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Improvements in Data Center Efficiency Cool Down Costs

By: Blair Felter on June 17, 2014

It’s no industry secret that data centers require a lot of power and resources – it's estimated they use 1.5% of the power in the United States. While going green is a great reason for improvement, for most companies the real reason for becoming more efficient is to reduce costs. This article will give you some real-world methods companies are using to improve data center efficiency today.

Aisle containment

Years ago – in a traditional data center – IT had little concern for airflow and simply tried to keep the entire server room cold. Air-conditioners worked around-the-clock to dilute hot air by mixing in cold.

While this may have worked for a small computer room with a few computers, as data centers became more popular and computer densities increased, this method was no longer efficient.

You can gain efficiency by effectively removing the heat to a location outside of your data center. This means that the air-conditioning systems will not have to work as hard. By using hot air return plenums in ceilings, data centers are able to expel the hot air and work more efficiently.

With aisle containment, chilled air is sent directly into the air handlers for each server and hot air exhaust is collected from the back of the server.  Special care must be taken for high-density cabinets to make sure that the machines have proper airflow to handle the additional heat.

Aisle containment can become part of a complete HVAC strategy that can help make data centers more energy-efficient. It allows you to reduce your cooling cost and have higher density servers in your cabinets.

Facebook and Google Improve Data Center Efficiency

Two large cloud companies have also been hard at work making their data centers more efficient.


According to Thomas Furlong – Facebook’s director of site operations – Facebook has been working on data centers that save 11 to 17% of electricity as well as reduce the overall cost to build the data center by 24%.

Some of the new techniques Facebook is using to improve data center efficiency include:

  • LED lights that operate by motion sensors
  • Custom energy-efficient servers
  • Using both AC and DC connections so that servers are connected to the power grid and the UPSs
  • Evaporative cooling that utilizes cold air from outside to cool servers
  • Distributed rack level UPS system instead of the traditional centralized UPS
  • Utilizes cold aisle containment


Google has made strides at improving power utilization effectiveness (PUE) to bring down their rating from 2 to less than 1.2. Having the equipment to properly monitor PUE is a critical factor in doing this.

Google also manages airflow in their data centers by monitoring real-time hotspots and guiding airflow based on this data. They use curtains and metal doors to isolate the cold and hot aisles to save energy and also to make their data centers more comfortable for the technicians.


These are a few ways that companies are working hard to improve the efficiency of data centers. By utilizing similar techniques, you can see substantial cost savings over time.

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