Six Steps to Improve Data Center Efficiency

by Emerson Network Power on 2/3/16 9:34 AM

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Imagine the CEO of a public company saying, “on average, our employees are productive 10 percent of the day.” Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet we regularly accept productivity level of 10 percent or less from our IT assets. Similarly, no CEO would accept their employees showing up for work 10, 20, or even 50 percent of the time, yet most organizations accept this standard when it comes to server utilization.

These examples alone make it clear our industry is not making the significant gains needed to get the most out of our IT assets. So, what can we do? Here are six steps you’re likely not yet taking to improve efficiency.

1. Increase Server Utilization: Raising server utilization is a major part of enabling server power supplies to operate at maximum efficiency, but the biggest benefit comes in the build-out it could delay. If you can tap into four times more server capacity, that could delay your need for additional servers – and possibly more space – by a factor of four.

2. Sleep Deep: Placing servers into a sleep state during known extended periods of non-use, such as nights and weekends, will go a long way toward improving overall data center efficiency. Powering down your servers has the potential to cut your total data center energy use by 9 percent, so it may be worth the extra effort.

3. Migrate to Newer Servers: In a typical data center, more than half of severs are ‘old,’ consuming approximately 65 percent of the energy and producing 4 percent of the output. In most enterprise data centers, you can probably shut off all servers four or more years old after you migrate the workloads with VMs to your newer hardware. In addition to the straight energy savings, this consolidation will free up space, power and cooling for your new applications.

4. Identify and Decommission Comatose Servers: Identifying servers that aren’t being utilized is not as simple as measuring CPU and memory usage. An energy efficiency audit from a trusted partner can help you put a program in place to take care of comatose servers and make improvements overall. An objective third-party can bring a fresh perspective beyond comatose servers including an asset management plan and DCIM to prevent more comatose servers in the future.

5. Draw from Existing Resources: If you haven’t already implemented the ten vendor-neutral steps of our Energy Logic framework, here are the steps. The returns on several of the steps outlined in this article are quantified in Energy Logic and, with local incentives, may achieve paybacks in less than two years.

6. Measure: The old adage applies: what isn’t measured isn’t managed. Whether you use PUE, CUPS, SPECPower or a combination of them all, knowing where you stand and where you want to be is essential.

Are there any other steps to improving data center efficiency you’ve seen?

Here is a video about the 6 steps as well! 

 

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Topics: data center energy, PUE, UPS, Thermal Management, DCIM, monitoring, the green grid, energy efficiency, availability, Data Center efficiency, preventative maintenance, energy cost

Optimizing Temperature Control in your Data Center. DVL Executive Minute

by Marissa Donatone on 1/28/16 10:15 AM

What is the optimum way to control the temperature in your Data Center? Mike Beck explains key features with the iCom controls to achieve maximum energy savings. For more information visit www.dvlnet.com/icom

Michael_Beck_CEODVL.jpg Mike Beck, CEO

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Topics: data center energy, Efficiency, iCom, optimized performance, efficient data center cooling, server room, data center temperature control, data center cooling, server room cooling, server room temperature control, VFD

Data Center Performance Benchmarks: Cost and Causes of Data Center Outages- Webcast

by Marissa Donatone on 1/21/16 1:20 PM

Join Emerson Network Power for a webcast featuring Dr. Larry Ponemon and Peter Panfil who will review the data collected over the three Ponemon Cost of Data Center Outages Reports published since 2010—including the 2016 Report. They will also uncover the factors contributing to the steady increase in downtime costs, explore trends in the causes of downtime, and explore prevention strategies. 

By tuning in to this webcast, you’ll be better able to:

  • Make sound financial decisions about your data center infrastructure
  • Identify and eliminate vulnerabilities that lead directly to outages

Speakers:

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Larry Ponemon
Chairman and Founder,
Ponemon Institute

Peter A. Panfil
Vice President of Global Power, 
Emerson Network Power

Register TodayTime: 11:00 AM EST
Date: Wednesday, February 3, 2016    

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Topics: Data Center, data center energy, DVL, Uptime

Selecting The Right Economizer

by Emerson Network Power on 12/9/15 2:19 PM

Written By: David Klusas, Emerson Network Power

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You can say what you want about mink farms, but one thing is certain: They stink!

That can be a problem if you’re operating a data center near one and trying to use airside economizers to bring in fresh outside air for free cooling.

There are many efficiency benefits to utilizing outside air for economization, but not every situation is right for bringing outside air into a data center. Each type of economizer has its own advantages and challenges, depending on data center goals, site requirements, geography and climate.

I recently visited four data centers, from Canada to Utah, including the one next to the mink farm, and found multiple occasions where airside economization was not the ideal solution, despite its energy savings.

One data center in Canada was near a heavily forested area, and the company was concerned about smoke from forest fires entering the facility. A data center in Washington was next to an apple orchard, which creates a lot of dust during harvest. Another is using 100% outside air for economization, but has an 8MW chiller plant for backup, in case they ever need to close the outside air dampers and recirculate the indoor air. That’s a HUGE initial investment for only a backup system.

Data centers have made cutting energy consumption a priority to save money and meet government regulations. Cooling accounts for almost 40 percent of data center energy usage, so it’s a main focal point for driving energy savings. More recently, water conservation has become a priority in the selection of cooling systems and economization strategies. At the same time, relative cost and the payback periods remain key factors in selecting these large, expensive systems.

All economizer systems use either outside air and/or water to reduce or eliminate mechanical cooling in data center cooling units. These economizer systems generate significant energy savings of up to 50 percent, compared to legacy systems. The first decision most data center managers make in selecting an economization strategy is the type of data center environment they want to operate, which naturally then leads to a decision on whether or not to bring outside air into the data center. As a result, there are two primary economizer designs typically deployed in data centers: direct and indirect.

While direct and indirect economizers operate in different ways, the ultimate goal of both systems is to provide free cooling to a room or facility, thus reducing the overall energy consumption of the facility. However, fundamental differences between the methods in which direct and indirect systems economize greatly impact the temperature and humidity environment that can be efficiently maintained within the data center.

Direct economization brings outside air into the data center using a system of ductwork, dampers, and sensors. These systems usually have lower capital costs than other forms of economization and work well in moderate climates. In the right climate, direct outside air economizers can be very efficient and an effective economization strategy, but do introduce the risk for contaminants and wide humidity swings into the data center. For maximum annual savings, a wide acceptable supply air temperature and humidity window needs to be implemented in the data center. For highly critical data centers, the risk of outdoor contaminants and wide temperature and humidity swings is sometimes too significant for comfort.

In contrast, indirect economizers can offer significant energy savings while limiting the prior concerns. Indirect economizers do not bring outside air into the data center, but instead use an indirect method to transfer heat from the data center to outside the building. There are primarily three types of indirect economizer technologies:
• Air-to-air heat exchangers, or heat wheels, in a wet or dry state
• Pumped refrigerant economizers, such as the Liebert® DSE™ system economizer
• Cooling towers for chilled water systems

Sensible air-to-air plate frame heat exchangers transfer heat between two air streams, but maintain a complete separation, thus eliminating the opportunity for contamination and transfer of humidity into the data center space. These units can be operated in a dry state, or can be sprayed with water to increase their effectiveness and hours of economization. Heat wheels offer similar qualities to air-to-air plate frame heat exchangers, but can have higher air leakage rates and require additional maintenance to maintain their performance.
The Liebert DSE system is a direct-expansion (DX) system that utilizes an integrated pumped refrigerant economizer to maximize annual energy savings and provide superior availability without the need for separate economization coils. When outdoor ambient temperatures are low enough, the integrated refrigerant pump is used to circulate the refrigerant in lieu of the compressor to maintain the desired supply air temperature. The refrigerant pump uses a faction of the energy used by the compressor. As the outdoor ambient temperatures rise, the Liebert DSE system automatically transitions on compressors to maintain the desired supply air temperature. Its integrated Liebert iCOM™ thermal controls work to automatically optimize the entire system to provide more free-cooling throughout the year.

Because of its efficiency advantages, the Liebert DSE system was recently approved for use in California data centers under Title 24. Its economizer was shown to reduce time dependent valuation (TDV) by 8-10 percent and, since it uses no water, save around 4 million gallons of water annually in a 1MW data center, compared to water economizers.

Initial installation costs for any of these economizer options can be affected by how well the technology under consideration fits into the overall design of the existing facility. The amount of indoor, outdoor or rooftop space required for situating the units will affect the selection decision. Chilled water systems with cooling towers tend to be the most costly, because of the high system first cost, use of water and a higher maintenance burden relating to their complexity.

Emerson Network Power offers options for all of these economizer technologies. There is no single economizer technology that fits every situation. Each has its own strengths based on location and application, and each has its challenges.   Fortunately, there’s an economization option for virtually every location – even next to a mink farm.

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Topics: CUE, Emerson Network Power, Data Center, data center energy, efficient data center, DVL, UPS, Thermal Management, DCIM, energy efficiency, preventative maintenance, 7x24, Economizer

Choosing Between VSDs and EC Fans. Making the right investment when upgrading fan technology.

by Emerson Network Power on 7/15/15 3:23 PM

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Fans that move air and pressurize the data center’s raised floor are significant components of cooling system energy use. After mechanical cooling, fans are the next largest energy consumer on computer room air condition (CRAC) units. One way many data center managers reduce energy usage and control their costs is by investing in variable speed fan technology. Such improvements can save fan energy consumption by as much as 76 percent.

With the different options on the market, it may not be clear which technology is best. Today, variable speed drives (VSDs)—also referred to as variable frequency drives or VFDs—and electrically commutated (EC) fansare two of the most effective fan improvement technologies available. The advantages of both options are outlined below to help data center managers determine which fan technology is best for achieving energy efficiency goals.

How do different fan technologies work? 
In general, variable speed fan technologies save energy by enabling cooling systems to adjust fan speed to meet the changing demand, which allows them to operate more efficiently. While cooling units are typically sized for peak demand, peak demand conditions are rare in most applications. VSDs and EC fans more effectively match airflow output with load requirements, adjusting speeds based on changing needs. This prevents overcooling and generates significant energy savings.

With VSDs, drives are added to the fixed speed motors that propel the centrifugal fans traditionally used in precision cooling units. The drives enable fan speed to be adjusted based on operating conditions, reducing fan speed and power draw as load decreases. Energy consumption changes dramatically as fan speed is decreased or increased due to the fan laws. For this reason, a 20 percent reduction in fan speed provides nearly 50 percent savings in fan power consumption.

EC fans are direct drive fans that are integrated into the cooling unit by replacing the centrifugal fans and motor assemblies. They are inherently more efficient than traditional centrifugal fans because of their unique design, which uses a brushless EC motor in a backward curved motorized impeller. EC fans achieve speed control by varying the DC voltage delivered to the fan. Independent testing of EC fan energy consumption versus VSDs found that EC fans mounted inside the cooling unit created an 18 percent savings. With new units, EC fans can be located under the floor, further increasing the savings.

How do VSDs and EC fans compare?

Energy Savings
One of the main differences between VSDs and EC fans is that VSDs save energy when the fan speed can be operated below full speed. VSDs do not reduce energy consumption when the airflow demands require the fans to operate at or near peak load. Conversely, EC fans typically require less energy even when the same quantity of air is flowing. This allows them to still save energy when the cooling unit is at full load. EC fans also distribute air more evenly under the floor, resulting in more balanced air distribution. Another benefit of direct-drive EC fans is the elimination of belt losses seen with centrifugal blowers. Ultimately, EC fans are the more efficient fan technology.

Cooling Unit Type
VSDs are particularly well-suited for larger systems with ducted upflow cooling units that require higher static pressures, while EC fans are better suited for downflow units.

Maintenance 
In terms of maintenance, EC fans offer an advantage. EC fans also reduce maintenance because they have no fan belts that wear and their integrated motors virtually eliminate fan dust.

Installation 
Both VSDs and EC fans can be installed on existing cooling units or specified in new units. When installing on existing units, factory-grade installation is a must.

Payback
In many cases, the choice between VSDs and EC fans comes down to payback. If rapid payback is a priority, then VSDs are likely the better choice. These devices can offer payback in fewer than 10 months when operated at 75 percent.

However, EC fans will deliver greater, long-term energy savings and a better return on investment (ROI). While EC fans can cost up to 50 percent more than VSDs, they generate greater energy savings and reduce overall maintenance costs, ultimately resulting in the lowest total cost of ownership.

Have the experts weigh in. 
Service professionals can be an asset in helping choose the best fan technology for a data center. Service professionals can calculate the ROI from both options, and they can recommend the best fan technologies for specific equipment.

Service professionals trained in optimizing precision cooling system performance can also ensure factory-grade installations, complete set point adjustment to meet room requirements, and properly maintain equipment, helping businesses achieve maximum cooling unit efficiency today and in the future.

Whether you ultimately decide to go with VSDs or EC fans, either way, you’ll be rewarded with a greener data center, more efficient cooling, and significant energy savings that translate into a better bottom line.


Original Emerson Network Power Blog Post

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Topics: data center energy, PUE, Battery, Efficiency, Thermal Management, DCIM, Uptime, the green grid, AHRI, availability, education, KVM, Data Center efficiency, preventative maintenance

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