A study by the Environmental Protection Agency reported that data center energy usage has increased to a total of 61 billion kilowatt-hours of power, which accounts for 1.5% of all U.S. electricity consumption. The primary reason for this extensive energy consumption is the increasing reliance on IT functions by organizations and the need for IT systems to be continuously operational. Enterprise Management Associates reports that on average, data centers are kept fully operational 88% of the time to meet the productivity needs of organizations. This allows little time for automated power downs or power management practices that can reclaim excess power consumption.
To combat the associated problems of increased utility costs, increased power demands and increased carbon footprint, many organizations are employing Green IT initiatives in data centers. The objective of Green IT initiatives is to use technology in a manner that is efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. Such initiatives typically revolve around two practices:
Consolidation Initiatives. Typically data centers do not use most servers to their full capacity. Those that sit idle still drain a considerable amount of power resulting in significant energy waste. The consolidation of unused systems not only reduces the amount of infrastructure components, but also reduces infrastructure costs and power consumption. One way in which consolidation is achieved is through virtualization. One large energy-efficient central server allows for the creation of multiple virtual servers. These virtual servers have the capability to replace physical systems that use large amounts of energy. Essentially, virtualization is doing more with less.
Using Power Efficient Hardware. Using power efficient components reduces both power and cooling requirements. Energy-Star approved equipment is an investment that allows for the use of servers, network devices, and storage systems that are at least 80% efficient in converting wall current. Additionally, identifying and eliminating “hot spots” along with providing proper airflow is vital to ensuring cooling units are not having to overcompensate for heat generated from small systems.
If you would like more information on the variety of approaches available to making your data center more energy-efficient, contact us today.