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Albert Einstein once said that knowledge is defined as a practical understanding of a subject, the same apply to operating and upkeeping a data centre. Center of Expertise for Energy Efficiency in Data Centres (CoE) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBLN) led by U.S. Department of Energy provides technical support, tools and technologies intended to optimise and reduce energy use in data centre. This is where novices and grizzled veterans seek options for maximising new construction or retrofit results.
Knowing what you don't know.
CoE has designed a data centre profiling tool - DC Pro to help data centre operators diagnosing how energy is being used and determining ways to save energy. Combining with management information such as energy use and environmental sensing data, DC Pro can provide data centre operators estimated PUE and potential energy saving through its web based, self -guided menu driven interface. Essentially, instead of telling you what you already know, it tells you what you don't know or yet to know.
What improvement can we expect?
We tried it with one of our candidate data centre with the PUE of 1.5, DC Pro estimates that there is a potential of improving it to a PUE of 1.2, a 0.3 point improvement. It looks into energy use distribution and referencing its comprehensive set of databases and algorithms and derives key action plans that will impact energy use significantly. For example, part of the report produced by DC Pro after analysing our candidate site shows that the key issues in the candidate site are cable congestion in raised floor plenums and the lack of air flow management and aisle containment. It is estimated that if we implement proper air flow management, hot/cold aisle containment and cable management, we could reduce the portion of cooling energy use in relation to total site energy use by up to 21% and increasing IT power utilisation by 20%. Higher proportion of IT energy use means that we are spending on what drives the business instead of compensating for unnecessary losses.
Keeping it cool and know your power.
With the help of tools like DC Pro, informed management is no longer something that only specialised energy consultant could do. Data centre operator's goal should be keeping its facility cool and at the same time know where the energy costs are attributed to. Implementing air flow management and containment systems can be very rewarding in long run and knowing your power will also go a long way.
New energy standard for Data Centres - ASHRAE 90.4-2016
In September 2016, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) published Standard 90.4-2016, Energy Standard for Data Centers. It establishes the minimum energy efficiency requirements of data centers for design and construction, for creation of a plan for operation and maintenance and for utilization of on-site or off-site renewable energy resources. Standard 90.4 is also a performance based approach that is more flexible and accommodating of innovative changes that rapidly occur in design, construction and operations in that industry.
The new standard focus on meeting performance targets for both mechanical and electrical equipment's energy use as opposed to the previous standard which provide prescriptive requirements such as air flow rates or type of equipment. This means that data centre's owners need to be innovative and pro-active when it comes to the optimisation of cooling and electrical systems both in new and existing facility. New cooling technologies such as CREC (Computer Room Evaporative Cooling), high-efficiency DX systems with economiser modes and low speed ventilation (LSV) system consume much less energy compared to traditional CRAC (Computer Room Air Conditioning) systems but CRAC will remain as the most common cooling system used in data centre due to its relative low cost and established maintenance and service network. As a result, optimising CRAC system efficiency is going to become a key action item for data centre's operators who are working to comply with Standard 90.4.
Optimising CRAC operation is the first step toward efficiency
Typical CRAC unit configuration can expend a great deal of energy to control temperature and humidity, by monitoring room's temperature & humidity, CRAC unit's energy consumption by integrating pMon platform with CRAC system, temperature settings and air flow across the data centre can be optimised intelligently using best practice control parameters. However, even the smartest CRAC system will fail to delivery maximum energy saving in a facility where air flow is poorly managed, hence it is equally important to implement effective air flow management system, such as using EziBlank's blanking panels to cover all unused RU spaces, retrofitting brush panels to seal off cable pathways, erecting EziBlank Wall rack-substitute panel on unused/uncovered floor space to segregate cold and hot aisle. Payback on these items is typically very fast, often as quick as few months and the effect is often immediate.
In conclusion, now is the good time to get started with taking your data centre energy efficiency to the next level.
We would like to thank all the enthusiastic participants who visited us at the Victoria OpenGov Leadership Forum. The Victorian Government is getting on with ensuring that government is making the best use of new technology to deliver modern services for the community. Accordingly, the Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings joined key stakeholders and launched the Victorian Government Information Technology Strategy 2016 – 2022! COLLABORATE, EDUCATE and INSPIRE each other on this most innovative platform.
As an event partner, IDC Solutions showed case our broad experience in data centres and mission critical facilities by showcasing our case studies in capacity optimisation and energy efficiency public sector executives involved in government business transformation initiatives across federal, state and local governments. We hope to continue the dialogue on these topics and work more closely with Victorian public sector to advocate better capacity management and optimisation.
Getting sufficient cold air to high density equipment racks can be a big challenge for data centre operators especially when these equipment racks are introduced retrospectively. Upgrading CRAC unit's capacity to increase air flow alone may not necessary result in sufficient coolant delivery to the designated consumers because of inefficient air output through existing vented floor tiles.
As a delivery partner of the capacity expansion project at Digital Realty Data Centre, IDC Solutions supplied and replaced existing vented floor tiles with EziBlank® high performance directional floor tiles to support cooling for 15kW equipment racks. EziBlank® directional floor tile directs the air at 70 degree toward the front of equipment and it is a full 65% open area tile for maximum air throughput. The extremely durable, grey hammer-tone powder coat finish means that the aluminum floor tile meets the MOB PF2 PS, CISCA and BS EN 12825 standards for point load, uniform distributed load and rolling load.
The result can be felt instantaneously after the installation, instead of dispersing vertically, cooled air flows toward the front of equipment evenly across the full height of the equipment racks.
SRA Solutions is a valuable partner to EziBlank/IDC Solutions, offering EziBlank 6-RU panels and 1-RU brush panels as value added components with their fantastic suite of commercial and SCEC rack cabinets.