Strategies to boost data center efficiency and sustainability
Friday, Feb 28th 2014

With the ever-increasing complexity of new computing technologies, in combination with growing demands for the latest IT infrastructure support, today's data centers draw an incredible amount of electricity. Cloud and virtualized systems rely on data center processes, and the power costs of supporting these needs is continually rising.

Data center operators are always searching for new strategies to reduce the electrical footprint of the structure, improve the power usage effectiveness rating and enhance the overall facility sustainability. Here are a few tips that can foster the success of these efforts:

Raise the server room temperature
Recently updated recommendations by the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Condition Engineers have shown that the data center temperature can safely be raised between 5 to 40 degrees Celsius above the former standard, according to DataCenter Dynamics. This translates to 41 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, although these readings will vary depending on the class of data center and type of equipment used. However, this means that facilities no longer need to operate at considerably low temperatures to ensure the safety of servers. Raising the temperature can also significantly reduce the amount of electricity utilized by the cooling system.

During this process, administrators should also seek to implement a temperature monitoring system to guarantee that levels remain within the recommended range. Furthermore, this technology can alert select workers if the server room temperature goes above or below the predetermined settings.

Optimize cooling capabilities
In addition to adjusting the temperature, several other changes involving data center cooling can help with sustainability efforts. Gartner recommended implementing hot/cold aisle arrangements in the server room to enhance airflow and ensure that the cooling system is functioning optimally. 

Gartner also suggested upgrading the cooling technologies with modular systems that are implemented directly within the server row or rack. These arrangements provide cooling capabilities at the source and effectively remove excess heat created by equipment to prevent overheating.

Furthermore, if facilities are located in the appropriate environment, operators can take advantage of naturally cool air. This outdoor air can be pumped into the data center for cooling purposes as part of a "free air" strategy, and can also help cut electricity demands.

Another cost-effective strategy to boost the capabilities of the cooling system is to isolate and block holes in the raised floor. Computerworld noted that holes in data center flooring can allow chilled air to escape, but plugging these spaces can save up to 10 percent of cooling energy.