However, data centers and mission-critical facilities – such as hospitals, labs, K-12 buildings, and data centers themselves – use a ton of energy. In fact, they’re the second-largest consumer of energy in the world. If you aren’t keeping an eye on how you’re operating your data centers, it can lead to disastrous results.
Smart data center infrastructure management (DCIM) and control systems are essential. A control system lets you monitor the assets of your data center. Whether it’s a server, a network, or hardware, you’ll see exactly how much energy they’re using, and can adjust accordingly.
Think of DCIM like a centralized thermostat. You can control everything from one central hub. A control system is a similar hub for data centers. From one central dashboard, you have eyes on your entire operation. These are three key benefits:
1. Eliminate waste.
It’s not uncommon for companies to be using infrastructure and not even realizing it. By monitoring that usage, your business can cut down on the energy you’re putting out. Google is a prime example of energy use reduction. Most data centers use almost as much non-computing or overhead energy (such as power conversion and cooling) as they do to power their servers. Google’s reduced that overhead to just 11 percent. Similarly, Apple has pledged to bring four clean gigawatts of energy to its supply chain by 2020. It launched the Supplier Clean Energy Program, featuring 44 suppliers working to operate on 100 percent renewable energy sources. Sustainability is a huge part of manufacturing. Consumers care how their products are made and where they come from. Showing a consistent focus on renewable energy not only impresses your customers, it also saves you money.
2. Generate more revenue.
Think about cutting 10 to 20 percent of your energy bill. What would you do with all that extra money? You’d probably put it back in your company, allowing you to focus on upgrading products and services, in turn generating more money for your organization. A control system can show you where you may be using excess power. A data center doesn’t need to have everything going at full blast all the time. But you’re paying for that idle hardware not in use. With a control system, you can remotely manage all of your assets. You’ll have fewer expenses, leading to additional revenue and profit margin. That’s something every business should work towards.
3. Improve operational efficiencies.
Some companies know they need additional data centers or are aware they’re not spending their money efficiently. But without having that control system, as well as the right team to operate it, they’re not maximizing their potential. That’s why I’m a big proponent of building a “smart factory team,” a group of professionals who can design and implement a control system. The cost of commercial space in the U.S. typically ranges from $6 to $12 per square foot. Pair that with the cost of power, which varies by state but has a median of $.0733/kwh. Then add cooling to the mix, which is greatly influenced by how energy-efficient your data centers are. These expenses add up quickly: the Natural Resources Defense Council projects businesses will spend $13 billion in electricity bills in 2020.