Taking a Bird’s Eye View of Energy

As data centers come under increased pressure to become more energy efficient, historic data collection on pure power consumption in the Facilities areas is simply not going far and deep enough.

Simon Terry, Chief Executive of Unite Technologies, received a formal engineering training and qualification in the defence industry, supporting the Trident nuclear submarine program within the Nuclear Controls Division at Fisher Controls.

Unite Technologies

Energy and Facilities Management (FM) professionals are well aware that both legacy and new build computer room and data centre operations bring with them significant energy management challenges. Rising energy costs and limited supply means data centres are coming under increased pressure to become more energy efficient, especially in light of the introduction of the UK government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme.

Energy Costs Rising

With the energy bill already the single largest cost in the IT computer room and data centre and likely to double in the next seven to 10 years, one of the biggest challenges is in achieving a more balanced and optimized approach to energy and environmental management.  Ultimately, if this ‘balance of power’ is not as optimized and accurate as it should be, there is the risk of seriously compromising overall resilience and business continuity to contend with.

To compound the problem further, the continued growth in data processing requirements brings with it the combined increase in power and cooling demands of new technologies. Aside from the pure running costs, where cooling systems alone can account for as much as 45 per cent of the total energy bill, there are also the environmental issues to consider. It is estimated that 10 per cent of all UK carbon emissions stem from IT resources and 25 per cent of these are emitted from data centres.

Clearly energy professionals have a considerable dilemma on their hands: Reducing, conserving and optimizing energy consumption across the whole facility without compromising overall operations. More than ever, it is necessary to develop best practice energy management policies and strategies for their computer rooms and data centres, identifying both current and future legislative requirements and their subsequent impact.

Gathering Data

A fundamental step towards a more balanced energy management strategy is to fully understand the facility’s overall consumption  and pinpoint exactly where it is going at any given time. As well as the cooling, CRACs, chillers, heating and ventilation et al, the key IT factors found in the data centre space should also be taken into consideration. These will include data room and rack layout, hot and cold aisle configuration and containment, recirculation of hot air back into IT equipment and prevention of hotspots which challenge cooling.

What is needed, therefore, is a way of uniting the traditional domains of the FM department with those of IT, enabling all concerned to work smarter with the benefit of a holistic view of the entire data centre estate, from building point of entry through to individual Server payload.

Amongst the key benefits would be the ability to take accurate and dynamic Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) readings, as well as the knowledge and information necessary to take proactive measures in driving down the PUE to reduce energy costs still further. At the same time the means to calculate the CO2 with much more precision for carbon reduction purposes will help ensure CRC compliance and corporate social responsibility commitments.

Such an approach explodes the myth that traditional BMS and Modbus metering systems alone are up to the job. Clearly, historic data collection on pure power consumption in the Facilities areas is simply not going far and deep enough. The necessary approach would extend to all zones across FM and IT and, crucially, factor in real-time as well as historic information capture. These must include the NMS, BMS and PMS, the point of entry fiscal metering systems, facilities asset sub metering, individual IT payload load monitoring and the integration of 3rd party existing management platforms.

To consolidate all of the energy and environmental data being monitored, a scalable enterprise software management platform will be necessary. This would be capable of generating highly granular real-time and historical management reporting to measure, control and deploy energy optimisation initiatives. These would include energy consumption; alarm status; dynamic PUE and Data Centre Infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE) monitoring; CO2 tonnage; temperature/humidity monitoring; capacity management; asset management; and CRC compliancy.

Corporations Are Leading the Way

The good news for energy management professionals is that growing numbers of ‘early adopter’ corporate organisations have begun to recognise the value and strategic importance of a more integrated approach between FM and IT within their computer rooms and data centres. This has been a key driver in shaping the design of next generation power management and monitoring technologies as well as the software platforms necessary for providing the all-important holistic management and reporting intelligence.

At Unite Technologies, for example, we have  responded to customer requirements with the launch of a 6 Zone Data Centre Management Solution, which provides a view of  real-time performance information from six zones across both FM and IT:

  • Zone 1: Fiscal Monitoring at Building Point of Entry
  • Zone 2: MV and LV Distribution Board
  • Zone 3: Monitoring and Control of Specific Plant Equipment
  • Zone 4: Input and Distributed Branch Circuit Monitoring
  • Zone 5: Data Rack and Room Monitoring
  • Zone 6: Individual Payload Monitoring at Server Level.

We believe this type of breadth and depth of  data can provide the type of streamlined view of data center operations demanded by the pressures on the industry.

There is now, more than ever, the incentive and necessity to regain total control over the data centre’s energy and environmental performance. At the same time, new thinking and latest technology have come to the fore, which will help ensure legacy and new facilities can meet the challenges of the current decade.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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