Green Data Centers: Myth vs. Reality

Green data centers are all the rage now, due to the benefits of improved efficiency and savings for owners, along with less pressure on the earth’s environment. The move towards green data centers started off when companies resorted to recycling and reducing their carbon footprint as part of their corporate social responsibility and to improve their image. The business benefits of going green, including improved savings due to increased efficiency and reduced operating costs, came much later as companies looked to cut costs when the recession struck. However, in this process, many myths and misconceptions about green centers have come about.

Here are some green data center myths debunked.

#1. The Myth of PUE

"Infrastructure and Data Center" Ranked Number Two on the CIO Priority List for 2014Forrester Research estimates that data centers consume approximately three percent of the world’s energy, and this is a big reason green data centers have come about to reduce their energy consumption. Most people equate data center efficiency with Power Utilization Effectiveness (PUE), or the total power consumed divided by the power delivered to the IT racks, with a PUE of one indicating optimal efficiency.

However, relying on PUE alone to determine data center efficiency is foolhardy. PUE does not take into account what is going on inside the servers – whether or not the purpose for which the power is consumed could be eliminated altogether. Many servers actually keep on running even after the process for which it was set-up is terminated.

The best way to determine data center efficiency is to use PUE as one among many matrices and processes, including server consolidation.

#2. The Myth of Costly Renewable Energy

Despite the obvious advantages of going green, not all data centers have done the transformation, and green data centers are far from being the de-facto mode of data centers. This is because of the misconception that setting up a green data center requires huge upfront investment and maintenance costs, especially for renewable energy solutions.

However, the fact of the matter is that renewable energy does not cost more in many regions. It is now possible for data centers to purchase green energy options at the same or even cheaper price as traditional fossil-based fuels. A case in point is wind power, which has of late experienced a 10% to 15% decline in cost as turbines become bigger and cheaper. This makes wind power an attractive option for data centers located in the windy areas of the US and Europe.

#3. The Myth of “Investing” for Green

There is a popular notion that going green requires substantial add-ons or overhaul of existing infrastructures. While there is a strong case to retire obsolete and power guzzling assets, this is not always a good idea. In many cases, the carbon footprint to build the new asset and the capital cost for acquiring the same will be way higher than allowing the existing asset to run its course.

Also, the best way to reduce carbon footprints is through efficiency improvements, and efficiency is doing the most with what you already have or trying to optimize existing assets. This can be affected by improving workflows, improving process efficiencies and other handy methods, without any large scale investments.

Going green offers many benefits. But the benefits realize only when there is clarity of purpose and the execution is right.

Lifeline Data Centers is dedicated to continually improving our operational efficiencies for the good of the environment and our clients. To learn more, schedule a tour with us today.

Rich Banta

Rich Banta

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Rich is responsible for Compliance and Certifications, Data Center Operations, Information Technology, and Client Concierge Services. Rich has an extensive background in server and network management, large scale wide-area networks, storage, business continuity, and monitoring. Rich is a former CTO of a major health care system. Rich is hands-on every day in the data centers. He also holds many certifications, including: CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor CRISC – Certified in Risk & Information Systems Management CDCE – Certified Data Center Expert CDCDP – Certified Data Center Design Professional
Rich Banta