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How to optimize energy usage at edge computing sites

Across distributed computing networks, the rise of edge computing is driving the performance of network perimeter computing devices. Yet, a direct consequence of this growth is the additional consumption of power and the associated increase in edge computing system carbon emissions. For these reasons, it becomes critical for edge computing systems owners to control energy usage. But exercising such control can be challenging when access to edge system data resources is limited or unavailable.

A recent analysis conducted by 451 Research and sponsored by Schneider Electric surveyed over 1,100 IT decision-makers with knowledge of the enterprise sustainability programs and distributed IT and data center resources across their organizations. The 451 Research special report summarized findings and revealed that more than 40% of respondents identified optimization of energy use as the “top-cited sustainability challenge.” The primary issue edge system owners identified at the leader and advanced edge deployment maturity levels was the lack of consistent data and metrics. This is a critical obstacle. Sustainability efforts begin with the ability to measure power consumption. After all, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Therefore, obtaining consistent data and metrics while monitoring energy use is essential to lowering carbon emissions.

To succeed in optimizing edge system energy usage, IT organizations are tasked with identifying the data they need to measure. This can be accomplished using a modern data center infrastructure management (DCIM) platform that enables accurate measurement of power flow characteristics. In addition, organizations should reassess traditional “lowest bid” technology acquisition approaches and work with their internal purchasing organizations to emphasize the total cost of ownership and energy efficiency of the acquired assets. The good news is that there are remedies for businesses of all sizes to improve efforts in this space.

Optimizing energy use at edge computing sites

The following approaches contribute to optimizing energy use at the edge.

Leverage DCIM for data tracking and analysis

Obtaining consistent data and metrics is critical for managing edge environments and optimizing energy use. On the management side, DCIM software tools add value in several ways:

  • They remotely monitor the edge system and provide accurate real-time power consumption data.
  • They provide stakeholders with energy management reporting when communicating transparent energy consumption data.
  • They help minimize IT footprint through capacity management and facilitate the rightsizing of power and cooling infrastructure.

DCIM tools also generate corporate sustainability benefits through tight energy consumption control. Examples of these capabilities include:

  • Benchmarking – Provides a current energy snapshot of the edge environment and helps to compare performance to market standards.
  • Generation of energy metrics – Measurements such as power usage effectiveness (PUE), total renewable energy consumption, and renewable energy factor provide a basis for communicating energy consumption.
  • Capacity planning and management – DCIM enables monitoring of environmental conditions which allows for optimization of power and cooling performance and downsizing of these assets when needed (cooling can consume up to 30% of total system energy).
  • Simulation and optimization – The software highlights how energy is used in the system so that tuning and optimization can occur. Simulations help to determine the optimal balance between the IT, power, and cooling aspects of energy consumption.
edge computing and sustainability

Choose energy-efficient products

To ensure cost-effective and energy-efficient product configurations, companies like Schneider Electric strive to design, manufacture and deliver products that meet ecoDesign standards. Schneider Electric’s ecoDesign Way™ approach, for example, integrates environmental assessment into product, service, or system designs to optimize environmental friendliness without downgrading performance, while supporting regional compliance across the globe.

The ecoDesign Way focuses on:

  • Minimal resource use – Engineering product designs so that volumes of raw materials and power consumption are both minimized.
  • Minimal climate impact – CO2 emissions reductions.
  • Circularity – Extending product lifetimes through reusing components and/or recycled materials in products.

Thanks to such efforts, many modern components of edge installations, such as uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs), cooling technology, and power distribution, are now sustainable by design.

These “Green Premium” products provide detailed documentation on their regulatory compliance, material content, and environmental impact. These products also come with digitally available “circularity profiles,” providing information on product reuse, end-of-life instructions, and recycling services. Such solutions support micro data centers at the edge and allow IT staff to reconfigure systems for energy savings and lower CO2 emissions.

The benefits of recycling products are now influencing edge system environments. Some vendors of edge computing solutions, such as Schneider Electric, support end-user recycling efforts by coordinating with 3rd party recyclers and furnishing certificates that reflect environmentally responsible disposal. In addition, new EcoCare maintenance and modernization services can proactively minimize downtime, maximize operational efficiency, improve safety, and extend product life cycles, while also contributing to a smaller carbon footprint.

Evaluate options with trade-off tools 

Take advantage of calculators designed to provide actionable insights into sustainability efforts. Free tools like the Carbon Footprint, DCIM Monitoring Value Calculator, and Edge Global Energy Forecast calculators offer a quick analysis of the current emissions environment and best practices for reducing edge system impact on energy consumption. The DCIM Monitoring Value Calculator for Distributed IT, for example, reveals to remote administrators of edge systems how much resilience, security, and efficiency of those systems can be improved. The tool quantifies these values and helps to justify investment in DCIM monitoring and alarming functions.

Access the “Sustainability at the Edge” special report

Optimizing energy is an essential part of edge computing sustainability efforts. IT teams can leverage energy efficient-IT infrastructure and software tools to track energy data. In addition, metrics-driven transparency can add value by helping drive operational improvements and providing energy transparency to external stakeholders. To learn more, download the detailed findings of the 451 “Sustainability at the Edge” report to discover what organizations are doing at the edge to address sustainability, or access the new “3 Steps to Calculate Total Enterprise IT Energy Consumption Using DCIM” white paper.

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