Sustainability is a big priority for LCL. That being said, our clients also have their own responsibility in ensuring that their servers and applications run in a sustainable way. Since electricity prices are rising, energy saving is now more important than ever. Therefore, companies should implement sustainable strategies in data centers to maximize their power efficiency. We would like to offer 8 tips to encourage becoming more energy efficient.
Every company has applications that they don’t want to touch. Zombie servers are servers that run even though they do not have any real or active function, but companies don't want to shut them down because they are afraid it will impact other functions. The solution is simple: those servers can simply run their software in a virtual environment on the cloud. Other servers that are no longer needed should be pinpointed pro-actively and shut down. The result can be significant: some companies cut out energy consumption by over one third by turning off zombie servers.
Choosing the right hardware from the start can have great impact on energy saving. Not having right-sized hardware is often the result of attempts to future-proof data center components. But the consequence of having hardware with too much power capacity, is that underloaded electrical and cooling systems tend to operate less efficiently. And, oversized power infrastructure can drive up energy costs. Right-sized hardware should be selected to support anticipated requirements over the next three to five years maximum. Since it’s very likely that hardware may find innovative ways to reduce power usage in the future, focus mainly on today’s requirements, holding excess capacity to a minimum.
Power management features are often turned off because companies are afraid that performance will be affected. Which is a common misconception, because modern servers often have very efficient energy saving capabilities. Server processors can reduce power consumption when peak performance isn’t required during times of low utilization. Companies should utilize these power management features because it reduces power consumption without compromising processing capability.
Oftentimes the temperature in data centers is set unnecessarily low. Server rooms are usually kept at an ambient temperature of around 22 °C, because hardware used to function best around that temperature. Air conditioning unit outlet temperatures of 15 °C are needed to achieve that, which requires a lot of energy. Companies do this because they are afraid that higher temperatures will damage the hardware. That is not the case with new hardware: it can often withstand up to 30°C. The same goes for humidity: back in the day the humidity range for hardware would be somewhere around 45% and 55%. Most new devices have a higher humidity tolerance than often is thought: up to even 80%. Many server rooms can save energy simply by raising the thermostat.
Companies should let IT consultancy firms audit their IT equipment to check their power usage and if they can save energy. Such an audit offers insight in IT equipment that can be more energy efficient. For example, a lot of companies used to use HDD storage, which has a high energy consumption. Flash is a lot more energy efficient.
Another way to save energy, is by developing efficient software. When developing new software, it is advisable to take into consideration how to develop software that consumes less energy. Sit together with internal developers or external developers and determine how energy efficient the software, that you are developing, really is.
We know it’s hard to just delete data, especially if it consists of large and complex data files. But keeping all data also means you need a lot of storage capacity - which costs a lot of energy. To save energy, you should analyze what data you just don’t need anymore. For example, companies could develop a data management system that deletes e-mails older than three years. Create a system that defines which data should be kept, and for how long.
Air cooling is a popular way to cool IT equipment, but it is not the most energy efficient since air is not an effective heat transfer medium. The increased processing loads of data centers cannot be kept up with air cooling and the consequence of that is rising energy costs. Liquid cooling is a more sustainable option. It is an IT cooling practice by which IT components and other electronics, including complete servers and storage devices, are submerged in a nonconductive dialectic liquid or coolant. Liquid cooling leads to a reduction of energy consumption, and it uses a lot less water than most air cooling systems, which leads to lower operating costs.
Companies that make use of LCL Data Centers can reduce the energy costs of their facilities by integrating even just one of these energy savings tips. Which measures are most cost effective, can be determined by closely monitoring cost saving KPI’s, such as electricity expenses. In the end it can not only save you money, but it can also save the planet.