Top 6 Ways to Improve Data Center Efficiency

By: Daniel Bodenski, PE, LEED AP, Director of Strategic Solutions at Electronic Environments Co.

The data center has become a staple of modern society, making the technology that we use every day possible.  Today, everyone from small start-up organizations to multi-billion dollar corporations utilize mission-critical facilities to house their vital data, and as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data continue to proliferate, our demand for more data centers will only increase.

With growing energy costs and data center energy consumption nearly 100 times higher than that of a typical commercial building, data center owners and operators are placing a higher focus on improving energy efficiency within their facilities.  Maintaining energy efficiency is critical to running a reliable, high-capacity, and cost-efficient mission-critical facility.  At Electronic Environments Co. (EEC), we are dedicated to enabling our clients to develop the most efficient and profitable data centers possible, allowing for maximum uptime while minimizing capital and operational costs.

When it comes to data center energy efficiency, there are six key ways you can improve your bottom line while still ensuring total reliability.  Below, we will examine these key strategies and help you answer the question, “How can my data center be more energy efficient?”

  1. Assessments

Performing a detailed assessment of your data center’s operational performance will give you clear and concrete insight into the particular ways your data center can be improved, outlining the individual areas in which current energy efficiency practices may fall short.  Review of airflow management, implementing a detailed PUE analysis, and obtaining real-time data hall temperature measurements, are all important metrics to assess in order to develop a fully strategic plan to lower energy costs. Data center assessment professionals are equipped to provide comprehensive results through in-depth analysis and can provide recommendations for design, installation and maintenance improvements resulting in quick and cost-effective solutions. An assessment can also be used to prepare for external audits, and provide foundational data for developing thorough strategies.

  1. Equipment Upgrades

As society evolves, so too do our technologies, putting increased demand on data center capabilities. Equipment upgrades are necessary to maintain a robust and reliable facility. Moreover, in order to make data centers increasingly efficient, new technologies are continually developed that reduce overall energy consumption, such as ECO mode Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), 380V DC power systems, lighting system retrofits, efficient chillers, and more. By knowing what new technologies exist and understanding the return on investment of many of these upgrades, you may be able to use many to your advantage within your data center’s lifecycle.

  1. Maintenance

If your current equipment is unreliable or beyond its normal lifespan, it could be adding to your operating costs and could pose a serious threat to reliability.  Downtime is the number one critical issue, as it will not only hurt your bottom line, but your reputation as a reliable organization. The Ponemon Institute reports that data center downtime costs an average of $7,900 per minute. Can you afford that? By employing a comprehensive maintenance routine, trained specialists should be engaged to check generator heaters and batteries, test load banks, sample generator coolant, fuel and oil, and regularly exercise overcurrent protective devices. These activities, coupled with implementation of an on-demand Asset Management system, will increase operational efficiency and reduce overall critical system downtime.

  1. Dynamic Cooling Management

Every data center is unique, so its cooling solutions should be as well.  Cooling plays a critical role in the energy efficiency of a data center. Finding the correct model for your individual facility is of capital importance. With a dynamic cooling model that’s easy to deploy, you can see immediate energy savings, more efficient network transformation, and increased network reliability. Instead of zone-level control, fans are individually optimized based on real-time readings, utilizing rack sensors and control modules to collect temperature requirements and Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) airflow and power metrics, resulting in a fully optimized, intelligent cooling system.

  1. Airflow Management

Poor airflow management leads to a lot of undesirable results, including the recirculation of supply air, causing hotspots and reducing the overall effectiveness of the data center’s cooling plant.  By implementing simple airflow management techniques, such as adding floor grommets, implementing partial or full containment, and adding blanking panels, data center operators can see reduced plenum losses, and immediate energy savings. This is a simple, low-cost method to reap instant financial benefits and improve Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE).

  1. Baseline Energy Reduction

Sustainable energy sources such as solar, fuel cell and wind power are becoming more and more commonplace within data centers to reduce overall energy use, shrink their carbon footprint and become more energy independent. Not only can sustainable energy sources reduce energy usage, self-contained power plants can also offer data center operators the option to develop a micro-grid, which decreases the reliance on an aging, electrical infrastructure and provides a strategy for modular data center solutions.

To learn more about these six strategies for enhanced energy efficiency, check out our eBook, “6 Ways to Improve Data Center Energy Efficiency”.  If you would like more information about any of these solutions or feel that you could benefit from customized professional assistance, please visit www.eecnet.com or email us at info@eecnet.com.

About the Author:

bodenskiDaniel Bodenski, PE, LEED AP, is Director of Strategic Solutions at Electronic Environments Co. Mr. Bodenski has over 20 years of experience in mechanical systems design and project management for mission critical facilities. He has managed several large design, due diligence, site assessment and commissioning projects for telecommunications, healthcare, financial and retail data center clients. At EEC, he proactively increases facility reliability through implementation of new technology for mission critical facilities.

380VDC Power Has Evolved, Providing Data Centers New Ways to Minimize Energy Loss and Improve Reliability

By Jim Stark, P.E., Principal of Engineering, Electronic Environments Corporation

380VDC

Quickly becoming one of the most viable options when powering a data center, modern advancements in the Direct Current (DC) power distribution model are poised to increase energy efficiency and reliability like never before.

Traditionally, data center power distribution models follow a consistent formula, including multiple voltage power conversions between the electric utility and the server.  Distribution transformers, Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems, and Power Distribution Units (PDU) all introduce AC (alternating current) to DC conversions and voltage transformations in the power chain, oftentimes resulting in wasted energy.  This typical power distribution model can include a:

  1. Conversion from 480VAC to 480VDC within the UPS system
  2. Conversion from 480VDC back to 480VAC within the UPS system
  3. Transformation from 480VAC to 208VAC at the PDU
  4. Conversion from 208VAC to DC voltages within the server power supply

In order to eliminate many of these unnecessary power conversions, energy can be distributed at a DC voltage directly to the server power supplies as opposed to converting the DC power in the UPS back to AC power and then converting back again to DC at the server.  Depending upon the age and technology of power equipment utilized, the conversion to a DC power distribution model can result in efficiency gains of 10 to 20 percent thanks to a reduction in the number of power conversions.  Though the existence of DC power distribution in the data center industry is nothing new, modern technological developments have made this system more attainable than it was previously.  In fact, many telecommunications companies have taken advantage of the efficiency and reliability of DC power systems for decades.  Some of the benefits of DC power distribution over AC power distribution include:

  1. Fewer power conversions between AC and DC voltages result in a smaller parts count, which improves reliability and reduces maintenance costs;
  2. Fewer power conversions increases system efficiency and reduces energy costs;
  3. Less equipment may reduce capital investment of a comparable, new AC distribution system;
  4. Less equipment also reduces the footprint required on site; and
  5. Harmonic distortion and phase balancing are not a concern with DC power distribution, which eliminates the need for power filtering and minimizes stranded capacity.

Though many telecommunication companies have traditionally relied on low voltage DC systems (48VDC), the higher power consumption requirements of data centers fit better with 380VDC systems. Since data center servers run with higher power densities, this results in an extremely high current draw at 48VDC and requires much larger conductor sizes to provide ample power. The use of 380VDC eliminates this need, while working well within typical server power supply limits.  Since they operate in the same voltage range, users of 380VDC can additionally benefit from the ability to integrate with renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic (solar) arrays and fuel cells.

Two major issues which have delayed the acceptance of 380VDC systems in the past include: the availability of DC power systems and server power supplies, and safety concerns related to high voltage at the rack and server levels.  Thanks to recent innovations and advancements, DC power systems are now more readily available, prompted by the successful deployment of DC distribution in Asia and Europe and due to groups like EMerge Alliance, which have developed standards for the commercial adoption of DC power.  Noting the potential of this shift in data center power distribution, several manufacturers are now producing DC circuit protection and power supply cord connectors which address concerns with user safety related to DC voltage and arc protection.

The data center ecosystem is experiencing an exciting shift in traditional practices, making room for the development of a more sustainable environment as 380VDC and other energy efficient practices become widely adopted.

Join us on December 9 at DatacenterDynamics Converged Dallas to explore this topic further when we present, “Is it Finally Time for 380VDC Power in the Data Center?” at 12:20 PM local time.

To meet with Mr. Stark during the event, please email info@eecnet.com.

To learn more about Electronic Environments Corporation (EEC), visit www.eecnet.com.

Enhance Data Center Efficiency and Reduce Energy Costs through Accurate, Comprehensive Data Center Diagnostics

By: Greg Dumas, Construction Operations Manager, Electronic Environments Corporation

Realizing efficiency and cost-savings across data center operations has become top-of-mind for data centers operators and managers.  The Uptime Institute estimates that today’s power-hungry data center environments collectively consume approximately three percent of all global electricity production.  As the price of energy continue to rise, many operators are searching for new methods, technologies and strategies to save on electricity costs.

Electronic Environments Corporation (EEC) is well-known for its unique, holistic approach to servicing the complete data center lifecycle from planning, to design and maintenance, utilizing a combination of proven, proprietary methods with the latest innovations and technologies for nearly three decades. One of the latest technologies we’ve added is a portable device called “AUDIT-BUDDY™” created by Purkay Labs. AUDIT-BUDDY uses the latest diagnostics technology to record data center temperature and humidity, providing a simple and highly effective way to enhance data center cooling efficiency and trim excessive energy costs.

Utilizing this device during assessment methods, EEC is able to effortlessly diagnose problems and determine the most advantageous methods to improve airflow management in any data center.

Recently, EEC utilized AUDIT-BUDDY within the data center of a large healthcare facility. Taking baseline temperature and humidity readings of well over 100 racks in less than a couple of hours, AUDIT-BUDDY allowed EEC to reduce the amount of time required to get accurate readings compared to alternative methods and tools used in the past.  The output reading enabled EEC to clearly detect potential problem areas and make simple adjustments, such as changes to perforated tiles and the addition of containment curtains, to reduce temperatures in a particularly dense aisle in the data center.  One area of concern was captured with output of AUDIT-BUDDY’s readings (see Figure 1).

eec graphic

For easy-to-use and comprehensive diagnostic readings, AUDIT-BUDDY has three convenient modes: LongScan, QuickScan, and Delta-T.

  1. LongScan is most useful in determining change in temperature and humidity over time. By setting the AUDIT-BUDDY in front of a server for a fixed period of time, users can record long-term, time-stamped data that provides greater detail into potential problematic areas such as hotspots and overcooled locations.
  2. QuickScan provides users with the ability to evaluate whole aisles by taking 20-second scans in front of each server rack. Through this method, AUDIT-BUDDY is able to characterize an aisle using real-time information. This tool can create a thermal survey of all aisles in a data hall, validate CFD analysis, and visualize host spots and cold air loss.
  3. Finally, the Delta-T mode uses two AUDIT-BUDDY systems, one in front of the server and one in the back of the server to determine the amount of cold air that is diverted from the server.  This mode provides the necessary data to improve cooling effectiveness and lower energy costs.

EEC is dedicated to providing clients with the most advanced support throughout all stages of a data center’s lifecycle.  Treating and servicing facilities as their own, EEC offers a wide array of services to increase overall productivity of mission-critical data centers. EEC is constantly seeking new and innovative methods to proactively diagnose and rehabilitate potential issues in order to ensure highly efficient functionality throughout. AUDIT-BUDDY has provided a fast and easy method to obtain fundamental data points for immediate detection of potential problem areas as well as detailed ongoing analysis, allowing EEC to service its clients more effectively than ever.

For more information about Electronic Environments Corporation please visit their profile in the Data Center Discovery global directory of data center solution providers

For more information about how your company can get listed in the Data Center Discovery global directory of data center solution providers please email becca@datacenterdiscovery.com

To learn more about EEC and its mission-critical services, visit www.eecnet.com or email info@eecnet.com.