8 ways to green your existing data center

Companies don't need to build a whole new data center to begin saving on energy. Below are some steps recommended by Burton Group analyst Andrew Kutz that enterprises can take in their existing data centers to save on power consumption.

Companies don't need to build a whole new data center to begin saving on energy. Below are some steps recommended by Burton Group analyst Andrew Kutz that enterprises can take in their existing data centers to save on power consumption:

1. Cut the physical number of servers through high-density options, such as blade servers, and through virtualization.

2. Reduce storage hardware by using SANs or other NAS devices that consolidate storage space. Consolidation of physical units greatly affects the amount of power consumed by the data center and can also represents lower-acquisition costs.

3. Look for energy-efficient hardware such as multicore CPUs that reduce redundant and external electronics and therefore save on energy.

4. Check out CPU performance-stepping technology that dynamically adjusts the energy that processors require in relationship to processor load.

5. Dynamic control of a server's internal fans can reduce the energy needed when the air in the data center is cooler.

6. Liquid cooling of server racks can limit the amount of energy needed to remove heat from the data center.

7. Follow the hot aisle/cold aisle layout for arranging equipment in the data center. Although this technique dates to the mid-1990s, "it's extremely effective," Kutz says.

The design lets cool air flow through the aisles to the servers' front-air intake, and lets hot air flow from the back of servers to the AC return ducts, therefore requiring less energy for cooling.

8. Look for software that is multithreaded to take advantage of multicore-processor machines. "Today you can buy a new server out-of-the-box that is multicore, but the software's not written for it, so you can't take advantage," Kutz says. "This falls in the lap of the software designers, they need to make sure their software is multithreaded to take advantage of multiprocessor machines."

NOTE: View a Burton Group podcast that expands on this topic. 

Slideshow: Take a closer look at SDSC's green data center


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