Data center environmental monitoring helps businesses reach energy efficiency
Monday, Jun 17th 2013

Data centers are one of the largest consumers of energy, and as more focus is given to attaining energy efficient operations around the globe, enterprise IT can look to data center environmental monitoring tools to help them boost efficiency.

A study conducted by Pike Research and released at the end of March highlighted how energy consumption is now being considered a priority issue by many organizations, and this trend is only expected to continue. The report projected that by 2015, global investment in energy efficient data center technologies will make up 28 percent of the $150 billion data center infrastructure market.

The report also outlined numerous key trends that are affecting future data centers, which included more IT managers recognizing energy costs that come with a continual expansion of computing power. Because cooling and power technologies play a major role in energy consumption, Pike Research expects that the life cycles of power and cooling infrastructure will continue to align more strictly with the life cycles of the IT assets supported. This means that enterprise IT could realistically deal with less complexity as they work to effectively monitor power.

"The green data center has evolved in response to concern over energy use, but it is also connected to the broader transformation that data centers are undergoing," said Eric Woods, senior analyst at Pike Research. "Data centers of the future will be more energy efficient, more adaptable to new business needs and new technology opportunities, and virtualized to ensure optimal use of IT resources, space and energy."

Another trend that Pike Research addressed in its report is that more sophisticated data center monitoring tools will emerge to more effectively handle the increasingly dynamic data centers. These tools will provide enterprise IT with a holistic view of the entire data center ecosystem enabling smarter decisions to be made.

Exploring the cloud's role in data center efficiency
There are numerous best practices in data center efficiency that are well known but not always closely followed. Data Center Knowledge contributor Rich Miller further explored green computing, recounting Google's "How Green is the Internet" conference that took place earlier this month. The discussion focused on efforts to reduce environmental impacts of data centers by closing the gap between the extra efficient cloud builder-operated server farms and "server-hugging businesses."

"There are huge inefficiencies in in-house data centers," said Jon Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance. "Just adapting best practices will save 50 percent of the energy being used. We know how to do this. The impediments are institutional, not technical."

Other energy efficiency pros agreed with Koomey, emphasizing how small businesses in particular can leverage the cloud to see the greatest benefits. Particularly in a hybrid cloud environment, organizations can maintain existing hardware with the effective use of server room environmental monitoring while taking advantage of the high scalability of the cloud by moving some assets to cloud storage.

Adjusting monitoring to help achieve a green data center
Even in a hybrid cloud environment, monitoring remains an essential part of the equation when working toward a green data center. Especially as data centers are undergoing a substantial change as managers upgrade physical assets, there is a potential for things to get lost in the transition. With an environmental monitor in place, organizations can maintain an accurate picture of data center operations even as conditions change due to virtualization and consolidation projects.

A recent APC white paper detailed how many data center managers are adopting new energy strategies that utilize a temperature sensor to better control hot-aisle and cold-aisle settings, which can improve the efficiency and predictability of traditional data center cooling systems. According to the source, opting for hot-aisle containment over cold-aisle containment can help organizations save roughly 43 percent in annual energy costs associated with cooling systems.