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Sep 13, 2012

Four ways to become more green

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Four ways to become more greenOne of my childhood favorites said it best, “It’s not that easy being green.” Kermit the frog had it right, but we aren’t just referring to color.  In this case it means green sustainability; it means energy efficiency, and it means cutting-edge practices to deliver major operational benefits. Achieving these is no small task, especially for IT professionals trying to fuse green corporate objectives into their infrastructure. To make it easy on you, we’ve put together a short list of common practices to help you be more green.

1. Managing your racks

Often overlooked, this zero-cost action at the rack level can help provide cooling where it is most needed. Simply improving the cable management at the discharge of the server rack can help reduce recirculation. Placing higher density servers at low- or mid- level U’s can also help reduce re-circulation over the rack, especially if implemented with blanking panels. Improving overall air management allows cold air to be delivered more effectively to the server inlets.

2. Monitoring your power usage

Being able to understand your power consumption is critical to knowing if you are running at maximum efficiency. Branch circuit monitoring is one way to achieve this. With this solution a physical monitor is installed on your power circuit that provides reporting back to the network. With more visibility you can make tweaks to configurations, cabling, hot/cold aisle designs and ultimately control your environment so it performs that way you want.

3. Utilizing efficient equipment

According to Data Center Knowledge, purchasing servers is one of the most important factors in making data centers (and colocation data center investments) more cost-effective and energy-efficient. Fortunately, more energy-conscious processors are available to help lighten the draw on resources like power and cooling. By using more efficient chips, server processors are able to save more energy when equipment is idle and during server refresh cycles.  Additional components to increase airflow in the chassis and system settings to increase efficiency are also a part of newer servers. The federal government also has an Energy Star Program for servers, so equipment bearing this seal is approved for greater efficiency — in some cases consuming 54% less power than older models.

4. Partnering with green a data center provider

Finding a partner that is aligned with your goals is also a way to make sure green policies are reinforced.  Some of the accrediting organizations and seals to look for include LEED from the U.S. Green Building Council, Green Globes from the Green Building Initiative, Energy Star from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as standards set forth by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) or the Green Grid. Certifications awarded by these organizations are signs of a truly green initiative. You can find more on choosing a green data center provider in our eBook, complete with practices colocation providers should have in place for greater efficiencies.

In the spirit of green, I am proud to say we announced some major milestones this week in green design for two of our most innovative facilities to date. Our Dallas data center was awarded a LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, and our Santa Clara facility was ranked 65 on the InformationWeek 500 List of Top Technology Innovators for green achievements.

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Aug 14, 2012

The truth about usage-based power: Cost savings and energy efficiency

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The truth about usage-based power: Cost savings and energy efficiencyI recently had the chance to sit down with our vice president of data center services, Mike Frank, to ask him all about our new usage-based power feature in our data centers. Mike gave me the scoop on why being able to monitor your power consumption is a step-up in terms of controlling costs and optimizing your infrastructure for maximum efficiency. Check out what he had to say…

What is usage-based power?

Usage-based power is exactly as the name implies. It allows customers in our colocation facilities to pay for only the power they are using instead of paying a flat rate — in many cases helping them save on costs. In today’s economy things have gotten incredibly expensive, and power is included in that. It’s definitely a customer-friendly feature since being able to understand your power consumption is critical to knowing if you are running at maximum efficiency. In turn, customers have more control over their environment and more flexibility over what they can do.

How does it work? 

There is something called a branch circuit monitoring system which puts a physical monitor on your power circuit that reports back to the network. Customers can then get that data on their invoice at the end of the month so they can compare it over previous months and years.

Why is this feature important?

By allowing companies visibility into how much power they are using, they can create more efficient environments and create more efficient configurations with their devices, servers, racks and the way they deploy their gear. For example, if I can look at my power consumption and I see that I am using a lot of power, I have the ability to upgrade my machines and change my infrastructure to lower my power consumption — something that could also encourage the industry to become more conscious of energy usage as it relates to being green.

Where is this being deployed?

Usage-based power is available now as a beta at our Dallas facility. The Dallas team is prepared and trained to implement this feature for customers today. Over the course of 2013 we’ll be rolling it out to other markets.

Thanks Mike! We’ll be looking forward to the implications this has for customers and the industry as a whole.

What are your thoughts on usage-based power in the data center?

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Jun 19, 2012

Winning innovations in engineering and energy

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Winning innovations in engineering and energyYou might not know it unless you have worked in a data center on a daily basis, but a lot goes in to the day-to-day maintenance of these places. I recently got a chance to visit our Santa Clara and Dallas data center facilities and let me tell you… there are checklists for checklists, 24/7 staff, alerts and security  — it’s an intense regiment to keep up. But what’s more is the design and planning that went in to making sure everything works together in perfect unison — for example, keeping the environment at just the right temperature to house equipment, ensuring the humidity level is correct for optimal performance and making certain the right power infrastructure is in place so there is no downtime. Not to mention adding the complexity of sustainability requirements on top!! Whew! Some masterful engineering is definitely taking place here, which is why I have to give a huge shout out to all those involved in helping us earn Silicon Valley Power’s 2012 Energy Innovator Award.

Our Silicon Valley data center earned this year’s award, which recognizes one organization annually that exhibits superior efforts in supporting energy efficiency and renewable energy. Santa Clara Mayor Jaime Matthews presented our team with the award at the 12th Annual Energy Summit, organized by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

An independent panel of judges named us the winner of the Energy Innovator Award for successfully implementing a wide range of conservation strategies at our Santa Clara data center. Here are a few of the most notable initiatives our first class team implemented to help us achieve this honor:

  • Reduced overall energy use by 49% as compared to similar building types and earned a perfect score of 100 from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Performance Rating System
  • Saved 76,300 gallons of water per day and 27,849,500 gallons per year (the equivalent of 46.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools of potable water annually!!)
  • Reused more than 99% of the exterior structural components, avoiding the diversion of nearly 85% of its construction waste to landfills
  • Utilized high-efficiency lighting, HVAC systems and controls to decrease power consumption by more than 30%

Congrats again to everyone that helped make this award possible! You guys rock!

Interested in Silicon Valley colocation? Learn more by reading the green data center profile on our Santa Clara facility.

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Jun 13, 2012

Summer… summer…summertime

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summertimeOne only needs to type in “summer” in the search window of your favorite online music store for a mountain of tunes to pop up: Will Smith’s Summertime and the same named song, although not the same, by New Kids on the Block. Who can forget (especially those of you who watched the movie at least a dozen times) John Travolta and Olivia Newton John in Grease swooning to Summer Nights and I’m certain all you disco fans have tapped a toe or two to Donna Summer’s Endless Summer. I tend to favor Kid Rock’s All Summer Long, but I think most of us would agree that summer wouldn’t be summer without the Sounds of Summer album by the Beach Boys.

While the thought of any and all these songs brings back my own fond memories, there is a dark side to summer for most Internet-dependant businesses that they would rather forget, or at least not have to address. Summertime is one of the worst parts of the year for businesses running their own data centers. The costs of power and cooling go up, up, up… right along with the temperature. Not to mention the high propensity for summer storms to bring with them high winds, flooding and treacherous tornadoes and hurricanes.

But don’t get hot under the collar just yet… there is a way to work around these rising expenses and potential catastrophes. Here are some articles this week that address these very issues:

So next time you are considering your skyrocketing bills, check out colocation. Oh and while you are at it, check out our “cool” and power-efficient data centers in major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta (new expansion in 2012!), Boston, Dallas, Houston, New York, Santa Clara and Seattle, plus Los Angeles – coming soon!

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