FM-IT Partnership Can Increase Data Center Energy Efficiency

  February 22, 2011

Today's tip: Partner with IT to boost data center energy efficiency.

Data centers are the equivalent of a 1967 Corvette. Most vintage Corvette owners probably know that their cars only get about 10 miles per gallon. Odds are they don't care too much. They just want to go fast.

Historically, most IT managers have looked at data centers about the same way. They have not cared about how much energy their servers used. They just wanted their data centers to run reliably and securely — and be as fast as possible.

IT’s desire for data centers to be reliable and secure has not changed. But the IT attitude toward energy use is changing. The reason is simple: money. Data centers are energy hogs - so much so that top management is taking notice and putting pressure on IT to join FM to help find ways to cut costs.

There are plenty of ways that facility management and the IT department can work together. One example is to adopt the current ASHRAE guidelines for data center temperatures. ASHRAE's Technical Committee 9.9 has raised the recommended data center temperatures, but not all data centers have adopted the new guidelines. One obstacle is that IT departments may be concerned that higher temperatures will threaten server reliability.

Another opportunity to work with IT is to get the IT department to specify energy efficient servers. These may cost somewhat more, but the energy savings can justify the extra cost.

In both cases, facility management has an opportunity to educate the IT department about the opportunties to save energy. For example, IT may not realize that unnecessarily cold temperatures have a ripple effect on data center costs. Keeping data centers colder than need be requires extra cooling capacity. That increases the construction cost of a data center. And running that extra capacity adds to the data center energy cost.


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