The data center has undergone a number of major changes over the years, from mainframes to client/server computing to web-scale computing. This evolution occurred over decades, but in recent years the changes have been fast and furious. Key trends include the rapid rise of cloud computing, ever-increasing demand for storage, and the growing adoption of artificial intelligence, data analytics and other resource-intensive applications.
One consequence of the accelerated evolution of the data center has been a dramatic increase in density. In order to achieve operational efficiencies and meet growing business demand, organizations are packing in more kilowatts per rack than ever before. Densities of 8kW to 12kW per rack have become common, with more than 20kW per rack for compute-intensive applications. In addition, high-density data centers generate more heat and thus require more
That all adds up to an enormous amount of power. In 2017, global data centers consumed more than 400 terawatts of electricity — approximately 3 percent of the energy generated worldwide. In the U.S. alone, data centers consumed more than 90 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, an almost 50 percent increase over the 61 billion kWh consumed in 2006. Year-over-year increases in data center energy consumption have slowed significantly to about 4 percent, but the amount of power involved is still mind boggling.
Yet organizations have been slow to reduce energy consumption in their IT environments. Power usage effectiveness (PUE), calculated by dividing the total energy a data center uses by the amount consumed by computing equipment, is one metric used to determine energy efficiency. If the two numbers are equivalent — meaning that all energy goes to the IT equipment — the data center has achieved the ideal ratio of 1.0.
According to the Uptime Institute, the world’s largest data centers have a PUE of 1.67. However, a survey by Digital Reality found that the average data center has a PUE of 2.9. Nearly three times more power goes to cooling and other overhead than is consumed by IT equipment. That’s because smaller data centers are less efficient — a Ponemon Institute study found that energy costs per kWh in the smallest data center are 180 percent higher than in the largest data centers.
Older, inefficient equipment and underutilized resources can contribute to high energy costs, but data center design is a key factor. Organizations need to implement green design practices, such as energy-efficient cooling, aisle containment, and racks and cabinets that optimize airflow. Environmental monitoring, cooling assessments and operational audits can help identify inefficiencies that increase power consumption.
Organizations should also consider the use of colocation facilities. Colocation services not only minimize the capital investments associated with data center buildouts, but can also reduce power, cooling and operational costs. Most colocation providers have adopted a green data center model and provide the economies of scale needed to maximize data center efficiency.
The multidisciplinary team at Rahi Systems can help you optimize power consumption in your IT environment. We have specialists in data center infrastructure, compute, storage and networking who can assist you with strategic upgrades. Our team can also help you utilize colocation facilities and identify workloads that can migrate to the cloud.
These initiatives can also create a more efficient data center that has the speed and agility to support today’s requirements. Let Rahi help you incorporate green data center practices to reduce costs and meet business demands.