How to Optimize the Sustainability of Your Data Center

As more and more businesses move their data to the cloud, data centers become more prevalent. They offer companies a way to keep their data secure, save on storage costs, and improve overall business.

But with these benefits also comes a responsibility to make your data center sustainable. Businesses are increasingly subject to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) evaluations that reward sustainability and punish environmentally costly practices.

On top of that, over a third of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services.

So if you want your business to stay in good standing with governments, consumers, investors, employees, and other stakeholders, you need to invest in sustainable data center practices.

Here are some different ways to optimize the sustainability of your data center:

1. Create a sustainable data center strategy

The first step to creating a sustainable data center is to develop a strategy. Achieving sustainability while maximizing profitability is a balancing act.

Define what success means for your company. Then set specific and actionable goals. Your sustainability goals should follow the SMART criteria. That means they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.

As you progress in your sustainability efforts, regularly evaluate them to see how your business is doing.

2. Install energy-efficient designs

Next, it’s important to install an energy-efficient data center design. This could involve many things, but here are some ideas to get started:

  • Invest in energy-efficient technology like SF6-Free switchgear and liquid cooling.
  • Right size physical IT infrastructure equipment.
  • Minimize bypass airflow with blanking panels, raised floor grommets, or efficiency hoods. Data center cooling accounts for half of the total data center energy consumption so optimizing airflow efficiency is crucial.

There are many more ways to optimize your data center design for energy efficiency. Research best design practices and implement as many as your budget will allow.

3. Improve operational efficiency

With your data center designed and set up, it’s time to optimize its operational efficiency. Here are some things you can do:

  • Organize the cables. If the cabling is messy or unorganized, it can be dangerous and lead to an accident, which can cause damage and energy waste.
  • Optimize the floor space. Know how different pieces of equipment interact with each other so you can place them optimally within the floor space.
  • Use data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software. DCIM helps you consolidate resources with server virtualization, manage resources, and monitor energy consumption, temperature, and humidity.

Improving the operational efficiency of your data center is just as important as creating an energy-efficient design. If you don’t operate efficiently, you’ll still be using more energy than necessary.

4. Use renewable energy

Using renewable energy is a great way to reduce your data center’s carbon footprint. You can use renewable energy sources located on-site like solar panels or those located off-site like wind turbines and hydroelectric plants.

Using renewable energy supports the environment because it takes a smaller toll on the earth and is unlikely to run out.

5. Extend the life of your existing equipment

IT infrastructure lifecycle management is a crucial part of any energy-efficient data center. It involves tracking end of life dates, then upgrading or extending the useful life of your equipment to reduce natural resource consumption and/or unnecessary carbon emissions.

Data center equipment that you must pay attention to includes servers, storage hardware, network devices (switches and firewalls) power distribution units (PDUs), air handlers, and uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs). Keep track of the End of Life (EOL), End of Support Life (EOSL), and End of Development (EOD) dates of each piece of equipment to know when it needs to be refurbished or replaced.

6. Monitor your data center

Lastly, it’s important to monitor your data center. This will help alert you to any issues that could be causing unnecessary energy consumption or emissions. A detailed review of your data center will also help you see what equipment is using up the most energy and if it needs to be replaced.

Adding it all up

Data center sustainability requires constant work. Though it’s not always easy, it’s well worth the effort. By achieving greater data center sustainability, you’ll ensure your business thrives long into the future and wins the support of your customers and the public at large.