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5 Things You Should Be Doing for Data Center Efficiency

By: Blair Felter on May 29, 2014

1. Collecting valuable metrics

The first thing you should be doing for data center efficiency is collecting performance and efficiency metrics. Software-based management tools give you deeper insight into efficiencies and total consumption. You should collect these metrics not only at a data center level, but at the individual server level as well.

Today’s improved management tools allow you to learn more advanced metrics like application efficiency, server performance, efficiency, and utilization. You should also be tracking metrics like granular cost per application, user, and transaction.

2. Sharing your metrics

Once you have these metrics, you need to share them with management, team members, and even customers where relevant. One of the great things about having data center efficiency metrics is that you can create goals based on them. You can also turn them into key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can easily monitor.

3. Leading by example

A good leader will show the importance of meeting goals and improving KPI’s through their own actions. Leading by example will help communicate how important data center efficiency goals are to everyone, and utilizing dashboard software will make your key performance indicators readily available so your entire team can use the same KPIs.

4. Removing inefficient servers

Once you have aligned server energy usage with applications, you can determine the computing power to energy consumption ratio for all servers. This will allow you to find the underperforming servers and create a business case for server virtualization or strategic upgrade. This also allows you to see which servers are sitting in your data center using power but aren’t processing much data.

Removing inefficient servers can be an effective way of reducing power waste. According to a survey conducted by VMWare, virtualizing those servers can increase utilization by up to 80% (compared to 6% - 12% utilization for non-virtualized hardware).

Virtualization servers work harder and have higher thermal densities than their single server counterparts.  Having multiple virtualization servers in one cabinet creates more heat that must be dissipated. Unfortunately, smaller server cases increase this challenge, because there is less space for airflow and heat removal.  In order to combat this, it is important that your data center provide adequate cooling designed specifically for high-density server cabinets.

5. Optimizing your data center

With your new KPIs and more efficient virtualized servers, you can gradually start to optimize your data center. Optimizing will allow you to boost your margins by reducing your total energy cost per transaction. This will also allow you to refine your pricing to reflect those new margins.

Always keep in mind that your data center should be treated like a system. If changes are made, they need to be thoroughly investigated and evaluated. The results should then be communicated with the appropriate people.

It’s important for management and team members to embrace your new goals. By providing the proper incentives to meet these goals based on KPIs, you can get everyone on board with improving data center efficiency.

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