One of the major challenges in going green is that, in most cases, certain power costs are not part of the IT budget, which could reduce the motivation for IT to make “green” decisions. However, from a business continuity perspective, data center managers have a vested interest in maintaining power, and they typically do it with uninterruptible power systems (UPS) that can be found connected to servers, workstations, network devices, and many other assets. Major backup power assets, such as external diesel or liquid natural gas (LNG) generators, are more likely to be managed by facilities. Opportunities to “go green” often can be found by addressing power systems.
When making the business case for going green, IT and facilities departments should work together to define the current state and identify future opportunities. Key focuses should be on power and cooling. While other environmental initiatives such as recycling remain important, the hard dollar savings and rapid ROI of energy-saving investments will cause these projects to take center stage.
Recommendations for Making Your Data Center Green
- Foster communication between IT and facilities. Some IT departments may not know what the annual energy costs are for the data center. To get visibility into energy usage and cost-savings opportunities, IT must work with the facilities department. Collaboration will also help facilities better plan for future power, space, and cooling requirements.
- Track and manage energy consumption. The business case for green technology is dependent on establishing a baseline for energy consumption and demonstrating how IT investments can lower this. If not broken out as separate budget items, electricity costs may be lumped into “General & Administrative” expenses or included with facilities costs. Tracking these costs will require either physically metering the data center or establishing a percent allocation based on what the equipment footprint looks like. Energy management products (included in many high-performance systems, such as blades) can provide energy usage information and allow IT administrators to control energy usage based on requirements.
- Make the case for more green. Each green data center initiative will require a separate business case and ROI based on projected energy savings. Even if “green” is not a hot topic for the enterprise, project proposals should demonstrate how they can reduce waste, improve energy efficiency, and maximize resource utilization. In many cases, green decisions don’t have to mean net new purchases – existing, planned investments in infrastructure can be used to buy the more efficient equipment.
- Balance uptime against cost. The ongoing energy costs of maintaining fully redundant systems can easily match or surpass the cost of simply duplicating the hardware. Even if IT has no intention of implementing chargebacks to business units, providing a cost allocation for energy consumption to business leaders will underscore the fact that high availability comes with an associated “energy burden.” Significant energy savings can be achieved by prioritizing applications and services, and only providing redundancy where it is really needed.
A “green” data center is energy efficient, cost efficient, environmentally responsible and able to maintain uninterrupted operations. Investing in green data center technologies and processes can save the enterprise thousands of dollars a year. Work closely with business leaders to define the value of going green and make the business case for new investments. Make sure that business continuity is part of your analysis.