According to AccuWeather.com,”The summer of 2012 is in the running for one of the top three hottest summers in the past 60 years, in the United States and southern Canada.” This gets meteorologists such as Steven A. Root, Certified Consulting Meteorologist and President and CEO of WeatherBank, Inc., pontificating in graphical splendor.
Cast-in-point, Root computed the Cooling Degree Days (CDD) for each city, each day of the year. Cooling degree days are the number of degrees that a day’s average temperature is above 65 degrees. The period from May 15th to Sept. 15th is considered to be the air conditioning/cooling season for the U.S. and Canada. The summer 2012 Total CDD chart shows there are more days where households are likely to turn on their air conditioners for a little relief – good for the couch potatoes, but bad for the data centers. Why?
Because households are now competing for the data centers’ lifeblood – power – and the competition is heating up! US home air-conditioning units are 28 per cent more efficient on average than they were in the mid-1990s and, today, cost less. As a result, the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity used for cooling the average air-conditioned household actually increased by 37 per cent. Thinking back to Economics 101, the simple supply and demand chart tells us that power will be getting more expensive. So for data centers, “efficient power use” becomes a smart OPEX mantra. But there is a conundrum here.
At most companies, the IT department operates the data center, but the facilities department pays the electrical bill. As a result, IT managers tend to pay more attention to metrics like performance and uptime than to energy efficiency; seems odd when you consider that many electric utility companies offer rebates for energy-saving equipment such as energy-efficient UPS systems, variable frequency drives and lighting control systems that may improve return on investment calculations for inefficient equipment, but I digress. So how can a facilities manager still cool and feed the power hungry appetite of IT’s server racks?
One method is to recoup some of the stranded power that may be lurking in the corners of the data center. But there is a conundrum here as well: lack of energy consumption metrics. The cold reality in this hot topic is that many companies do not make use of power metering equipment, which collects the raw data that facilities managers need to compute energy usage with the precision needed to identify the stranded power. Offerings from companies such as FieldView Solutions can lend a significant hand in computing energy usage.
FieldView Solutions DCIM offering provides data center managers with the actual figures needed for proper energy calculations such as:
- Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) – PUE = (Total Facility Power) ÷ (IT Equipment Power)
- Data Center infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE) – DCiE = 1/PUE x 100%
- Rack Cooling Index (RCI) – is a measure of how effectively equipment is cooled vs. industry guidelines
In addition to providing the necessary energy numbers, FieldView also renders real-time reporting on all data centers within a particular portfolio. With these reports, facilities manager and IT personnel can create a centralized “Single Pane View” that spans across the various monitoring and control systems installed at a single facility or an entire corporate portfolio, tracking energy efficiency for a room, floor or an entire data center. The aforementioned methods are all part of a well thought-out plan to recoup energy that should also include:
- Performing a power and cooling audit
- Establishing an energy monitoring and metering strategy
- Updating the UPS equipment
Keep in mind that there is no panacea solution to provide all things to all data centers. However, a good DCIM product, with a laser-focus on monitoring, planning, management and reporting, can be a cool tool in hot times, to aid in finding that stranded power to repurpose.
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