Global Energy Prices and Demand Drive Need for Good Energy Management in Data Center
Although global energy prices have risen more slowly than initially anticipated, overall the long-term trend for energy prices will be a slow and steady incline.
Although global energy prices have risen more slowly than initially anticipated, overall the long-term trend for energy prices will be a slow and steady incline. According to IEA, some countries like Germany the prices have grown significantly (more than doubled in the past 10 years) and other regions like the US they have remained relatively constant.
However, the demand for electricity is growing globally and many electricity providers struggle to keep up. In addition, countries including China and Brazil continue to experience rapid economic growth, increasing the rate of electricity demand growth. Due to the trends of increasing energy demand and also increasing price, there has been a propagation of interest and work on energy management in a number of ways. International standards organizations have put out several frameworks to help organizations deal with and more effectively manage their energy. For example The standard for Energy Management Systems created by the ISO as well as the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) created by the Efficiency Valuation Organization (EVO). There are also a number of standards and publications in development as well as published, advising data center operators and managers on how best to manage energy in the data center. These include: ASHRAE Energy Standard and Guidelines, IDA Singapore Green Data Center Standard, Uptime Institute Operational Sustainability best practice, Green Grid recommendations, and any number of technical frameworks being created by technical committees and organizations across the globe.
Data center availability is the most important factor in energy management. Power affects data center uptime because in many large, high density environments there are concerns regarding grid reliability, power availability, and power disruption due to natural disasters. Lack of reliability impedes the business ability to respond to customer needs. When it comes to data center energy management, cost is also a significant factor for operations staff and managers. Electricity prices account for a large percentage of OPEX and CAPEX over the lifetime of the data center, as well as a significant portion of the total cost of operation (TCO).
To mitigate the risks associated with rising long-term costs and availability of electricity, data center operations have a number of options. Some organizations have adopted renewable technology and microgrids to create redundant power supplies for their data center, especially in regions with less reliable electricity. However, on-site energy generation and renewable energy is often cost-prohibitive and requires expertise to operate. Additionally, many renewables are often not reliable enough for data center operators and the storage technology is not adequate or affordable yet. The most effective ways of managing electricity use in data centers is to use engineering concepts and efficient equipment as well as energy efficiency best practices. For example, cooling is often a key focus for many data center design engineers or operations managers. Cooling enhancement strategies such as better air floor technology, hot-aisle and cold-aisle containment, higher indoor temperatures, more efficient cooling systems, and passive cooling are all ways in which the data center can reduce cooling costs.
In addition, businesses and organizations have gotten smarter regarding utilizing the full capacity of their servers and managing growth via more strategic capacity planning and data center infrastructure tools, such as CA DCIM. These tools help data center operations managers and staff maintain uptime via monitoring and alerting technology, and also reduce energy costs with greater insights into the data center infrastructure. For example, monitoring server usage allows operations staff to consolidate underutilized servers– saving on space as well as cooling costs of fewer servers. Organizations can plan for future power, cooling, and space utilization via intelligent capacity analysis scenario modeling in order to optimize placement of assets. This prevents inefficient use of space and power. Additionally, operators can have insight into inefficiencies such as areas of over-heating and over-cooling in order to ensure data center operational reliability as well as optimal power usage effectiveness. These are just a few examples of how organizations can leverage CA DCIM to both manage their energy wisely, save money, and most importantly ensure that their data center is reliable for customers and users.
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