High Power Consumption is Driving the Need for Greener Data Centers


According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the number of data centers globally will begin to decrease by 2017, but that’s not before the number of data center deployed worldwide peaks at 8.6 million.

The power required to run these facilities is astronomical. In the US alone, data centers consumed an estimated 90 billion kWh of electricity in 2013 — equal to the total capacity of the top 30 power plants in the US. And this number is only expected to increase, with data center power consumption in the US expected to top 138 billion kWh by 2019.

To try and deal with climbing costs associated with these electricity-guzzling facilities, enterprises are looking to green data center solutions, which is driving growth in the green data center market in the US at a CAGR of 26.35% from 2014-2019.

data center

Technavio analysts have identified a few key trends that will impact the green data center market in the US over the projected period.

Use of renewable energy sources

One of the issues faced by data center operators is that it takes a lot of power to run that much IT infrastructure, so cutting down on power use and costs requires a bit of creativity.

This is leading a lot of operators to look into renewable energy sources like micro-hydro, biogas fuel cells, solar, wind, and geothermal sources.

Green data center

One of the major areas of power consumption in a data center is cooling. IT equipment like servers generate a lot of heat, and keeping everything at an optimal temperature is essential for a data center’s operations.

Renewable methods like free cooling techniques and using sea water for cooling are gaining increased traction among data center operators in the US. The availability of innovative infrastructure in the market such as the use of hot/cold aisle containment systems, precision air conditioners, and eco mode UPS systems are also under consideration for future adoption by operators.

The issue here is that these renewable cooling methods are highly dependent on the location of the data center. Free cooling only works in naturally cooler areas, and sea water cooling (obviously) only works close to coasts. However, the options for renewable cooling solutions are broad enough that operators should be able to find a solution that works for their facility.

Emergence of green data center metrics

A whole whack load of new metrics are emerging to help judge how energy efficient and environmentally friendly a data center is. Some of the common metrics used to calculate the efficiency of the facilities include:

  • PUE: Used to identify the energy consumption of data center IT equipment with the energy consumed by the overall data center
  • CUE: Used to identify the CO2 emission of the data center
  • WUE: Used to identify annual water use
  • PAR4: used to identify the power consumed by the servers
  • LEED Energy Star: help to identify how green the developed facility
  • ASHRAE: used to measure the efficiency of the cooling systems

Data center infrastructure management (DCIM) for green data centers

DCIM is a software used to monitor and configure the operations of all infrastructure in the facility. It helps the operators limit the energy waste and decrease the carbon footprint of the facility, and saves energy intake of the server. DCIM also monitors the power supply and cooling requirement of each infrastructure equipment in the facility, which helps avoid power waste and contributes to an energy-efficient facility.