Getting Greener, and Monitoring More

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Data centers are making progress on energy efficiency, but a large percentage of green initiatives remain informal and a significant number of data center operators admit to procrastinating on efficiency measures.

Those are the key findings of a survey released today by AFCOM, the largest association for data center professionals. In a survey of 436 of its 4,500 member sites, AFCOM reported that progress is being made on energy efficiency, but much work remains. The good news: more data centers are measuring their energy usage and montoring their data center operations.

The survey found that 71.3 percent of respondents are actively engaged in “greening” initiatives, but that only 42 percent of those had a formal program in place.  What steps are they taking?

  • 61 percent are using less power in their data centers
  • 51 percent report implementing cooling efficiency strategies
  • 12 percent report significant savings in water usage

Government data centers are lagging the private sector, according to the AFCOM survey, which found 62 percent had greening programs, but just 36 percent had formal initiatives. 

“The surprise here is that one would expect government agencies to lead the way in terms of protecting the environment, but when it comes to saving energy and water, private industry is 10 percent more proactive,” AFCOM said in its analysis.

Data center operators report a variety of obstacles to implementing energy efficiency strategies. Thirty nine percent reported not having enough money in their budget to purchase more energy-efficient equipment, while 29.6 percent blamed procrastination, saying they were “paying lip service” to the issues while not moving ahead with efficiency projects. Another 22 percent said they have not been able to get a clear commitment from management.

One of the bright spots in the survey was the adoption of performance monitoring by AFCOM members. Power consumption is now being monitored by 68 percent of respondents, network traffic by 65 percent, storage capacity by 64 percent, server utilization by 61 percent and Web security by 54 percent.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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4 Comments

  1. I am not surprised by the performance monitoring survey results. The most interesting finding is the high number of respondents now measuring data center energy consumption. This is most likely in response to increased awareness of rising energy costs and the promotion of data center efficiency metrics (primarily PUE from the Green Grid). As data center operators explore and implement green initiatives, it is important that these investments deliver results. A first step in this direction is to benchmark data center energy consumption and efficiency. Then, when time and budget constraints relax, the results of implemented changes can be confirmed from either a consumption or efficiency standpoint. Having a benchmark and the ability to confirm improvements will help to justify additional investment in green initiatives in the future. The best way to establish an energy consumption and efficiency benchmark is through the use of a Performance Monitoring System, which monitors a data center’s critical infrastructure.

  2. Hi Rich, We enjoyed reading your post and found the AFCOM results of particular interest. The Green Grid is excited to see that progress is being made to improve energy efficiency in the datacenter, which we believe will continue to have a positive impact on the industry and businesses moving forward. With more efficient data centers, IT organizations can better handle increased computing, network, and storage demands, plus lower energy costs, and reduce cost of ownership — all while remaining competitive and able to meet future business needs. We are always looking for industry involvement and we encourage organizations to join and contribute their ideas to The Green Grid to help with this ongoing industry initiative – www.thegreengrid.org. Thanks - Larry Vertal Executive Director, The Green Grid

  3. I am not surprised by the performance monitoring survey results. The most interesting finding is the high number of respondents now measuring data center energy consumption. This is most likely in response to increased awareness of rising energy costs and the promotion of data center efficiency metrics (primarily PUE from the Green Grid). As data center operators explore and implement green initiatives, it is important that these investments deliver results. A first step in this direction is to benchmark data center energy consumption and efficiency. Then, when time and budget constraints relax, the results of implemented changes can be confirmed from either a consumption or efficiency standpoint. Having a benchmark and the ability to confirm improvements will help to justify additional investment in green initiatives in the future. The best way to establish an energy consumption and efficiency benchmark is through the use of a Performance Monitoring System, which monitors a data center’s critical infrastructure.

  4. I am not surprised by the performance monitoring survey results. The most interesting finding is the high number of respondents now measuring data center energy consumption. This is most likely in response to increased awareness of rising energy costs and the promotion of data center efficiency metrics (primarily PUE from the Green Grid).