Cutting energy costs in the data center isn't just good PR anymore, it's becoming a business necessity. And even though late summer typically sees a drop in fuel costs before cold weather sparks renewed demand, the long-term forecast is for steadily increasing energy costs for the foreseeable future.
Virtualization and consolidation are two of the fastest ways to cut the power draw, but for those of you looking to build new facilities from scratch, there are a number of new designs and technologies aimed at generating power more efficiently and lowering cooling requirements.
One of the newest green centers will be in Denver, coincidentally the site of the Democratic National Convention this week. But whether politics had any bearing on Data393's decision to go green, there's no denying that the hosting company's new center will save some serious green going forward.
For starters, the company will use a new generator design that features a greater number of smaller generators that operate close to their top capacities, giving the company greater flexibility to match power generation with demand. The site will also feature a DC power system, which requires less cooling and power conversion than standard AC systems.
If the location of your data center is not a concern, you might want to consider the southwest U.S., as Oracle is doing. The company was faced with a patchwork of centers across the country following its recent acquisition binge. It chose the Salt Lake City area for a 120,000-square-foot facility because the region's low humidity allows outside air to be brought in even on days reaching the 85-degree mark. The company is also designing the overall facility as four 30,000 square-foot "supercells," which will triple power density over existing facilities to about 300 watts per square foot, but will help cut cooling and lighting requirements.
You also have to remember that it's not just server racks and network systems that have to be cooled, but the power generation system itself. Costs for chiller cabinets and power distribution units now consume about half the IT energy spend, according to Active Power, maker of a flywheel-based UPS system said to provide twice the power in half the space of a conventional battery system. Sun Microsystems is deploying the technology at its Broomfield, Colo., facility.
Every data center, whether new or retrofitted, will pose a unique set of power and cooling challenges. That's why The Green Grid organization has teamed up with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to provide improved guidance for data center design and operation. Retrofitting power and cooling supplies is probably the last thing that enterprise managers want to consider when looking to cut energy costs. It's expensive and disruptive. But it also delivers a substantial drop in power consumption. It's probably not an option for relatively new centers, but as aging systems complete their lifecycles, it pays to put energy efficiency at the top of the list when investigating new ones.