Combat the Slow ROI of Green Data Centers

March 09, 2016 3 min Read

The Green Data Center

According to a recent TechTarget whitepaper, “Color Me Green: Money and Power in the Data Center,” it can take at least three years for a midsize or larger green data center to realize a return on its efficiency investment. Despite this lengthy time frame, a data center can make small, yet technologically innovative changes to become more energy efficient in the immediate future. However, making an impact on a data center’s environmental footprint will require ongoing efforts to ensure its efficiency.

According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), data centers in 2013 used 91 billion kilowatt hours of power and are currently on pace to reach 140 kilowatt hours by 2020. Part of this increasing power usage isn’t just from growing demand but from inefficient systems. The NRDC notes that if U.S. companies were to reduce their energy consumption by only 40 percent, the overall savings would add up to more than $3 billion.

Where to begin to see immediate ROI

Examine the layout of your data center. Properly spacing the most active servers throughout the room so that you can maintain a consistent and proper temperature in the entire data center is an easy first step.

Implement and effectively use your virtual machines (VMs). By using virtual machines, you can reduce the number of servers needed and, consequently, lower your energy and cooling expenses immediately. It’s been estimated that a data center can reduce its power utilization by 75 percent through virtualization.

Utilize cold aisle containment. This entails installing doors at either or each end of a series of server rack cabinets and even adding a ceiling, forcing cool air from the floor to enter the servers. Additionally, blanker panels can be installed inside a cabinet to prevent air from seeping through any openings within the cabinet.

Take advantage of free cooling. During certain times of the year or in certain geographical areas, cooler outdoor temperatures can contribute to regulating a data center’s temperature. Devices known as economizers can function as part of an air conditioning system by allowing a process called free cooling. The economizer draws in cool, external air, cleans any impurities, and then uses that air to help maintain a data center’s temperature. The AC is then no longer running at the previous necessary level and its power costs are thereby reduced.

Putting these things into place immediately can impact your energy-efficiency in the near term while you focus on big-picture solutions for long-term efficacy. If you are looking for a data center provider near you that is already implementing these strategies, check out our locations here.

Steve Gruetter Steve Gruetter

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