For an enterprise attempting to maximize energy efficiency, the data center has long been one of the greatest sticking points. A growing emphasis on cloud and mobile means growing data centers, and by nature, they demand a gargantuan level of energy in order to function. And according to a recent survey on global electricity usage, data centers are sucking more energy than ever before.
George Leopold, senior editor at EnterpriseTech, recently dissected Mark P. Mills’ study entitled, “The Cloud Begins With Coal: Big Data, Big Networks, Big Infrastructure, And Big Power.” The important grain of salt surrounding the survey is that funding stemmed from the National Mining Association and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, but there were some stark statistics that shouldn't be dismissed lightly.
“The average data center in the U.S., for example, is now well past 12 years old — geriatric class tech by ICT standards. Unlike other industrial-classes of electric demand, newer data facilities see higher, not lower, power densities. A single refrigerator-sized rack of servers in a data center already requires more power than an entire home, with the average power per rack rising 40% in the past five years to over 5 kW, and the latest state-of-the-art systems hitting 26 kW per rack on track to doubling.”
More Power With Less Energy
As Leopold points out in his article, providers are developing solutions to circumvent growing demand while still cutting carbon footprint. IT leaders can rethink energy usage by concentrating on air distribution and attempting assorted cooling methods. This ranges from containment cooling to hot huts (a method pioneered by Google). And thorium-based nuclear reactors are gaining traction in China, but don’t necessarily solve waste issues.
If the average data center in the U.S. is older than 12-years old, IT leaders need to start looking at the tech powering their data center and rethink the demand on the horizon. Perhaps the best way to go about this is thinking about the foundation of the data center at hand.
Analysis From the Ground Up
Intel IT has three primary areas of concern when choosing a new data center site: environmental conditions, fiber and communications infrastructure, and power infrastructure. These three criteria bear the greatest weight on the eventual success — or failure — of a data center. So when you think about your data center site in the context of the given criteria, ask yourself: Was the initial strategy wise? How does the threat proximity compare to the resource proximity? What does the surrounding infrastructure look like and how does that affect the data center? If you could go the greenfield route and build an entirely new site, what would you retain and what would you change?
Every data center manager in every enterprise has likely considered the almost counterintuitive concept that more power can come with less energy. But doing more with less has been the mantra since the beginning of IT. It’s a challenge inherent to the profession. Here at Intel, we’ll continue to provide invaluable resources to managers looking to get the most out of their data center.