By Lisa Mandell
Much has been said and written about the need to optimize the data centers of the world to be more efficient and less costly, especially in a down economy. And while the discussions have generally centered on technology solutions, such as virtualization, de-duplication, thin provisioning, etc., there is a growing need to not only explore, but to strategically think about data center power consumption.
In this age of Big Data analytics, “visibility” into the inner workings of the data center is not only possible, it’s critical. Both great savings and improved performance can result from getting control of, and fine-tuning data center systems. But it takes accurate data, robust analysis and a will to act on the results to make it happen.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, data centers can consume 100 times more energy than a standard office building, and approximately 3 percent of all electricity in the U.S. is used to power data centers. And this consumption will only continue to climb according to the DoE and others.
Getting control of this rising concern is not only good for the environment, but the operation of the data center. Providing the right amount of energy and cooling for rack equipment to run optimally, for example, are parts of the equation. Conversely, misjudging things like capacity planning for energy usage can result in wasted money, wasted energy and lost savings. In a worst-case scenario, a lack of accurate data analysis can result in downtime that can cost organizations millions in hard dollars as well as brand equity.
The importance of accurately measuring power consumption grows in the aggregate. Given a 400,000 square-foot data center, being off in measurement accuracy for all of the equipment housed can translate into real money that impacts the bottom line in a significant way for the data center operator.
But there’s another reason to care about ensuring the accuracy of the metrics and tracking consumption so closely: With the right data collected from the right points within the facility – at a granular level – it’s possible to gain a holistic view of what’s happening in the facility, which enables better assessments, and the ability to spot problems more quickly.
For example, knowing exact amperage can eliminate tripped breakers; tracking voltage can allow operators to see variations in power and prevent trouble; the ability to track the power factor can prevent inflated power bills; and tracking wattage can provide visibility into the heat generated by each circuit. This all adds up to a much more efficiently operating data center.
With an accurate measurement and monitoring system operators can make the most of their analytics opportunities to build a smarter, more efficient data center that minimizes waste and boosts customer satisfaction.