12 Data Center Energy Management Trends for 2012 and Beyond

The days of IT managers being able to take power for granted in the data center are rapidly coming to an end. Beginning in 2012, the way organizations -- enterprises, government agencies and service providers alike -- all analyze and utilize energy in their data centers will witness some major changes.

Already, a growing number of organizations are starting to grapple with increased power demands in the face of constrained capacity. The reason underlying the need to make these changes is rather simple: Most data centers were designed for high performance and high availability, with little or no attention paid to power.

Here are 12 changes data center and facility managers can expect to experience over the next few years beginning in 2012.

1. Most organizations will have a private cloud, and will make greater use of public clouds for “spill-over” capacity during periods of peak demand. This change is already underway for what is becoming something data center managers will be pursuing far more frequently: efficiency -- in this case from the economies of scale afforded by cloud-based infrastructures.

2. To further improve efficiency, organizations will continue and even accelerate their server and storage consolidation initiatives within and among data centers. Increasingly important in these efforts will be the elimination of stranded power and the energy efficiency of individual systems.

3. The consolidated infrastructure will be more virtualized and the load more fully balanced. To improve disaster recovery, the virtualized and load-balanced resources will be shared between at least two facilities with every application able to run in either/any. An increasing number of organizations will take this configuration to the next level by continuously load-balancing all critical applications between or among data centers.

4. All aspects of monitoring and managing the data center infrastructure will need to become consistent, in addition to becoming pervasive across the IT and facilities organizations. Achieving the best results will require a holistic view of power consumption, environmental conditions and resource utilization. Making the optimal tradeoffs to have the greatest impact will require an unprecedented level of cooperation between IT and facility managers.

5. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) will continue to improve by further reducing facility overhead (especially for cooling), which will have the dual effect of making a higher percentage of power available to the IT equipment and extending the life of the data center. A related change will be a migration from the costly operating model of powering all assets (including servers, lighting and cooling) at full capacity 24x7, to a new model that matches server capacity with demand in real-time. The improvement in PUE also means there will be far more focus on the IT efficiency portion of the equation.

6. Because energy consumption tracks closely with equipment utilization, IT managers will need accurate reference data for idle and peak power utilization to maximize server capacity in an energy-efficient manner. In anticipation of this need, Underwriters Laboratories created a new performance standard (UL2640) based on the PAR4 Efficiency Rating, which provides a very accurate method for determining both absolute and normalized energy efficiency for both new and existing equipment.