Doing More with Less in the Data Center World
It’s no secret that the Asia-Pacific region has grown into a digital innovation hub, with its countries accounting for half of the world’s internet users and nearly half of its global investments. In fact, by 2027, the APAC data center market is expected to witness at least US$94 billion in investments, and hyperscale cloud revenue is anticipated to exceed US$221 billion, representing a third of the sector’s global revenue.
With this stupendous growth as a backdrop, greater data center capacity is needed and time to market must get faster. Unfortunately, the number of existing data centers can’t keep pace with the skyrocketing demand, so operators may face cost increases due to scarce facility supply or a bigger SLA.
This makes it even more important for data centers to find ways to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. In this blog, we’ll offer some suggestions to aid data center operators in achieving these goals.
Some examples of data center cost reduction measures
Increasing Energy Efficiency
One of the main drivers of cost pressure is energy consumption. Data centers require a significant amount of power to operate, and the cost of electricity can be a major expense. Companies like BDx engage in continuous power usage reduction exercises to improve margins and price competitiveness. This exercise also helps to reduce carbon footprints and enable a sustainable future. We have identified several PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) optimization initiatives for each site and have allocated dedicated project teams to bring this to fruition.
Low Cost/No Cost Energy Efficiency improvements
Several adjustments can be made that require little or no investment, but which will help to reduce energy consumption and lower costs. Among these are:
- Switching to variable-speed fans for equipment cooling. Recent research has found that power consumption can be decreased up to 20% through CPU fan speed reduction. Such fans generally run at required speeds based on sophisticated thermostatic measures, so adjusting those speeds should be handled carefully to ensure equipment is cooled at appropriate temperature levels.
- Adjusting temperature settings. Recently, equipment vendors have been designing systems that can operate at higher temperatures, so it may be time to re-evaluate the optimal temperature for your data center equipment. Even adjusting temperatures a few degrees can have a big impact on energy expense. Before considering such changes, however, check with your infrastructure supplier regarding your equipment’s temperature needs for high performance. Guidelines are also available from ASHRAE which provide recommended operating standards for energy consumption, temperature and humidity control.
- Using better airflow management. This is an often overlooked and relatively inexpensive way to decrease data center energy consumption. Several measures can be employed to optimize airflow, many of which seek to reduce the mixing of hot and cold air, which inhibits the efficiency of your cooling infrastructure. Adjustments can include: moving to a hot aisle/cold aisle arrangement; using containment devices or enclosures, such as grommets, diffusers and plexiglass panels, to keep hot exhaust air and cold air separated. Also making humidification adjustments can benefit your bottom line. Your IT equipment may be able to tolerate wider ranges of humidity than you know. Check with your manufacturer and then consider adjusting your humidification set points to reduce run time and save energy dollars.
- Providing energy efficiency awareness training. Finding ways to improve energy efficiency is not part of formal training for most IT staff. By introducing basic energy efficiency concepts, IT staff can learn about the many opportunities for reducing power consumption and perhaps even recommend some methods of their own.
- Consolidating lightly-used servers. Most servers don’t run anywhere near capacity. By consolidating such servers and removing unneeded hardware, data center operators can save not only on energy costs, but they can also reduce operating system license fees and hardware maintenance costs.
- Optimize CapEx spends. When considering an equipment purchase, keep an eye toward technology that can deliver significant power usage (PUE) reductions.
Increasing use of automation is another very important step that can reduce data center operational costs and enhance sustainability efforts. For example, automating cooling mechanisms can help reduce energy consumption and lower costs, while automating inventory and asset management can help prevent over- or under-provisioning of equipment.
Automating plant maintenance workflows, physical security and server management can also reduce costs. For instance, organizations can use the power management profiles of the OS to put hard drives into standby mode when they aren't actively in use. This reduces power consumption and prolongs the hard drive's lifespan.
In terms of monitoring and better managing power consumption, BDx’s 360°View offers a helpful tool that is available to BDx customers and non-customers alike. The ground-breaking data center agnostic platform delivers sustainability tracking, hybrid environment monitoring and other services. The latest iteration of the cloud-based service, launched in early 2022, is available as a free download and includes providing the carbon-related math for any building, data center or power utility. Click here for more information on 360°View.
Data centers require large amounts of physical space to house servers and other equipment, and the cost of leasing or purchasing land in desirable locations can be significant. Some data center operators have turned to modular or containerized data center designs to reduce the amount of space required and lower real estate costs.
Another trend affecting real estate cost is data center consolidation. The growing need for reliable and secure data center infrastructure has resulted in increasing data center consolidation through buyouts and rollups, which is significantly contributing to cost pressure for data center operators. As more companies look to consolidate their data center operations, the supply of large, high-capacity facilities decreases, which can drive up real estate costs.
Cost of equipment and maintenance
As technology advances and equipment becomes more sophisticated, the cost of purchasing and maintaining equipment can increase. Things like preventive maintenance to reduce downtime and maintenance cost can be very effective in cost management. In this vein, don’t forget the importance of data-driven decision making. Data can be a powerful tool for reducing costs and increasing efficiency in data centers. By collecting and analysing data on energy consumption, server utilization and other key metrics, operators can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions about where to focus efforts.
Overall, managing cost pressure is a critical part of running a successful data center business. By implementing energy-efficient technologies, optimizing space utilization, and leveraging new innovations in equipment and maintenance, data center operators can reduce costs while maintaining the reliability and performance that their customers expect.