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Top ten tips for greening a data centre

01 Aug 2008

Energy efficiency, global warming, carbon credits, energy neutral, and offsetting greenhouse emissions are just some of the multitude of ‘green’ terms that are being thrown about in an ever increasing environmentally aware world.

Data centres are the single highest power consumer within an organisation. They can cost a company a small (or sometimes large) fortune in maintenance and operational expenses, just to keep productivity ticking over. The environmental impact of the high use of mechanical, electrical, cooling, lighting, and computer systems will be significant over time.

How does your data centre stack up on being ‘green’? Here are ten tips for improving data centre energy efficiency while minimising its environmental impact, for your organisation and those of your customers.

1. Consider purchasing ‘green’ electricity

Use a power service provider that offers renewable energy sources such as wind farms, solar power plants and hydrothermal generation. Many organisations enable you to choose to purchase 100% or a selected percentage of green electricity.

2. Consider virtualisation

Storage and processor virtualisation allows a company to reduce the number of physical devices required in a data centre by creating centralised units. Reducing the need for additional storage and processors will naturally reduce related power and cooling costs required by minimising consumption.

3. Increasing server efficiency

Empowering multi-honed servers by consolidation of server applications and services, with the advent of multi-core processors and supported architecture can essentially ‘do more with less’ by reducing the need to host more physical nodes and servers.

4. Consider the physical layout & design

Re-addressing the floor layout of the data centre will have a huge impact on the efficiency of the data centre’s air conditioning system. This would include ensuring that the raised floor that most data centres use has the correct number of vented tiles and that they are in the correct locations.

5. Hot & cold aisles

Creating hot aisles/cold aisles ensures that the air is in constant circulation between racks. This method of cooling is carried out within every aisle between the row of racks is bounded exclusively with hot-air outlets or exclusively cool-air outlets. The air is then brought into the cool aisles from underneath and exhausted from hot aisles overhead.

6. Ensure power &

cooling architecture is scalable

Appropriate infrastructure will allow you to improve data centre efficiency by allocating scalable power and cooling architecture on an “as-needed” basis. Data centres that have many air conditioners may find that the performance of each air conditioner is undermined by the others. Current day “smart” data centre cooling system units cater for spot and zone cooling for high heat and density equipment.

7. Utilise power consumption more efficiently & choose a green supplier or vendor

More efficient power equipment and hardware with lower power draw requirements will significantly improve the operator load and power consumption. Many air conditioners have economiser options that can offer substantial energy savings. Choose a green supplier or vendor that actively works to sell carbon neutral products and services. Working with a supplier that ensures that they are limiting or offsetting their greenhouse emissions can have a great impact on a company’s marketing statement.

8. No need to work in the dark

Energy efficient lighting also needs to be taken into consideration, as lighting is also an element that can heat up the data centre. By simply installing and applying a timer to turn off some or all of the lights will improve consumption along with switching to more energy efficient light globes.

9. Consider keeping data on tape where possible

Making data available off line will allow for less energy to be used within the data centre. This can be further enhanced by using tape as compared to disk, due to lower energy consumption rates associated with tape.

10. Recycle and reuse

Any legacy equipment that is not being used should be made redundant and recycled responsibly. Recycling programs may include the distribution of older machines through a social structure or decommissioning hardware and recycling individual components to limit the environmental impact.

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