Take one step at a time when planning data center energy efficiency agenda

HP expert: Tweaking your data center design is the quickest thing you can do to help energy efficiency, setting the stage for future investments.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Riddle me this: What's the easiest thing you can do to improve energy efficiency in your data center?

Answer: Turn up the heat.

That's the opinion of John Bennett, worldwide lead for data center transformation solutions with IT giant Hewlett-Packard. That comes through actions such as rationalizing hot and cold aisle placement, optimizing airflow, investing in thermal zone mapping and simply letting the thermostat run a little higher. "Anyone walking into a data center should break a sweat, not have to wear a jacket," Bennett says.

This mean seem like an incredibly simplistic and potentially controversial suggestion, but as data center operators face very electricity supply and real estate constraints, the design of data centers is becoming all the more important. Sure, virtualization and consolidation projects will naturally open up space and take physical servers out of the mix, but they may not generate anticipated energy efficiency savings if placement isn't also addressed, Bennett says. For one thing, they will be running at higher utilization, which might not affect the server hardware but WILL affect storage infrastructure.

Accelerating refresh cycles may also help, since many servers that are less than three years old are naturally more "green" than their older brothers and sisters. Best to handle energy efficiency initiatives budget cycle, by budget cycle.

"It may be advantageous to get rid over your technology more quickly. Data centers built even five years ago were not built with these sensibilities in mind," he says.

By breaking energy efficiency projects into bite-sized chunks, IT managers can emphasize the green (as in money savings) part of green IT, which will help fund future progress.

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