Power Management And Efficiency Strategies for Data Centers

Danica BautistaArticles, Blog

power management

It is without a doubt that energy consumption is the biggest concern for the operation of data centers. Without an adequate supply of electricity, data centers cannot function. Data centers consume enormous amounts of energy. In 2017, data centers in the United States consumed over 90 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. The energy consumption in data centers is expected to grow even more in the coming years. Power management can be a lot for operators with co-locating equipment. Energy consumption affects pricing, hence, data center customers must learn about their own energy needs. This will help them improve energy efficiency in colocation facilities.

Preventing energy disruption is also critical to data centers. System downtime leads to dollars lost and unsatisfied customers. Operators rely on uninterruptible power supply systems (UPS) and power distribution units. These units control the electricity that goes into delicate IT equipment.

Today, we look at power management for data centers. Learn about power distribution, efficiency strategies, and how to analyze them to identify the data center’s needs.

Understanding Power Distribution for Power Management

power distribution

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It is essential to familiarize yourself with basic terminologies for electrical systems. This will help you understand other critical aspects of power management. Listed below are some basic terms in power systems.

  • Amps. This is the measure of actual electrical current moving through a power line. Devices have a rating based on the number of amps they can use or support. A higher amp rating means more electricity can be used before overloading.
  • Volts. It measures how much electromotive force is needed to send an amp. Electricity flows through a wire or electrical conductor. Higher voltage means more power is transferred to a device. It can be compared to water pressure in a pipe.
  • Ohms. This refers to the resistance which slows electrical current. Consequently, causing impediments. Lower ohms mean more current travels through the circuit. This requires a higher voltage to send additional amps. It can be compared to changing the size of pipes in water systems.
  • Watts. It measures the electrical power available to be used by a device. It is measured in kWh/MW. A common server rack needs about 7 kW. But high-power density racks also need a higher amount of electricity. Sometimes as much as 25 kW to 40 kW.

Knowing the terminologies in power systems is essential. But it is also vital to understand the power distribution process. Banta wrote, “Customers need to have an idea of how much power they are going to consume especially if they are co-locating in a data center. Depending on how many amps their servers are using. This affects what power should be installed and how many PDU is needed.”

Each rack in data centers has varying power requirements. Depending on how many servers it contains. Changes in deployment can affect the power supply to the racks. High-power servers also require a higher power density of the racks. It would need more watts running through the unit. It would also need bigger circuits to carry on with the additional power. 

Higher density deployment requires higher cooling. This is another factor to be considered in the colocation costs.

Banta added, “Colocation customers need to work with their data center. This is to ensure that they are deploying their equipment accordingly. Given their power needs inefficient data center power distribution can lead to wasted power and space. That’s not only raising the existing costs but also constraining future growth.”

Knowing Your Power Needs for Better Management

Power usage effectiveness (PUE) measures the energy used by computing equipment. PUE is expressed as a ratio. A low PUE score may show that the data center has inefficient power distribution. This is when power distribution units come in handy. PDU has many outlets to accommodate more equipment. They dispense electricity throughout the data center. PDU is vital equipment that can provide electricity to an entire rack of servers.

power requirement

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PDU also have a longer lifespan than other equipment. Servers usually last for three to five years and not much longer. It is essential to determine whether PDU can accommodate the colocation equipment today up to the coming years. Take note that the versatility of PDU is a good quality to look for in power distribution systems.

Power ratings are the most important part of a PDU. The following are the key indicators of PDU power capabilities as stated by Banta:

  • Amperage. It measures the amount of sustained electricity the unit can handle. When the power demand of equipment plugged into a PDU is too high, the unit’s fuse will blow. This will cause an outage. 
  • Voltage. The amperage measures the strength of the current running through a circuit. Meanwhile, the voltage measures the total power that can be supplied. 
  • Phase. put, it refers to the power line through which electricity is delivered. A single-phase power delivers electricity along a single line. Three-phase power distributes current over three smaller lines.

PDU also have different types. It would be helpful to know the kind of PDU utilized in colocation facilities. Below are the most common types of PDU in data centers:

  • Basic PDU. It can supply a small server room in an on-premises facility. It cannot power bigger data centers and mission-critical servers. 
  • Metered PDU. It can measure power consumption. This is essential in monitoring power consumption in data centers. It helps to optimize deployments and improve cooling efficiency. 
  • Monitored PDU. This type of unit is wired into a data center’s business intelligence platform. It allows operators to transmit data and provide real-time usage metrics. This unit is beneficial for high-density facilities and cloud service providers with high-performance demand.
  • Switched PDU. This is like a monitored PDU but with remote control. It allows for easier and more convenient monitoring and control.

Intelligent Power Management (IPM) system

IPM system

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Datacenter technology only continues to advance. Nowadays, IPM is utilized in data centers for better power management. An IPM is made up of hardware and software that optimize power distribution and the computers’ electricity usage. Installing an IMP can be costly. But in the long run, it provides more benefits than ordinary power systems. While it reduces electric bills it also decreases downtime. Thus, leads to prolonged life of the hardware.

Taranovich explained, “Most effective IPM solutions incorporate temperature monitoring and regulation, voltage regulation, current limiting, and load distribution. Advanced IPM technology deploys branch circuit protection. Each group of outlets has its breaker or fuse. Centralized or integrated management to enable administrators to monitor all data center hardware.”

Through an IPM system, operators can isolate problems and fix them. Smart load shedding can also be used to turn off unnecessary devices. Still, under specified conditions.

Efficiency Strategies

Energy efficiency is one of the biggest concerns in the data center industry. Data centers need electricity not only for servers. But more so for other operations such as cooling. Ventilation systems, lighting, and environmental controls need electricity to function. All IT equipment relies on electricity. Even emergency power systems such as uninterruptible power supply (UPS) also rely on electricity.

Data centers use different strategies to lessen energy consumption. According to Banta, “In past years, data centers installed far more cooling capacity than they needed. Innovations in efficiency practices like cold aisle containment and artificial intelligence (AI) aided efficiency. The limited global data center power consumption growth to a mere 4% annually since 2010. Despite the growing number of facilities.”

In recent years, data centers are also moving towards sustainability. The green power industry is expanding in data centers. Some facilities directly use renewable energy such as air, solar, and geothermal energy. Utilizing green energy is an effort that every data center operator must do.

Power management helps in evaluating efficiency practices in data centers. This also enables clients to save operational costs. A big advantage over those less efficient data centers.

Road to Energy Efficacy

power monitoring

Power Monitoring Sensor

Monitoring systems are available from many of the well-known data center providers such as AKCP. The AKCP power monitoring system has several advantages over many other systems. They provide a device that will upgrade any existing power strip to a smart, intelligent monitored PDU. The cost-effective upgrade path for existing data centers. The system also includes various patent-pending technologies such as the cabinet Fire Suppression System. As well as distributed boot sequencing. 

Drawing on 30+ years of experience in SNMP-enabled sensor monitoring for the data center. Combining this expertise with power distribution. A world-class DCIM software that integrates with access control systems for physical security and IP-based CCTV systems. You not only get a complete power monitoring system but environmental and security as well.

Managing the power in your data center through the AKCP system is automated with power numbers being collected at a central point in AKCPro Server DCIM software. It is then analyzed to automatically calculate PUE numbers. Track total data center consumption. Identify power-hungry racks. Monitor UPS systems via SNMP virtual sensors and base units.

Cabinet Analysis Sensor

Airflow and Thermal Mapping for IT Cabinets

Wireless Cabinet Thermal Map

Wireless Cabinet Thermal Map

The Cabinet Analysis Sensor (CAS) features a cabinet thermal map for detecting hot spots and a differential pressure sensor for analysis of airflow. Monitor up to 16 cabinets from a single IP address with the sensorProbeX+ base units. The Wireless Cabinet Analysis Sensor is also available using our Wireless Tunnel™ Technology.

Differential Temperature (△T)

Cabinet thermal maps consist of 2 strings of 3x Temp and 1x Hum sensor. Monitor the temperature at the front and rear of the cabinet, top, middle, and bottom. The △T value, front to rear temperature differential is calculated and displayed with animated arrows in AKCPro Server cabinet rack map views.

Differential Pressure (△D)

There should always be a positive pressure at the front of the cabinet, to ensure that air from hot and cold aisles is not mixing. Air travels from areas of high pressure to low pressure, it is imperative for efficient cooling to check that there is higher pressure at the front of the cabinet and lower pressure at the rear.

Rack Maps and Containment Views

With an L-DCIM or PC with AKCPro Server installed, dedicated rack maps displaying Cabinet Analysis Sensor data can be configured to give a visual representation of each rack in your data center. If you are running a hot/cold aisle containment, then containment views can also be configured to give a sectional view of your racks and containment aisles.


Power consumption is vital in data centers. Operators and data center customers alike should look into power management. For it affects the overall operation in the facility. Understanding power distribution is key in power management. Knowing the power needs of your data center is also an integral aspect of power management. Data centers consume a vast amount of energy. Hence, it is important to practice energy efficiency strategies. 

Good power management improves data center efficiency. It also prolongs the lifespan of servers and other IT equipment. Always remember that monitoring is the key step in achieving an efficient data center.

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Danica BautistaPower Management And Efficiency Strategies for Data Centers