Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Five Steps to an Energy-Efficient IT Environment

Green GridThe Green Grid, the non-profit IT industry body with the aim of improving resource efficient in data centres, has compiled a list of five steps to an energy-efficient IT environment. It’s effectively a step-by-step guide for IT professionals, data centre owners and operators:

1. Calculate Your PUE. The first step in understanding your data energy consumption is to take an initial assessment of the power you’re using in your data centres, or your power usage effectiveness (PUE). This will give you an idea of how efficient your data centre is using and sending power to its servers. Typical numbers for people who have never measured before average between two and three watts of consumption to deliver one watt to the servers. A full description of The Green Grid’s PUE measurement process can be found here.

2. Keep It Cool. Once you know your PUE, you can start addressing facilities issues, and more specifically, cooling. In a case study published by The Green Grid, five cooling initiatives were tested over a period of eight months. The testing determined overall energy savings to be worth over $300,000 (£185,000) per year, paying back investments in 15 months. The specific initiatives included installing OEM VSDs (variable speed drive fans), upgrading CRAH (computer room air handler) units, implementing rack airflow management, moving the CRAH control from the return air temperature to the rack inlet, and increasing the temperature set points of the CRAH and chiller units. Overall, improving cooling technologies can lead to massive energy and cost savings.

3. Virtualisation. Making better use of your IT resources is another important factor in the energy-saving equation. To make IT machines work more efficiently, virtualisation is a key consideration. Steps include taking an inventory of all IT machines operating in your environment and constructing a plan for consolidation based on your needs. After all, every watt of power that a workspace doesn’t need is a watt of power that doesn’t need to be cooled. To understand how virtualisation can help efficiency, check out TGG whitepaper here.

4. The Powers That Be. Natively controlling the power consumption of IT assets using IP-enabled energy management tools provides major efficiency gains.  Enterprise energy management systems can monitor and control compute, network and storage assets.  Servers are a good place to start and server power management (SPM) is a tool that many data centres are adopting, and can save as much as 33% of the energy used by a server, without effecting performance. There are a variety of ways that data centres of all sizes can take advantage of these new methods. The Green Grid has members-only resources to help understand and tackle the issues around SPM.

5. Future Forward: Carbon and Water. Facebook recently became the first company to publicly announce its WUE (water usage effectiveness), a metric developed by The Green Grid. Understanding the WUE – and even CUE for carbon usage effectiveness – measurements will keep you ahead of the game, and with companies like Facebook taking the lead, WUE promises to be an increasingly important measurement going forward.


Review:  The list is a useful reminder of some of the more effective measures that can be taken to reduce energy use in data centres. There’s lots more information on these and other ways to make your IT more energy efficient on the organisations web site. And the net result is that you can save a great deal of money for your company, as well as saving the planet.

© The Green IT Review

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