- Virtualization of servers can reduce power usage by a third and lower equipment costs.
- ENERGY STAR® certified uninterruptible power supplies can cut energy losses by 30 percent.
- Intelligent power management features of servers include power supply right sizing.
Reliability is usually the top priority of most data centers, with energy efficiency falling somewhere down the list. But you can reduce energy consumption without affecting reliability (and in some cases improving it), by taking a closer look at your IT loads.
1. Virtualization reduces the number of servers by converting a physical server into multiple virtual loads, allowing the server to run closer to capacity. Typically, server utilization is only around 10 percent; it can be increased to as high as 80 percent by virtualization. Higher utilization is also possible when virtualization is combined with data center information management (DCIM) systems. Intel’s latest data center used this combination to achieve utilization in the low 90s.
- Reduce power use
- Faster deployments
- Better testing and simpler backups
- Lower equipment costs
- Delayed expansion of data center
- Increased availability of rack space and stranded power
After performing an audit, a manufacturer of office products found 85 percent of its servers were running at 14 to 20 percent capacity. Virtualization reduced the number of physical servers by half and avoided the purchase of 48 new servers. Power usage was reduced by 10 kVA over a year, along with cooling costs, with estimated savings of $3.2 million over five years.
2. High-efficiency power supplies are now available that comply with 80 PLUS protocols. These products must have more than 80 percent energy efficiency at 20 percent, 50 percent and 100 percent of rated load, and a power factor of 0.9 or greater at 100 percent load. Conventional power supplies have power factors as low as 0.5.
For instance, a 600-watt power supply with 60 percent efficiency running at full load draws 1,000 watts, wasting 400 watts as heat. When you increase the efficiency to 80 percent, 750 watts is used, wasting only 150 watts as heat. Reducing the heat output of the computer also helps reduce cooling needs, increasing reliability. Noise levels are also reduced since fans don't have to spin as fast to cool the computer.
ENERGY [email protected] certifies high-efficiency UPS units, which can cut energy losses by 30 percent or more. A high-efficiency 1,000 kVA UPS used in a large data center could save $18,000 annually.
3. Server load management involves making sure you take advantage of power management features found in most servers. The latest servers come with intelligent power management capabilities that provide power supply right sizing, circuit breaker power capping and high-accuracy power monitoring (as high as 87 percent). Temperature and power are measured of internal components, including hard drives, power supplies and fans. Performance metrics (processor utilization, memory throughput and I/O throughput) are also tracked.
DCIM software provides an overview of the entire facility, and drills down to the server and device level. In addition to energy monitoring, DCIM assists with server consolidation by powering down idle servers and other equipment. It also helps with capacity planning, lifecycle management and identification of obsolete equipment. Although DCIM is applicable to almost any size of data center, it's usually more appropriate for a facility operating several hundred servers, depending on the software's capabilities.
There are other ways to reduce the IT energy costs of your data center. A long-term energy management plan will help you identify these conservation measures and maximize efficiency.
Image source: iStock