Top 10 ways to get more from your data center in 2009

St. Louis, MO, Nov. 19, 2008 — The coming year will undoubtedly require data center and IT managers to get maximum value from their facility without making significant enhancements, according to Chuck Spears of Emerson Network Power. The good news, said Spears, is that numerous opportunities exist throughout the data center to do more with less. To that end, he suggested implementing the following top 10 tactics to get more from your data center with less money:

1. Cover your bases. It may be more difficult to recover from an outage during tough economic times than during prosperous one. A relatively small investment in precision air conditioning and backup power can actually save money. For example, precision air conditioning will adequately protect data center assets; building air conditioning alone will not. A double conversion backup power solution with adequate redundancy is essential to raising system availability and ensuring business continuity.

2. Look inside before outside. Increasing density may be a more cost-effective approach to meet the need for more capacity than new facility development. For example, new cooling architectures can enable densities notably higher than average data center densities at a fraction of the cost of building a new facility.

3. Assess before action. Perhaps one of the smartest investments businesses can make in the coming year will be to asses their data center to identify and resolve vulnerabilities that threaten availability, increase data center efficiency, and improve planning and budget allocation.

4. Go from room to rack. Utilizing an integrated enclosure system (i.e. data center in a box or mini computer room) offers a cost-effective solution to protecting the equipment that may be in a small data center or room. Instead of conditioning whole room environment, just protect the rack.

5. Cap the cold aisle. Cold aisle containment allows cooling units to run at reduced capacity to achieve ideal cooling conditions and save energy costs. This tactic is more efficient and effective than hot aisle containment systems, and offers a better environment for data center personnel.

6. Check the weather forecast. In many locations, economizers can be used to allow outside cool air to complement data center cooling systems and provide “free cooling” during colder months. This approach lowers energy usage, lessens wear on some components in the cooling equipment, and decreases operational costs. All together, it can be a welcome reduction in the data center electricity bill.

7. Watch often, if not always. The importance of monitoring what’s going on inside the complex and dynamic data center is more important than ever. Keeping an eye on performance will help businesses steer clear of unnecessary maintenance and repair costs. Success in this endeavor will require IT and facilities to integrate disparate data into a centralized portal where actionable and meaningful information can be derived.

8. Improve energy utilization. Opportunities exist to improve energy use throughout data centers of all sizes. For example, adding variable frequency drives to cooling systems allows them to recognize reduced loads and operate more efficiently. Every watt of savings achieved on the processor level will create a total of 2.84 watts of savings for the facility.

9. Avoid cutting corners. A preventive maintenance plan can extend equipment life and reduce maintenance costs. For example, employ a battery maintenance strategy so that your business isn’t a victim of the number one cause of uninterrupted power supply (UPS) failure: bad batteries.

10. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow. It may be necessary to minimize capital expenditures but make sure you don’t compromise future scalability. UPS scalability is emerging as a popular solution to reducing the risk associated with miscalculating future capacities. Statistical analysis of UPS system configurations in light of failure rates shows that system reliability begins to decrease sharply when more than four UPS modules are used in a single system.

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