center power consumption but managers have added other facets to what they monitor, particularly since managers are looking for ways to curb spending.
For example, data centers are more concerned with environmental factors such as cooling.
“In the data center, they use a huge amount of cooling through crack units and they are really starting to up the temperature that is allowed to go into those servers,” Nicholson said. “They are actually not cooling the data centers as cold as they used to and that’s to save money.”
“The drawback to that is with the densities going up and the temperatures going up if you do have a failure it can become much more critical much faster, so you do need to monitor,” he added.
The reason data center personnel are monitoring lots of different things more closely than ever is that they want to better understand where they are using power and where they could be more efficient.
Companies like Server Technology, for example, rely on its Sentry Power Manager to measure, monitor and trend data center power usage.
“We are monitoring power usage, we are monitoring the environmentals and we are rolling all that information into the Sentry Power Manger,” Nicholson said. “Once the information is rolled up into that tool then there’s a lot of different ways that the user can use that information. They can schedule reports so they can see what their power usage is, they can identify devices that are comatose or not doing any useful work and they can check those devices and/or turn those devices off.”
Companies like Server Technology have been increasing the scope of what they monitor and have also been considering the advantage of implementing virtualization projects.
The process of virtualization, another change to the data center industry, is designed to increase the efficiency of a data center by consolidating different servers.
According to Nicholson, the majority of servers in a lot of the data centers today are running at 15 to 25 percent of their capacity but if one looks at a server and the amount of power it uses, roughly 40 to 50 percent of that power is used to just keep it on.
“You have a cost just for that server sitting there and not doing the most efficient amount of work,” Nicholson said.
Once a virtualization project is completed a manger can go from having 100 servers to 25, according to Nicholson.
So are data centers more efficient then they were 10 years ago? Nicholson thinks they are.
“Overall, the power usage has gone up but they are doing a lot more work, they are getting a lot more done and they are providing a lot more services with the power that is being used,” he said. “I think they have gotten more efficient but the demand has gone up radically.”Carrie Schmelkin is a Web Editor for TMCnet. Previously, she worked as Assistant Editor at the New Canaan Advertiser, a 102-year-old weekly newspaper, covering news and enhancing the publication's social media initiatives. Carrie holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a bachelor's degree in English from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Janice McDuffee