Slaying Power Vampires and Unlocking Energy Savings In the Data Center

Slaying Power Vampires and Unlocking Energy Savings In the Data Center

June 24

Power vampires. They lurk in our offices. Camp out in droves across data center floors, patiently waiting for the moment to gorge on all the electricity they can gulp down whether in use or not. Power hungry equipment is robbing us of energy savings and this parasitic phenomenon appears to be growing at an alarming rate.

A report published by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) projected that energy consumption in U.S. data centers will increase by 53 percent over the period from 2013 to 2020. This increase will call for another 17 power plants – each equipped to generate a whopping 500 megawatts of juice – to be built from the ground up. Ironically, the report found that data centers are using more energy than necessary, and organizations “are not” putting in the effort to make efficiency a reality.

Servers alone are relentless energy chuggers. Factor in your networking equipment, UPS systems, and air conditioning units, and you’ve got a gaggle of power vamps that will have you needlessly throwing away money. MSPs are burdened to come up with strategies to optimize office power consumption and maximize energy savings. These suggestions should help.

Virtualize Your Systems

Whether we use our servers to their full potential or not, they draw full power from the main supply. Virtualization allows us to consolidate that hardware by simulating multiple systems that operate independently within a single physical machine. As such, investing in a good hypervisor can help your organization operate more efficiently and trim energy costs by as much as 40 percent.

Buy Energy Efficient Hardware

Old gas guzzlers are infamous for over-indulging on fuel. In a similar vein, older computers are the ancient power vampires that need even more juice to keep on processing. If you have a couple of grandpa machines in your infrastructure, upgrading to something more energy efficient might be a smart move. Servers designed to Energy Star standards use 54 percent less power than older hardware for roughly 30 percent better efficiency than standard models. Energy Star claims that companies can save as much as $20 a month per server by implementing this energy efficient equipment.

Optimize Air Flow

Air flow becomes both more critical and challenging the more equipment you have running on your infrastructure. However, there are a few air flow management strategies that work well for giant data centers and smaller server closets alike. For instance, a set of sturdy plastic curtains can be hung up to isolate power supply units and other components that normally run hotter, and help keep cold air where it needs to be. We use a similar strategy at home to optimize the cooling capabilities of our window AC units. Tricks such as this can deliver energy savings by simply reducing the amount of power needed to keep things cool.

Monitor Power Usage

Some hardware components feast on more standby power than others. If you really want to find out who the most offensive vamps are, you need to probe a bit deeper. Office power consumption can be measured at numerous points depending on the layout of your facility, including the UPS, server racks, and directly at the circuit panel. MSPs should consider conducting audits that calculate ongoing energy consumption while keeping peak times in mind. Doing this once a month can produce a fairly accurate snapshot of what’s doing the most damage over time

Use Equipment Wisely

Every office is guilty of allowing computer equipment to run and feed on standby power without doing any actual computing. Adopting a few simple practices can make a huge difference in how much energy is going to waste in your office space.

  • Optimize power management systems on servers and other applicable hardware
  • Manage power based on usage needs and patterns
  • Power down equipment at night (if possible)
  • Turn off and unplug equipment that isn’t being used

Whether it’s running servers on low-power mode when things are slow in the morning or getting rid of equipment you really don’t need, the smallest adjustments can lead to pretty big savings when practiced on a regular basis.

Pass IT Along

Achieving better office power consumption is something we can all strive for. Why not share what you’ve learned about neutralizing power vamps with your clients? Surely they’d appreciate a section in the Support Center that offers an assortment of tips and tricks on optimizing energy efficiency across their organization. Would give them yet another reason to view you as a trusted go-to source for everything IT.