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Improving Power Usage Effectiveness at Data Centers

Data centers are joining the push for greener, more efficient operations, and this means measuring its overall power usage effectiveness (PUE).

With a goal of dropping PUE to around one, optimizing power distribution in data centers is crucial. When PUE is lower, it indicates all of the power used in the data is going toward supporting the computing equipment and none of the supplied energy is being wasted.

So, how can businesses improve their power usage effectiveness? There are a few ways you can get your PUE down to around one.

Get Your Equipment Off the Floor

Yes, it’s common to find the computing equipment on the floor. The equipment functions just fine whether it’s lifted or sitting on the floor.

However, if you’re working to reduce energy waste, it’s time to start thinking about lifting the components. This is a quick and inexpensive solution that can have benefits beyond reducing energy usage.

When the equipment isn’t flush against the floor, air can circulate underneath. Instead of relying solely on your cooling systems, circulating air can help prevent components from overheating. Along with helping everything from servers to network devices run more efficiently, you can also extend the equipment’s lifespan.

A quick note here: if your data center is relying on outdated equipment, it may be time for an actual upgrade. Upgrading the equipment to newer, more energy-efficient models can also lower your PUE measurements.

Boost Your Cooling Systems

You already know your cooling system is a crucial part of your data center. Without an effective cooling system, your equipment will overheat and shut down. Now, you’re facing extended downtimes and the losses can quickly add up.

Did you know cooling costs account for a large percentage of a data center’s annual expenses? Since you can’t shut down your cooling system to save on operating costs, the best solution is to optimize your strategy.

Yes, this will probably come at an expense but it doesn’t take long before you start seeing a return on the investment (ROI). Once you calculate your expected ROI, optimizing your cooling system can seem a little more affordable.

Switching to advanced systems like in-row or liquid cooling is an effective way of making your data center more eco-friendly. Not only are you reducing energy costs but you also have something to brag about to consumers who are looking to support greener companies.

Install PDUs (Power Distribution Units)

Smart technology is everywhere, including in advanced power distribution units. A smart PDU makes it easier to monitor and control the data center’s power usage. You can see precisely what the power usage is at the rack level and take steps to eliminate any waste.

Some other innovative features include remote power cycling. This makes it easier to pinpoint where energy is being wasted so you can create effective solutions. While installing PDUs isn’t going to get you to your PUE goal, it’s a good start. Best of all, it’s a relatively inexpensive process.

Become Familiar with Hot and Cold Aisle Containment

Hot and cold aisle containment is a relatively straightforward concept. You manage airflow to prevent warm and cool air from mixing. In other words, only cold air reaches the data center components, giving your cooling system a bit of a break.

While the rewards from boosting your energy efficiency are pretty high, so are the costs associated with reconfiguring your containment processes.

Thankfully, you don’t need to reconstruct everything at once. You can divide it into sections, making it a little more affordable. Even reconfiguring a single aisle can result in energy savings.

Get Everyone Involved

You can have a great strategy to reach a PUE of around one, but you can’t do it alone. You need the assistance of everyone on your team. This means your team needs to do more than not forgetting to turn the lights off at the end of a shift.

Start educating your team about the importance of energy efficiency. Be transparent about your PUE goals. Ask for employee input and be available to answer any questions. The more your staff knows the easier it is for them to help you achieve a PUE level of one.

You may need to implement additional training, especially if you’re updating older equipment. When everyone is working together, you can have a greener, more energy-efficient data center.

Remember, it’s not going to happen overnight, achieving optimal energy efficiency takes time but the rewards are well worth the effort, especially when you start seeing savings on your utility costs.

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