What Are The Biggest Green Data Center Myths?

The greening of the data center continues to grow in media popularity. In the rush to sell products and services that tie into the Green Buzz, there isn’t much common sense being applied to the problem.

1. As long as data centers continue to use the extremely inefficient method of air-side cooling, there will be no meaningful reduction in cooling costs. These costs can amount to more than 50% of the total energy expended in the data center.

2. You cannot claim to “Green” your own data center if you don’t measure the power you are consuming in the first place. Install an inexpensive sub-meter and link the CIO’s compensation to the improvements.

3. Virtualization alone is not a greening strategy. First hand experience shows that IT (Information Technology) staff rarely retires a machine that’s been replaced…they just repurpose it. What is the financial incentive to retire a capital asset before its depreciation is realized? It simply is not being done. Virtualization, which stands on its own for benefits, will actually accentuate the energy usage in the short term.

4. Congress is probably more interested in taxing the Internet Economy than in saving electricity. Data Centers are convenient targets since other efforts at taxation have failed. Additionally, the movement towards a carbon footprint based tax continues to gain momentum and the EPA report is one of many strategies to further this objective. Watch for more from Congress as it build its case for taxation and look for increased industry realization of these effects.

5. Does it strike anyone else that if data centers consume 1.5% of the energy as the EPA report states, then there is some serious work missing on the other 98.5% of the consumption? For starters, how much energy is being wasted because Corporate America leaves their desktops powered on with the power-saving modes completely bypassed? Perhaps we might collectively consider the entire issue of consumption where data centers represent one small component?

6.Energy efficiency ahead of the meter is often overlooked. Shouldn’t the power losses from generation to the data center be factored into the green data center equation? Energy efficiency can be increased as much as 5% by placing load near generation. Why? Because all utilities factor transmission line loss into their rates. That means you pay for the electricity you use plus the electricity it takes in the form of transmission loss to get the energy to you. Locating closer to generation capability is a greener option.

I received a suggestion that I publish a revision to our guide with a new title “The Green Guide to Data Center Moving” supported by the idea that moving a data center is a good time to virtualize it.

While it sounds like a clever way to ride the “Green Wave”, the counter argument is that by the time an organization is moving their data center, they’ve likely already made the common data center design mistakes in their new facility. Until someone repeals the laws of thermodynamics, building a new data center with air-side cooling is the costliest mistake they can make if they want a green data center.

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