Greening the data center, low hanging fruit.

I’ve just been perusing data center energy savings today. In the real world, some of the difficulty levels of the suggestions need to be re-evaluated.

If your equipment isn’t already set up in a hot aisle/cold aisle configuration, this is an important thing to do. Unfortunately, this can’t qualify as easy. First, this type of change is probably going to require reversal of ever other row of equipment to establish a back to back, front to front configuration. This means downtime for equipment and moving heavy cabinets around or unloading, unbolting, and repositioning open racks. Also factor in recabling and possible repowering. Not a throw and go project at all.

Second, the cooling system is almost certainly going to have to be rearranged to take proper advantage of the new configuration. Raised floor tile moves and/or ductwork changes are the order of business. Once again, not something that should be undertaken lightly.

Third, figure on needing to install some sort of hot aisle containment to really get the benefit of the change. Flexible curtains are fairly easy to implement, rigid containment structures are going to take much more time.

On the idea of raising the chiller and air temperatures, any failure brought on by higher temperatures is not going to be immediate or even short term (unless the temperature is raised dramatically high). You’ll never get anywhere if you wait long enough to see if a one degree change shortens the life span of your servers. Stay within the ASHRAE recommended temperatures and skip babying the equipment through one degree increments.

So what are the easy things to do to help your data center get greener? Replace T12 florescent bulbs with T8 ones, operate the data center temperatures at current ASHRAE levels or higher if you determine it’s appropriate for the equipment, power down zombie servers and networking equipment that is no longer being used, and consolidate services to better utilize only the servers really needed.

Oh, and forget concentrating on PUE. The article said it all when it said “Just remember: while upgrading to more energy-efficient units and applying virtualization techniques will cut your overall energy consumption, it will not reduce your PUE and perhaps will even raise it.”. Totally useless. Arrange servers and workloads efficiently, use cooling efficiently and size it right for the heat load of the servers, and the efficiency of the data center will fall into place.

There now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Vern, SwiftWater Telecom

data center facility engineering


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