simple green tweaks for datacentres

Businesses can take a number of simple measures to make datacentres more environmentally friendly, an expert has said.

But he warned the message is becoming lost by companies distracted by the economic downturn.

If your datacentre is really cold you should take a look at hardware specifications to see if the temperature can be turned up, which will result in savings on the power bill, according to the Storage Networking Industry Association's European chairman, Juergen Arnold.

There is a lot of talk about green datacentres, but when it comes to actual energy-saving projects and investments there is not much going on, according to Arnold, who this week spoke at a SNIA Europe Academy event in Stockholm.

Arnold attributes the gap between talk and action to the economic downturn, and companies spending money elsewhere. But it is important that the issue is not lost, he said.

Even if budgets are tight there is a lot that can be done to make datacentres greener and more energy efficient without spending a lot of money. A good place to start is cooling, because it represents 60 percent to 70 percent of datacentre power spending, according to Arnold.

There is much room for improvements, said Arnold. Currently, many datacentres are too cold. "That's just because datacentre managers want to be on safe side, and they don't know what kind of equipment they have," he said.

So companies need to check hardware specifications and assess what the actual temperature in the datacentre should be, according to Arnold. New equipment can handle higher temperatures, compared to legacy hardware.

If an assessment shows, for example, that there is an old storage array that stands in the way of increasing datacentre temperature from 18 degrees to 25 degrees Celsius it could make financial sense to replace it, Arnold said.

Other tips on Arnold's do-it-yourself list include sorting out cabling and putting blanking panels in place in racks to improve airflow, and turning out the lights.

Much of this is trivial but people don't think, for example, about messy cabling that can have an impact on your power and cooling requirements. "To change it doesn't cost any money, and it might take you half a day to sort it out," said Arnold.

Companies that want to delve deeper should take a look at the EU Code of Conduct for Datacentres, according to Arnold, who was involved in creating the document and now would like to see the European Union spend some money on marketing to increase awareness.

It includes 117 best practices, that all have been given a qualitative value - from 1 to 5 with 5 being the maximum value - to indicate the benefit that can be expected, according to Arnold.

Turning off the lights, preferably automatically, gets a 1. On the other hand, virtualising and archiving rarely used legacy applications gets a 5.

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