How Server Efficiency Affects Power Consumption

When you manage your company’s data center, your primary focus is keeping servers up and running. But if no one is checking the efficiency of those servers, you could be maintaining machines that offer little value in exchange for the power they consume.

How Server Efficiency Affects Power ConsumptionIn 2013, data centers in the United States consumed 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Here’s how much power that actually is:

  • A 500-megawatt coal plant can produce 5 billion kilowatt-hours per year
  • 5 billion kilowatt-hours is the approximate annual electricity usage of a city of 140,000 people
  • That means data centers consume roughly the same amount of electricity as 3.64 million individuals – the combined population of Austin, Texas, and Chicago

Data center energy usage is expected to keep growing, and those who manage their operation should anticipate increasing pressure from government and environmental groups concerned about energy consumption. Now is the time for data center managers to examine their server efficiency – and in doing so, they may be able to save their companies a lot of money.

Identify Lazy Servers

You wouldn’t pay a worker to sit at a desk all day doing nothing. But that is what’s happening in IT closets nationwide: Up to 30 percent of servers are consuming power without actually doing anything. And countless other servers are running at about 10 to 15 percent of capacity. Companies are wasting a lot of money on electricity to power dormant and inefficient machines.

Recently, email provider AOL undertook a project to identify and eliminate applications that were no longer in use. As a result, the company was able to decommission 14,805 servers and close two of its data centers, saving $4.3 million in licensing, maintenance and utility costs, and earning $6 million for the sale of old equipment.

Upgrade Equipment

The Environmental Protection Agency allows its ENERGY STAR label to be applied to products that meet certain standards. Most consumers may be familiar with ENERGY STAR labels because they’ve seen them at home on their appliances. And in 2009, the EPA created ENERGY STAR ratings for servers. To qualify as such a product, servers must offer:

  • Power supplies that minimize power conversion losses and heat generation
  • Power quality that provides building-wide efficiency gains
  • The ability to measure processor usage, power consumption and air inlet temperature
  • Advanced power management functions and efficiencies that reduce energy consumption, even when idle
  • An information sheet that tells buyers about its features and capabilities

The EPA reports that ENERGY STAR servers are, on average, about 30 percent more efficient than other models, and in some tests, have consumed 54 percent less power than older servers.

A Sensible Solution

Eliminating unnecessary servers and replacing old ones with energy-efficient models can help cut electricity costs. Still, keeping servers cool can result in high electricity bills.

Lifeline Data Centers has a sophisticated cooling system and offers tenants the option of adding power and space, as needed. We offer a solution for businesses that are trying to minimize data center costs and energy usage.

Find out how we can help with your data management needs. Schedule a tour today.

Schedule a Tour

Other resources:

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