Top 5 Techniques for Improving Data Center Efficiencies

The latest Jurassic Park movie reminds us that there are still many dinosaur data centers operating today. It’s imperative that data centers modernize—not just to meet today’s demands but to exceed the expectations of the future.

By 2022, enterprise data centers will have five times more computational capabilities per kilowatt than today, according to Gartner. Data center technologies are evolving rapidly to newer levels of efficiency and demand continuous improvement.

The speed at which the technology industry is moving is faster than many of its bricks-and-mortar counterparts. Data centers, while providing essentials, are in fact, incredibly complex environments. Additionally, the demands from an increasing number of businesses but not necessarily growing IT budgets require innovation and performance.

Creating a more efficient data center may include scaling up or investing in newer technologies based on the latest trends to achieve greater agility and capacity. Other efficiencies can be achieved simply by reorganizing the infrastructure of existing data centers.

Here are our top five recommendations to modernize data center operations optimizing power, cooling, space and IT load to improve data center efficiency.

The Top Five:

  1. Increase vertical space utilization (VSU) by increasing the quantity of IT equipment per rack. VSU = Installed IT Equipment (RU) divided by (Total Rack Space Equipment (RU) * Optimum Target)
  2. Implement a hot-aisle containment that encloses the hot aisle to collect the IT equipment’s hot exhaust air. This allows the rest of the room to become a large cold-air supply plenum. Alternatively, create a cold-aisle containment which encloses the cold aisle, allowing the rest of the data center to become a large hot-air return plenum.
  3. Implement data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tools to monitor, measure, track and control data center resources and energy consumption. This applies to both IT-related equipment and facility infrastructure components.
  4. Establish efficiency program goals and define realistic and defensible metrics (we suggest adding WUEs to the list), with benchmarks and regular reporting.
  5. Finally, The T-Rex of opportunity is to control and reduce water usage. Our systems deliver efficiency at any load in any climate. Our cooling technology utilizes up to 80% less energy and 85% less water to reduce resource usage, improve the environmental impact and lower your TCO.

As data centers consider making changes for efficiency’s sake, leaders will want to focus initially on the techniques that are easier to implement and offer higher rewards, like managing temperature properly, eliminating unnecessary cooling equipment, among others.

Remember, any improvement actions — even those that require practically no investment — could end up creating additional risks or may not deliver any tangible or effective results. Weigh the risks vs. rewards, realistic timetables, and contingency plans before pulling the plug.

Whether you’re expanding into new markets, or looking to make your existing facilities more efficient, Aligned Energy’s factory-built technology can help with your build-to-suit, retro-fit, and upgrade needs. You can provision to your requirements today and quickly add capacity on-demand as your needs evolve.

Put the Brakes on Water-guzzling Data Centers with Aligned Energy

Learn to Save Water or Your Data Center May Tank

757 million liters. That’s about 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools–all full of crystal-clear, cool water. That’s how much freshwater a typical large, cloud data center complex with cooling towers used on average in 2017, even though fresh water is a dwindling and limited resource worldwide, especially in hot, dry areas of the globe. Clearly, data centers have a conservation challenge ahead of them.

Now, I’m sure you have heard the adage ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. So, it should come as no surprise that the industry has attempted to tackle this issue in a variety of waysbut unfortunately without much success – yet. Many of the solutions in recent years have certainly improved energy efficiency, but water usage remains high. Open cell towers are still way too commonplace for an industry that knows it has a water problem.

 And because Data Centers have this drinking problem, it is imperative the industry finds the most efficient and cost-effective solution regarding water usage – without sacrificing reliability. In short, low-water to no-water data centers are becoming a necessity for the market.  

Data Centers Wow Clients with Low WUEs

 First, what’s a WUE and why should you care? WUE stands for Water Usage Efficiency and it is just as important as the better known PUE (Power Efficiency Usage). The Green Grid Data Center Maturity Model (DCMM) sets standards for sustainability in several key areas including power, computing, storage, network, and yes water. They rate efficiency maturity levels on a scale from 1-5. If you are a 5, you can stop reading now…you have reached maximum efficiency. All others, keep reading.

Efficiency recommendations could include hot-aisle or cold-aisle containment to improve airflow management and reduce cooling loads, increasing the cold-aisle temperature set points, installing some form of economization to the cooling system, implementing data-center-wide monitoring and controls, conducting an energy efficiency audit, identifying and removing comatose/orphan/unused servers, and upgrading to higher-efficiency servers.

 All of these strategies translate into utility bill and operational savings that also conserve overall natural resources, such as the water used onsite for cooling, or the water used to generate the electricity which runs the data centers. 

The Aligned Energy Solution: “Free Cooling”

Aligned Energy’s cooling system offers a unique take on the chiller/forced-air approach to data center cooling that results in an all-around more efficient and sustainable solution. 

Using a patented heat sink design that is closely coupled to the server racks, Aligned Energy has been able to not only capture the heat generated by the servers more efficiently, but transport and reject it to the atmosphere using dramatically less energy and resources than the traditional CRAH systems.

The specially designed heat sinks, coupled with the use of hot aisle containment and an advanced volumetric air flow control strategy, enable Aligned Energy to capture the heat at the source in a highly efficient manner. This solution trifecta results in a considerably lower airside static pressure drop, while minimizing bypass and maximizing the Delta T across the heat sink, which allows for dramatically less fan power and significantly higher return water temperatures.

Having higher return water temperatures is, of course, a great benefit where economization is concerned. An economizer system works the cooler outside ambient air against the warmer water to reject as much of the heat without using refrigeration.

This is where Aligned Energy’s system sets itself apart. Their CACTUS cooler combines the best of wet and dry waterside economization, with industry leading maglev trim refrigeration. Through the use of their specially designed economizer coil and evaporative assist, the cooler is able to reject the heat very efficiently using only a modicum of fan power. Because of the close approach between the entering scavenger air and leaving water, the cooler essentially wrings out as much benefit from the ambient air as possible. And since water is used very sparingly by the evaporative media, this precious resource is conserved.

When the ambient air is no longer able to provide all the cooling needs, Aligned Energy turns to centrifugal compressors for trim cooling. The system has the ability to start at very low power and can vary its output in a very granular way. One other benefit to the system is that the condensing section sits in the evaporatively cooled air stream, so when the system is running evaporative assist, it benefits from lower condensing temperatures and an improved coefficient of performance.

In addition to industry leading efficiency and sustainability, the Aligned Energy Data Center Cooling System can be setup and installed to run dry. This solution benefits customers looking to operate without the use of water, while still maintaining lower connected power and lower PUE’s.

 Want to learn more about how Aligned Energy conserves water and power resources? Get in touch with us!