Addressing Data Center Efficiency and Cooling—Without Skipping Steps

We’ve seen some of the recent chatter around data center cooling. Without a doubt and excusing the pun, power consumption and cooling are hot topics in the industry. Whether data center managers are concerned about their total power bill, specific cooling problems, limits placed on power consumption by their local utilities or how to commission the “next” server without having to build the “next” data center, energy efficiency is at the top of their minds. Addressing energy efficiency however requires looking at a wide variety of issues ranging in scope from the smallest piece of silicon to the entire DC.

Improving the efficiency of the DC requires looking at the decisions made by stakeholders during every part of the data center lifecycle. For example:

  • During the engineering and planning phase, right-sizing your infrastructure to your expected IT load provides the best base-line for years of efficient IT operation
  • During deployment, making smart choices about server configuration and location provides best use of available resources
  • Day-to-day operations require discipline with regards to industry best practices and the ability to monitor facility efficiency
  • During equipment refresh replacing older legacy systems with newer equipment with better performance per watt

Dell’s approach to energy efficiency addresses every aspect of the data center lifecycle. Dell also remains focused on delivering a truly open standard solution, leveraging interoperability standards where available and working to drive these standards where they aren’t. Driving lock-in through proprietary technology is bad for customers and bad for true, overall optimization of the data center. Larger problems such as energy consumption, density, etc. only are solved once the industry adopts standards through bodies such as SPEC.org, ASHRAE, DMTF and others.

In addition to driving technology standardization, Dell is providing customers with the services and tools to optimize today’s IT equipment to address tomorrow’s challenges. For example, Dell’s Data Center Environment Assessment Service and our Data Center Capacity Planner help businesses assess, scope and plan prior to deployment and “right-size” rack deployments to take advantage of the latest advancements in technology and use of space. By partnering with industry leaders such as Liebert, Rittal and Sanmina SCI, Dell is working to address data center efficiency end-to-end with standards-based technologies.

Even more fundamental to the actual technology is how resource decisions are made across the data center. Focusing on (a) buying only what is required or “pay as you go” and (b) using only what’s needed for the job at hand is the fundamental thinking behind the Scalable Enterprise. Stay tuned for updates on how Dell is helping customers address these issues for more complete, efficient and power-friendly data center solutions.

About the Author

John Pflueger, John Pflueger, Ph.D., is Dell's Principal Environmental Strategist. In this role, John is responsible for driving Dell's strategy on issues around Environmental Sustainability – including Energy, GHG Emissions, Materials of Concern, Material Use/Recovery/Reuse, and Water. Prior to this role, John was Dell's subject matter expert on data center energy efficiency and managed initiatives to help customers improve the productivity of their computer systems and facilities. Since graduating from MIT in 1991 with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, John has spent nineteen years in manufacturing engineering, product development, product marketing and product management roles in the high-tech industry. John currently serves as a director for The Green Grid and as a participant in The Green Grid’s Technical Committee.