Data center power consumption is an issue that will not go away as companies put together energy budgets in place, yet still capture, consume and management increasing amounts of data. Data centers are getting bigger and the pressures to reduce the carbon footprint become even greater.
According a recent Environmental Leader report, Apple’s (News - Alert) data centers that have been slated for construction include using renewable energy, such as solar power, to help reduce the reliance on fossil fuels to provide the data center power.
While the environmentally responsible thing to do is reduce power consumption, data centers are going the opposite direction. The ability to capture data has never been as prolific as it is today, and the technologies keep advancing, so there is no end in sight to the growth of data captured – and it needs a place to safely stay. The data centers being constructed today are forcing the U.S. Department of Energy scrambling to find ways to address the issue.
In 2000, data centers in the U.S. racked up utility bills of around $1.3 billion. In 2005, the bill had doubled to $2.7 billion. However, data centers planned for the future, like ones that utilize an exascale computer, could each use about $60 million worth of data center power every year. This might be good news to utility companies, but it hurts the bottom line of the companies operating the data centers, and it certainly isn’t doing any good for the company wanting to build a “Green” image.
Lowering your data center power consumption doesn’t have to include major investments in renewable energy infrastructure, or expensive technology upgrades. It can start with something as simple as making sure your insulation is up to snuff. Working with the seasons is also a helpful trick. For instance, during the winter, using free cooling systems that take cold air from outside the data center and bring in to the servers that require cooling can reduce data center power.
What lighting are you using in your data center? If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, you’re missing an opportunity. LED lighting requires about 80 percent less power to operate, and the bulbs don’t burn out nearly as often as the incandescent or fluorescent bulbs.
Data centers in warmer climates benefit by using roof materials made of ethylene propylene diene terpolymner that reflect solar energy rather than soak it up.
In order to truly get a grasp on data center power usage, administrators need to go over their facilities with a fine-toothed comb and ensure that all the equipment and technology being used is energy efficient, such as Energy Star-rated approved items.
Edited by Carrie Schmelkin