Data center energy-efficiency initiatives are gaining ground

The results from a recent industry survey provide insight into actions taken by data center operators to increase the efficiency of their facilities and identifies the challenges organizations face in pushing for additional improvements. The survey was conducted by the Data Center Users’ Group (DCUG), a group of data center, IT, and facility managers formed by St.

10/01/2007


The results from a recent industry survey provide insight into actions taken by data center operators to increase the efficiency of their facilities and identifies the challenges organizations face in pushing for additional improvements.

The survey was conducted by the Data Center Users’ Group (DCUG), a group of data center, IT, and facility managers formed by St. Louis-based Emerson Network Power, and completed in coordination with the EPA and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs to support the EPA’s recently released “Report to Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency.” More than 150 DCUG member companies and non-member Fortune 500 companies participated in the survey. Founded in 2003, the DCUG has approximately 1,000 members and meets semi-annually to discuss reliability and operation for mission-critical installations.

According to the survey, the majority of respondents have made operational improvements to increase energy efficiency. Data centers of 77% of these respondents are arranged in a hot aisle/cold aisle configuration to increase cooling system efficiency, 65% use blanking panels to minimize recirculation of hot air, and 56% have sealed floors to prevent cooling losses. The survey also shows the growing popularity of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to identify hotspots and optimize airflow within the facility, with 25% of respondents having already conducted a CFD analysis of their facilities.

The survey also revealed some of the challenges that data center professionals face as they try to reduce energy use, including: lack of management priority (40%), not clearly understanding the cost/benefit relationship (36%), not wanting to risk reliability (35%), and lack of communication between IT and facilities personnel (33%).

Other survey results show that, on average, 60% of the data center electrical load is used to power IT equipment, with approximately 56% of that being used to power servers, 27% for storage, and 19% for network equipment. In addition, 41% of survey respondents said their data center electrical usage is not metered separately from the rest of their facilities. Forty-one percent of respondents also noted that they did not have a dedicated facility for their data center.

Additional results include the following:

Eighty-one percent believe that by 2012 they will need additional data center capacity, despite the fact that 64% have built or upgraded their data center in the past five years.

More than a quarter (27%) of respondents believe that despite consolidation and the use of virtualization, their server inventory will increase throughout the next five years.

The average power density per rack is approximately 6.5 kW, while the maximum power density in any one rack averages approximately 12.9 kW.





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