Energy efficiency in data centers

Outsourcing of IT infrastructure
Author: Atman

The main measures improving the energy efficiency of data centers focus on improving the efficiency of cooling systems

These are simple solutions, such as the construction of cold corridors, but also complex ones, such as free-cooling systems. Energy efficiency can also be improved on the supply side by installing devices with greater efficiency. An example would include replacing the classic UPS system with a power generator with a DRUPS dynamic power supply. Such solutions allow to increase energy efficiency, but it must be remembered that by the way they may also increase TCO, namely the total cost of owning, maintaining and operating the infrastructure.

The fastest and the cheapest step towards improving energy efficiency is a departure from the conservative treatment of environmental parameters. Clients and their IT specialists usually specify the required temperature in the server room at 18-22°C, and humidity within 40-60%, while almost all modern servers can work at temperatures up to 35°C and humidity between 10 and 90%. We do not encourage to accept extreme values, however, every °C and % more is associated with measurable savings on cooling and moisturizing.

It is worth noting that servers are the most energy-consuming equipment in DCs, so first of all attention should be paid to their proper configuration and use. As the leader of the Polish data center market, we encourage our clients and partners to take part in the European Code of Conduct for Energy Efficiency in Data Center program, in particular because it is only with such cooperation that we can influence performance in the area referred to as “IT Load”. It is about effective use of IT equipment located in data centers, that is, the maximum efficiency achieved with a specified electricity consumption. Such cooperation is an opportunity to exchange experiences and enrich specialist know-how in the field of solutions that reduce energy consumption. We are eager to support and advise our business partners on the optimization of IT infrastructure, because the full use of its potential is an important part of the data center performance.

Renewable energy

The basic feature of data centers is widely understood security, with emphasis on the power reliability aspect. Our experience shows that clients deciding on the choice of their data center views energy efficiency as a less important requirement.

DCs are premises that need stable, continuous power supply, and this is one of the main requirements of clients. Renewable energy sources, such as solar energy or wind energy, are unstable and, therefore, investments in renewable energy sources are not usually commercially reasonable for data center operators. The use of them for direct DC power supply would complicate the power supply system considerably, thus reducing the reliability and security of the data center. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine the launch and operation of a “green” power plant with a capacity of several MW by a DC owner, because it would require the same engagement of resources – money and people – as in the core business. The cost of such an investment would adversely affect the prices of services for the client.

In summary, investments in renewable energy to power data centers currently only make sense in the area of professional power engineering, where they will complement conventional power sources. Obviously, we do not preclude changes in the future.