Striking the Right Balance between Energy Efficiency and Availability

Energy management has become a major initiative in data center operations. It affects performance, cost control and efficiency mandates. To make improvements in these areas, municipalities can employ a number of strategies.

Today’s data centers need to develop meaningful strategies to use energy in the most efficient way. Some examples include:

  • Using more renewable energy sources – Although coal powers a good amount of the energy provided by today’s utilities, more renewable energies are coming into the picture. Many utilities have programs in place to use renewable energies, like solar and wind.
  • Implementing the most efficient equipment – New technologies in IT equipment surface all the time. The goal of the manufacturers of this equipment is to increase capacity without increasing energy usage. When data centers implement the most energy efficient equipment on the market, they can receive all the benefits that accompany energy reduction.
  • Collecting and evaluating data on equipment efficiency – Purchasing energy efficient IT equipment is only part of an energy management program. You must then measure your return on investment. In other words, you must gather real-time energy data and analyze it to glean valuable information on how your IT equipment is actually performing in terms of its energy usage. (See the discussion in the next section on the PUE metric.)
  • Paying attention to the basics – Because energy efficiency is such a critical goal for data centers, IT and facilities professionals focus on complex initiatives. However, you can make significant inroads in your programs by also adhering to some basic principles.

For example, when your staff practices better work habits, you can see a positive impact on energy usage. One easy thing to do is ensure your IT staff replaces rack panels, ceiling tiles, floor tiles and equipment cables after working in the data center. By doing so, you can maintain the appropriate airflow. Good airflow makes it easier to maintain temperatures and keep energy costs as low as possible.

The Pressure to Meet IT Demands

Although municipal data centers strive to improve energy efficiency, the burden of meeting expanding IT demands in a 24/7 environment may complicate that goal for many local governments. The focus is routinely on making sure the municipality maintains continuous operations. Energy efficiency initiatives often take a back seat to maintaining the highest levels of availability.

So is it even possible for organizations to accomplish both goals? With careful planning, local governments can make steps to energy efficiency. They can thoroughly evaluate their data center operation and identify every energy reduction opportunity that can be implemented without adversely affecting availability.

Because of the complexities with calculating energy efficiencies, many local governments and businesses may not arrive at realistic metrics. Unless organizations are in the business of managing data centers, or staff well-qualified experts in their facilities, implementing energy efficiency initiatives and measuring them on an ongoing basis may be overwhelming.

Working with a data center colocation provider may be the best option to achieve the most energy efficient operation. Because it’s their core business, established providers will understand how best to balance goals for energy efficiency and continuous availability. They’ll have a proven process in place to measure efficiency efforts on an ongoing basis and adjust as needed. Plus, they’re often in a better position to regularly invest in the latest energy-efficient technology.

Assess Your Local Government’s Data Center Risk

If you’d like to better understand your municipal government’s level of data center risk, take FairPoint Communications’ “Risk Assessment Questionnaire for Municipalities.” By answering nine multiple-choice questions, you’ll gain helpful insight into your municipality’s risk exposure – high-, medium- or low-risk.

FairPoint Communications’ data centers provide organizations with network connectivity and rack space in physically secure, reliable locations. Municipalities can use this space as primary or secondary data center sites. In addition, data center colocation space can also be employed as an essential part of a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy. FairPoint’s data centers are strictly controlled environments with essential power, cooling, connectivity and physical security features.

For data center colocation services that address your municipal government’s requirements, call FairPoint Communications (1.866.984.4001) or visit www.FairPoint.com/businessclassdatacenter.

Vice President Karen Romano is Vice President, Government and Education at FairPoint Communications, a leading provider of advanced communications technology in northern New England and 14 other states across the U.S.