Saturday, May 24, 2014

Eco-Friendly Data Centers Do Their Part to Green Up the Planet

More people than ever before believe climate change is real. The growing support for concrete steps to fight it forces governments and companies to seriously consider ways to cut carbon emissions and use cleaner sources of energy. This process is not easy, but more companies see the savings outweigh the costs when going eco-friendly. Data centers are now at the forefront of that effort.

Data Centers Use Dirty Fuel?

As an average person, you may wonder why data centers are carbon emission offenders. Since they rely on electricity on the grid, it would be a common assumption that the energy comes from various sources. However, the truth is quite different. According to the EIA 42% of all electric power produced in the United States comes from coal. Another 25% comes from natural gas. Looking at these numbers, roughly two-thirds of all electricity produced in America comes from fossil fuels. Data centers use a large amount of power everyday and the energy they consume grows with the demand for more cloud computing services like streaming video and other forms of data storage. It was something no one really expected. IT companies know of the growing problem and already actively seek solutions to shrink their carbon footprints

Taking Steps To Solve The Problem

For most companies, the long-term solution of increasing the share of renewable power they use to power their data centers is not practical in the short-term. Due to costs and political barriers, it could take another full decade, if not more, for renewable energy to reach shares at the level of coal electricity. The best and most effective step companies can take now is to find ways to reduce energy use and make changes in the infrastructure of their data centers. Many of these steps are easy and cheap to do. Here are some ways data centers now cut down on electricity use.

Cooling and Lighting

A big source of the energy drain for data centers is cooling and lighting. Since people make use of cloud computing around the clock, the servers can't turn off like other electronics. This means data center servers face the constant threat of overheating. To face this problem most companies spend millions for cooling systems that exacerbate the energy problem. Put simply, it takes even more power to cool servers constantly year round. Lighting makes the problem worse by emitting heat and using even more electricity. New solutions for this include LED lighting and designing data centers to use natural cooling sources like outside air and open aisles. Companies also employ new technologies like motion sensors so data center cooling system only work when needed.

Backup Power

Another threat to cloud computing is backup power. When a major storm hits an area like New York, the damage for the IT infrastructure is astounding because power gets shut down and data lost. To prevent this, many data centers have redundant back up systems. These take extra power. Some companies are looking at implementing renewable energy sources to power and charge back up systems.

Energy Efficient Servers

Another way to cut energy use is the servers. A simple step is for companies to buy EPA certified servers. These servers are certified for their increased energy efficiency. Each of these steps alone might seem small, but together they provide significant step forward towards making data centers more energy-efficient and pushing for larger changes in other aspects of business to fight climate change.