Data Center Efficiency: How Does Google Treat Its Server Racks?

Posted by Gaw Technology on 2/5/2013 to Rack Knowledge

Five Best Practices For Maximum Efficiency In Your Data Center

When it comes to data center efficiency, no one beats Google. But everyone can learn a thing or two from this master of internet search, cloud computing, software and advertising technologies.

Google currently has 13 data centers around the world, -- seven in the Americas, three in Asia and three in Europe -- all of which run constantly, year-round. It’s not surprising, then, that Google’s passionate employees have spent a good amount of time and energy -- over a decade, in fact -- improving their energy efficiency. 

How do they do it? Here are five best practices Google promotes to enhance energy efficiency in your data center: 

MEASURE DATA

In order to manage your energy use, you have to measure it. Power usage effectiveness (PUE) is the industry standard to measure energy used on non-computing functions like cooling and power distribution. To get the most accurate measurements, you have to measure often -- Google samples once per second. Also, make sure you take seasonal weather variations into account by assessing PUE data spanning the entire year.

MANAGE AIRFLOW

Efficiency is impossible without proper airflow management. The best way to minimize the mixing of hot and cold air is with robust and reliable server racks and electronic enclosure accessories, like the ones we offer at Gaw. Read this article to learn how Google controls equipment temperature in simple, cost-effective ways.  

ADJUST TEMPERATURE

Google believes the need to keep data centers at 70 degrees Fahrenheit is a myth, countering with the fact that virtually all equipment manufacturers allow you to run your cold aisle at 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. They also advise using an economizer* and raising cold aisle temperatures -- this allows for free cooling days and higher energy savings. 

*An economizer brings outside air into a building, distributing it to the servers and directs the exhaust air outside instead of re-circulating and cooling it. For more information on the energy efficiency of economizers, read this Energy Star article.

CUT DOWN ON THE CHILLER

Since chillers usually use the most energy in your data center, you should minimize their use. Instead, take advantage of free cooling in the form of low temperature ambient air, evaporating water and/or a large thermal reservoir. For more thorough instruction on how to employ free cooling, check out this article [links to:].

OPTIMIZE POWER DISTRIBUTION

Optimizing your power distribution is all about cutting out as many power conversion steps as you can. For the necessary steps, use efficient equipment transfers and power distribution units (PDUs). Keep high voltages as close to the power supply as possible to reduce line losses. Most importantly, stray far away from the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) model, which is one of the biggest sources of power waste in data centers.

While your data center might not be as impressive as Google’s, -- check out some amazing pictures here -- you can make it as, or at least nearly as, energy efficient.

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