New Tools That Ease Rising Power Costs

While data centers continue to require more power and cooling capabilities, the cost of electricity is soaring--a double whammy that's spurring businesses to investigate and invest in sophisticated power-management tools that can increase efficiency.

Indeed, some organizations are beginning to demand that departments or divisions reimburse the corporation for their power costs, says C.J. Meiser, senior product manager at American Power Conversion (APC), West Kingston, R.I., which recently was acquired by Schneider Electric. "Now, even within a specific company, they want to charge back departments," he says.

What's more, businesses want to discover and track who's using how much power, says Jim Thompson, product line manager for software connectivity and meters at Eaton in Cleveland.

Being able to manage and view electric usage also prevents overallotting resources, says Steve Cumings, director of scalable data center infrastructure at Hewlett-Packard. "Allowing administrators to set power regulation policies across server groups reduces power consumption by ensuring that application workloads receive the power they need, instead of the maximum power available," he says.

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Today, solution providers have an array of software options from which to choose, all of which are designed to unify two disparate internal corporate divisions: the facilities department, which typically oversees power and cooling, and the IT department, which is responsible for networks, software and attached devices, Thompson says.

"We're very comfortable in bridging that gap between the IT and facilities folks," he says. "The IT folks can finally reach in and touch something they've never been able to do before. The opportunity is there to go into the IT world and say, 'Look. We can give you visibility into something that was dark before.'"

Many of these power-management solutions are Web-enabled, creating fast adoption and flexibility. They include:

NEXT: Top 10 ways to pare down data-center power costs.

Top 10 ways to pare down data-center power costs:

1. Right-size the physical infrastructure
Use a modular, scalable power and cooling architecture.

2. Virtualize servers
This involves consolidation of applications on fewer servers, typically blade servers; also frees up power and cooling capacity for expansion.

3. Deploy more efficient AC architecture
Row-oriented cooling architectures, shorter air paths and computer-room ACs increase efficiency.

4. Use AC economy modes

5. Reconfigure floor layouts
Hot-aisle/cold-aisle arrangements with suitable AC locations are beneficial.

6. Deploy more efficient power equipment
New best-in-class UPSes are 70 percent more efficient than legacy UPSes at typical loads.

7. Coordinate AC
Many data centers have multiple ACs that actually fight each other--one heating and the other one cooling, for example. The result is gross waste.

8. Locate vented floor tiles and use the right number
Correct locations are not always obvious.

9. Install energy-efficient lighting

10. Install blanking panels
This decreases server inlet temperature and saves energy.

Source: Steven Lankard, Agilysys