Data Center Cooling and Management Are Crucial for Savings

04/17/2018 | By Janelle Penny

The ever-growing demands on data centers require operators to extract the maximum value from every inch without spending more than necessary. Simply increasing the footprint won’t cut it. Lower the cost of data center management with these three optimization opportunities.

1) Tap into Renewable Power Sources

A recent survey by AFCOM, an educational and networking organization for data center and IT professionals, found that nearly half of respondents have either deployed a renewable energy source or are planning to do so within a year. Of those, 60% said the new energy sources will help their organization achieve its green goals and help lower ROI or total cost of ownership of the data center.

This indicates that adding renewable energy to the data center power mix isn’t just good practice – in many cases, it’s an economical decision. About 83% of the survey’s renewable power users opted for solar technology, with hydroelectric power and wind each attracting about 63% of users, and 48% choosing geothermal.

2) Deploy Better Cooling

Ongoing power costs are increasing at least 10% per year because of an increase in the cost per kilowatt-hour, according to IT research firm Gartner. In response, data centers are adopting liquid-based cooling because liquids transfer heat much more efficiently than air-based cooling.

Liquid-based data center cooling systems can take several forms, including these three popular choices:

  • Warm-water, cold-plate technology: This flexible technology is relatively easy to retrofit into existing data centers. The plates move liquid under devices, absorbing heat and carrying it away. Using warm water eliminates the need for a chiller to create cold water.
  • Water-side economizers: Like its air-side cousins, water-side economizers use ambient external conditions to offset at least some of the cooling inside a building. However, rather than bringing in outside air, water-side economizers use water loops and a liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger that can supplement (and sometimes replace) the need for a chiller plant.
  • Immersion cooling: Servers are filled with dielectric fluid or placed in tanks of it. This technique is extremely effective at keeping servers at safe temperatures, but can raise concerns with space utilization, maintaining the servers and the inherent risks of having large quantities of oil-based coolant on-site. Liquid contact systems provide an alternative by skipping complete immersion in favor of a liquid that flows through the server and absorbs heat from the server’s internal heat sink.

3) Get Smart about Strategy

Better data center management means that data center facilities managers must grow with the times.

Google is taking big steps to improve energy efficiency in its 15 data centers worldwide, including smart management strategies that allow equipment to perform at its peak. Constant measurement of the energy consumption of all non-computing functions allows Google techs to identify areas for improvement and spot underperforming equipment before anything fails.

Airflow management is another top priority for Google. It minimizes hot and cold air mixing with effective containment strategies and uses thermal modeling and computational fluid dynamics to optimize airflow in each data center.

Related Coverage