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Industry experts share their advice on how IT managers can go about optimizing energy consumption in their data centres

Tags: ComplianceCoolingEMC CorporationFujitsu Technology Solutions - UAEHP Middle EastPanduit CorporationSchneider ElectricUnited Arab Emirates
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By  Julian Pletts Published  September 15, 2009 Network Middle East Logo

Cost cutting is not the only aim that might encourage an IT manager to look at ways of optimising the energy consumption of their infrastructure. But it is a really good one right now. There are, of course, also massive environmental concerns which have also become paramount and are likely to lead to further compliance requirements in the near future. NME asks industry experts how enterprises should go about trimming power outlay.

Panduit

What power or cooling reduction techniques or solutions are the most cost effective in terms of showing a rapid ROI?

Dave Hughes, professional services manager, EMEA: Key gains and a quick ROI can be made from passive cooling products which manage hot air around equipment. These products use no power thus, no operating costs are associated with running them. An example of this is the Cool Boot air sealing grommet which reduces bypass cold air dissipation. Calculations by experts in the US indicate that the deployment of Cool Boot air sealing grommets in an average data centre could save almost US$7,000 utility costs annually as well as reducing costs of replacing heat damaged equipment.

Also, DC UPS fed Power over Ethernet units can offer up to 33% saving on power conversion and using IP telephony and virtual PCs at desktop can drop energy usage from 200W to less than 30W per person.

How knowledgeable is the Middle East IT market when it comes to reducing energy consumption? What more needs to be done?

The region is proving itself to be very forward thinking in terms of sustainable buildings. Not only is the Urban Planning Council in Dubai using the US LEED buildings standard, but they are also examining two other sustainable building standards: BREEAM Gulf Standard and Estidama which might be more suited to requirements of the region in terms of climate.

What are your top five energy savings tips?

1. Manage hot air in the data centre; using ducting to direct hot air into the CRAC unit for treatment, or use tools for localised hot spot management to release cooler air into the data centre meaning less power is used by the cooling systems to cool ambient temperature.

2. Get a professional assessment of data centre cooling efficiencies.

3. Deploy passive cooling tools such as Cool Boot to reduce the amount of bypass air lost ensuring maximum efficiency in directing it where it is needed.

4. Use data centre UPS to power power over ethernet units with which you can run many desktop services using much less power.

5. Using a Unified Physical Infrastructure-based solution to link desktop services powered by PoE to security systems can offer savings by only powering desktop services when the occupant is in the building.

HP

What power or cooling reduction techniques or solutions are the most cost effective in terms of showing a rapid ROI?

Osamah Hussameddin, HP Technology Services business manager, IT data centre solution: The first step is for clients to understand their current data centre infrastructure and its dependencies to transform the way services are delivered to their business. It's critical to verify their infrastructure baseline, by conducting audits and accurate inventory of data centre equipment to decide on the next steps towards automation, consolidation and virtualisation. Also, data centre managers need to consider operational automation, thermal and energy best practices and areas like air management, free cooling concept, electrical optimisation for quick wins to reduce operational and energy cost.

How knowledgeable is the Middle East IT market when it comes to reducing energy consumption? What more needs to be done?

In the last two years we have seen that governments have taken the lead to raise awareness with the help of the corporate sector to promote energy efficiency as a key initiative. Fortunately, the move to reducing energy-consumption in the region has been steady and positive. Governments and businesses in the Middle East have started to design and operate state-of-the-art, environmental friendly green buildings and data centers, and have incorporated this initiative in their strategy.

EMC

What power or cooling reduction techniques or solutions are the most cost effective in terms of showing a rapid ROI?

Walid Yehia, pre-sales manager Middle East, North West Africa, and Turkey: By deploying IT infrastructure virtualisation of servers and storage consolidation of the existing equipment, companies can quickly realise cost savings in terms of foot print and hence power consumption.  As a first step, they can start virtualising non-critical production applications, development, and test environments. Virtualising these applications further improves the foot print, resource utilisation, and power and cooling consumption. Virtualisation has other equally important benefits outside the context of this interview.

How knowledgeable is the Middle East IT market when it comes to reducing energy consumption? What more needs to be done?

I admit green IT is not a top priority for the majority of today's CIOs in the Middle East. This region has a relatively low cost of energy and therefore doesn't feel the pressure of embracing energy efficient IT infrastructure.This doesn't mean we shouldn't worry about energy consumption. Businesses paid about 20% more for electricity in 2005 than 2004. This rate keeps growing. I've seen some enterprises here who were forced to invest a lot on data centre re-location simply because the power and space demand in their current data centre locations exceeded what the utility company could supply. The two key drivers for considering efficient green data centres are, near-and long-term financial benefits and minimising the environmental impact of inefficient data centres.

APC by Schneider Electric

What power or cooling reduction techniques or solutions are the most cost effective in terms of showing a rapid ROI?

Christian Bertrand, director, Middle East and Turkey: Applying virtualisation can significantly reduce costs on several fields, but the majority of existing data centres - and some of the new ones being implemented now- are not suitable for operating high-density systems. Legacy systems work fine for brute-force cooling the entire room, but skyrocketing energy costs make them incapable of meeting today's high-density challenges. Even worse, power and cooling waste may actually prevent you from purchasing much-needed new IT equipment. Building completely new data centres might be cheaper than re-organising conventionally-built ones, even in the medium-term. Business requires increasingly faster information systems; this must be provided in a solution where investment grows with revenue. APC InfraStruXure gives

the customer an unprecedented opportunity with an integrated power, cooling, and management solution that will maximise the space used in the data centre environment, offers modular scalability so that you pay only for what you use and includes dedicated in-row and heat-containment systems that improve cooling and thermal predictability. In short, it earns you money through the pre-planned elimination of waste.

Are there any dangers or obstacles in the way of successfully reducing your power usage?

Time and money.  According to Gartner Research, 50% of all data centres built before 2002 were obsolete by 2008 because of insufficient power and cooling capabilities. Power and cooling issues are now the single largest problems facing data centre managers today.

Fujitsu

What power or cooling reduction techniques or solutions are the most cost effective in terms of showing a rapid ROI?

Chandan Mehta, product manager for Fujitsu Technology Solutions: Fujitsu has the world's first hydrogen fuel cell powered data centre. As one of the world's largest data centre owners, we use state-of-the-art industrial infrastructure for efficient power management, cooling and metering. The usual inclusions are high energy efficient closed loop chillers, variable speed fan computer room air conditioners, energy efficient motion controlled lighting, and intelligent building management systems.

How knowledgeable is the Middle East IT market when it comes to reducing energy consumption? What more needs to be done?

It has been noted that areas with shortage of power see the maximum innovation and utilisation of knowledge for reducing energy consumption. Governments need to provide incentives to industries for efficient usage of power.

What are your top five energy savings tips?

Utilising IT intelligently in non IT processes can help companies save far more energy than by reducing energy consumption of hardware alone. Secondly, make energy efficiency part of your procurement decision process. Shut down systems not in use and get rid of energy inefficient systems. Produce accurate energy consumption data, department or location wise. Finally, study and adopt new energy saving technologies such as virtualisation, consolidation and efficient lighting.

APW President Systems

What power or cooling reduction techniques or solutions are the most cost effective in terms of showing a rapid ROI?

Pramod Agashe, chief operating officer: Low-cost, easy-to-implement techniques that provide tighter control of airflow in the data centre provide rapid ROI. Earlier, hot-aisle/cold-aisle data centre design had become standard. But as server density increased, efficiency gains decreased. Present options combine containment and variable fan drives with ducted plenum systems and other innovations like brushed tiles, to create significant energy savings. Connecting server racks to a container system that seals air flow into and out of the rack is one approach. Variable speed fans inside the container as well as tight feedback between the CRAC and the heat load will enable a system to eliminate inefficiencies in server fans. For low- to medium-density data centre applications, it is effective to use a cold aisle approach to segregate cold air in front of rows of equipment cabinets from the hot exhaust air behind these rows of cabinets.

What future provisions must end-users allow for when it comes to energy consumption?

CIOs should design future facilities to handle up to 16 kW per rack, double the 8 kW-per-rack average today. Typically, cooling infrastructure as well as power supply should be built to handle additional density. Rack space should be scalable and extra space provided for future growth. The benefits of pre-piping data centres for high capacity cooling are very significant. High-capacity overhead cooling infrastructure makes it easy to add or move further cooling modules.  And flexible tubing with quick-connect fittings allow cooling modules to be added to the infrastructure without the call for special tools or support.

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