Improving data center energy efficiency
Friday, Nov 22nd 2013

Data centers require massive amounts of energy to power the rows of servers, cooling systems and other technology equipment housed within the facilities. While this energy consumption is necessary to store enterprise data, power cloud computing, and provide infrastructure support for applications and network connections, the effort to decrease power usage without a corresponding drop in functionality or performance is a pain point in the industry.

How much energy do data centers use?
According to Pingdom, a large facility of at least 50,000 square feet can consume as much as five megawatts of power.

To put this into perspective, this data center power consumption is  approximately the energy resources needed to power 5,000 houses. Power ceilings continue to rise - one company recently announced a center requiring 30 megawatts, or enough electricity to power 30,000 houses.

Overall, the source stated that data center facilities in the U.S. use approximately the same amount of electricity as the entire state of Mississippi, or the equivalent of 5 million houses. 

For these reasons, it is clear why data center operators seek ways  to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities.

Efforts to reduce data center energy consumption
According to IT Business Edge, about half of the total power consumed by data centers is utilized for cooling systems to maintain optimal temperature in the server room. Organizations seeking to improve their power consumption at this juncture can utilize temperature monitoring technologies as a means to sustain the proper temperature level without utilizing excessive amounts of energy.

This type of system allows personnel to ensure that servers are kept cool while guaranteeing that cooling units consume only the energy necessary to function. A significant amount of energy is wasted when the temperatures in server rooms are not monitored, as personnel focus on preventing equipment from overheating. While this is important in a data center, temperature monitoring can provide a means to keep servers cool while consuming only the energy needed to maintain the temperature. According to recent findings from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning, server room aisle temperatures can be kept as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Furthermore, emerging technologies allow organizations to recycle air within the server room cooling system to cool other parts of the data center. Other data centers utilize alternative energy sources for electricity, including wind and water power.

{paragraph break added} For example, Facebook recently announced that it will use power created by a wind farm near its new data center for electricity. According to the International Business Times, Facebook is participating in development efforts for a wind project in Wellsburg, Iowa, which will be the primary power source for the company's nearby Altoona data center.

The new data center is expected to be up and running by the beginning of 2015. Until then, employees are working to complete the wind project, which will add 138 megawatts of electricity capacity to the Iowa power grid. Facebook stated that it's goal is to have 25 percent of company energy consumption come from renewable sources by 2015.