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Energy Management in Data Centers

Why metrics are so important

Green Technology Journal on Ulitzer

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, data centers across the United States accounted for 1.5 percent of total US electricity demand in 2006 — equivalent to the annual electric consumption of the state of Florida — and have become one of the fastest growing users of energy. While the power consumed at these individual data centers may be small, the consumption in totality at EPA and other large organizations is significantly enormous. Even as much is written about greening data centers and as non-profit organizations like the Green Grid are striving to bring about a new improved way of approaching this data center energy crisis, there is not much initiative on the part of the data centers themselves. They are often found to be slack on basic essentials in measurement and tracking equipment.

A recent study by Gartner released in September found that as many as 48% of data centre managers have still not even considered the issue of energy management metrics. “Without metrics it is impossible to get accurate data, which is essential to evaluating basic costs, proportioning these costs to different users and setting policies for improvement.” , Gartner remarked of its findings. Gartner said that energy management both in terms of capacity and cost can only be effective through advanced monitoring, modeling and measuring techniques and processes. Further, it encouraged organizations not to rely on internal metrics, saying that evaluating server energy needs to be done in an open and transparent manner. Gartner went so on to note that in many companies the IT department neither sees nor pays the electric bill, and thereby lacks the incentive to save energy. The research firm recommends that data centre managers use sensors to monitor potential hotspots, develop a dashboard of data centre energy-efficient metrics, and improve the use of the existing infrastructure through consolidation and virtualization before building out or buying new/additional data centre floor space.

Gartner’s study is further substantiated by a report released by Aperture Research Institute in 2008 that states “that organizations are unable or unwilling to meet the expectations set by the introduction of green initiatives.74% refused to activate power saving features on devices if it would require a drop in performance. When it comes to procurement, energy efficiency and ease of disposal are the lowest priorities. 37% of data centers have no plans to measure energy efficiency, and 76% do not charge the business for the power used by the IT commissions. One reason is a lack of infrastructure for measuring power consumption.We concludes that data centers lack the tools and processes they need if the organization is to effectively balance its environmental impact and its business priorities.”

Redundant methods of monitoring power efficiency, lack of digital tracking capabilities and reluctance to open up to external consultation could be major impediments in the road to energy optimization. Please contact us at Green Rack Systems for discussing your current IT situation and a detailed analysis of how we could bring more productivity and value to your energy consumption.

More Stories By Lavenya Dilip

Lavenya Dilip was responsible for Marketing at Green Rack Systems.

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