Taking a fresh look at software’s role in driving data center efficiencies and sustainability

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Operational data and analytics are at the core of data center sustainability. Advanced software solutions can simultaneously support the intelligent monitoring and control of power, buildings, and IT systems for uptime, efficiency, and sustainability.

For the hyperscalers and colocation providers, digitization and intelligent use of data are already part and parcel of data center deployment and operations. For example, more than six years ago, Google spoke about how they had utilized DeepMind machine learning to reduce the amount of energy it uses for cooling by up to 40%.

data center software

Using a system of neural networks trained on different operating scenarios and parameters within its data centers, Google created a more efficient and adaptive framework to understand data center dynamics and optimize efficiency. In any large-scale energy-consuming environment, this would be a considerable improvement. Given how sophisticated Google’s data centers already were, this is even more impressive.

Aside from islands of excellence from the hyperscalers, the legacy software traditionally deployed in the data center industry does not allow for the real-time visualization and delivery of the actionable insights required to improve performance to the levels needed for the colocation operators. Operators need access to intelligent dashboards to be alerted to issues and recognize solutions quickly.

The four pillars of data

Data center operators must contend with the inherent complexity of data center facilities and the challenges of managing a geographically dispersed portfolio. To address both challenges, operators rely on software management tools such as building management systems (BMS), electrical power monitoring systems (EPMS), and data center infrastructure management (DCIM). These systems provide visibility and monitoring capability across distributed infrastructures.

These three pillars of data center management enable business services and ensure the efficient deployment, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure and IT equipment. However, an increasing focus among data center service providers on environmental sustainability is leading to the emergence of the fourth pillar of data center management: environmental sustainability management (ESM). Effective ESM software should support the management of energy, water, and other environmental impacts within each facility and across an entire portfolio.

Effective software solutions

The latest software monitoring platforms can handle the first three pillars. For example, Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxureTM solution deploys software, analytics, and services across three main domains: EcoStruxure Power, EcoStruxure Building, and EcoStruxure IT, allowing customers visibility across all aspects of their organization. This increased visibility gives operators insights that help them improve energy efficiency and sustainability efforts. To address the fourth pillar of sustainability reporting, Schneider Electric also offers EcoStruxure Resource Advisor to its portfolio.

The EcoStruxure Resource Advisor platform supports advanced analytics of resource supply, consumption, and performance data. This includes variables that are not included in other data center management software, such as greenhouse gas emissions, energy procurement costs, and mix of energy sources. The wealth of data collected can have benefits above and beyond sustainability reporting. The intelligent analysis of the full variety of energy and sustainability data that come from the disparate systems can also provide insights to help your bottom line.

Ensuring data quality

Any system can only be as good as the quality of the data it analyzes. The adage “garbage in, garbage out” is highly relevant to many sustainability data streams. Schneider Electric found that up to 80% of customer data requires data cleaning. When collecting and aggregating data, Resource Advisor can help ensure it’s accurate by putting it through stringent, industry-standard quality testing and cleaning. Accurate, clean, and dynamic data can then be leveraged across your entire enterprise to save money and increase efficiency and transparency.

Discover how software can drive data center efficiencies in new eguide

As data centers become larger, more complex, and increasingly critical to the functioning of society, data center operators need the right software to help them scale while optimizing operations to reduce energy consumption. It is a balancing act that can be achieved with the right strategy. To learn more about how software can help your data center operations strike this balance, check out Chapter 4 in the Sustainability Challenge eguide.

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