Green Grid: Go back to basics to make energy-efficient data centers

The Green Grid helps data center operators measure and compare their facilities to make for a greener IT.

All it takes is a few small changes to make energy-efficient data centers a reality. The Green Grid, a non-profit energy-efficiency group, hopes to help ease the transition with an environmentally friendly approach to data center resource management.

This is part two of The Green Grid podcast Q&A with John Tuccillo, president and chairman of The Green Grid. Listen to the first part here.

What happens when the process of going green isn't going smoothly?

John Tuccillo: So, as Brad said, if you were to continually monitor your energy within your data center, it doesn't necessarily require the purchase of high-end software tools, though if you have the resources for that, those are good things. Much of the improvements can be made from some of the basics. How have you laid out your data center? Are you capturing your air? Are you using air containment? Are you using free-air economization wherever you can? How about water-side economization? Are you managing your energy to ensure that the units of energy that are required for your IT infrastructure is available where you need it, at the time you need it? Are you employing a virtualization architecture?

The Green Grid has many of these tips on our website and in online tools that help folks start to take a look at their data center, quantify where they are and then compare themselves to others so that they're in a position for that self-improvement.

One recent addition to the data center portfolio on The Green Grid's website is the [Data Center Maturity Model] DCMM. The DCMM is personified in an online tool that allows any data center owner or operator of any size to go in and enter their relative maturity across two tiers: IT and facilities. Now, the IT and facilities folks are equipped to be able to have conversations with their C-suite as to what the expected return could be.

For example, if they want to meet with their CFO, they're in a position to be able to quantify what types of improvement investments would offer what types of return. They're also equipped to be able to quantify in a very simple, illustrative manner when they meet with their chief sustainability officers and illustrate the kind of improvements they can facilitate by investing in certain areas against their own maturity model to improve their environmental sustainability targets.

Again, measured against their own objectives. It's one of those resources that's very critically beginning to help people make leapfrog improvements for both economic and environmental opportunities

What are some of the trends on the horizon for data center energy and resource efficiency?

Tuccillo: So what's a trend? If you were to look at trends from a global perspective, the demand for energy-efficient computing across all industry sectors is accelerating on a near-vertical scale. Why? Because it's been proven that investing in energy-effective IT helps to improve productivity and lessen environmental impact across all industries.

As a result of that, it's a win-win and pretty much in every industry these investments are taking place which does increase initial demand.

The other trend is because of such an intense focus over the past six to seven years of the IT community looking at itself in looking for ways to improve, there have been dramatic improvements made in improving resource efficiency, which you can quantify with [power usage effectiveness] PUE, [water usage effectiveness ] WUE, [carbon usage effectiveness ]CUE and the DCMM.

So what's the trend? Yes, demand continues to accelerate. Simultaneously, the industry has been trying to stay ahead of that curve wherever possible and offer not only methods for self-improvement but for global collaborative improvement. From a trends perspective, Erin, those two things continue.

What are some of the new things the industry is looking to further accelerate that improvement? There are a number.

One that has really started to emerge is the efficiency of software. As application software is being developed, if you take into consideration the energy use to the functionality of the software, there are adjustments that can be made in the developers' community to increase the effectiveness of the software application while either lying flat or reducing the energy required to do so.

There are many efforts underway to hone that area. You also have the opportunity of efficiency by software. So how is it that by using software platforms that are designed to best manage every unit of energy to productive output – and there are many case studies for this -- that you can increase your energy effectiveness and reduce the energy impact?

Within the data center community there's been terrific advancements in data center infrastructure management platforms. And those advancements are already demonstrating improvements in the energy effectiveness. But why stop there? How else can software be used to further accelerate energy effectiveness? There are efforts there as well. So it's making software more energy effective and then using software to help the whole industry become more energy effective.

Any final advice for data center energy efficiency?

Tuccillo: Go out, measure and compare for your own self-improvement and be willing to share in this global community of collaboration. I'd recommend folks participate in The Green Grid and other similar organization, because the industry truly is making leapfrog advancements.

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