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

Three Best Practices to Avoid Cyberattacks

by Emerson Network Power on 8/19/15 8:49 AM

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From major retail cyberattacks to Hollywood studio hackers, cybersecurity is now, more than ever, on the mind of every CIO in the world — and rightfully so. According to our recent article in Data Center Journal, the most common cause of a data breach is malicious or criminal attacks, which could end up costing not only nights of sleep for CIOs, but also millions of dollars; in some cases upwards of $5.4 million.

While these attacks can be devastating, there are some best practices to help avoid cyber-disaster:

1. Don’t give hackers a back doorIn order to prevent data breaches, consider isolating your network to avoid allowing easy access to your information. Since access can be logged through network isolation, unwanted activity can be monitored and flagged. To isolate your network and limit threats without compromising necessary access or performance, consider utilizing isolated out-of-band management networks. These networks provide full, real-time access without giving hackers back door entry.

2. Enforce the three A’sAuthentication, authorization and auditing are all critical to securing your network. Ensure your cybersecurity by using fine-grain user authentication through a centralized and controlled process, while still allowing easy access for administrators.

3. Ensure trust and best practices with outside vendors: Servicing data center equipment typically requires allowing atypical access to sensitive information about your data center with people outside your organization. Even new technologies are now requiring software updates while sharing IP addresses and network ports to accommodate those updates. While you may feel confident in your organization’s security practices, it’s also important you trust the security measures practiced by those outside parties or contractors, as well.

Security is a complex, never-ending process, but the right partners can help cut through that complexity and ensure your network—and your business—do not become the next victim.

What other best practices do you use to ensure your network is secure?

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Topics: Data Center, PUE, UPS, DCIM, monitoring, Trellis, the green grid, cybersecurity

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

Battery Monitoring with Remote Services: Right Information + Right Expertise= Right Protection

by Emerson Network Power on 7/1/15 11:20 AM

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Written By: Milind Paranjape, Emerson Network Power

IT managers and facility managers make promises to their businesses and their customers to maintain critical system availability. One key way they can keep their word and deliver on those promises is by properly monitoring and maintaining the batteries that back up the UPS. After all, a UPS is only as reliable as the batteries that support it, and all too often, battery failure is the cause of unplanned, costly downtime in data centers.

Monitoring alone may not be enough. 
Maintaining and continuously monitoring critical battery parameters to detect early signs of battery degradation can go a long way toward reducing battery failure and thus preventing downtime. However, evidence suggests that stationary battery monitoring and data collection might not be enough.

In our 2007 white paper, “The Effect of Regular, Skilled Preventive Maintenance and Remote Monitoring on Critical Power System Reliability,” Emerson Network Power demonstrated that while data centers with on-site battery monitoring systems had a reduced rate of outages due to bad batteries, outages did still happen. Such outages occur when customers do not properly monitor the system, or when they do not know how to properly analyze the data provided by the monitor. Simply put, having the right information, and knowing what to do with it, are two very different things.

Remote monitoring ensures added protection. 
Monitoring that enables remote services is a solution to address these issues. Remote services allow a third party service partner—preferably a partner with full knowledge of critical infrastructure and battery maintenance best practices—to monitor data collected by battery monitoring technology and properly maintain the system based on the data analysis.

The latest technologies, as seen with Albér battery monitoring solutions, monitor parameters such as cell voltage, overall string voltage, current, and temperature. The technology also enables automatic periodic tests of the battery’s internal resistance. Such monitoring and testing verifies the operating integrity of the battery and identifies potential problems early on.

When this technology is supplemented with remote services, skilled battery experts support battery monitoring efforts around the clock. When the monitoring technology detects issues, the remote service technicians receive alerts. They can then put into action a pre-defined escalation plan to address the alarm. As a result, the appropriate steps are taken to correct minor battery problems before they evolve into major system issues, thus protecting other batteries in the string, preventing major system damage, and improving overall system availability.

As an added benefit, remote service providers can analyze the comprehensive data collected by a battery monitoring system and provide data center managers with essential information for making battery maintenance and replacement decisions.

Outside help can improve performance within. 
battery monitoring solution that enables remote services allows data center managers to augment their staffs with around-the-clock, expert support for maintaining battery health and preventing costly downtime. This allows IT and facility staff to focus on more strategic data center infrastructure management initiatives that support core business objectives. Ultimately, battery monitoring with remote services allows IT and facility managers to do their jobs more effectively, dramatically reduce downtime risks, and ensure system availability for the businesses and the customers they serve.

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Topics: data center infrastructure, Data Center, 7x24 exchange, Battery, Uptime, monitoring, the green grid, availability, batteries

ECO-Friendly Choice in Single Phase UPS

by Miguel Rascon on 3/26/15 2:46 PM

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“Environmental protection”, “high efficiency” and “energy savings” are topics of very high concern for both large corporations, as well as for individuals since these aspects are part of everyday life and may generate significant cost savings in both cases.

This is also valid for UPS ranging from large ones protecting substantially vast datacenters, to small ones with just a few kilowatts that safeguard a network or single cabinet in more modest settings.

The ECO mode – also known as energy saving mode or high efficiency mode depending on the UPS manufacturer – is currently highly discussed within the industry. The debate primarily focuses on on-line UPS and on large UPS. Nevertheless, energy savings and efficiency are extremely important aspects also in small and micro power UPS (typically from 500 VA to 10 kVA). The reasons are the same as for large power systems: savings on energy costs and lower environmental footprint.

Choosing a UPS in the most proper way, means considering the criticality of the application that needs to be protected, as well as evaluating the energy used by the UPS to protect the load against disturbances and interruptions.

Here I would like to highlight the “inherent ECO mode” that can be found in line interactive UPS products (VI or Voltage Independent according to EN 62040-3).

In this type of line interactive UPS (VI), the power stream flows from the input through several protection devices (overcurrent, overvoltage, etc.) and mainly through an Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) transformer.

The AVR is in charge of providing output voltage regulation, in order to minimize voltage variations in AC supply and ensure a regulated voltage according to the load tolerances.

Because of the high efficiency of the AVR (typically around 98% or 99%) and of the protection devices through which energy flows, as well as the lower quantity of electronic components used in this type of UPS topology, a high performance line interactive UPS can provide an efficiency level higher than 96% at full load. A perfect example of this is Liebert PSI UPS, which makes use of line interactive technology and therefore of AVR, and which can reach the efficiency levels mentioned above. As said, this operation mode is inherent to line interactive UPS topology, and its high efficiency is also ensured in wide load operating conditions and AC mains variation. While ECO mode in on-line UPS is operating in a smaller input voltage range, line interactive topology is able to operate in high efficiency mode during most input voltage changes while still being capable to provide some output regulation.

When comparing a line interactive UPS with a double conversion online UPS there are many aspects to be taken into consideration such as stepwise or pure sine wave inverter, transfer time, size, etc. However one of the main differences is exactly that line interactive UPS feature “inherent high efficiency” because of the VI technology and the use of AVR as mentioned earlier.

The energy savings associated to it are highly appreciated even if we are talking about single phase UPS meaning UPS which range from 0 to 10 kVA, because:

1. Daily saving  just  a  few  watts  in  continuous UPS operation 365 days a year amounts to a significant total yearly saving

2. In applications such as campuses or big corporations where many of these small UPS devices are used contemporarily, the few watts saved daily per each device increase even more the daily and yearly total saving and reduce the total campus or corporation expenditure.

To provide an example, assume a load of 2.5 kW being protected by a UPS. Such load may correspond to a cabinet with several servers for enterprise applications or to a wiring closet distribution panel. Such UPS can work in line interactive mode (assuming 97% efficiency) or operate in double conversion mode with 90% efficiency, using a rough estimation. The difference in power losses and thus energy savings, will be around 200 W. Assuming an electricity cost of 0.138 €/KWh and doing a quick calculation on yearly savings, you can get a value of around 272 € saved per year. This amount can be multiplied for five years and the total saving will reach nearly 1,500 €.

So it will be clear by now that additional to traditional ECO mode (typically used in double conversion online UPS in general and large UPS in particular) there is an inherent ECO mode used in single phase UPS, specifically line interactive ones.

This grants significant savings to customers as the line interactive technology is inherently highly efficient and as the UPS making use of it are typically used daily all year long so in the long term even little daily saving amounts to a considerable total figure.

And what about ECO modes in on-line UPS in this small UPS range? Is there any difference or advantage? There is an interesting story too.

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Topics: Data Center, Green IT, data center design, data center infrastructure management, UPS, Thermal Management, DCIM, Uptime, monitoring, the green grid, energy efficiency

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