Microsoft's Top Tips for Greening Your Data Center

Microsoft's Top Tips for Greening Your Data Center

Microsoft operates many massive data centers, and has years of experience in saving in energy and cooling costs. So when the software giant talks, IT pros listen. Here, based on a Microsoft article, are the company's top tips for greening your data center, and lowering its costs and TCO. For more tips and details, see Energy Efficiency Best Practices in Microsoft Data Center Operations.

Engineer the Data Center for Cost and Energy Efficiency
The company says "Microsoft's approach to designing a data center is to look at the building as if it were a big computer that must run 24 hours a day, seven days a week." Toward that end, it examines the specific site and requirements, then "evaluates many different technologies for power distribution, cooling systems, and server rack/container systems. To optimize the data center environment, Microsoft uses tools like Computational Fluid Dynamics to test different configurations."

Optimize the Design to Assess Multiple Factors
This is may seem obvious, but it's often overlooked. Microsoft recommends taking into account "building, land, power equipment, cooling equipment, electricity, water, network, and staff." Microsoft said that it used tools to create a heat map to figure out the best locations for data centers. After that's done, here's what Microsoft did:

Rather than decentralizing ownership between multiple teams in the organization, a single organization in Microsoft has been created for site selection, building design, and operations. This creates singular accountability for the data center and ensures lower TCO over the life cycle of the data center.
Monitor and Control your Data Center Performance
The key word here is "monitor." A surprising number of data centers don't monitor their performance or energy use. Put an electric meter in front of your data center if you have no way to monitor energy use, and develop other performance metrics. Then use the data to improve performance and reduce energy costs.

Use the Best Techniques for Temperature Control and Airflow Distribution
Microsoft has excellent advice. Here's what the paper says:
* Orient AC units perpendicular to hot aisles, so that they draw hot air down the hot aisles.

* Match the sum of IT equipment airflow with CRAC airflow, to limit recirculation over top of racks and cool air to all servers.

* Design for Uniform Static air pressure, using 0.8 – 1.0 m raised floors, adjustable vent tiles, and no vent tiles next to the AC.
Eliminate Mixing Hot and Cold Air
This is quite inefficient and leads to higher cooling costs. Microsoft recommends doing things such as eliminating gaps in rows, and employing hot aisles and cold aisles.