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3/17/2008
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5 Ways To Cut Data Center Power Costs

Here's the problem: Power costs keep rising, while storage needs keep growing. Whether your data center is a couple of servers or a roomful of racks, creating efficiencies doesn't have to be complicated. Here are five ways to start cutting costs today.

Here's the problem: Power costs keep rising, while storage needs keep growing. Whether your data center is a couple of servers or a roomful of racks, creating efficiencies doesn't have to be complicated. Here are five ways to start cutting costs today.1. Cool It.
For every watt of power generated, a watt of power must be spent on cooling. So make sure the area where you keep your equipment is well ventilated and out of direct sunlight. When dust gets inside electronic gear, it generates heat. Which generates resistance. Which causes more electricity to flow, which generates more heat, et cetera. Before your servers end up in a smoldering heap, check that fans are clean and working properly. Change the air filters in your server room. Redirect ventilation ducts. And move any cables and other gear that can block air flow.

2. Use Fewer Devices
Look for bundled devices that handle multiple functions. Why plug in four devices, when you can find one that does it all? A single appliance that can be a router, a firewall, Wi-Fi access point, and a voice gateway is more efficient than four separate pieces of hardware.

3. Manage Your Power
The single biggest waste of power in most data centers is the power supply. Let's say your server needs 300W to run, and you have a 600W power supply installed. That means that half of your energy is being wasted and burned up as heat, which now needs to be cooled. You should aim for a good match between the power supply's rating and the power demand of your servers. And you should spend the money to get a high efficiency power supply.

A high-efficiency power supply should be able to deliver a consistent energy peak across 20%, 50%, and 100% loads. These power supplies start at an 80% efficiency rating and go up from there. They cost about 10% to 20% more than inefficient power supplies, but their payback is immediate.

4. Consolidate Servers
Say you have 20 active servers chugging away, with each one using about only 20% of its storage or processing capacity. A single hardware server running multiple virtual servers might use up to 80% of its available capacity. The increased efficiency means you can unplug some of those unneeded machines. Not sure where to start? Virtual Iron and VMware have free trial downloads available on their Web sites. Microsoft Virtual Server is free.

5. Practice Storage Management
At data-intense businesses such as law firms, and media and financial services companies, a lot of power goes into file storage, data warehousing, archiving, and backup functions. These are vital tasks, but they can be streamlined. Simply deduplicating a company's backup system can reduce storage requirements by 95% (and correspondingly, power use). Data Domain, Diligent Technologies, FalconStor, and Quantum offer data storage solutions and deduplication solutions.

To measure how much you've saved, get a copy of your company's current electric bill. Keep notes on when you implement power-saving changes, and compare to future bills. Be sure to look at usage rates -- not just dollars.

For additional info, read The Cold Geen Facts and Savings Through Storage Management.

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