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Designing Green Networks and Network Operations: Saving Run-the-Engine Costs, $79.95
Data Center Storage: Cost-Effective Strategies, Implementation, and Management, Hubbert Smith, ISBN 9781439834879, $79.95
Enterprise Systems Backup and Recovery: A Corporate Insurance Policy
Cloud Computing: Technologies and Strategies of the Ubiquitous Data Center, Brian J.S. Chee and Curtis Franklin Jr., ISBN 9781439806128, $69.95
Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking, Greg Schulz, $79.95, ISBN 9781439851739
Making Your Data Center Energy Efficient, Gilbert Held
The Green and Virtual Data Center

Making Your Data Center Energy Efficient

Gilbert Held

In this concluding chapter our focus of attention is upon using information presented in this chapter as well as some information previously presented in the earlier chapters in this book. To do so we concentrate on examining the use of different techniques to reduce energy consumption. Some techniques mentioned may only reduce your energy consumption by a percent or two, however, as many people might note, cumulatively the total savings can become significant. Thus, the old adage about saving a dollar here and a dollar there can result in some serious savings is true.

Techniques to Consider

In this chapter we summarize a variety of techniques you need to check by providing information on numerous techniques that can be used to reduce energy use. Such information can be considered by both owners and renters of offices. Concerning the latter, even if your organization does not own the facility or have the ability to perform building modifications this information can be used to provide building owners with the ability to consider such modifications to keep your organization as a tenant.

Finding Energy Loss
One saying that bears repeating is the fact that the cheapest kilowatt is the one you don't use. With this in mind, when we can locate an area where we are losing energy and take corrective action we can use less energy, in effect obtaining a large number of the cheapest kilowatts because we will be able to lower the number we use.

One of the first things you need to consider to locate areas where energy loss is occurring is to obtain an interior and exterior view of your data center with respect to thermal loss. Doing so will point out areas where you may be able to reduce thermal loss easily through the use of insulation or tightly closing doors and windows that may appear to be closed but in reality are not. Infrared thermography represents a quick and easy method of detecting energy waste. In addition, it can be used to detect moisture and electrical issues in buildings. Through the use of an infrared camera you can easily determine where potential problems are located and take effective action to alleviate problems that are detected. For example, from the outside of the data center you can use a thermal image sensor to determine if there are areas around doors and windows that need weather-stripping or if some areas of an exterior wall show excessive cooling or heating loss that could indicate the areas that insulation didn't cover. Similarly, within a data center you can use a thermal image sensor to determine if there are hot spots where equipment resides that may require either the movement of equipment or air ducts.

One of the leaders in thermal imaging is FLIR, which offers several types of thermal sensors, ranging from handheld point and shoot to more sophisticated devices. Readers are referred to the website www.flir.com or you can enter the term "thermal imaging energy loss" into a search engine to obtain information concerning different thermal imaging products.

Replacing Monitors
Until a few years ago your choice for obtaining monitors was limited to either antiquated cathode-ray tube (CRT) devices or the more modern and sometimes less energy-efficient liquid crystal display (LCD) flat panel monitors, that in addition to being energy hogs had at least the saving grace that their use considerably reduced the footprint of a monitor on an employee's desk. This author remembers the first time an LCD display replaced the large, bulky CRT displays, resulting in workers discovering that they now had a large desk on which to place information that would be visually available for use. What some people fail to realize is the fact that light-emitting devices (LEDs) are now being used in a new class of monitors that offers the potential to reduce power consumption by approximately 40% beyond the energy use associated with LCD displays.

people at call centers and other workers who need their monitors to be on throughout the day, the power savings by themselves may be able to justify the replacement of existing monitors. Thus, soliciting bids or comparing monitor costs and using the financial information presented in the first chapter of this book can be used to determine the payback time where the lower use of power and associated reduced electrical cost begins to exceed the replacement cost of new monitors. Using this information will allow you to make an intelligent, fiscally based decision concerning the practicality of replacing monitors.

Waiting Area Display
One of the more interesting aspects of some data centers is their waiting areas where visitors check in and wait for someone to escort them to the person with whom they have an appointment. Similar to an airport gate, the waiting area typically has a row of chairs or a couch facing a television monitor hanging from the ceiling with the channel invariably set to an all-news broadcast channel, such as CNN. For reasons that remain beyond comprehension, during late 2010 this author was able to note several data center waiting areas that had very large first-generation plasma-based flat screen televisions, either hanging from the ceiling or when extremely large, sitting on a table and facing an area that more often than not was devoid of humanity. Although this author was a bit curious about when those televisions were turned off, after my meetings were over I did not stay around to the end of the day to see if anyone turned them off. However, I did learn that all too often the most energy-efficient data center may not consider its waiting area.

Although you might be tempted to leave well enough alone, today you can considerably reduce energy consumption by simply replacing first-generation plasma-based flat screen televisions with LED backlight flat screen televisions. In fact, for approximately $300 during Christmas 2010 you could purchase a 42-inch LED backlight high definition (HD) television with several high definition multimedia interface (HDMI) ports as well as a coaxial port. Because this type of television uses approximately 130 watts whereas a first-generation plasma television may consume double that amount, over an 8-hour day this can result in a savings of approximately 1 kWh per day. If the data center waiting area leaves the TV on a 24/7 schedule, the savings will exceed 3 kWh per day, or approximately 1,100 kWh per year. Depending upon the cost per kWh in your area, you might recover the cost of a replacement television in approximately two years, a recovery period that normally makes your accountant salivate.

Although the prior illustration concerned the replacement of a first-generation plasma television with an LED backlight television, you can also consider its replacement with a more modern plasma television. In fact, according to ads run by Panasonic in the Wall Street Journal during December 2010, their Viera HDTV ultra-slim 42-inch plasma TV is powered by under 99 watts. In addition, if you are concerned about the environment you will also find the facts that the TV is mercury-free, uses lead-free solder, has no lead in its glass, and provides a life span exceeding 100,000 hours to be a very attractive series of additional features. With a life exceeding 100,000 hours and a year containing 8,760 hours you could actually leave the television on 24/7 until the data center closed. This is not recommended, but it does illustrate the fact that purchasing a modern television results in a product life that can easily satisfy most if not all longevity requirements.

Upgrading the Operating System
As strange as it may sound, depending upon the existing operating system used by servers and personal computers significant energy savings may occur when they are upgraded. For example, under both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 features were added that can reduce the energy consumption of the hardware. In addition, Windows Server 2000 R2 supports the advanced configuration and power interface (ACPI) processor management features described briefly in Chapter 6 that can be used for controlling the power profile of servers. For Windows 7 personal computers, organizations can write scripts to operate the previously described powercfg.exe program to manage the power settings on client computers. Similarly, if your data center uses Sun, UNIX, or another operating system (OS), you may wish to examine the availability and cost of upgrades as well as the energy-saving features incorporated into those OSs.

Purchase Energy Star Compliant Products
The Energy Star program was launched in 1992 by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Until a few years ago, it was a fact that under the prior Energy Star approval process it was not necessary for manufacturers to have their paperwork approved by an independent third party, resulting in a few vendors sort of bending the curve. Today that glitch in the Energy Star approval process has been removed, resulting in test results provided by the vendor having to be first submitted to an accredited laboratory. Thus, when you now purchase Energy Star certified monitors, computers, and even refrigerators and microwave ovens for the break room you know that the product specifications including its use of energy were verified by an independent laboratory. Today energy-rated products are available in over 60 categories. Such rated products provide either the same or better performance in comparison to other products while using less energy.

Although Energy Star products are available in many countries in Europe, European Union (EU) legislatures approved a new method by which EU energy efficiency labels will allow for up to three new energy classes that will enable technological progress in reducing power consumption to be noted. The new method of labeling in effect enables narrower distinctions in the classification of a product's energy use as well as the use of color codes to denote different levels of power efficiency. Under the color-coding scheme the highest energy-efficient products are denoted by a dark green label and the least energy-efficient products have a red label. One of the more interesting aspects of the use of color-coded labels is the fact that the labels will also apply to construction products that do not consume energy but have a significant impact on energy savings, such as door frames, outside doors, and windows.

Consolidation and Virtualization

Water Considerations

Replacing Lighting

Building Management


Related Reading

Green Technology Can Improve Data Center Performance

What Defines a Next-Generation and Virtual Data Center?

The State of Today's Data Center: Challenges and Opportunities


About the Author

How to Reduce the Cost of Software Testing From Making Your Data Center Energy Efficient by Gilbert Held. New York: Auerbach Publications, 2011.

© Copyright 2011 Auerbach Publications