DCIM Software: A Must-Have to Dramatically Increase Energy Efficiency in the Data Center Space
Herman Chan, President of Sunbird Software, offers his best practice advice on how organizations can take steps to reduce their carbon footprint and why DCIM software is essential to doing so.
What role does the data center industry play in contributing to global energy consumption and how do DC operators go about it?
It is estimated that the data center industry is responsible for around 2-3% of global energy consumption. While power-hungry technologies like 5G mobile networks, big data, and artificial intelligence are just taking off, data center demand is expected to continue growing for some time.
As customers, governments and industry regulators push for increased social responsibility, many data center operators now have sustainability goals to meet. In many cases, organizations have set a goal to be carbon neutral – or even carbon negative – by 2030.
To achieve their sustainability goals, data center operators are now focusing on saving energy, maximizing the use of their existing footprint, reporting on energy efficiency metrics, and meeting best practices in sustainability.
What are some of the steps DC operators can take to reduce their carbon footprint?
There are proven best practices that can help any data center operator reduce their carbon footprint.
First, operators need to equip their data center with meters and sensors to collect data about their power supply and environment. This data is essential for making the most informed energy management decisions.
Raising the temperature is a simple way to immediately increase efficiency. Modern equipment can handle hotter environments, but many operators play it safe and keep temperatures cool. However, they can reduce power consumption by 4-5% for every 1°F increase in server inlet temperature.
Separating cold supply air from hot exhaust air via hot/cold aisle containment can improve energy efficiency by up to 40% compared to an uncontained environment.
Reducing bypass airflow improves cooling efficiency. Materials such as blanking panels and raised floor grommets are cost-effective, easy-to-implement solutions that can provide small but noticeable energy savings.
Up to 30% of servers in a data center may be ghost servers that consume power but perform no useful functions. Ghost servers, as well as large energy consumers, must be identified and decommissioned, virtualized or replaced with more efficient equipment.
Reuse and recycling of equipment is encouraged to reduce the amount of unnecessary carbon emissions caused by the equipment manufacturing process.
Renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power can be purchased or produced locally to replace reliance on fossil fuels. These energy sources are becoming more profitable every year.
Finally, DCIM software is indispensable for measuring, trending, and reporting on energy efficiency metrics, maximizing the use of existing resources to defer unnecessary new construction, and driving more energy-efficient behavior.
Can DC operators ever hope to strike a balance between availability/reliability and sustainability – and if so, how?
It’s a common concern that increasing durability comes at the expense of increased risk to availability and reliability, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
With DCIM software, operators can rest assured that their sustainability initiatives are risk-free with real-time power and environmental monitoring capabilities.
Users can set warning and critical thresholds on rack loads, input loads, circuit breaker loads, three-phase balance, temperature, and humidity. When a threshold is exceeded, the user is automatically alerted so they can fix any issues before they cause a serious problem.
Power and environmental monitoring helps protect sustainability initiatives against downtime, loss of redundancy, hot spot formation, and other conditions that can impact services .
How can DCIM help reduce power consumption?
DCIM software helps reduce power consumption in many ways. First, DCIM software allows operators to measure, trend and report energy consumption so they have the data they need to make more informed decisions.
With DCIM software, live measured readings from meters and sensors are transformed into actionable information by trending and forecasting power and environmental measurements so operators know where they are and where they are going.
Real-time graphs and reports such as PUE, Carbon Footprint, Temperature per Cabinet, Delta-T per Cabinet, and Failed Power Capacity help measure, compare, and improve energy efficiency.
Energy cost reports can be generated by the data center, business unit, customer, or department/application to identify energy consumers and eliminate human error.
Second, DCIM software enables operators to dramatically increase energy efficiency.
Built-in cooling charts ensure compliance with manufacturer and industry accepted temperature and humidity recommendations (e.g. ASHRAE) so operators can save energy by safely increasing cooling setpoints. temperature.
Customer chargeback reports accurately distribute energy costs across the organization to motivate internal and external customers to adopt energy-efficient behavior.
Ghost servers and power consumers can be easily identified so operators can decommission them, replace them with more efficient hardware, or virtualize them.
Finally, DCIM software allows operators to maximize the use of their existing footprint so they can defer building power-hungry cabinets or even new data centers.
With the Auto Power Budget feature, operators can automatically calculate power budget profiles for each device instance (eg brand/model of a server) based on actual power usage. Customers like Comcast and eBay are reporting rack power utilization improvements of up to 40% with this capability.
Operators can easily find and reserve the ideal place to deploy new equipment to maximize the use of cabinet space resources and delay unnecessary new construction.
And with power and environmental monitoring with thresholds and alerts, operators are the first to know about conditions that could impact services to reduce the risk of downtime caused by energy efficiency initiatives.
How is Sunbird changing the way data centers are managed?
Customers tell us that first-generation DCIM tools are difficult to use, slow to deploy, and lack integration, and that ad-hoc tools like Excel and Visio aren’t sharable or scalable. Sunbird solves these problems with the second generation DCIM.
Second-generation DCIM dramatically simplifies data center management through:
- Ultra-fast deployments. Deployment takes half the time of first-generation tools, requires far fewer resources, and delivers rapid ROI.
- Completeness of capabilities. Feature depth covers assets, capacity, change, energy, power, environment, security, connectivity, visualization, business intelligence, and analytics.
- Analysis without configuration. Pre-built dashboards, charts, reports and visual analytics are out of the box, requiring no tedious setup effort.
- Automation by integration. A comprehensive set of free APIs and connectors enables automation to save time, improve data accuracy, and simplify data sharing.
- Compatibility with what you have. Industry standard protocols provide broad compatibility with virtually all third-party meters, sensors and software.
- Extreme scalability. Enterprise-class scalability that can handle millions of assets, billions of data points per day, and thousands of users.
- Ease of use. Sleek design requiring fewer clicks, fewer mouse movements and intuitive to use.
- Data-driven collaboration. Shared dashboards and team views break down organizational silos and encourage information sharing.
- AI and machine learning. Machine learning technology enables automatic power capacity planning to increase capacity utilization efficiency.
How do your company’s core values align with your focus on sustainability practices and achieving net zero carbon by 2030?
Sustainability is very important to us. Our product is designed to help data center managers do more with less and we want to support them in their efforts to become carbon neutral.
Recently, many data center managers have told us that they want to reduce their carbon footprint and we are happy to have a solution that can help them achieve this goal easier, faster and with less risk.
Our measure of success is the success of our customers and our product roadmap is developed in partnership with customers in our global user group program. We work together to create a solution that will help them increase their energy efficiency and maximize the use of their existing resources.
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