Data Center Efficiency Series: Power Management

Power Management in the Data Center

Data centers are major power consumers and becoming one of the world’s leading polluters of greenhouse gases. In an effort to balance “green” awareness with ROI, we are presenting some key recommendations to improve energy consumption, overall data center management, and efficiency.

Measure Data Center Energy Efficiency

In order to assess the potential benefits of implementing new power management practices, it is necessary to identify, monitor and measure all aspects of power consumption within the data center. The Green Grid, an association to of IT professionals seeking to raise awareness of data center efficiency, has developed a standard of metrics to help organizations measure their data centers energy efficiency. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Data Center Efficiency (DCE) metrics enable companies to quickly estimate their data centers energy efficiency, benchmark against other data centers, and determine if any efficiency improvements need to be made. See the diagram below:

Data center power management for optimal efficiency

Managing Data Center Power Consumption

Monitoring energy usage in the data center provides a benchmark for calculating the ROI of new energy saving processes and helps identify areas of opportunity.

Turn off Idle Equipment
The typical x64 server consumes between 30% and 40% of its maximum power when not in use. Since all servers need not be operational 24/7, it makes sense that individual servers should be turned off for certain periods. For example, servers executing backups are typically run only at night or during off peak hours, and test servers are not always needed on a continual basis. Data center management should assess the server utilization patterns and create a schedule to efficiently power on servers only when they are needed. Also, consider the power consumption of non-IT equipment such as air conditioning and lighting when they are not in use.

Use Power Management Software

Most IT hardware within the data center has built-in power management features that are never used. For example, server processors have power management features built-in that can reduce power when the processor is idle, dropping their input voltage and frequency based on utilization of tasks being performed. Data center management has not fully adapted these types of features because the impact on availability is not clear. As more tools become available with power management features and data shows that performance is not impacted, this technology gain more market acceptance. Taking advantage of such features can dramatically save organizations on server power consumption in the long run.

Use Efficient Power Supplies
Many server power supplies in data centers today are operating at efficiency less than what is currently available. The U.S. EPA estimated the average efficiency of installed server power supplies at 72%. Best-in-class power supplies are available today that deliver efficiency of 90%. Organizations that improve the energy efficiency of their power supply units can raise the efficiency of their entire energy delivery infrastructure.

…Stay tuned for Part 3 of this Data Center Efficiency Series on Cooling…

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