Energy efficiency becoming key concern among data center managers

Economizers are emerging as a popular tool to improve energy efficiency in the data center.

By Donna Donnowitz
October 14, 2011
Data center operators are turning to economizers to meet their growing needs for environmental efficiency, according to a recent survey from Green Grid.

Cloud computing, virtualization, data center outsourcing and other emerging industry technologies are turning power consumption into a critical issue for data center managers. As a result, more operators are focusing on energy-efficient technologies to improve sustainability and reduce power and maintenance costs.

According to the survey, approximately 49 percent of respondents are using economizers to supplement their cooling system and encourage efficient power use. Furthermore, 24 percent of respondents explained they are developing strategies to deploy economizers.

Mark Monroe, executive director of Green Grid, explained economizer technologies have become popular much more quickly than the organization initially anticipated.

"We were not expecting such a high adoption figure when we began this research. What we are witnessing is a technology that is maturing far faster than previously thought. We now need to make sure that data center managers have the tools they need to understand how and what the best economizer options are for optimum deployment," said Monroe.

Identifying the best way to deploy and manage economizers is becoming critical. On average, data center operators spend just 80 percent of the year running optimizers, leaving traditional cooling infrastructure sapping energy 20 percent of the time. Monroe attributes this lack of efficiency when it comes to economizer deployment to poor transitioning between economizers and cooling systems. As the industry matures, it more data center managers will be able to optimize economizer management and enable a usage rate above 80 percent.

Even though economizers are not optimally used approximately 20 percent of the time, they still deliver results. The survey found power costs were reduced, on average, by 20 percent. Respondents also witnessed a 7 percent savings on maintenance when using economizer technology.

Sustainability is emerging as an industry-wide concern among data center operators, and many managers are turning to a diverse range of technologies to improve efficiency. A number of data center industry leaders are turning to the far north to improve sustainability. A recent IT World report explains data center operators, including Google and Verne Global, are turning to the unique environmental conditions of Finland and Iceland to build highly efficient facilities.


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