Going Green, Going Lean: Trends in Data Center Operations

With the federal government focused on reducing carbon dioxide pollution by 2030, as reiterated in press conferences recently, the pressure is on for various industries to seek ways to improve efficiencies. Data center operators are no exception as various studies reveal many are running, sometimes 24/7, without any evident need to do so.

Going Green, Going Lean: Trends in Data Center OperationsAccording to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), for example, as many as 30 percent of the servers throughout America can be considered comatose. In other words, they’re a lot like giant appliances that are drawing power but are not being used for any purpose. National Geographic magazine took it a step further, pointing out that unused servers are wasting 39 billion kilowatt-hours at a rate of $3.8 billion a year. Many data center servers are only operating at 10 to 15 percent capacity, the NRDC further states.

The problem is only projected to get worse. Experts predict that by 2020, electricity used to power data centers could increase to about 140 billion kilowatt-hours each year – up from 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2013. Of course, much of this energy consumption is used on cooling systems that keep the servers from overheating.

The primary culprits are not mega companies, the report said in its summary. Instead, the “small, medium, and corporate data centers are responsible for the vast majority of data center energy consumption and are generally much less efficient,” the report stated. Enterprise companies like Microsoft and Google, which make up about 5 percent of total data center energy consumption, are the ones leading the way in implementing more environmentally friendly practices. However, smaller companies are falling short.

Steps to Going Green and Lean

While the government’s Clean Power Plan heavily focuses on power plants, other institutions are being urged to get in on the act of leaving behind a more environmentally-friendly planet for future generations. What does that mean for the average data center operator? Here are a few areas to consider when trying to boost the efficiency of servers. Not only could they benefit the environment, they could reduce your business’ overall costs.

Updating equipment. Replacing aging equipment with state-of-the-art machinery is a clear-cut way to gaining efficiencies, as newer equipment is typically designed to run more efficiently and use fewer resources.

Colocation. Think about the benefits of carpooling and its beneficial impact on the environment. Colocation can serve the same purpose for companies running data centers. You can eliminate the need to build out or expand your own data center as you grow. By outsourcing your data center functions at a colocation center, you can gain the benefits of advanced technology, expertise in the area and the ability to take advantage of a system that’s flexible in accommodating your growth.

Virtualization. By virtualizing your servers – using fewer servers, you’re able to minimize the use of physical hardware – which often is the culprit behind energy use. With less heat to power numerous servers, you’re minimizing your impact on the environment.

Not sure what the future brings with new regulations or your ability to keep pace with environmental concerns? Contact Lifeline Data Centers today for more information. We offer state-of-the art outsourced colocation facility, with guaranteed uptime, and connectivity. We also offer flexible plans that allow for different degrees of scalability and customization.

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Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.