NET(net), Inc.


Blog Series Part 1: A “Green” Data Center is More Than Meets the Eye by davidjyoung

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “energy consumption by servers and data centers in the United States is expected to nearly double in the next five years to more than 100 billion kWh.”

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will be exploring the topic of developing, managing, and sustaining a resource efficient enterprise data center and the related infrastructure around us.  We will be exploring the responsible consumption of resources that make up the IT environment for the enterprise, examining the popular notions of the “Green” data center and going beyond the mainstream in tackling topics that have an important impact on IT related resource consumption.

We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the resources contributing to our consumption of information technology.  As global citizens we are on a collision course that is unsustainable, given the rapid consumption of energy across the planet as underdeveloped countries advance their economies and developed nations continue to grow and increase their use of automation and other energy consuming conveniences.  Our planet’s uses of energy through non-renewable fossil fuels will likely outpace our ability to find new sources if we don’t reduce and improve the efficiency of our consumption first.  In the most recent U.S. Energy Information Administration International Energy Outlook report in 2009, total world consumption of marketed energy is projected to increase by 44 percent from 2006 to 2030.  The largest projected increase in energy demand is for the non-OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development; developing countries) economies (http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/world.html).

An unfortunate and vitally important consequence of this energy consumption is our output of Carbon Dioxide emissions.  Scientifically regarded as a contributor to climate change, total CO2 emissions—as calculated with all projected full measures of CO2 emission reduction programs underway or planned—are projected to increase by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020 (http://www.state.gov/g/oes/rls/rpts/car/90324.htm).

We clearly still have our work cut out for us.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “energy consumption by servers and data centers in the United States is expected to nearly double in the next five years to more than 100 billion kWh, costing about $7.4 billion annually”.  Similar energy cost increases are expected in Europe, Asia, and else­where. (http://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/prod_development/downloads/EPA_Datacenter_Report_Congress_Final1.pdf).

However with data centers, and the other information infrastructure we have in businesses and the homes to support our information and communication needs around the world, it is still a drop in the bucket compared with overall energy consumption.  What we do have is the capability to turn the information technology into solutions for energy savings.

We see this today with smart grid technology applied by the utility companies to manage home energy usage and provide bi-directional communication between the home appliances and the energy company to manage energy usage wisely and efficiently.  Applied to the data center, smart energy technology can be timed with the business cycles to reduce energy consumption on resources that don’t have to run full throttle for supporting a business application that is comparatively idle.

We will explore these ideas and more in upcoming blog posts, as we delve into improving our information to energy ratio; squeezing more information out of the energy necessary to produce it—and, perhaps taken to the extreme, spending less energy on information that has less value.  Now that’s a tricky topic!

Stay tuned for future posts.

Advertisements