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10 Tips to Improve Your Data Center Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)

While many of today’s data centers have become significantly more efficient than their predecessors, these facilities require massive amounts of energy to operate the IT equipment housed within. In fact, as digital transformation, cloud computing and other IT trends continue to drive the demand for more data centers, some experts predict that by 2030, worldwide data centers could devour as much as 8 percent of all global power. As a result, the spotlight is intensifying on the importance of power usage effectiveness (PUE). The following 10 tips can help you improve your PUE approach:

  1. Understand the metric. As a measure of power efficiency in data center IT equipment, PUE has been widely adopted by the industry over the past decade. Simply put, the lower the rating, the more efficient the facility. If a facility has a low PUE score, it indicates that total power usage is close to the actual energy demands of a site’s IT equipment. Conversely, a data center with a high PUE score is consuming more energy than it should, making it less efficient.
  2. Settle the score. In order to calculate PUE, take the total amount of power your data center consumes and divide it by the energy used by its IT equipment. In simple terms, PUE = Total Power Consumption / IT Energy Needs. An organization should seek to achieve a score as close to 1.0 as possible, as this “perfect” mark signifies that every kW of energy used by the facility is going toward IT equipment.
  3. Figure out if you’re making the grade. Industrywide, the average data center PUE was 1.67 in 2019, according to the Uptime Institute. Although this figure demonstrates marked improvement from 2007, when the average PUE ranked at 2.5, it represents a slight increase from 2018’s average of 1.58. In fact, 2019 marked the first increase the industry has seen since PUE was introduced in 2007.
  4. Acknowledge all of the infrastructure. When calculating your facility’s PUE, it is important to include not only servers, but also cooling infrastructure and environmental controls. If these systems have to work harder to regulate server temperature, it will negatively impact a facility’s score. On the other hand, servers that require less cooling than expected can lower their PUE score.
  5. Assess the power hogs. Some of the world’s largest data centers support tens of thousands of IT devices and require more than 100 megawatts (MW) of power capacity — equivalent to powering some 80,000 U.S. households, according to the Department of Energy. Servers and cooling systems typically account for the greatest shares of data center electricity use, followed by storage drives and network devices. While several issues can impact PUE, two of the most prevalent factors include power distribution and cooling efficiency. Server sprawl, chaotic cabling, over-sizing and poor placement of equipment can dramatically hinder PUE efforts.
  6. Consider big picture implications. Among the primary reasons that organizations should prioritize PUE is the fact that energy-efficient data centers help offset the overall rising energy costs produced by technology infrastructures worldwide. With new technologies continuously being developed, we can expect that data and power demands will continue to rise. Yet controlling costs through energy-efficient endeavors will help make this growth more sustainable.
  7. Don’t lose sight of the bottom line. Energy-efficient data centers afford direct cost savings, both for companies operating internal sites and those that have move to colocation facilities. In fact, escalating energy costs and inefficient IT equipment are among the primary reasons so many organizations have abandoned outdated in-house data centers in favor of state-of-the-art colocation offerings. The facilities’ low PUE scores provide better value to customers, who aren’t forced to pay for wasteful energy practices.
  8. Consider going virtual. Virtualization can play a major role in lowering PUE scores. Although the high-density hosts consume more power than a typical server, virtualization enables data centers to host more clients on fewer actual machines, ultimately slashing energy costs.
  9. Keep your cool. Because hot air always rises, PUE scores can be improved by switching top-charged equipment to a bottom-charged model. Additionally, since design and rack positioning can also directly impact PUE, a hot-aisle/cold-aisle approach is a good model to enhance PUE. In-rack cooling and installing fans on the ceiling to suck out the air from hot aisles are other alternatives designed to increase efficiency. And when the ambient temperature increases during the summer months, consider painting data center walls with a weather-shield coating to improve PUE.
  10. Establish best practices. Adopting energy-efficient practices for IT deployment should be a priority for all data centers. As more organizations undergo digital transformation and increasingly rely upon technology to deliver their products and services, the demand for data centers will continue to grow. Adopting a few key best practices can lead to measurable, and PUE metric, results.

To improve efficiency and save costs in your data center, it’s imperative to understand the importance of PUE and take the necessary steps to achieve a desirable score. StayOnline can help. Contact us for more information on our line of products that can help optimize efficiency in your facility.

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