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Guest View: Designing the Eco-Friendly Data Centre of the Future

Eric Brabänder | Oct. 23, 2014
Data centres have to seek more innovative ways to improve energy efficiency in IT

Most of the energy used by information and communications systems is consumed by commercial data centres and servers.

Data centres can currently account for around 2% of total energy consumption. With the increase in mobile computing, rise of social networks, and spread of IT into virtually all areas of private and work life, data volumes are growing exponentially.

The result is a continuous increase in both energy density within the typical data centre and the resulting cooling requirements. It also means that green IT and efficient, sustainable resource management are becoming key concerns for data centres.

The challenge for data centre operators and network managers  is to efficiently deploy all data centre assets to handle these growing data and energy loads. The solution lies in optimal planning and predictive analysis and prognosis of network, server, load, power, and cooling capacities to ensure maximum sustainability.

Responsible and proportionate use of energy is a vital objective with knock-on effects that help reduce our impact on the environment. A reduction in power consumption also means fewer carbon emissions. The ultimate goal is total carbon neutrality.

According to some estimates, as much as half the energy  consumed within the typical data centre goes on running the infrastructure, e.g., uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs), power distribution, cooling, and the like. The rest is consumed in the actual processing of data. All tools and measures used to optimize this performance come under the heading of "data centre infrastructure management (DCIM)."

Before any improvements can be implemented , however, it is essential to have an inventory of existing assets and their respective energy requirements.

A typical DCIM system therefore includes an open asset management capability with a comprehensive data model and the ability to collate, evaluate, and present all existing and planned devices within the data centre, including cabling, installation details, and all other relationship data.

In order to implement optmisation measures, it is necessary to be able to access and evaluate the current and planned power consumption data for every device and component.

In order to gather data on the current status of all devices in the data centre, the DCIM system must be able to monitor live data from each individual asset and synchronize this data with the data model via standard interfaces or an open API to enable subsequent analysis.

Approaches to Data Centre Optimisation

Current approaches to data centre optimisation involve introducing advanced energy-efficient technologies (energy efficient servers, virtualization, more efficient UPSs, alternative cooling systems), consolidating old data centres, upgrading existing data centres, and building new data centres to modern standards using the latest technologies.

However, even when using the most up-to-date technologies, there is still considerable scope for improving energy efficiency by optimizing the running of the data centre. To ensure maximum reliability, data centres typically require more than a single redundancy option, with most facilities opting for a much greater over-provisioning of power and cooling.


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