Green data centres will save your green

Enviro-friendly solutions save big money

Feeling the heat to cool down your datacentre? Going green can deliver massive cost savings to the business and ROI in less than 12 months by stemming power consumption and using smart heating and cooling methods. Factor-in consolidation through virtualization and your IT shop will rein-in serious savings even faster. Hitachi Data Systems Australia and New Zealand managing director Mark Kay talks about the benefits of making your datacentre green and offers some pointers on best practise.

What steps would you recommend to build a green data centre? What steps can data centre managers take to make their diesel-guzzling centres more clean and green?

"The most significant way to do this is to address the root cause, by reducing the amount of equipment in the data centre. Data centres will need to cater heat output and power consumption as long as vendor equipment continues to increase them. Leveraging technology such as storage virtualization allows you to reduce the number of physical devices in the data centre and delivers the highest return on investment in the shortest timeframe.

The next highest pay-off for the environment is to look at how you are leveraging your electricity. Locating your data centre on a reliable power grid or installing power feeds from two diverse power grids will minimise the requirement to run generators as consistent mains supply will be available. Optimising the quality of power supply to the data centre and selecting the most efficient and appropriately sized emergency power backup generators will also assist with power consumption. Another green option is to utilize bio-diesel.

We have access to a contestable power market in Australia, which means that you may be able to select an energy supplier with a high proportion of generation from renewable sources.

The final recommendation is to move away from chilled water for cooling to closed-loop gas-based systems, which will reduce water consumption within the data centre. We now have the ability to leverage environmentally friendly materials in the building process if you are building a data centre from scratch."

What benefits do green data centres have over those based around redundancy and profit? What are the pitfalls?

"A green data centre utilises less power to operate equipment and cool, and as a result costs less to run. Once you have passed the break-even point, which can occur in as little as 12 months, a green data centre has a direct profit benefit to the business with every dollar saved going straight to the company's bottom line.

The pitfall is in under-sizing your emergency power requirements of the UPS or backup generators which jeopardize power availability levels to the data centre; however, this can be easily addressed through proper planning."

How long do green data centres take to pay for their upgrades?

"The return will take as long as a traditional data centre if only focusing on improving the physical data centre. Any new data centre can be made to be cleaner and greener for a minimal cost increase if done correctly; ensuring for scalability, reliability and resilience should not result in a significant cost differential. To accelerate the payback period you need to look at how to consolidate what is inside the data centre leveraging strategies such as consolidation and virtualization."

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