50 DCIM Shades of Data Center Green

January 23, 2017 Mark Gaydos

Recently, Greenpeace published its 2017 renewable energy report, “Clicking Clean: Who is Winning the Race to Build a Green Internet” in which they outline the energy footprints of large data center operators, websites and applications. Some of the biggest and most notable companies in the world are on this scorecard. Some of these data centers achieved terrific grades and some others, according to Greenpeace, failed miserably.

Being “green” (environmentally responsible) is not a fad or a concept — it’s a responsible business policy. Adopting practices that lead to environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions, help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations. Saving on energy consumption not only helps reduce a facility’s operating costs, but also contributes to a corporation’s goodwill.

However, many organizations are quick to put a “green stamp” on their processes and wave the “goodwill” banner in the name of a diminished carbon footprint, but few companies can actually prove their efforts are yielding tangible results. This false advertising calls forth the question: What shade of green is the data center on the environmental conscience color pallet?

One method to measure a data center’s color of green is via Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), which is a metric used to determine energy efficiency. PUE is determined by dividing total data center source energy by IT source energy. As this number moves down closer to 1, the data center is deemed more efficient. PUE not only tells data center management how close they are to their efficiency goals, but measuring PUE over time can help determine which initiatives are working along the path to becoming a deeper shade of green.

In fact, there are many shades of green along the path to energy efficiency. Achieving a “green” status is not like a runner breaking a ribbon while crossing the finish line. Maintaining a green status is an ongoing process where facilities operators must constantly monitor the data center with sophisticated tools to ensure processes are being followed correctly.

Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) is a preferred tool for monitoring the data center’s energy usage, to help calculate PUE. Once a data center manager knows where the energy in the facility is being expended, steps can be taken to make efficiency improvements and reduce Carbon Footprint.

Being green is not a destination; it’s an ongoing process in which there are many shades of green achieved along the way.  Each shade of green achieved will make a positive impact to, not only operational expenses (OPEX), but also pay dividends to future generations.  It’s important to note that striving to achieve a deeper green is not a hippie concept, it’s a social responsibility.  Think of what the environment would look like if organizations did not take socially responsible measures 70 years ago: acid rain would be a weekly occurrence and the smog banks that choked the West Coast would extend halfway across the continental United States.  The levels of green can indeed be measured to prove tangible environmental results, and DCIM tools provide a spectrum with which to document the progress.

 

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