With the happiest of holidays soon upon us and New Year’s right around the corner, now is an appropriate time to reflect on data center managers around the world so that all their days may be merry and bright. But wait, is that an IT staff member attempting to forecast capacity with his head buried in an MS Excel spreadsheet? And another, tiredly walking the data center with a Stanley tape measure hooked on his belt while daydreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones he used to know?
Our hearts go out to them, knowing that without accurate intel these data center managers won’t be able to take timely and appropriate actions, to say nothing about missing out on their CFOs’ figgy pudding. But they are not alone.
A recent survey indicated that nearly one in three data center managers lack sufficient actionable data to be able to make day-to-day decisions or long-term forecasting. In fact, as many as one in five data centers still rely exclusively on rack level thermal sensors and spreadsheets to maximize cooling efficiency.
Even more telling, 57 percent of data center managers reported that they experienced thermal related challenges that adversely affected operational efficiency during the previous year they were surveyed, and seven percent rely exclusively on hot spot audits as their only means of monitoring temperature. Let nothing you dismay, merry gentlemen, for we bring you tidings of comfort and joy.
A gift that keeps on giving
Today, power and cooling systems in many data centers are stretched to the limits, quickly approaching capacity. According to the “Data Center Energy and Cost Saving Evaluation” report published by the 7th International Conference on Applied Energy, approximately 40 percent of the total energy used in data centers is consumed for cooling IT equipment. Meanwhile, because high-density servers generate more heat than ever, overstressed cooling systems consume even more power. Yes, tis the season for sleigh bells ringing, decking the halls with boughs of holly, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but not in the data center.
Cloud Monitoring Tools empower data center managers not only to manage capacity planning and allocations and forecast in real-time, but also to gain insight into thermal levels, airflow and utilization. With the introduction of an increasing number of IoT sensors and devices within the data center environment, IT staff can accurately monitor temperatures to ensure their facilities aren’t running too hot, while also being conscious of not wasting energy by running them too cool.
Contrary to common wisdom and most hardware protocols, data centers can be maintained at higher temperatures, even during peak workloads. The key to making this kind of change to the data center environment safely and confidently is access to real-time data provided by Cloud Monitoring Tools. In fact, simply raising data center temperatures from the standard of 70°F or below to 80°F to 82°F saves up to two percent per degree on each power bill, a significant year-over-year savings.
Additionally, operating a data center in a high temperature ambient (HTA) condition, otherwise known as running a server “hot,” raises the inlet temperature of a server while staying below component specifications, reducing data center chiller energy costs and increasing efficiency. Cloud Infrastructure Tools — which monitor, control, gate, and limit power consumption for better server efficiency and reduced costs — can extract temperature ratings from storage devices, Power distribution units (PDUs) and even networking devices to provide information on cooling and heating.
Consider the average 300-rack 3MW facility. In this instance, only a four-degree temperature increase can save 20 percent in cooling costs. In large data centers for which a large portion of the cost of operation goes to electrical energy, the insights Cloud Monitoring Tools provide power and thermal management can positively affect an organization’s balance sheet, leaving more funds for the enterprise to focus on their core business processes.
Additionally, Cloud Monitoring Tools enable data center managers to perform computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations that integrate real-time information to provide for continuous improvements and validation of cooling strategy and air handling choices.
According to a recently published report, “Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky: The State of Cloud Adoption and Security,” in 15 months, 80 percent of all IT budgets will be committed to cloud solutions, as many enterprises pursue aggressive goals to replace legacy on-premise applications with “Cloud First” apps that can scale to the needs of their current and future business models.
In this environment, data center managers that implement Cloud Monitoring Tools in their facilities will present themselves and their organizations with the best gift of all, one which will keep on giving far into the New Year and beyond.
This article originally appeared in Network World and has been republished with consent of the author.