The Planet's tips for cutting data center power use

The Planet's tips for cutting data center power use

Summary: Hosting company The Planet is doing its part to save, er, the planet.The company earlier this year revealed the results of a six-month trial to cut its power consumption, while increasing efficiency -- two goals that might seem diametrically opposed.

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Hosting company The Planet is doing its part to save, er, the planet.

The company earlier this year revealed the results of a six-month trial to cut its power consumption, while increasing efficiency -- two goals that might seem diametrically opposed. The experiment was conducted in one of the company’s data centers but now the practices will be applied to all six of its facilities (two in Houston, four in Dallas), which touch approximately 6.7 million Web sites.

The Planet reports that it cut power used for cooling its data centers by 31 percent over the course of the trial, while critical server loads rose by 5 percent. The overall power reduction was approximately 13.5 percent. This came by really reducing the number of computer room air conditioning units necessary to keep things cool or by cutting their capacity requirements.

(This is what one of those things looks like.)

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The company’s broader green initiative could result in savings of more than $1 million this year. I should also mention that The Planet “co-efficient of efficiency” (as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency and by the Uptime Institute) is now 1.7. More on this measure here.

Jeff Lowenberg, vice president of facilities for The Planet, reports that there were two very simple things that really contributed to his company’s ability to affect the power needed for cooling.

1. Extend the return air units so that were blowing air back out into a different spot. 2. Adjust the ambient temperature. Lowenberg says that many people don’t realize computers can operate just fine at 77 degrees. While The Planet didn’t go quite this far, it now maintains data center temperatures of 74 or 75 degrees compared with 65 degrees. Other ideas that come from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE):

- Rearrange floor tiles - Seal power distribution units to reduce bypass airflow - Install blanking plates in server cabinets to target the airflow more efficiently

Incidentally, here are two more recent news bulletins from the EPA about adjusting IT to save power and reduce carbon emissions. This first one encourages companies and organizations with large computer installations (such as school districts) to invest in power management policies and technologies. The second features companies that have recently won Energy Star program awards.

Topics: Data Centers, CXO, Hardware, Storage

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