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Ten Keys to Server Room Efficiency

The relationship between gains in computing power and reductions in the use of electric power is essential if IT professionals are going to have a true understanding of Server Room/Data Center efficiency.

To further the knowledge of the industry the Liebert business of Emerson Network Power produced a white paper – Energy Logic: Calculating and Prioritizing Your Data Center IT Efficiency Actions – which provides “a holistic, prioritized roadmap for reducing data center energy consumption”.

While this white paper did not address efficiency directly because there is no universally accepted metric for Server Room/Data Center output, it does show how IT management can use efficiency metrics to address these challenges and provides a prioritized set of actions to gain the greatest improvement in efficiency. The IT industry needs to do more work to develop a universal metric for server and Server Room/Data Center output.

According to Energy Logic, here are four actions you can undertake right now to boost efficiency:

1. Speed up refresh cycle for IT technology
Take advantage of efficiency improvements that have been made at the server level. With the dramatic gains in efficiency that can be realized, more aggressive efforts to replace inefficient server processor and power supply technology with more efficient technologies will pay dividends. In addition to their other benefits, blade servers provide an architecture that facilitates module-level
replacement, further increasing their role in enhancing efficiency.

2. Implement server power management policies.
Servers consume a high percentage of peak load power even when the processor is idle. Power management represents an untapped resource that can play a large role in increasing data center efficiency.

3. Virtualize applications
Many government servers are drastically underutilized. Virtualization can increase computing power in the same space and allows managers to monitor data loads.

4. Adopt a high-density architecture.
High density cooling in particular has the largest impact on data center efficiency outside of actions taken at the server level.

Energy Savings Times Ten
According to the white paper, to implement these strategies you will be taking the following ten energy savings actions - each of which will pay for itself over time.
    1.    Upgrade to lower power processors
    2.    Install high efficiency power supplies
    3.    Utilize power management features
    4.    Install blade servers
    5.    Virtualize your server operations
    6.    Use higher AC voltage power distribution methods
    7.    Embrace cooling best practices
    8.    Use variable capacity cooling
    9.    Use supplemental cooling technologies
    10.    Invest in monitoring and optimization technologies

Paying For The Future Through ESPCs
When building or retrofitting your Server Room or Data Center you need to design for the next technology refresh said the Leibert business of Emerson Network Power’s Brad Nacke in an interview with 1105 Custom Media.

Why? Because according to Nacke, while the typical computer center plans for their IT to last 3-5 years, good facility equipment lasts 15-20 years. That planning may take expertise you don't have in-house. That's why Nacke suggests you find a “trusted advisor” to do a baseline on where you stand now; one who can help you design a workable plan.

Once you have a workable plan, you will have to pay for it. One strategy is to use Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs). What they do is help you with strategies to pay for upgrades with your expense budget rather than your capital budget.

According to EPA, financing large-scale projects can be prohibitively expensive for a federal agency. To help agencies Congress authorized Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) “to encourage federal agencies to become more energy-efficient and to reduce their energy costs. ESPCs enable agencies to improve energy efficiency-reducing energy use and costs-through private investments”.

Energy Logic has been successful in changing the way many organizations view the challenge of Server Room/Data Center consumption and efficiency.
EPA describes an ESPC is an agreement between a federal facility and an Energy Services Company (ESCO). The ESCO designs a project to increase the energy efficiency at a facility.

The ESCO then purchases and installs the necessary equipment, such as new energy-efficient windows, automated controls, and updated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. In exchange for not having to pay for the equipment, the federal agency promises to pay the company a share of the savings resulting from the energy efficiency improvements. The ESCO is responsible for maintaining the equipment, as well as measuring the energy consumption and savings.

Learn more about Energy Logic and ESPCs. Visit http://www.liebert.com/servicesupport_pages/WhitePapers.aspx and http://www.epa.gov/greeningepa/energy/espc.htm