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August 31, 2007 • Vol.29 Issue 35
Page(s) 1 in print issue

Cool Your Data Center Budget
Experts Weigh In With Tips For Saving On Power & Cooling
Smart data center managers constantly seek effective tips for saving on power and cooling costs, but those same managers are usually already familiar with basic, tried-and-true tactics. To extract further savings, it has become increasingly necessary to think outside the box, and that’s where experts we’ve consulted have gone to bring you cutting-edge power and cooling tips.

Three-Pronged Power Saver

Implementing a three-pronged approach can help cut power and cooling costs, according to Joe Wagner, senior vice president and general manager for the Systems and Resource Management business unit at Novell ( This approach involves using the high-performance foundation of Linux (, virtualization to reduce primary and secondary infrastructure costs, and intelligent management (or automation) to allow managers to create a data center that dynamically reconfigures itself based on policy and adapts to changing conditions.

“One way to explain the importance of intelligent management is by comparing it to a thermostat,” Wagner says. “A thermostat supplies the appropriate cooling or heating, based on the conditions of a specific environment. When the weather is cold, it provides heat; achieve a dynamic, lean data center that changes based on the current conditionsthis allows organizations to only utilize the amount of power that is necessary.”

Power Change

While some energy-saving procedures require massive efforts, such as consolidating applications and retro-commissioning data centers, others involve more simple steps that can nonetheless match the savings brought by larger efforts. One of these, according to Calvin Nicholson, marketing manager for Server Technology (, involves changing the amount of power sent to devices.

“There is a 2% efficiency gain just by going from 120V to 208V power and a 3% efficiency gain going from 120V to 230V power with many devices,” Nicholson says. “To determine what the gain is on your servers and other devices, review the power supply specification and look at the efficiency percentages based on the various input voltages.”

Transfer The Heat

If it’s been ages since you’ve replaced the racks in your data center, now might be a perfect time to upgrade to heat-transferring aluminum racks. When properly configured with the rest of the cooling architecture, these racks can prevent heat from entering the data center at all, in turn cutting cooling costs.

“These cabinets are airtight except for holes in the bottom for cold air intake and a ‘chimney’ on the top, which directs hot air into the plenum space above the data center floor,” says Craig Cochell, director of IT for the Research Campus at the University of Oklahoma. “Hot air never enters the data center, which can produce extremely efficient data centers. These cabinets are useful for extreme temperature environments, such as the University of Oklahoma’s supercomputer, Topdawg.”

Go Green

Michael Schmidt, CTO of Aequitas Technology (, notes that many companies are surprised to learn that buying lower-power-consuming computers and servers can save plenty of money annually and make a large impact on the environment in the process.

For example, when computers need to be replaced, Aequitas replaces its customers’ systems with more power-efficient, eco-friendly systems, such as enano systems (, which Schmidt says consume only about 24 watts of power and are more than 80% recyclable. Further, these systems don’t skimp on performance, have a tiny footprint, and run cool.

There are also opportunities to save money with more efficient servers. “Servers are also big hogs of power. There are a lot of server alternatives out there that can reduce power from 500 to 800 watts to around 120 or 140 wattsagain, without reducing performance,” Schmidt says. “Lower energy means lower heat and lower air-conditioning requirements. This is all big Earth and money savings.”

Look Outside

Naturally, there are other unique methods for cutting cooling and power costs, but not all of them are immediately recognizable to many enterprises. However, these companies can benefit by seeking the outside expertise of a consulting service, such as Reliable Resources (, which can analyze existing data centers and provide recommendations for saving in these areas.

by Christian Perry

Quickest To Implement

There’s a quick and easy way that managers can save on power and cooling costs, according to Novell’s ( Joe Wagner. It’s so simple, in fact, that many managers can easily overlook it: Turn off the servers that are not being used to their maximum capacity.

“Think about itif an organization is not doing business from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., why are the machines still up and running?” Wagner questions. “The simple act of turning off idle machines can go a long way to save on ever-increasing power and cooling costs. To make this process even easier, data center managers can use management tools to set policies that will shut down certain machines automatically once they fall below a specific level of utilization.”

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