Energy Efficiency in Data Centers - The Small Stuff

Oftentimes, when faced with the daunting task of eating an elephant, we don’t know where to begin. As a result, the elephant continues on uneaten, and eventually tramples us.

With Data Centers, there is a tendency to believe that once purchases are made and equipment is in place, there is very little we can do to control or limit the energy consumption of our particular site. “It is what it is” might be the profundity expressed when eying the electric bill, and off goes the payment without a second thought.

As energy consumers, we all play an active role in our own carbon footprint. At home, one might stop at the door and turn around to shut off a couple of extra lights on the way out. We may adjust our thermostats according to time of day or power down appliances.

Unfortunately, with a Data Center, we don’t have the luxury of turning off the Air Conditioner or shutting down a few servers that don’t look busy. So, we glance at the elephant, shake our heads and continue on. Seldom aware that through negligence or lack of creativity, we cost ourselves in the long-term.

There is plenty of fancy software out there that can do deep analysis of a data center environment and optimize every facet of energy consumption. However, for smaller server rooms a major expenditure toward software may take too many years to recover in energy savings. For those of you in this predicament, there is still hope.

Look at the backplane of your servers. Can you see all the ports or are they covered in spaghetti? Is your air flowing optimally, or have you turned your server cabinet into a storage container for cardboard boxes? Are your servers clustered together, or have you created wind tunnels that complicate airflow? Are you using 4 servers to do the work that could be accomplished with 1 in a virtualized environment? Does your server room need to be set at the current 68 degrees, or could you fudge that to 70 and still make do?

So, back to that elephant? One bite at a time.

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