Power – having an uninterruptible, clean supply of power is essential to most data centres however many units, particularly if they are over three years, can have high levels of inefficiency. Ask the questions; how old is our UPS and what level of efficiency is it operating at? Swapping to a 99% efficient UPS may have a return on investment of less than a year depending on the size of your data centre.
Cooling – after the hardware itself the cooling system is generally the biggest consumer of power within a data centre. By extending the environmental ranges, such as temperature and relative humidity, your cooling infrastructure will have to do less work, in turn using less energy. Often airflow issues will need to be addressed before raising air-on temperatures to negate the risk of hot spots. The basic rule for this is to segregate the supply and return air as best as possible. Aisle containment can often provide a cost effective solution. (for more information on aisle containment follow this link…)
Commissioning – make sure everything is set up correctly to your specific design and environmental requirements, i.e. it’s no good buying hardware that operates at an air-on temperature of 28°C if then the commissioning engineer sets the air-on temperature of the air handling units to 21°C. This sounds painfully obvious but if the Hardware and Mechanical Teams don’t have an opportunity to work together it happens, and we see it regularly. Commissioning a system correctly, and especially a system with free cooling, can make a huge difference to its operational running costs.
Maintenance – a regular, well structured maintenance schedule offers three major benefits; first any potential problems with equipment can often be identified before they become a problem, reducing risk and the interruption of services. Second, upgrades to equipment software become available and these often allow units to operate more efficiently, this is particularly relevant for UPSs where a simple software upgrade may make a 10% difference in energy efficiency. Thirdly, people working in the data centre may “fiddle” with settings on units, particularly air handling units, because they feel a “hot” spot or believe the system is operating incorrectly. These changes may cause problems that are counter intuitive, such as turning the fan speed up on an air handling unit to reduce a hot spot in front of a particular cabinet may actually make the hot spot worse.
SLA’s for hardware support – if you have hardware that runs at wide temperature and humidity ranges make sure your support SLA’s accurately reflect this. Some support SLA’s require environmental ranges far tighter than the hardware itself requires.
In conclusion the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centre Energy Efficiency is an excellent well thought out document. It will help data centre owners and operators with existing facilities as well as help those who are planning a new build or refurbishment project.
If you would like to sign up to the Code or improve your data centres energy efficiency by embracing its best practice principle contact firstname.lastname@example.org or complete this form.