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Green IT

Green your data center


Four ways to save money for your company


Kandy Williams

Highlights

  • One way to green your data center is to keep your hot and cold air separate.
  • Powering down idle equipment like servers and cooling units will save energy and money.
  • Using air-side economization to cool your data center yields energy and cost savings.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that we are living in challenging economic times.  A recession has spread around the globe, and it affects the way businesses run.  It not only puts a squeeze on their present budget but also puts a squeeze on future projects.  What if those projects can not only save money for your business right now, but also continue to save you money year after year.  Greening your data center will yield an immediate cost savings.

According to Network World, HP conducted a survey that asked 600 technology decision-makers in the corporate world what their plans were for their data center in the coming year.  60% reported that they will be implementing a Green IT project in the coming year.  Symantec conducted its annual State of the Green Data Center Report and found that out of the 1,600 companies surveyed, the biggest group said that reducing costs was the top objective of the year.  The respondents recognized that greening the data center can achieve this goal.

There are many ways to green your data center, but we will go over only a few of the easiest and most obvious ways to cut costs.  One is power management.  If you are not using a server, simply turning it off will provide an immediate energy and cost savings.  The same goes for cooling units and any other equipment that is just sitting idle in your data center. 

Another way to green your data center is to keep your hot and cold air separate.  According to an article on GreenerComputing, many data centers are designed with the hot air from the back of a server blowing into the front of another server.  This creates a need for extreme air conditioning and even floor fans throughout the data center.  By configuring your servers to prevent the hot and cold air from mixing, either by using barriers or by placing servers back-to-back and front-to-front throughout the data center, the amount of cool air needed drops dramatically in your facility.

Consolidating servers is another way to green your data center.  You hear it over and over again, but it is a great way to get immediate energy and cost savings.  If you are using only 10 servers instead of 100, it will have a huge impact on the energy your data center needs.  It will also impact the space you use because consolidating servers enables you to make the most out of your current data center space, thereby postponing the building or renting of additional space for more computing capacity. 

Using air-side economization to cool your data center is another way to achieve an immediate energy and cost savings.  Recently, companies like Intel have been analyzing the effect of outside air on the servers in their data centers.  In the white paper that they published called “Reducing Data Center Cost with an Air Economizer,” they found that in favorable climates, servers perform well with almost no management of the environment, providing huge savings in power and cooling with negligible equipment failure.  Over a 10-month period, Intel used air-side economization, a technique that uses outside air to cool servers in the data center, to cool servers in a high-density data center.  Temperatures ranged from 64 – 92 degrees, and the servers were covered in dust.  Intel “observed no consistent increase in server failure rates as a result of the greater variation in temperature and humidity, and the decrease in air quality.  This suggests that existing assumptions about the need to closely regulate these factors bear further scrutiny.” Using air-side economizers resulted in a 75% decrease in power consumption compared to recirculated air.  This translated into a substantial cost savings.

Though the economic challenges businesses face are daunting, it is making some things better for them in the long-term.  Businesses are not only realizing the true cost-savings of Green IT initiatives, seeing immediate benefits to their bottom line, but they are also seeing how becoming more energy and resource-efficient will help them long after the financial crisis has passed. 



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