Businesses stuck with an aging data centre can find themselves at a distinct competitive disadvantage due to rising costs stemming from poorer efficiency, on top of a worsening risk profile.
While it might not be possible to replace the expensive equipment in an existing facility until they are fully depreciated, how can enterprises modernise existing data centres to reduce costs and reduce risk?
Improving Power Efficiency
As noted by Mark Hurley of Schneider Electric, organisations should focus on reducing the overall energy consumption and improving the PUE, or Power Utilization Effectiveness of their data centres. Based on his calculations, a reduction of one megawatt of energy usage adds up to a quarter of a million dollars in savings over a year – assuming an average per kilowatt cost of 10 cents.
But power efficiency isn’t a button that you can press for instant results; it takes work to identify areas that can benefit and to apply the right tweaks. This starts with fixing the basics, such as adjusting the temperature and humidity settings, or even setting up a proper hot aisle, cold aisle arrangement for cooling.
The most common – and worst – mistake is to adopt a hands-off policy by simply doing nothing. Even identifying an unneeded or redundant server and powering it down can make a difference to the bottom-line.
A New Approach to Maintenance
When it comes to operations, one suggestion is to move from a frequency-based maintenance regime to one that revolves around the actual condition of machinery. Of course, condition-based maintenance assumes the ability to keep a close eye on the health and status of the equipment that makes up the data centre.
On that front, Schneider Electric has several good solutions for DCIM which can help ensure that data centre operations are properly aligned with the life cycle of the data centre.
When it comes to keeping wages and overheads at a reasonable level, one suggestion is to perform maintenance on non-critical data centre systems on weekdays instead of on weekends. On this front, it might also make sense to examine if having IT employees on 24-by-7 alert is necessary. For smaller data centres of below one megawatt, a cloud-enabled DCIM might be more than adequate.
Turning to Technology
Finally, be sure not to neglect newer, leading-edge technologies as they enter the mainstream as viable solutions to address existing challenges or shortcomings. Some examples include DCIM solutions, new highly efficient cooling technologies such as indirect evaporative cooling, or modular uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
When it comes to the UPS, lithium-ion battery technology is now acknowledged as a viable alternative and should be seriously considered. Indeed, lithium-ion batteries are superior in many ways, offering as much as 50 percent lower total cost of ownership (TCO). This can be attributed to a combination of factors including having 10 times the cycles and up to 3 times life expectancy over traditional VRLA, or Valve Regulated Lead Acid batteries.
Moreover, lithium-ion batteries offer other benefits such as a lower weight of up to 70 percent less and a significantly smaller footprint. You can read more about the benefits of using lithium-ion UPS batteries here.