A Greener Future Means Working with Better Data Center Designs Today14 min read

by | Oct 2, 2019 | Blog

As data becomes the lifeblood of any organization, the data center sits at the center of it all. Across every metric (be sure to check out my AFCOM State of the Data Center Report) you’ll see that data centers are being built, renovated, and are expanding.

This is where we take a quick pause. To support critical data center (and even edge) operations, efficiency around resources is an absolute requirement. Further, if you take a look at the entire data center market, you’ll quickly notice that growth is not slowing down, at all.

There’s where the first challenge comes up. Data center and business leaders are being tasked with delivering much more while still retaining optimal efficiency levels. Remember, globally, data center power consumption has been growing. In fact, a recent US Department of Energy report indicates that based on current trend estimates, U.S. data centers are projected to consume approximately 73 billion kWh in 2020. A number that’s been steadily rising since 2000.

As more organizations place their environments into the data enter, energy efficiency and data center management have become extremely important for multiple reasons. Not only are data center administrators working hard to cut costs – they’re also working overtime to minimize management overhead and improve infrastructure efficiency.

Consider this: A recent NRDC report indicates that data center electricity consumption is projected to increase to roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours annually by 2020. Want to know how much that really is? Currently, the global data center industry takes up about 5% of global energy resources. That’s about the equivalent of the entire airline industry.

How Much Energy Does Your Google Search Use?

In September I attended and spoke at the DCD Mexico conference in Mexico City. During the many fascinating sessions, I sat in on a presentation by Kevin Kent. There, he explained that unlike getting into a car and starting an engine, we really don’t understand just how much energy and resources we use on a daily basis. To put that into perspective, a single Google search can power a 100W light bulb for 11 seconds. Makes you think about your energy consumption whenever you’re steaming music or shows in the background.

During that same conference, a panel discussing energy consumption and data center resources came to the very clear point that we as technologists need to leave this planet in better shape for our kids. And, a huge way of doing this is by adopting more efficient designs, better utilization of true green resources, and instilling a culture focusing on creating a sustainable digital future.

If you’re working with a partner, colocation, or have your own data center, it’s important to take a step back and think about your levels of efficiency. Just because something ‘works,’ doesn’t mean it’s either green or still bringing value to your business. Remember, green solutions also mean savings for your organization. Better designs save on power, cooling, airflow, and so much more. They also improve resiliency.

So, what’s next?

  • Start by understanding your own business model and where technology is impacting business goals.
  • Find your technological and efficiency gaps. You don’t have to do this part alone. Working with good partners can help you identify areas where efficiency can help.
  • You don’t have to rip apart your infrastructure to become more efficient. There are some great solutions that’ll allow you to retrofit, and even leverage tool-less designs to make your data center more efficient.
  • Start small and dream big. You can make some really small changes to your data center to start seeing big gains. When was the last time you checked your airflow? How efficient are your power systems? Can simple blanking panels help you become more efficient?
  • Going green has big benefits to the business, can lower ROI, and will absolutely make this planet greener.
  • There are a lot of great ways to improve efficiency. Many are looking at alternate energy sources to help them supplement what they use today. Others have adopted a completely green energy model. However, becoming a greener organization must also include culture change. It’s absolutely critical for people to know their impact as well.

Becoming more efficient has to start somewhere. Even if you have good programs in place, you should always test, measure, and work to improve. New data center architectures revolving around distributed IT and edge are all going to change the way we consume power at the data center level. To stay competitive, and efficient, data center and business leaders will absolutely need to learn about new solutions which will absolutely help with efficiency, density, and design. This approach will allow you to not only impact your business, but create greener strategies moving forward.

Airflow Management Awareness Month 2019

Did you miss this year’s live webinars? Watch them on-demand now!

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman

Industry Analyst | Board Advisory Member | Writer/Blogger/Speaker | Contributing Editor | Executive | Millennial

Bill Kleyman is an award-winning data center, cloud, and digital infrastructure leader. He was ranked globally by an Onalytica Study as one of the leading executives in cloud computing and data security. He has spent more than 15 years specializing in the cybersecurity, virtualization, cloud, and data center industry. As an award-winning technologist, his most recent efforts with the Infrastructure Masons were recognized when he received the 2020 IM100 Award and the 2021 iMasons Education Champion Award for his work with numerous HBCUs and for helping diversify the digital infrastructure talent pool.

As an industry analyst, speaker, and author, Bill helps the digital infrastructure teams develop new ways to impact data center design, cloud architecture, security models (both physical and software), and how to work with new and emerging technologies.

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Airflow Management Awareness Month 2019

Did you miss this year’s live webinars? Watch them on-demand now!

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