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Optimising physical infrastructure in data centres for savings and efficiency

Jack Loo | April 4, 2012
Schneider Electric believes a single holistic software system can provide detailed energy insights into data centres and supporting facilities.

Having a virtualised data centre means there could be power and cooling challenges for managers to deal with, according to Benedict Soh, IT business VP, Schneider Electric Singapore.

benedict soh

He shared with Computerworld Singapore recommendations on how physical infrastructure in a data centre can be optimised to address the above-mentioned issues.

1) How do you use PUE in measuring the effects of power and cooling challenges on the data centre?

Schneider Electric has identified a number of practical problems with establishing the power usage effectiveness (PUE) of specific data centres. Here are some of the issues that cause difficulty in classifying power-consuming subsystems as IT loads, physical infrastructure, or neither:

a) Devices are encountered in data centres that draw power, but how (or if) their power data should be counted in the efficiency calculations is unclear.

b) Certain data centre subsystems are not present in some data centres, for example, outdoor lighting.

c) Some subsystems support a mixed-use facility and are shared with other non-data centre functions, so the fraction of power attributable to the data centre cannot be directly measured.

d) Some subsystems such as switchgear are extremely impractical or costly to instrument for power consumption.

e) Some practical power measurement points include loads that are unrelated to the data centre but cannot be separated during measurement.

Since most data centre operators who attempt to determine PUE will encounter one or more of the above problems, a standard way to deal with them needs to be defined. Schneider Electric has devised the following three-part methodology to overcome these problems and provide a standardised process to measure PUE:

a) Establish a standard to categorise data centre subsystems as either (1) IT load, (2) physical infrastructure, or (3) not included in the calculation

b) If a subsystem's power consumption cannot be directly measured because it is shared with non-data-centre loads, estimate the power using a standardised methodology for that subsystem type.

c) If a subsystem's power cannot be directly measured because of technical barriers to measurement, estimate the power using a standardised methodology for that subsystem type.

Data centre operators need to understand that determining PUE does not require extensive, expensive instrumentation because many losses in a data centre can be very effectively estimated by indirect measurement and estimation.

2) How can cooling and capacity management tools improve the ratings?

While power, cooling and cost control remain top concerns in the data centre, new questions including green IT, energy efficiency, PUE, utility negotiations and return on investment are highlighting the need for a new, business orientation to data centre management.

An advanced, vendor neutral software system that provides a unified view and analysis of complex IT physical infrastructure and communicates with building, enterprise and network management systems to ensure quality, gain energy and cost efficiencies and aid in short and long-term planning and provisioning of data centre equipment and resources.


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