Data Center Energy-Efficiency Initiatives Gain Ground Despite Challenge

Oct. 4, 2007
Check out some of the challenges that data center professionals face as they try to reduce energy use
A recent industry survey by St. Louis-based Emerson Network Power provides insight into the actions some data center operators have taken to increase the efficiency of their facilities and identifies the challenges organizations face in driving additional improvements.

According to the survey, the majority of respondents have made operational improvements to increase energy efficiency. Seventy-seven (77) percent have their data center arranged in a hot aisle/cold aisle configuration to increase cooling-system efficiency, 65 percent use blanking panels to minimize recirculation of hot air, and 56 percent have sealed the floor to prevent cooling losses. The survey also shows the growing popularity of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to identify hotspots and optimize airflow within the facility, with 25 percent of respondents having already conducted a CFD analysis of their facilities.

Bob Bauer, Emerson group vice president, notes the importance of the steps data center operators are taking. "They are among the first - and easiest - steps in optimizing data center efficiency. Now, we (as an industry) have to address the challenges of taking efficiency initiatives even further."

According to the survey, challenges that data center professionals face as they try to reduce energy use include "lack of management priority" (40 percent), "not clearly understanding the cost/benefit relationship" (36 percent), "not wanting to risk reliability" (35 percent), and "lack of communication between IT and facilities" (33 percent).

Other survey results show that, on average, 60 percent of the data center electrical load is used to power IT equipment, with approximately 56 percent of that being used to power servers, 27 percent for storage, and 19 percent for network equipment. In addition, 41 percent of survey respondents said their data center electrical usage is not metered separately from the rest of their facilities. Forty-one (41) percent of respondents also noted that they did not have a dedicated facility for their data center.

Additional results include the following:
Eighty-one (81) percent believe that by 2012 they will need additional data center capacity, despite the fact that 64 percent have built or upgraded their data center in the last 5 years.

More than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents believe that, despite consolidation and the use of virtualization, their server inventory will increase throughout the next 5 years.

The survey was conducted by the Data Center Users' Group® (DCUG), a group of influential data center, IT, and facility managers formed by Emerson Network Power. It was completed to support the EPA's recently released "Report to Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency." More than 150 DCUG member companies and non-member Fortune 500 companies participated in the survey, which covered a variety of data center topics including power management, precision cooling, energy efficiency, technology implementation, and consolidation.

Emerson Network Power, a business of Emerson (NYSE:EMR), is the global leader in enabling Business-Critical ContinuityTM. For more information on the full spectrum of enterprise-wide solutions from Emerson Network Power, visit (

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