Energy Efficiency at the datacenter

A datacenter is notoriously power-hungry.  The electricity required to power a small room full of servers and the associated costs of removing the heat that they generate may be equal to the energy requirements of several households.   Electricity is by far the largest operational cost of a datacenter.  It follows, therefore, that a datacenter is responsible for a fair amount of resources.   At VIRTBIZ, we are cognizant of this fact and we have undertaken several projects with the dual aim of containing overhead costs and being good stewards of our planet’s resources.

While leveraging technologies such as virtualization and replacing older equipment with more energy-efficient gear are obvious choices, paying attention to the somewhat less-exciting infrastructure can also provide good results.  Here are a few of the things that have been implemented throughout our operations:

  • CRAC/HVAC systems.  We make extensive use of closed-loop, liquid-cooled CRAC (Computer Room Air Conditioner) systems.  In contrast to conventional air-cooled systems, liquid-cooled systems use a heat exchanger that removes the heat from the refrigerant system.   By using a constantly cooled water supply, our indoor CRAC systems operate at peak efficiency at all times.  Whether it’s 20 or 120 degrees outside, the inside units always perform as if it’s 80 degrees.   By maintaining a closed-loop system, we do not lose any water to evaporation.  Our DAL1 datacenter has been recycling the same 300 gallons of water since 2007.  We also maintain a strict preventative maintenance schedule to ensure that systems are always operating at maximum efficiency.

    LED Lighting

    Replacing old-style lamps with LED has reduced power consumption from lighting by 88%

  • LED lighting conversions. VIRTBIZ has committed to a full-scale LED lighting conversion program which will be completed by mid 2015.  All office-area and datacenter lighting is being moved away from older fluorescent technology.  Through the careful selection of fixtures and lamps, we have reduced power consumption from our lighting systems by over 88%.  In addition to the power savings, LED upgrades result in more usable light in the datacenter and office areas.  While some of our upgrades have included the complete replacement of older fixtures, most of the upgrades have been retrofitted to existing infrastructure through the creative engineering of our staff.
  • Demand-Response participation.  As a datacenter, VIRTBIZ is a large electricity consumer.  When there is an event with the power grid that would otherwise lead to brown-out or blackout conditions for consumers, VIRTBIZ is called into action by the state’s grid operator, ERCOT.  Through our demand-response partner EnerNOC, we will transition off the grid and onto our own generator power.  VIRTBIZ is one of hundreds of large-capacity facilities such as other datacenters, manufacturers, and hospitals that participate in demand-response.  By removing load from the grid, that electric capacity is then available for consumers.

In a typical home or office, the easiest way to reduce electricity consumption (and the resulting carbon footprint) would be to simply turn off devices that are not in use.   In the case of a datacenter environment, the very nature of the operation necessitates computers and associated devices remain constantly powered.  VIRTBIZ continues to strive for efficiency wherever possible, which helps to contain costs so that our pricing to our customers remains as low as possible.  Maintaining optimum efficiency is also in keeping with our commitment to be responsible with our use of natural resources and the environment.