Data Centers are Going Green – Consolidation & Dashboards

Running a large organization, private or public sector, requires a lot of IT and as technology has changed and matured data centers have exploded in number and size.

As data centers grow in operational costs in a climate of shrinking IT budgets, efficiencies are being sought out in all areas; from people to support the equipment, the real estate that equipment occupies in the data center, to the power needed to both run the servers and to cool the building.

In the public sector, there are mandates regarding “Power, Space & Cooling”.  The U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program DOE's FEMP provides guidance on reducing energy consumption.

In 2010, the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) was created to reverse the growth of Federal Data Centers, a growth considered to be unsustainable.  The FDCCI reduces the operating cost of data center hardware, software, and operations, shifting IT investments to more efficient computing platforms, Green IT.

In addition to building more efficient buildings and installing better HVAC systems E.O. 13514 § 2(i)(v) directs agencies to promote electronics stewardship by implementing best management practices for energy-efficient management of servers and Federal data centers.

One important aspect of reducing power consumption is being able to monitor it.  Data center operators cannot manage what they do not measure so monitoring and fine-tuning of energy intensive systems is a necessity. To see what is being measured, a dashboard provides quick access to actionable visual data.

What is a dashboard? A dashboard is defined as a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives, arranged on a screen so that the information can be monitored at a glance.  Some key characteristics of a dashboard are:

  • Displays the most important, normally user defined, performance indicators and measures
  • Displays content graphically, in charts or graphs
  • Displays information for various stakeholders
  • Automatically updates displays of data without user assistance
  • Supports filtering and drill down, or customizing screens for different stakeholders.
  • Can store and generate reports

In the data center you need to be aware of how much power the actual servers, routers and switches are consuming.  As you implement energy management dashboards one thing you will monitor will be server utilization.

Consolidating IT Environments and reducing the server footprint in the data center is one way to save power which is where the FDCCI comes into play for Federal agencies. When an agency starts doing the energy audits, they need to also look at the server utilization rates and start thinking about how the resources can be shared using server virtualization in the newly consolidate data centers.

In future blogs, I’ll explore more of the IT aspects of data center consolidation and modernization.