Data center containment is the practice of splitting the aisles of a data center into segregated hot and cold sections, depending on how each aisle is set up. For example, some data centers might have the front of their servers on the inside of the aisle, with fans blowing the exhaust outside the aisle. Others might have the front of their servers on the outside of the aisle, and vent heat inside the aisle.
Containment keeps the hot air exiting servers from mixing with the cold air coming in from the Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC), dramatically improving energy efficiency and also maintaining a more consistent temperature, which reduces the overall load on both air conditioning units and the servers themselves.
Green House Data uses full containment in our Cheyenne and East Coast data centers, but only recently implemented it in our Seattle, WA facility. This case study demonstrates how even a simple containment system can lead to significant energy efficiency improvements. We expect the system to pay for itself within the year, in part thanks to generous rebates from Seattle Public Utilities.
Green House Data released our first Sustainability Report last year, covering the calendar year of 2015. Our goal for this initial report was largely to set a baseline by which we can measure our environmental impact from year to year, as well as to maintain our goal of transparency as a company.
As we’ve written about many times before, the data center industry is not particularly environmentally friendly. We consume millions and billions of kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is our biggest contributor to emissions. But computing equipment also has a significant toll on the environment. We also consume quite a bit of water.
By focusing on energy-efficient design and operation methods like free cooling and aisle containment, data centers can reduce consumption. Green House Data goes beyond low PUE ratings and tries to be as green as possible throughout our operations.
How did we fare in 2016? Let’s take a look at some Sustainability Report highlights to find out.
While media reports are doing a great job of educating the public about the energy consumption of data centers – a subject that not many people might think about day-to-day – a recent study shows that even as data center loads continue to grow exponentially, their energy consumption has not grown at the same rate.
A recent Bloomberg article, on the flip side, indicates that investors are becoming wary of data centers due to their increasing water consumption, a hot button topic in popular data center markets like California.
The data center industry, in other words, dodges one efficiency and sustainability crisis only to step foot in another one.
For the past decade, Power Usage Effectiveness has been the most common standard to measure data center energy efficiency. While PUE remains in the news with recent controversy over its inclusion in the latest ASHRAE standards, other energy efficiency metrics are starting to catch on – specifically server utilization.
We’ve covered PUE before on the blog, but basically it’s the ratio of overall power used to power used for strictly computing equipment. The closer to a 1.0 ratio, the more efficient the facility.
As the industry has matured, PUE has come under fire as being too simple, easy to manipulate, or failing to consider other environmental concerns. This led to the development of other data center energy efficiency and environmental impact measurements and benchmarks, for renewable use, reeuse of energy, and even water consumption.
Can you believe we’re already over a quarter of the way through 2016? Feels like we were just posting our 2015 blog wrap up yesterday. But here we are—the data center world keeps spinning. In case you missed something in the past three and a half months, we’ve collected our top blog posts and some of the most popular data center news headlines from around the blogosphere in today’s post.
Airflow containment refers to the practice of segregating the aisles of a data center so the hot exhaust air from servers does not mix with incoming cold air, while also more efficiently directing airflow into or out of the data center floor. According to the Uptime Institute’s 2014 Data Center Industry Survey, only 30% of operators have at least ¾ of their data center using some form of containment. Less than half of all survey respondents had at least 50% of their data center heat contained.
That leaves a lot of white space without any form of containment, which is one of the best ways to improve energy efficiency and translates into a more reliable environment as well as direct cost savings.
Things have improved since a few years ago, to be sure. But airflow containment remains a significant upfront investment that data center operations teams might not consider, especially at smaller providers or in-house facilities. However it can show a real ROI.
What grabbed your attention the most in 2015? Our most popular posts from the year are below, along with a wrap up of the industry's biggest headlines.
This year didn't bring massive upheaval in the data center realm, but there was a fair share of news that caused ripples or at least garnered a lot of clicks and retweets. In the industry at large, big news included the Dell-EMC merger, telcos selling off data centers, and the Uptime Institute killing off tiers.
On our humble blog, our most popular posts covered Ubuntu VM optimization, CloudStack vs. vCloud, disaster recovery, and more. Read on for a full list of 2015's biggest data center stories.
Snapchats themselves are actually pretty small fish in the world of mobile data, with images using just tens of kilobytes and videos about 2 MB. But combined, social media activity and streaming media account for an insane amount of data use, which in turn has a heftier environmental impact than you might think. If current trends continue, a family of four will have the same CO2 emissions from their combined cellular data as they will from the family minivan within 3 years.
The electricity at stake isn’t simply charging your phone: when you send that Snap of your cat falling off the counter (which is admittedly pretty hilarious), it’s beaming over various paths through wireless networks that use a ton of energy to a data center that uses a ton of energy and back to those dozens of other phones.
Beginning around 2011, the mainstream media and activist outlets began paying attention to data centers, putting the pressure on industry leaders like Apple, Microsoft, and Google to clean up their power sources. These companies were already pursuing efficient operations – after all, every saved watt is saved money. But the increased coverage did seem to push them towards using renewables, as the general public realized that data centers use a staggering amount of energy and produce thousands of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
We’ve covered all that before, and we’ve also touched on the swelling focus on data center water use, as well (facilities often require significant water use for cooling systems). But the environmental footprint of a data center goes beyond electricity or water. With systems this complex and engineering designed for 24/7, year-round operation, there are many additional factors that can often have negative impact on the planet.
Here are eight overlooked areas of the data center that have significant environmental implications.
Two recent reports have been making the rounds, each claiming the green data center market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate greater than 25% over the next four to five years. As the market for data center equipment expands, the demand for energy efficient hardware and support infrastructure is expected to increasingly drive investments.
Why and how are “green” data centers shifting the market so dramatically? Here are four factors driving major investment in green data center technology.