Data Center Energy Efficiency
Businesses operating data centers often neglect infrastructure efficiency which costs the business substantial money. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, U.S. data centers used 91 billion kilowatt-hours to operate in 2013. The organization argues that energy use could have been cut by 40% by optimizing infrastructure for efficiency which could save American businesses upwards of 3.8 billion dollars annually. Power efficiency is a major concern for small-to-medium level implementations, not just for massive server farms.
The Facebook Example and Business Priorities
Facebook is opting to power their second European data center entirely through renewable energy sources. Facebook’s energy source choice is in addition to developing a uniquely efficient infrastructure that minimizes energy waste. While these decisions are an attempt to cut down on wasted energy and resources, they also help the company save money on operation costs. However, the industry-wide picture isn’t as good as Facebook’s angle: 43 percent of businesses running data centers say they do not have energy efficiency objectives in the works.
Work Utilization Efficiency
While your company doesn’t want to get caught losing business because your data center servers were not powerful enough to handle the workload during peak demand times, the opposite problem is actually a widespread issue. According to the NRDC, under-utilization and resource misalignment are at the core of the largest energy-management issues in the data center. It’s common for data centers to run servers that operate between just 12 and 18 percent capacity. Data center servers possess far more power than necessary to do the job and are wasting energy.
Energy Star recommends using Server Virtualization to handle multiple different server functions on the same hardware to take advantage of the unused capacity. Virtualization helps consolidate lightly-used servers into a single highly-used server to dramatically reduce infrastructure-related costs. Additionally, decommissioning unused servers also helps the bottom line. While larger brands like Facebook and Google are known for having model energy-efficient data centers, small, medium, and corporate businesses account for the majority of data center energy usage and do not share the same efficient pedigree. Even if your business is running a smaller operation, there are plenty of opportunities to improve data center efficiency and cut down on maintenance costs.
Improving Cooling Control
While the CPU in underutilized servers is likely still efficient, all the hardware required to keep the rest of the platform powered on and cooled is burning through excessive energy to accomplish the same job. IT-related infrastructure also offers cost-cutting opportunities. For example, your business could invest in a more efficient cooling system and adjust hardware for better airflow to get more out of existing cooling capabilities.
The technology industry constantly pushes for more power and capabilities so it’s easy for a business to get out of the mindset of getting more work done with fewer resources. Consolidating and improving your data center resources may incur upfront costs to get it running, but down the line the adjustments pay for themselves.
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