Why the CFO Should Care About Power Usage in the Data Center

Utility IncentivesData center energy consumption is a major topic of conversation.  Data centers are one of the largest consumers of energy in the country and in the world. Data center energy consumption can exceed that of power plants and, therefore, must be managed carefully and optimized whenever possible.  But, the CFO may be difficult to get on board when it comes to energy efficiency measures.  The financial investment necessary to improve energy efficiency in many data centers can often seem astronomical.  While it may be a significant budgetary expense, it will be worth it.  The task of the data center manager and IT head is to convince the CFO that it IS necessary, and why.  Energy consumption always seems to outpace efficient energy management.  It is a never-ending headache and frustration for data center managers because optimization is important for a data center to be more eco-friendly and save money.  While data centers of the past may have been energy guzzlers, today’s modern data center must be optimized for ideal power usage and there needs to be room in the budget to make it happen.

To properly manage data center energy consumption, a thorough, evolving, and future-proof DCIM must be in place.  The infrastructure of a data center is, after all, a big portion of data center energy use.  The PUE must be analyzed and noted because it is an easy way to show a CFO that your data center is not efficiently using power. Increasing rack density and growing infrastructure tend to also increase cooling needs and suddenly, energy is not being managed properly and is being wasted.  Rack density gets increased because of the growing needs of the data center and the amount of data that needs to be stored.  If your equipment is out of date it is probably consuming far more energy than you realize.  While updating equipment is a big financial endeavor on the front end, it will pay for itself significantly on the back end because your data center will run more efficiently and use less energy. The next important focus for data center managers when optimizing power usage is to look at the data center’s physical setup.  Is it optimized to make cooling as efficient as possible?  If your data center is housed in an older building that has not been properly renovated it probably is not optimized.  Consider efficient cooling methods that can reduce energy used trying to cool an inefficient environment.  Hot aisle/cold aisle technique is one way to improve cooling efficiency, other containment options such as a ceiling-ducted air containment, cold rooms and more are other options that data centers are taking advantage of to keep their data centers cool while still maintaining energy efficiency.  The CFO may not have much to do with the day to day operations of a data center but a data center renovation or move cannot take place without the budgetary approval from a CFO and therefore DCIM analysis and management must be done often so that a detailed picture of data center energy use can be presented and efficient change can begin.

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