September 26, 2014
As of this past summer, becoming an energy-efficient colocation provider now carries added financial incentives in the UK. Thanks to the newly enacted Climate Change Agreement (CCA), colocation providers that manage to improve their power usage effectiveness (PUE) are eligible for green tax breaks.
So far the CCA has proven controversial within the data center industry for its use of PUE as the primary metric for defining energy efficiency. And, for favoring colocation providers over in-house data centers – particularly those who have done little to improve efficiency and have the greatest to gain by implementing even the smallest of changes. But whether or not you agree with the law’s current methodology, the CCA has been hailed as the first positive step toward creating a more ecofriendly IT industry and is therefore liable to stick around.
In light of this, all colocation providers should strive to make use of technologies that can improve current energy utilization, guide new initiatives, and help operators more easily track the progress they make. And since the two biggest power hogs within any data center are IT devices and cooling resources, it makes the most sense to invest there, as a start.
To begin, colos can create a benchmark for improvement by deploying intelligent power monitoring solutions in their facilities. By readily having access to how much power individual IT devices are currently consuming and whether facilities are being overcooled relative to device manufacturers’ or ASHRAE guidelines, they can more easily set objectives and report on cost savings achieved throughout various project stages.
Intelligent rack PDUs that feature outlet-level metering can be used to capture the power data that allows operators to spot underutilized servers that can be decommissioned or consolidated. Those same rack PDUs can serve as a launchpad for environmental monitoring; sensors connected to PDUs will collect temperature and humidity data that can reveal wasteful cooling practices or ineffective cooling that can result from retrofit containment systems.
Colocation providers who are further along in their energy efficiency initiatives can also derive benefits from deploying high power to high density racks. For example, a rack filled with blade servers and powered by three-phase, high voltage PDUs provides more computing power and greater power efficiency than typical rack server deployments. Using three-phase power also means fewer and smaller cables, so the air has fewer obstructions and cooling becomes more efficient.
Beyond improving energy efficiency, intelligent rack mount power strips also offer a distinct commercial edge to colocation providers. For instance, colos can provide customers with access to their personal power usage data so that customers are assured that they are only being billed for the energy they consume, even in a shared rack. Colo customers can even leverage remote power cycling capabilities to power off devices during non-working hours; thereby reducing their own energy usage as well as that of the facility the device is hosted in.