4 keys for more efficient data centers

IT departments everywhere are under pressure to become more efficient, and one item that takes up a huge chunk of IT’s budget is powering the organization’s data center. 

Here’s some advice on improving data center performance and increasing efficiency, according Mark Thiele, executive VP of data center technologies at Switch, who spoke at the recent Interop conference in Las Vegas:

1. Know your power

Most small or mid-sized companies don’t have a facility that’s just a dedicated data center — the data is usually part of a general office space. That makes it difficult to measure how much power the data center itself is using, Thiele says, but if that power use isn’t monitored, it can’t be managed.

2. Think beyond the obvious stuff

While the bulk of data center energy is used to power servers and provide cooling, there are also a lot of smaller items that can add up and increase costs, Thiele says. Depending on the company, that might include things such as lights and the processes used to bring equipment in and out of the data center. Even something seemingly minor like taking new servers out of their boxes inside the data center can introduce a lot of dust into the server room and cause problems.

3. Raise temperature and humidity

We’ve written before about experts’ recommendations to turn up the thermostat in the data center in order to save money on cooling. Servers can typically handle higher temperatures than what most data centers are cooled to. And the same is true for humidity, Thiele says. Organizations can save a lot of energy without adding much risk by raising their humidity thresholds a small amount.

4. Focus on efficiency, not total costs

The goal of optimizing a data center’s power use shouldn’t be strictly to lower the company’s energy bill, Thiele says — it should be to get the most out of what the company is spending on power. In some cases, that will mean a lower bill, but in other situations, just cutting costs in the data center will decrease efficiency elsewhere.

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