Running a data center is no easy feat, and there are many different costs that factor into the day-to-day operations of a center. The amount of energy used by data centers globally is actually inconceivable. According to a report by Digital Power Group, the world’s IT infrastructure accounts for a full 10 percent of the world’s energy use. In addition to this showing that managing a data center can be a very costly endeavor, there’s also the more troubling issue of environmental impact, particularly when centers aren’t run as efficiently as they should be. To help data centers save funds, and, more importantly, leave a smaller footprint in the process, we’ve put together this list of tips that can lead to a more sustainable and cost-effective data center:
- Monitor the use of cooling equipment. Few things are worse than a massive data center that’s being overcooled. Sadly, many centers are guilty of exactly that, funneling cold air throughout the centers without giving much thought to the detrimental environmental impact it’s having. But according to Data Center Knowledge, the cooling of data centers can be lessened both to save centers money and to keep energy consumption low. The key to maintaining your data center at the optimal temperature – rather than one that’s excessively cold and therefore energy-wasting or too hot and thereby potentially detrimental to equipment – is to monitor the conditions in which your data center is housed. This can be done easily through remote monitoring equipment, which can enable data center administrators to efficiently enact restrictions for maximum and minimum temperatures, and then monitor the entire center to make sure no part of it exceeds these parameters.
- Invest in protection against outages. If there’s one thing to know about data center outages, it’s that they’re invariably extremely costly. Consider that, according to a Ponemon study called “2013 Cost of Data Center Outages,” the low end of the cost spectrum was around $74,000 for a single unplanned outage. And that’s the absolute minimum you can expect to pay. According to the report, the average outage cost is more in the neighborhood of $700,000. When an outage happens, costs accrue quickly, from the money administrators pay to detect and contain the outage to the invariably steep cost of recovery. When it comes to outages, though, such calamitous situations can be prevented through better oversight of the data center, which should include monitoring equipment to make the job easier. An outage is one of the major cost suckers a center can face. But it can also have environmental repercussions. The work it takes to restore a data center to functionality involves not just human power but also significant machine-generated power, which can make the data center’s footprint larger. To avoid ever getting in this situation, data center administrators can practice better monitoring and more attentiveness to machine integrity in order to preempt a major incident of downtime.
- Seal the center up. A lot of the time data center administrators’ eyes are on the larger functionalities at work in a center, but sometimes it’s the pesky little things that can be leading to excess costs, according to an industry white paper. Have you ever gotten exorbitant air conditioning bills for a few months only to discover, toward the end of summer, a crack in the wall where cool air is escaping? Well just picture that on a scale more than 100 times greater and you get an idea of the negative impact that seemingly minute cooling losses can have on a data center. According to the industry white paper, one way centers can better seal the data center environment is, not surprisingly, to make sure doors are tightly closed at all times. Additionally, the paper recommends that data centers invest in a vapor seal, which is an inexpensive and highly effective means of maintaining proper temperature levels. The importance of sealing up a center cannot be overstated. Even if a center has the most state-of-the-art environmental equipment, the lack of suitable sealing can totally undermine such innovations. In addition to putting in place vapor seals, center administrators can conduct physical inspections of the center, looking for cracks or any means by which cool air could escape. If you don’t do this as a center administrator, then cool air that you pay for could be escaping literally under your nose.
These are only a few of the tips for getting the most out of your data center while keeping costs low. We have more tips coming up, so be sure to check back for part 2 of this piece. And in the meantime, perhaps consider at least one way that you can take action now to limit your data center’s footprint – and, of course, your energy bill.