‘Designing for Efficiency: A Green Data Center Checklist’

Marc CramBy Marc Cram, Server Technology

If you are designing a green data center, or contemplating a green build, there are many considerations that need to be thought through before moving forward. For example, knowing what your data center PUE or efficiency goal is, and the costs to achieve this is important before getting started.

On many of the data center projects I have been involved with, the PUE goal becomes embedded in the minds of the designers, sometimes without regard to the ROI of the solutions or equipment that get specified. Staying focused on the cost portion of the efficiency equation ensures that PUE decisions are made with the financial interests of the owner in mind.

It’s also critical to understand the type of power that is available from the utility, because there may be more options available to the design team. And particularly with renewables, many companies are able to achieve their efficiency goals without making the investment in wind or solar.

Cooling, Data Center PDUs

Also cooling plays a crucial role in the efficiency of the facility and the calculation of PUE. Best-practice data centers consider the cooling system relative to the environment of the data center. They ask, “have you compared cooling methodology versus average climate at the data center location?” Different climates provide differing opportunities for efficiency, from free cooling to adiabatic or evaporative processes.

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Server Technology PDU

And having a handle on alternate applications for data center PDUs is also a necessity. There are some new ways that rack PDUs are considered for distributing power. First you should ask yourself, “would you use a standard, basic PDU instead of a bus bar?” Some recent designs have challenged the notion of distribution and have found that a very basic rack PDU can be a more cost-effective approach than traditional methods, even bus bars. I encourage customers to think about their compute application, and how they need to interact with the rack. In some cases, an investment in an intelligent PDU or network power strip can be more cost-effective than monitoring systems.

Here are my top questions for designing a green data center – make sure to answer them at the outset of your next data center design.

  1. Do you have a target PUE (or another ‘green’ metric)?
  2. Costs to achieve your PUE or efficiency goal?
  3. Have you compared cooling methodology versus average climate at the data center location?
  4. What type of power is available from the utility – renewable? AC or DC?
  5. What are the available water supplies / chilled water sources – fresh water? Gray water
  6. What renewable energy source – geothermal, water, wind, solar, biogas, and does it provide AC or DC, and cost per kWh?
  7. What is the typical solar exposure at the proposed facility location (how many sunny days, what angle to the sun, what solar intensity)?
  8. Are there tax abatements / incentives for hardware, energy and jobs created?
  9. Will the IT loads be virtualized / containerized?
  10. Will the failure of a given piece of IT equipment cause any adverse impact to the performance of the data center or can the IT load moved with without concern? Failure in place threshold?
  11. Would you use a standard Basic PDU versus Bus bar?
  12. Would your application work better with a Managed (Switched) PDU in the Hyperscale environment?
  13. What is the availability of local skilled labor?

About Server Technology and Marc Cram

Server TechnologyServer Technology is a brand of Legrand – a France-headquartered conglomerate achieving worldwide revenues of around 6 billion euros. Server Technology was acquired by Legrand in 2017. The company’s power strategy experts provide rack Power Distribution Unit (PDU) solutions for over 60,000 data centers worldwide ranging from small technology startups to Fortune 100 “powerhouses.” Well-known clients of Server Technology include Equinix, Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung and General Electric.

Marc Cram is Director of New Market Development for Server Technology. Marc would bring engineering, production, purchasing, marketing, sales, and quality expertise from the automotive, PC, semiconductor and data center industries together to give customers support and guidance through the journey of PDU product definition, selection, and implementation. Marc earned a BSEE from Rice University and has over 30 years of experience in the field of electronics.

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