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5 Steps to a Green Data Center


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Data center (DC) infrastructure is one of the leading consumers of electricity. Servers and other computing and IT equipment consume an enormous amount of electricity. According to estimates, 42 500-megawatt power plants are needed to feed modern data centers located in the USA. With each year, the need in powering data centers is on increase. It turns out that network systems are eco-unfriendly.

Eco-friendliness is mainstream in modern society. Thus, the industry seeks ways to make computing systems greener and reduce the amount of consumed resources.

How do DCs Influence the Environment?

Consuming electricity is like a long chain that inevitably leads to natural resources. The production of electricity for DCs implies consuming fossil fuels. The more power is required, the more fuel is burnt. Producing electricity increases carbon emissions.

The report of the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) states that in 2013, 91 billion kilowatt-hours were used to power server rooms. This energy is enough to feed all households across NY City twice over. In 2020, this number increased by 52% and was 140 billion kilowatt-hours. Nowadays, the indicator is even higher, meaning that an enormous amount of fossil fuels is consumed for DC supply.

If the consumption of renewables continues at the same pace, the DC industry will become the 5th largest consumer of electricity around the world. Green movement activists urge manufacturers and system administrators to reduce consumption and seek more ecological ways to power server systems.

Moreover, an analyst from the IDC sector claims that over $26 billion are spent to feed server rooms. A 40% decrease in consumption will help businesses to save at least $3.8 billion. This power supply reduction is quite achievable since it is just half of the possible reduction.

Note that some techniques are applied in the industry to achieve a more rational use of power. For instance, system administrators place cabinets in server rooms taking into account special maps with hot and cold aisles. This solution allows achieving the most effective use of natural airflow and cooling equipment without forced ventilation installation.

Tips to Make DCs Green and Effective

           1.Optimize data center cooling

This is an essential part of the functioning of any system. Here, the following solutions can help make your data center greener:

  • locate cabinets taking into account hot and cold air aisles;
  • use open-frame racks in closed premises. Open-frame racks allow the air to pass through housed equipment without boundaries. By the way, you can select any model and buy server rack  to accommodate any type of hardware;
  • maximize the use of natural cooling. Try to improve the efficiency of your system by allocating devices inside cabinets and racks loosely;
  • apply outside air optimizers that draw the air from the environment but not from forced power sources to cool DS facilities.
  • study air maps that will help understand how to achieve the best possible cooling effect by proper hardware allocating.

The implementation of these methods can reduce up to 40% of energy costs.

          2. Pay proper attention to racks and containers, upgrade them if necessary

To ensure data center sustainability, system administrators should timely upgrade the server furniture used to meet the requirements of modern server rooms. Modern enterprises develop a wide range of models to any taste and need. Thus, it is possible to pick a product that will be modern and satisfy demands in terms of environmental friendliness.

          3. Standardize configurations

Make sure that your DC facility runs in accordance with commonly accepted requirements. Study international protocols and drafts and adjust your system to them if it functions improperly.

Make a baseline energy audit first. Analyze how your system uses the energy and what devices consume the most amount of power. Think about the way you can improve the functioning process by using modern technologies.

         4. Prioritize the reduction of DC power usage

To make an environmental data center, you should pay particular attention to variable costs. Although the materials used and location impact the environment, still, the consumed power remains the main driver of eco-unfriendliness.

Many pieces of research have proved that 10% of DC’s OpEx are given to power costs. This indicator is going to rise up to 15% in a few years. The most significant share of energy consumption is related to high-power-density servers since 60% of payloads are used to feed them.

The solution to this case is in virtualizing and consolidating workloads, timely replacing deteriorated models with new servers, and eliminating dormant hardware.

         5. Find optimal environment 

Computing systems require a certain environment to function properly and ensure durable and sustainable performance. The premises for DC deployment should meet the following requirements:

  • be cool and guarantee stable temperatures without sudden falls or rises. Low-temperature rooms are preferable;
  • have a low-humidity level. Evaporation should be avoided;
  • no pipelines go through premises;
  • rooms are well-ventilated.

The choice of a proper premise to organize a server room will affect not only eco-friendliness but also hardware durability and flexibility.

Researchers have conducted an experiment to compare the level of consumed energy in warn and cool rooms. Their findings showed that locating server cabinets with equipment in cooler premises helps save up to 620 kWh rather than feeding hardware in a warm environment.

           6. Use green materials and devices

Pay attention to details and think about how you can make your server system more ecological. For example, replace all bulbs with LED lighting, upgrade air compressors, stop powering unused devices and shut down dominant equipment, etc. In fact, there are many small things that can turn your DC into a green one. Although it seems that they consume little energy, when gathering them together, it becomes possible to save 500 kWh or even more.

System administrators are afraid of integrating other green solutions because they do not know how they influence the system uptime and speed of task processing. However, the implementation of such solutions is a matter of time since fossil fuel is not eternal, and now is the high time to start treating them efficiently. 

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