Energy Savings in the Data Center Starts with Power Monitoring

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1 Energy Savings in the Data Center Starts with Power Monitoring As global competition intensifies, companies are increasingly turning to technology to help turn mountains of data into a competitive edge. With soaring energy prices and the need for round-the-clock data center services, enterprises need to find ways to increase energy efficiency and reduce costs. In addition, escalating power consumption by large data centers and the population in general means additional power is not always available to expand computing services. While power is becoming the most significant cost in running a data center, most data center managers lack the tools to accurately measure power consumption. All of these factors, along with a growing concern for environmental stewardship, are forcing the need for better power monitoring technologies. A Deeper Look at the Issues Increased compute requirements means more power consumption. In order to efficiently leverage all of the data that companies now collect about every aspect of their business, increasingly powerful and dense computer systems (such as blades and high-density rack systems, as well as switch and UPS gear) are required, which in turn increase the overall power consumption of the data center. According to IDC, for every dollar spent on a server, an additional 51 cents is expended to power and cool it. IDC expects this ratio to increase to 69 cents in the near future. Other studies predict that annual power costs will soon exceed server acquisition costs. The cost of power is increasing. Power is now the single largest operating cost in the data center. Event day triggers (demand-based pricing), such as those that PG&E in California has recently implemented, are forcing companies to truly understand their energy use patterns in order to reduce power usage during these more expensive periods. With today's limited IT budgets, any savings in energy means more budget for revenue-generating activities that can help bolster the bottom line. Additional power is not always available. Data centers tend to be geographically concentrated and draw significant amounts of power. Utilities are telling data centers that additional power is simply not available, forcing data center managers to find ways to use power more efficiently. In developing countries such as India, the power to run larger data centers is simply not available or is cost-prohibitive. Government involvement and customer concerns. Government agencies are increasingly enacting regulations in an effort to limit carbon footprint. EPA Energy Star, Federal Energy Management Program, European Commission, Renewable Energies Unit, and others currently provide guidelines for increasing energy efficiency. In addition, the recent gulf oil spill is making everyone, including government agencies, more receptive to methods and behaviors that have the potential to reduce energy requirements. For example, the UK Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) has been recently enforced to promote energy efficiency and help reduce carbon emissions. Environmentally concerned customers are increasingly investigating the greenness of the companies they buy from, including the company's supply chains. In response, many companies now include some kind of environmental stewardship section in their annual reports to shareholders. Power failures are expensive and detrimental to business. The high cost of data center downtime Page 1 of 6

2 due to power failure is another threat that plagues data center managers. Any downtime of the equipment in data centers, telecommunications centers, or manufacturing centers supporting today's global companies and organizations can mean millions of dollars in lost revenue, as well as withering customer confidence. Data loss or corruption resulting from power-related issues is equally as damaging to the revenue and reputation of a company. Why It's Important to Monitor Power You need to measure it before you can fix it. Analysts continue to rank energy efficiency as the number one concern of data center owners and operators. However, the truth is, you simply can't improve something, especially energy efficiency, if you're not measuring it. According to Energy Star, energy efficiency projects often pay for themselves in energy savings, but if you don't know how much energy you're using, and how much it costs, it is very difficult to justify new technologies and best practices or assess the savings of those new methods. Without a baseline, and then continued measurements, it is impossible to determine where to optimize, to evaluate the results of the optimizations, or to show the improvements to management, government agencies, or customers. In addition, you need to be able to identify energy consumption peaks and lows, and determine how they relate to operations or key internal and external events such as marketing campaigns, accounting cycles, or changing weather patterns to enable you to adequately plan for these events. A number of organizations, including The Green Grid and the Uptime Institute, are working to develop standards to help companies become more energy efficient. The Green Grid's Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric is becoming a standard for data center energy efficiency, however, PUE cannot be reasonably determined if energy consumption cannot be measured. Measuring at the device plug (after all of the power conversion, switching, and conditioning performed) is the best way to calculate PUE. The Uptime Institute's Site Infrastructure Power Overhead Multiplier (SI-POM) and IT Hardware Power Overhead Multiplier (H-POM) metrics also require IT equipment power to be measured after all of the conversion, switching, and conditioning is performed. Finally, measuring at the device plug is sometimes the only way to accurately measure power usage in a data center, particularly if the data center shares power with other areas in the building. By measuring power usage, you can: Identify current power costs and set a baseline Identify potential cost savings and set goals Implement efficiency improvement projects Continuously measure to determine success Data center managers need to understand it to work with it. In most data centers today, data center management and facilities management are still handled by two different departments, which means data center managers operate without fully understanding the ramifications of changes to infrastructure. For example, it is possible to load up a rack with servers and then blow a circuit if the load on that circuit is not understood. One way to avoid tripping circuits is to over configure, or provide more power than is necessary to the rack, but it is unwise to heavily over-configure power feeds as this can waste precious capacity. Data center managers need to properly understand exactly how much power is available and required for each rack in order to make efficient use of available power. On the other hand, nameplate Page 2 of 6

3 ratings on data center equipment are conservatively high, which means more power could be going to racks than is really needed. This excess power could be routed elsewhere to support more systems or cooling if the actual power usage is fully understood. A big trend in data centers today is server consolidation. Many managers consolidate applications of the same type (such as databases) or applications that support one function (such as HR). Another way to determine which applications should be consolidated on the same server is to monitor power usage. Idle systems still consume quite a bit of energy that could and should be used elsewhere. Systems that are idle can be either turned off or consolidated and virtualized so they use much less energy. Consolidating many small applications onto virtualized systems can help eliminate the power overhead of many small servers. Other elements in the data center, such as network equipment, can also be monitored and powered off during low demand periods. For example, if there is a period where a minimal number of Web servers are needed, it might also be possible to turn off a network switch as well. Data center staff need to monitor energy usage in real-time to see how these infrastructure changes affect power consumption. They can also use power readings to determine hot spots that require more cooling. When you understand power usage in the data center, you can also begin to intelligently balance workloads to optimize energy use and reduce costs. For example, if peak loads are understood, it is possible to combine systems in one rack that have opposite peak and idle periods. This way, less overall power is needed to support the applications supported by the servers in that rack. Another reason to monitor power is to avoid costly downtime or loss of data. Systems consuming an inordinate amount of energy might be signaling a performance problem. On the other hand, inadequate power can cause stability problems. The ability to monitor power usage provides yet another tool to help data center staff proactively solve potential problems that can save millions of dollars in losses. You need to be accurate to report it. In order to forecast energy usage, purchase carbon allowances, and monitor actual usage and emissions (required for CRC now and other regulations in the future), accurate power readings are required. Manual readings are time consuming, error prone, and limited to a single point in time. Automated, real-time power readings can provide the required level of accuracy to report actual carbon emissions. You need to justify it. Green organizations are just starting to develop formulas for determining the actual power utilization to produce real work, which many believe is the next step in increasing energy efficiency in the data center. In February 2010, organizations in the US, EU, and Japan, including the DEP, formulated an agreement on global metrics for data center energy efficiency with a desired outcome to measure the actual IT work output of the data center compared to its actual energy consumption. The process to define IT work output includes measuring the potential IT work output compared to expected energy consumption, measuring the operational utilization of IT equipment, and measuring PUE. The Data Center Energy Productivity (DceP) metric was developed to track the overall work product of a data center per unit of energy expended to produce this work. Again, automated, real-time power consumption readings will be required for this metric. Page 3 of 6

4 The Benefits of Power Monitoring and Management Increased profitability with lowered energy and operating costs. Even a small drop in energy consumption can deliver substantial cost savings over time. The DEP estimates that even with existing IT equipment, implementing energy-management practices in existing data centers and consolidating applications onto fewer servers have the potential to reduce data center energy usage by 20 percent. With newer servers and best practices that include monitoring power usage in real time, the improvement in energy efficiency is estimated to reduce energy use by as much as 45 percent. Moreover, best practices for ITIL that involve power monitoring and management can help increase availability to meet service level agreements. And, when you fully understand your power usage, you can investigate the option of load shifting, that is migrating data services to alternate data centers to follow less expensive electrical rates around the world, take advantage of lower rates at night, or lower AC costs in the opposite hemisphere during their winter. Monitored power usage also provides the evidence to ensure that your utility bills are accurate, from both facilities management and utility companies. Finally, understanding power usage can help data center managers more accurately project growth over a period of time, for example, when to add more UPS, busways, power drops, racks, servers, switches, etc. Rebates and awards. Many companies, local and regional governments, and organizations offer energy rebates and awards that can help offset the cost of implementing newer, more energy-efficient technologies. Awards can help advertise your efforts to increase energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. For example PG&E in California, LEED, the Silicon Valley Power Data Center Optimization Program, and a number of US States offer rebates for energy efficient technologies and practices. You can find a list of rebates by state at Organizations such as Energy STAR, The Green Grid, and the Uptime Institute offer awards and certifications for energy efficiency. Accurate chargeback. Some IT organizations have begun to charge internal departments for energy usage, in addition to data center space and compute/data storage resources. Monitoring power provides accurate data on usage, making it easier to compute charges. Clients are more likely to accept these charges if they are provided with accurate statements. A full accounting of energy usage can also help departments understand how effectively they are using the compute resources they purchase. Power usage data is also enabling service providers to implement a different pricing model. As cloud computing becomes more prevalent, some service providers are billing based on power usage patterns only, finding that this method of billing covers all of the other costs of providing services. Reduced emissions. According to the IDC, energy accounts for the majority of greenhouse gases. Energy, distribution, and transport account for half of C02 emissions in nearly every country. Information management is increasingly used to support carbon emission reduction methodologies such as supply chain management, business intelligence, and fine-grained analytics. However, companies need to minimize the increase in emissions from data center and communications infrastructure so as not to negate the positive returns the technology is meant to deliver. Efficiently managing power usage in the data center not only cuts your own costs and carbon foot print, but also lowers overall emissions. It also gives companies the ability to respond to investors and customers requiring them to act responsibly, and get a head start on potential world-wide carbon capping or trading regulations. Page 4 of 6

5 Finally for companies trying to build greener businesses, reducing power consumption in the data center is considered by many to be one of the easy wins. And measuring and monitoring power usage is the first step. STARLINE Critical Power Monitor (CPM) A flexible power distribution system can be a key element in implementing power monitoring. Specifically, access for meter branch and circuit level and system level distribution points is essential. Universal Electric Corp. offers such flexible power distribution and monitoring solutions for data centers, manufacturing, and commercial industries. Universal Electric's Critical Power Monitors, along with the modularity of its StarLine Track Busway and Plug-In Raceway products, enable data center managers to more effectively manage power usage and quickly adapt to changing power requirements. Critical Power Monitors offer the following features: Modular capability for connecting to mains of varying size and specification (voltage and current levels). Modular capability for connecting to branch circuits amp capacity configurations. Ability to monitor single phase, two phase, three phase, and three phase with neutral. Ability to measure power, power factor, frequency, Volt Amperes, Watt hours, Volts (each phase), current (each phase) current (neutral), reactive power, and temperature. Calculates minimum and maximum values for power, Volts, and current. Ability to set minimum and maximum alarm trigger levels for current in amps for each phase. Capability to integrate with building management systems (BMS), with ability to transmit data over an RS-485 link, wired Ethernet 10/100 link, or over a wireless mesh network. Factory-built into StarLine power feeds and plug-ins, providing a clean and seamless integration of monitoring with power distribution. Optional display with touch screen interface. <1% Accuracy For more information on the StarLine Critical Power Monitor see Copyright 2010, Universal Electric Corporation. All rights reserved. Universal Electric and StarLine are trademarks or registered trademarks of Universal Electric Corporation in the United States and other countries. Information subject to change without notice. Page 5 of 6

6 Published in the U.S.A. Page 6 of 6

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