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Experts Share Basic Ways To Reduce Power Consumption In Data Centers

What are some basic ways of reducing power consumption in data centers? We asked a few experts for their advice.

- Put computers to sleep. Often, companies neglect to use the power-save mode on PCs, servers and storage devices. Computers can go to sleep after 30 minutes of inactivity and their power consumption drops 80 percent, says Forrester analyst Chris Mines.

- Reconfigure the data center to optimize cooling. "For every $1 you spend on power running your servers, you spend another $1 on power running your air conditioning and HVAC systems in the data center," Mines says. It's possible to reconfigure the data center to avoid hot spots. Specifically, Eric Birch, EVP of Degree Controls, recommends a "hot aisle, cold aisle" layout. He explains that typically servers and racks bring cold air in from the bottom-front and exhaust it from the top-rear. "If you have them facing each other in rows and you designate one aisle as a hot aisle and the next as a cold aisle, then you blow cold air into the cold aisle where it's taken up in front of the rack, blown through the electronics and exhausted into the hot aisle behind it," he says.

- Consider water cooling. "Water is a much more efficient medium for cooling than air," according to Forrester's Mines. "Would you rather step in front of a fan or jump into the pool on a hot day?"

- Virtualize. "By creating a virtual machine environment, you spread workloads across your servers," Mines says. "Instead of running your servers at 15 percent to 20 percent capacity, you achieve 50 percent to 60 percent capacity. Fifteen percent is the typical server load on Wall Street - they're buying too many servers."

- Outsource or collocate data centers. "Companies will increasingly look at the option to relieve power constraints," Mines says.

- Stop leaking power. "People are looking at switching data centers to DC power instead of AC power," says Degree Controls' Birch. "A lot of energy is lost in transitioning from AC to DC to AC to DC."

- Stop leaking air. "Cold Lock makes a device that helps you seal up holes and air-leakage places in your data centers," Birch says. "In data centers with a raised floor, people will create a hole in the floor to let the cables come up to the server. Sometimes they'll make a two-foot hole, and it will be less than a quarter filled with cables. That's a huge air sink."

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