Telehouse Green: How DCIM Helps Data Centers Improve Energy Efficiency and SustainabilityOctober 5, 2016
DCIM helps data centers increase energy efficiency and improve sustainability.
Data centers are both the backbone and nerve center of the digital economy. Worldwide, Cisco estimates that annual data center IP traffic will reach 10.4 zettabytes in three short years and approximately 50 billion devices will be internet-connected by 2020. Data center workloads, meanwhile, are forecast to more than double, and cloud workloads more than triple, during the same period.
Make no mistake, all this wondrous connectivity — whether in service of binge-watching Netflix, accessing Salesforce.com or communicating through Snapchat — has an effect on the data center industry’s pocketbook as well as the planet. The explosive growth of Over-the-Top content, Big Data, social media, e-commerce and internet traffic is making data centers one of the fastest-growing consumers of electricity in developed countries, and one of the major drivers in the construction of new power plants.
Worldwide, data centers use about 30 billion watts of electricity. That’s the equivalent output of 30 nuclear power plants, enough to power all the households in Italy. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, data center electricity consumption in the U.S. alone is projected to increase to roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours annually by 2020, the equivalent annual output of 50 non-nuclear power plants, costing American businesses $13 billion annually in electricity bills and emitting nearly 100 million metric tons of carbon emissions per year.
Given this scenario, it’s no surprise that power consumption is a top concern for data center managers and facilities administrators. But a lack of metrics and visibility concerning data center power and cooling efficiencies, and the difficulty of aligning business and environmental incentives, for many, remain a challenge.
Energy Conservation to Take to the Bank
Managing power usage in the data center environment can be complex. In order to take appropriate actions, data center managers and facility administrators need accurate intel concerning power consumption, thermals, airflow and utilization. The facility team for a particular building may be tasked with measuring and managing power at rack and Power Distribution Unit (PDU) levels, but often has limited visibility into server consumption.
Fortunately, some enterprise data centers and multi-tenant facilities are deploying a viable solution to improve Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and reduce costs associated with cooling and power while mitigating their carbon footprint.
Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools are software and technology products that converge IT and building facilities functions to provide a holistic view of a data center’s performance to ensure that energy, equipment and floor space are used as efficiently as possible. In large data centers, where electricity billing comprises a large portion of the cost of operation, the insights these software platforms provide into power and thermal management adhere directly to an organization’s bottom line while supporting sustainability initiatives.
DCIM offers increased levels of automated control that empowers data center managers to receive timely information to manage capacity planning and allocations, as well as cooling efficiency. By providing detailed information about server power characteristics, for example, DCIM helps IT managers to set fixed-rack power envelopes that enable them to safely increase server count per rack, which improves utilization.
Seeing Ghosts and Keeping Cool
Somewhat paradoxically, servers can consume 50 percent of a data center’s power, even when those servers are idle, or so-called “ghost” servers. DCIM tools enable data center managers to bust the problem of ghost servers by readily identifying where equipment can be consolidated, thereby reducing energy consumption from 10 to 40 percent.
Meanwhile, by deploying thermal-management DCIM middleware, which offers simulations integrating real-time monitoring information to enable continuous validation of cooling strategy and air handling choices, data center managers can make improvements in airflow management to reduce energy consumption by as much as 40 percent.
Reinforced by the promise of rapid ROI, the world’s largest data centers and colocation facilities that have adopted DCIM solutions comprise the vanguard of energy management best practices, embracing not only the business case, but also their responsibility of environmental stewardship.
As part of its global commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability, Telehouse deploys DCIM solutions at its Beijing data centers and plans to deploy DCIM solutions and software in several other facilities in 2017.