As with most other areas in today’s
world, going green in the data center is a hot topic. There are a number of reasons to go green, energy efficiency being just one of them.
In fact, a study by Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratories for the American
Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
determined that data centers can be as
much as 40 times more energy-intensive
than conventional office buildings.
“There are three Es to consider — environmental, energy and efficiencies,” says
Geoff Hanson, practice director of
servers and storage for Pomeroy IT
Solutions. “With the right green initiatives, you can help the environment, save
energy (and dollars) and create efficiencies that will also save money and help
the bottom line. The green movement is
starting to affect the IT department in a
Smart Business spoke with Hanson to
glean further insights into greening up
the data center.
What exactly is a green data center?
A green data center is one designed
with the mechanical, lighting, electrical
and computer systems for maximum
energy efficiency and minimum environmental impact. The construction and
operation of a green data center includes
advanced technologies and strategies.
Does it cost or save to be green?
You can definitely save by becoming
green. Yes, there are investments needed,
but when properly planned and implemented, the savings can offset those
costs. The time it takes to realize maximum offsetting savings depends on a
number of factors.
What are the first steps to take to be green?
The first step a company can take does-n’t cost a dime and is not difficult. You
can easily start saving money by simply
turning off your desktops and monitors
at the end of the day. Companies can also
look at their server environments.
Through server consolidation and virtualization and implementing multicore
blade server technology, you will
improve the utilization of your server
hardware investments while reducing
your data center footprint, power, heating and cable management costs. Also,
through emerging technologies and
power management by chip manufacturers, servers can be powered down when
not utilized, thus realizing additional
Another step would include consolidating and virtualizing storage into shared
storage pools and by implementing such
tools as de-duplication of data to save on
disk space. This helps to reduce the overall storage requirements and backup
costs and simplify data recovery.
A fourth step would include virtualizing
the desktop infrastructure and implementing Energy Star-compliant PCs,
monitors and/or thin clients. Companies
will realize energy-efficient gains in
power as well as improvements through
centralized systems management. Desktops also have the ability to be powered
down either manually or through automated tools to help reduce electrical use
and heat dissipation.
Other steps to take to move toward
going green would include the procurement area, changing the way equipment
is purchased. Procurement procedures
could be put in place to seek out Energy
Are there other things that you can plan for
as you make changes or upgrades?
Many companies are building new
data centers and/or disaster recovery
facilities. As these facilities are being
architected, designed and constructed,
they should be looking at efficient structures and materials during the build out
process. There are new and improved
air handlers, water-cooling systems,
environmentally controlled computer
racks and energy-efficient hardware
available for tomorrow’s data centers
today. In many data centers, cool air is
pushed by air handlers through raised
computer room floors and drawn up
through perforated tiles into cabinets
and the hot air pulled through ceiling
return air ducts. Cables under the raised
floors that are spread throughout
restrict the flow. Companies are now
addressing cable management under
their raised floors to improve airflow.
Better cable management, cable trays
and/or air conduits are being utilized for
more efficient cooling.
A strong recommendation to organizations moving forward is to have assessments performed of their IT facilities’
environmental and energy footprints. It
is also extremely important to have
assessments performed on their servers,
storage, desktops, printing and networking infrastructures. These assessments
would allow them to better understand
their hardware utilization and the cost
savings that can be realized through consolidating and virtualizing their environments with new energy-compliant and
energy-efficient technologies. Regular
audits of the infrastructures should be
performed as a follow up to ensure
everything is being fully utilized.
GEOFF HANSON is the practice director of servers and storage for Pomeroy IT Solutions in Cincinnati. Reach him at (602) 690-6376