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Building an Efficient & Ecologically Friendly Data Center

Part three in a series. Greg Schulz is the founder of StorageIO and the author of The Green and Virtual Data Center.

By understanding fundamentals and background information about electricity usage along with options and alternatives including rebates or incentives, IT data centers can deploy strategies to become more energy efficient without impeding service delivery. Reducing carbon footprint is a popular and trendy topic. However, addressing energy efficiency -- that is, doing more work with less energy -- addresses both environmental and business economic issues. By reducing energy consumption or shifting to a more energy-efficient IT model, business can reduce their operating expenses and enable more useful work to be done per dollar spent while improving service delivery.

The available supply of electricity is being impacted by ageing and limited generating and transmission capabilities, as well as rising fuel costs. While industries such as manufacturing consume ever more electrical power, IT data centers and the IT equipment housed in those habitats require continued and reliable power.

Data center demand for electrical power is also in competition with other power consumers, leading to shortages and outages during peak usage periods. There are also increasing physical requirements for growing data centers in the form of more servers, storage, and network components to support more IT and related services for business needs. Other pressing issues for IT data centers are cooling and floor space to support more performance and storage capacity without compromising availability and data protection.

Typically, energy usage is based on metered readings -- either someone from the utility company physically reading the meter, remote reading of the meter, estimated usage based on historical usage patterns, or some combination thereof. Electric power is charged at a base rate (which may vary by location, supply, and demand for fuel sources, among other factors) per kilowatt-hour, plus fuel surcharges, peak demand usage surcharges, special fees, and applicable commercial volume peak usage, minus any applicable energy saver discounts.

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