Sunday, March 15, 2009

Overlooked Data Center Energy Efficiency Opportunities

In the February issue of Today’s Facility Manager, Steve Yellen writes that every watt saved at the computing device level results in a cumulative savings of 2.84 watts at the facility level. His article does a good job explaining how this savings is accumulated and what actions are needed to capture the savings. Suffice it to say that the additional savings occur at each component level (PDU, UPS, Cooling, Switchgear, etc.).

In the article, Yellen discusses two key data center metrics. The first, Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), is calculated by dividing the amount of power entering the data center by the amount of power used to run the computing infrastructure within it. That is helpful, but considers only the IT load number and does not address IT strategy. Put another way, it will tell you how well matched your power provision is to the IT load, but will not tell you how smart the IT load is.

The second metric he mentions is Computer Units per Second per Watt (CUPS/W) which includes IT performance in the calculation. This may be a more meaningful metric but does not yet have the wide acceptance necessary to qualify as an industry benchmark.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projects that U.S. data center power consumption will grow from its 2006 level of 61 billion kilowatts to 100 billion kilowatts in 2011. Think about that for a minute - a 64% growth in data center power consumption in a five year span. Couple that with expected escalations in the cost of electricity and you begin to see why FM’s managing large data centers are working to wring every watt of efficiency out of their systems and why large boxes are appearing on remote parts of the landscape where power is relatively less expensive.

If you are responsible for data center operations or infrastructure then you will be well served by knowing your power/cooling profiles and partnering with your IT group to maximize data center efficiency. You cannot do that without a close and constant watch on capacity and demand information and a partnership with IT operators.

To read Yellen’s article in its entirety, visit

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