3 Best Practices for Reducing IT Energy Use – and Curbing Global Energy Demand

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The demand for energy around the world is continuing unabated. The International Energy Agency, which is focused on ensuring reliable, clean energy for its 29 member countries and beyond, predicts demand for electricity will increase by more than 70% by 2040.

While renewable sources will account for ever-increasing amounts of that energy, it’s clear we still need to be mindful about conserving energy and doing more with less. As one of the largest users of electricity, the issue is hitting IT departments particularly hard, in many cases straining their resources beyond what is sustainable in the long term.

To successfully deal with the issue, organizations need to rethink their energy strategy and come up with strategies to curb IT energy use. From my work with customers, I’ve come up with the following three best practices for enabling IT groups to reduce energy consumption.

Implement an integrated energy management system

Among other chores, facilities or site managers must manage electrical requirements for all buildings for which they’re responsible. When you consider that various components that factor into that job, it can quickly become rather daunting.

In the data center or IT server room, the IT manager is typically responsible for monitoring network connectivity, rack systems, cooling, surveillance systems and uninterruptible power supply systems. In many instances, the IT space is essentially its own domain, managed separately from the rest of the building that houses it.

An integrated energy management system enables the site manager to manage the IT space along with the rest of the building or campus, from a central location. This enables more unified, efficient and effective power management for all processes and machines, IT rooms, buildings and security systems.

For example, integrated energy management helps the site manager, as well as the IT manager, plan more effectively for growth. The tools enable managers to estimate what power requirements will be and determine areas that can best accommodate growth from a power perspective.

Get a handle on IT power use with DCIM

Another tool that can help IT managers better manage power is data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software. DCIM tools enable users to collect and manage data about all data center assets as well as monitor resource use and operational status. It’s able to identify areas where electricity isn’t being used efficiently, such as hot spots in a data center and overloaded servers, and point the way to appropriate adjustments.

DCIM also helps optimize power and cooling capacity, and enables more strategic use of data center space. For example, if the IT group has to install new servers, the DCIM tool shows the best rack in which to install them from a power and cooling perspective. As such, DCIM helps the IT group better plan for growth and meet business demands, while keeping electrical use to a minimum. Over time, a good DCIM implementation can reduce operating expenses by 20 percent.

Right-size the data center now, and for the future

Too often, I see data centers that use more energy than they really need simply because they’re not sized correctly. Upon building a new data center, the company sizes it for what it expects requirements to be some years down the road. That leads to lots of excess capacity that houses no IT infrastructure but still requires cooling, thus driving up electrical costs.

A better approach is to use prefabricated, modular data center modules. These enable companies to build the amount of data center capacity they need today, but add on to it as necessary over time. With that strategy, there’s no need to overbuild and deal with years of excess data center capacity. What’s more, modular data centers reduce up-front capital requirements.

In fact, right-sizing has the potential to reduce the total life cycle cost of a data center by up to 13 percent, 30 percent of which is savings from physical infrastructure.

With demand for energy growing along with costs, it’s imperative that companies take a hard look at their energy strategy and find ways to reduce IT energy demand. In so doing, they will not only reduce their own energy costs, which contributes to the success of the business, but contribute to the larger picture of preserving increasingly scarce energy sources worldwide.

Learn more from our whitepaper on How DCIM Software Improves Planning and Cuts Operational Costs here.

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