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How to green your data centers and save money

Rebecca Merrett | April 7, 2014
SAP's global CIO, Björn Goerke, talks about different tools and techniques he is using to green the cloud provider's data centres worldwide and drive down power costs. The large enterprise software company wants to run its 16 data centres worldwide on 100 per cent renewable energy.

SAP has set itself a goal this year to run its 16 data centres around the world on 100 per cent renewable energy, including its new Sydney data centre that opened this week.

CIO Australia speaks with SAP's global CIO, Björn Goerke, about the different tools and techniques he is using to green the cloud provider's data centres worldwide and drive down power costs.

Half of our SAP's energy consumption comes from its data centres, says Goerke, with 11,000 physical servers worldwide supporting its internal IT, production and software development units.

"We are also expanding into Latin America, we're building our presence in Asia Pacific beyond Australia, and we're going into Russia and India," says Goerke.

By 2020, SAP wants to reach the same level of carbon footprint it had in 2000 (336 kilo tonnes). SAP's Integrated Report 2013 showed that absolute carbon emissions increased by 12 per cent during 2012 to 2013, with greenhouse gas emissions increasing from 30 grams CO2 per euro of total revenue to 32.4 grams CO2 per euro. However, overall it has reached 43 per cent of its goal to go back to a carbon footprint of 336 kilo tonnes, Goerke says.

Since the start of 2008, SAP's combined energy efficiency initiatives have contributed to saving of about A$386 million. A substantial piece of that figure is attributed to greening its data centres and making them more efficient.

"In our German data centre alone, we have reduced our power consumption by 50 per cent," says Goerke.

Besides purchasing renewable energy certificates a subsidy mechanism for using renewable energy such as solar, wind, biomass and geo-thermal Goerke is using a number of techniques to drive efficiencies and reduce power consumption.

The first is cool aisle containment that prevents the mixing of cool and hot air so servers do not have to be re-cooled over and over.

"If you put some servers in a large room and try to cool them down, then you are cooling a much more volume of air than is necessary. So you are containing the cold air into a certain space around the servers, and you make the space you need to cool down as small as possible," says Goerke.

The positioning of the racks and servers, as well as making them as dense as possible also helps make the cooling process more efficient, Goerke says.

"There's a standard way to put them in. What we figured out is if we rack these systems in the opposite way, we can get a much better cooling effect. So the positioning of the servers had an impact on cooling.

"It's the density of the servers in the racks themselves, too. Depending on generation of hardware you use and what vendors you work with, there are different densities you can get in terms of blades or server cartridges that you put into the racks. We are also getting those down in size so that you can put more cartridges in and reduce the volume that you need to cool down," he says.


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