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Data Center Energy Efficiency Trends for 2012

We wrap up our reader predictions on 2012 with a look at data center energy efficiency, and some of the strategies that we may see more of during the new year.

Gregg Dixon, EnerNOC

Gregg Dixon is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales at EnerNOC, Inc.

Three data center energy management trends to watch for in 2012

In IT settings, energy can be a major operating cost, but many data center operators are becoming smarter about the way they manage energy use. Three strategies in particular deliver the biggest value throughout the energy lifecycle.

Every energy strategy begins with the purchase. Many data center operators are shifting to more diverse and often greener energy purchasing strategies. For example, Facebook recently announced that it will “unfriend coal” in response to criticism that its data centers were among the dirtiest on the planet. Other data centers interested in switching to renewables often work with energy procurement services providers, who can help create the proper balance of renewable energy in their resource mix and structure competitive sourcing proposals. In open markets, energy procurement services can deliver millions of dollars in value to large electricity users like data centers.
Second, data center operators should look to leverage operational flexibility and on-site generation resources through demand response programs. Demand response compensates energy users who can temporarily reduce their reliance on grid power and switch to generation for a few hours per year. These programs can bring in significant revenue—and ensure that data centers’ generators are ready in the event of an actual emergency on the grid—maximizing uptime and providing bottom-line value.

Finally, energy data is the next frontier in better energy management. Many data centers have policies that require energy-efficient equipment purchasing, but how do they measure ROI? Most utility bills don’t provide sufficient visibility to verify the impact of efficient purchasing initiatives, but energy management services providers like my firm, EnerNOC, can provide real-time energy data that makes energy efficiency a streamlined, data-driven process.

John Consoli, Fieldview Solutions

John Consoli is the VP of Sales and Marketing for FieldView Solutions, leading provider of DCIM software.

  • Adoption of new ASHRAE TC 9.9 guidelines will lead to higher operating temperatures in data centers. OPS teams will push the envelope to achieve greater operating efficiency.
  • Modular and containerized data centers will continue to gain market share. Increased density coupled with less need for creature comforts will also drive efficiency and reduce operating expenses.
  • Optimization via automation will become a growing trend.
  • “Over provisioning” will gain recognition as an area of waste that can be greatly reduced. Legacy “best practices” such as redundant power sources and power/cooling design buffers will be re-considered.

All of the above will point to the need for accurate and reliable “real-time” monitoring. DCIM tools that provide the ability to collect, store and trend the huge amounts of data associated with this level of monitoring will be recognized as “must have” tools for operating a reliable and efficient data center.

As datacenter operators move along the maturity curve, seeking to become more responsive and reduce both capital and operating costs, they will spend a great portion of their annual costs on management systems. Highly optimized and even autonomic (self-managing) datacenters are not possible without sophisticated DCIM systems.

Greg Ness, Vantage Data Centers

Greg Ness is the VP of Marketing for, Vantage Data Centers. He shares his thoughts on industry trends at his Archimedus blog.

In 2012, more enterprises will require vertical scalability and low PUEs (below 1.30) for future build-to-suit projects in order to extend the productive life of the data center. Also, large public cloud (IAAS) consumers, driven by rising operating expenses and the need for greater control, will migrate at an increased pace to private clouds as their requirements grow, further stimulating enterprise data center demand.

Another trend we will continue to see is the rate at which large Internet companies transition from multiple colocation facilities to large wholesale data centers, where they can access more than 500 KW in one location and can get more control over power and cooling expenses.

For a larger look at steps you can take to make your facility more efficient, see our Data Center Energy Efficiency Guide.