Data Centers Seeking Energy Efficiencies Have Options

By Ken Rapoport, CEO of Electronic Environments Corp.

Our advice to clients who engage us for assistance in building and retrofitting data center facilities for energy efficiency: consider the foundations upon which your data centers are built and the assets deployed inside them.  Reliability and energy efficiency are the overarching objectives.  This approach reinforces that the data center will perform to expectations in meeting the requirements of their business.

In scenarios where the client is building a new facility, the energy efficiencies offered by large cloud providers can be an attractive option to consider based on a number of factors.  For one, these providers can locate their facilities in geographic regions where the cost of energy is comparatively lower, for example in the northwest of the United States.  They can also leverage customized servers that are able to operate at higher temperatures and higher efficiencies.  Lastly, large cloud providers can take advantage of advanced scalability and uniformity capabilities.  The net result can mean levels of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.02 or 1.01 — a significant achievement.  However, a sizable number of businesses will not have these options, and therefore rarely achieve PUE levels of less than 2.0.

In order to reduce their PUE levels, EEC advises customers in several ways.  First, we conduct assessments and deploy advanced technologies — for example, energy-efficient mechanical systems that take advantage of free cooling.  The good news is that a number of powerful new technologies will deliver impressive returns and are available at comparatively low cost.  These include intelligent air distribution and management systems that can achieve energy usage reductions of between 20 and 40 percent in just two short years.

Another option that can deliver greater energy efficiencies is to retrofit your legacy data center technologies.  For example, if you’re operating a low-density data center, one that’s operating at 50 watts per square foot, you can deploy direct water-cooled racks or in-row cooling in zones in order to accommodate potential future zones of higher density servers.

For more information about the relationship between data center strategy and energy efficiency, download our free white paper, or view the EEC Google Hangout.

For more information about EEC, visit www.eecnet.com.

How Does Aging Equipment Impact Your Data Center?

Aging data center infrastructure can pose several issues for data center operators  – typically in the areas of dependability, increased maintenance, inefficiency and ultimately, customer trust.  Although most data center equipment is designed to sustain a decade of use, its reliability declines over time – especially critical gear such as Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and cooling equipment.  This diminishes its ability to meet the growing power, cooling and structural demands of today’s ever-evolving and increasingly sophisticated technology market.

When hardware in your mission-critical data center ages, you run the risk of unexpected system failure, yielding lower to no productivity and hindering not only your profitability and core operations, but also the very business functionality of the customers that have come to rely on you.  Data center downtime also comes with a hefty price tag.  A study by the Ponemon Institute, a firm that conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security, found that the average cost of an unplanned data center outage in the US is approximately $7,900 per minute, a 41% increase from the $5,600 it was in 2010.  The average reported incident length was 86 minutes – that’s a bout $690,200 of loss per incident.

Knowing when to repair, replace or upgrade equipment is critical to saving your company the headaches, data loss and financial burdens that plague today’s aging infrastructures.  James Stark, P.E., Electronic Environment Corporation’s (EEC) Engineering and Construction Manager, recently addressed best practices associated with upgrading or replacing critical infrastructure equipment in a webinar.  During this webinar, Mr. Stark discussed the negative impact of aging equipment, the factors that indicate equipment should be replaced, proactive measures you can take to ensure maximum uptime as well as predictive signs of failure such as capacitor leakage and high motor amperage.

Mr. Stark also recommended considering measuring the input and the output of systems’ power consumption as part of general preventative maintenance efforts / programs due to advances in data center technology that have increased uptime and reduced the amount of energy required for usage.  The webinar’s key takeaway to preventing equipment failure is constant, proactive monitoring.  Trending this information over time will allow data center professionals to easily identify when a system needs to be upgraded or replaced.

The EEC webinar also featured representatives from ConEdison, NationalGrid and NSTAR, who highlighted how utility incentive programs can shape these upgrade decisions.  Attendees obtained an overview of these incentive programs as well as field examples and case studies of how the programs reduced capital expenditure for new equipment, shortened payback periods, increased project Return On Investment (ROI), and improved energy efficiency.

To learn more about best practices for replacing, repairing or upgrading your data center equipment, watch EEC’s ‘How Utility Incentive Programs Affect Equipment Upgrades’ webinar by visiting http://www.eecnet.com/Resources/Videos/#incentive.

To schedule a free project consultation or ask specific questions about upgrades or utility incentive programs, please contact an EEC representative at (508) 229-1404 or email info@eecnet.com.

For more information on Electronic Environments Corporation, visit www.eecnet.com.

 

FORTRUST celebrates 12 years of 100% uptime at Denver data center

In the world of data centers, uptime is the name of the game. The difference between a successful data center and a tragic failure isn’t a spooky-low PUE, massive 2N+ infrastructure or a precious metal LEED certification.

These features and metrics are certainly valuable tools and have their place. However, no one gives much thought to data center efficiency, design redundancy or sustainability if the facility is prone to unplanned downtime.

So, earlier this year, when FORTRUST announced that their 300,000 square foot, 30 MVA Denver data center had just passed 12 years of “continuous critical systems uptime without a single instance of unplanned downtime” people took notice. The question on everyone’s mind was simply, “How?”

FORTRUST_Facility-Picture_enhanced_light
FORTRUST Denver Data Center

Fortunately, FORTRUST’s SVP/GM, Robert McClary doesn’t mind telling how he and his team have been able achieve this unprecedented benchmark in data center operational continuity. In fact, FORTRUST and McClary have just released an e-book titled “A Data Center Operations Guide for Maximum Reliability” that goes into depth describing the challenges and strategies involved in successfully operating a high availability data center.

McClary starts his paper by addressing the persistent misconception that robust data center design leads unerringly to high availability.  He states, “…it is my experience that the design is only one small factor in the equation that results in continuous uptime. The larger factors contributing to high-availability and uptime are specific to people, process, operations, maintenance, lifecycle, and risk mitigation strategies.”

From this starting point, McClary gets into the meat and potatoes of his data center management philosophy. He systematically knocks down the excuses that many companies use to avoid rigorous operational standards. Here are a few:

  • Don’t have the time, money or talent to write procedures for maintenance practices? Better find some.
  • Personnel don’t feel they need a procedure? Better fix that thinking.
  • No time for training? Better make time.
  • Labeling infrastructure is hassle? Deal with it.
  • DCIM software is expensive? Not compared to downtime.
  • And my personal favorite; can’t find qualified personnel? Hire a veteran.

McClary backs up each of his points with logical, no-spin reasoning. It’s clear that he’s spent a lot of time thinking about and practicing strategies that produce actual results. His writing rings with experience, clarity, authority and a no-nonsense approach to mission critical facility operation.

McCLary is blazing a trail to radical uptime through operational excellence. His message to those who would duplicate his success is clear: Here’s the method. Follow me…if you can.

FORTRUST is the premier high availability data center service provider in North America offering services in Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; and Edison, New Jersey. FORTRUST offers agile, reliable, sustainable and secure raised floor or modular data center capacity for any-size enterprise supported by optimal power infrastructure and connectivity to safeguard mission-critical business services. Leading companies choose FORTRUST to gain a trusted partner who will preserve and protect their IT infrastructure as well as serve as an essential extension of their operations.