Much as individuals are trying to find ways to cut back on heat and air conditioning as costs surge (more blankets in the winter and ceiling fans in the summer), companies everywhere are trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of data center power consumption.
And, according to recent reports, they might be on to something.
Reports indicate that the upward trend in the growth of data center energy has slowed as data center power consumption increased by 36 percent from 2005 to 2010, a much smaller increase than the 100 percent gain projected in a study prepared in 2007.
“The rapid rates of growth in data center electricity use that prevailed from 2000 to 2005 slowed significantly from 2005 to 2010, yielding total electricity use by data centers in 2010 of about 1.3 percent of all electricity use for the world, and 2 percent of all electricity use for the U.S.,” Stanford Professor Jonathan Koomey wrote.
So what can we thank for the reduction in data center power consumption? Consolidation, according to officials at Server Technology (News - Alert), a producer of power management solutions.
“The No. 1 thing that we’ve seen to reduce data center power consumption is consolidation,” Julie Brown, marketing manager at Server Technology, told TMCnet. “Companies across the country are consolidating their older data centers into fewer, more efficient data centers. They’re also measuring and monitoring their power consumption with solutions like our Sentry Power Manager (SPM) to help them manage their power consumption, to deal with capacity planning, to find ‘stranded capacity’ and to locate comatose, or ‘zombie’ servers.’”
Koomey expressed a similar sentiment noting that many companies are buying fewer servers than anticipated because of troubling economic times and the advances of virtualization, which allows users to make better use of server capacity.
Moreover, a lot of data centers are beginning to rely on solar energy in an effort to counter rising data center power consumption costs. A recent article posits that data centers – or the “power-sucking appendages of the Digital Age,” as the author calls it – have come a long way in terms of becoming more efficient and reducing environmental impact, however, there is still a long way to go.
In an effort to figure out how to address rising data center power costs, IBM (News - Alert) has introduced a solution – a solar power array created to specifically run in high-voltage data centers. The key is to integrate AC- and DC-based servers, water-cooled computing systems and other electronics, according to IBM officials.
“We’ve heard recently about IBM and Apple moving toward solar to power the data center,” Brown said. “It’s so new – it will be interesting to see how it all works to support their green initiatives.”
While several advances have been made with regards to addressing data center power consumption, there still exist some challenges that need to be overcome.
“There are a lot of challenges involved, especially today with the need for more and more power to run all of the business and consumer devices and equipment,” Brown said. “In business, the IT department and the facilities department need to work as a team to address all system efficiency opportunities. New equipment must be implemented continuously because the technology is changing so rapidly. Companies need to implement energy management tools for their data centers to see where they are today and make decisions about how to manage and reduce power consumption in the future.”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 Tammy Wolf