Pick the Low-Hanging Green Fruit First

While the data center green marketing push continues to gain momentum, the measured progress for green data centers is suspect. It’s unclear how much of this activity is designed to fuel capital spending and how much really saves energy.

If you ask almost any CIO (or CFO, CTO, or CEO), you’ll learn they have no idea how much energy they are consuming…let alone how much energy IT (Information Technology) could be saving. The CIO (or anyone for that matter) is rarely measured against a Green report card.

In moving organizations into their brand new data centers, it’s no longer shocking to see the same data center design mistakes being repeated. There are some decades-old recommendations that still don’t get followed that can have a direct effect on energy consumption.

  • CRAC (Computer Room Air Conditioners) that don’t communicate with each other will waste energy “fighting” each other based on their own local conditions – While ASHRAE recommended way back in 1988 that this is a source of waste, walk around your brand new data center and observe your CRAC units duking it out cooling, humidifying and de-humidifying. What’s your plan to fix that?
  • CRAC units placed around the perimeter of the room are less efficient than distributing them throughout the data center – Another recommendation based on research that gets ignored consistently.
  • Humidity Matters – Actually, thermodynamics matter. But there is an important relationship between humidity and temperature you should seek to understand before you arbitrarily start adjusting your CRAC units.

After you’ve moved in, measure your energy costs and hold someone accountable. Every expert recommends this, but do you know how much energy you consumed last month and in what categories? Is anyone’s compensation tied to becoming more efficient?
Chuck Hollis presented some thoughtful suggestions for greening your data center several months ago. However, before you decide to expend the capital on virtualization, blade technology, or drive replacements, be certain you actually will retire the equipment you are supposedly replacing.

Finally, don’t confuse IT Capital spending with greening your data center. If you’re not measuring the energy you’re consuming in the first place and holding someone accountable for efficiency, perhaps the only greening happening is the transfer of money!

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