How Do IT Upgrades Impact a Data Center’s Energy Usage & Costs?

Utility IncentivesTo do an IT system upgrade or not to do an IT system upgrade, that is the question.  Except, it is not really a question because, for data centers, IT upgrades are unavoidable.  Any time an IT system upgrade is required, whether small or large, it will inevitably require more energy usage.  This means that every time an IT upgrade occurs, operational costs will most likely increase.  With so much focus on being energy efficient, and with the rising costs of energy usage, many data centers are trying to find ways to avoid increasing operational costs through improved energy efficiency while still maintaining the capability to upgrade their IT system as needed. Data Center Knowledge points out statistics about just how much energy data centers are using and why every IT system upgrade and increased energy usage is a concern for many, “Although the dire predictions of the 2007 EPA report on data center energy consumption have not panned out, there are still ongoing energy consumption concerns and data centers are not off the hook. Earlier this year, a report by Greenpeace criticized big data centers for using dirty energy (coal, gas, nuclear) as opposed to clean energy (wind, solar). A more recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) claims waste and inefficiency in U.S. data centers – that consumed a massive 91 bn kWh of electricity in 2013 – will increase to 140 bn kWh by 2020, the equivalent of 50 large (500 megawatt) power plants. However, the 2014 Uptime Institute annual data center survey reveals that data center power usage efficiency (PUE) metrics have plateaued at around 1.7 after several years of steady improvement.”

With IT system upgrades that bring increased energy consumption as well as increased operational expenses, an evaluation of overall energy usage must be completed.  You cannot endlessly upgrade and grow without evaluating and consolidating over time.  By consolidating energy usage through a variety of other means you can lessen the impact of an IT system upgrade on the bottom line.  Whether improving your heating/cooling system to improve energy efficiency, or consolidating servers, racks or more you can reduce energy usage in other areas within the data center to accommodate IT system upgrades.  The best way to ensure that you are maintaining balance and, hopefully, constantly improving, is to routinely evaluate needs so that there is not wasted energy for unused equipment or other factors.  A data center will run much more efficiently with a data center manager and team that understands just how much data is truly being used, as well as where energy is being consumed in large amounts within the data center.  With a well rounded understanding, and routine evaluations of data center energy usage, IT system upgrades can occur without drastically impacting a data center’s overall energy usage or operational costs.

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