Relationships: The Key Ingredient to a Green Data Center

green-data-centers-banner By Mike Leber, president and founder of Hurricane Electric
Green data centers have been getting more attention in the media in the last six months. Although much of that coverage has been on how green data centers are reducing carbon footprint, they also serve another importance purpose: reducing data center operating costs. Given that energy costs can account for up to 30 percent of a company’s IT budget, there is substantial economic incentive to improve energy efficiency in the data center.

Whether it is an existing data center or a new center in the process of being built, decisions need to be made not only on the type of technologies that will be utilized within a center, but also the facility’s design. Vendor relationships as well as one with the local power company are key to creating an energy efficient data center.

It is critical to have open discussions with vendors to find energy-efficient products. It is not only important to know how the product works, but how it may work in an energy-efficient mode, why it is energy efficient and how much energy may actually be saved. Only through open discussions with vendors, can these answers be found and the right energy-efficient sever, UPS, HVAC system or airflow management solution be deployed.

The Critical Importance of Vendor Relationships
Don’t forget the local power supplier, either. Many utility companies offer incentives or rebates for implementing energy efficient solutions and becoming a green data center. Since data centers use so much energy, power companies are very open to the idea of helping a data center cut its power usage. The power company may have a list of engineering firms that can provide energy audits, equipment suppliers in addition to the rebates.

Just last week, Fremont, Calif.-based Hurricane Electric, a global ISP and the nation’s largest IPv6 network, unveiled a new 24,000 square-foot expansion of its “Fremont 2” data center. Benny Ng, Director of Infrastructure at Hurricane Electric, noted the critical importance relationships to the success of a green data center.

“Never underestimate the value in having a great relationship with your vendors and your local utilities. At every turn, these relationships helped us move forward. Working with a utility like PG&E has proved instrumental. Were it not for the PG&E utility incentives, we might have had to settle for less-efficient equipment, resulting in delayed ROI.”

Why It Matters
But the question remains: Why would a company go through this extra work of creating a green data center rather than sticking with the proven data center blueprint? There are a number of reasons to implement energy-efficient practices or work to become considered a green data center, the most important of all is the overall reduction in power costs. However, just as important as the money saved is the positive impact on the environment. And the final reason to become a certified green data center is to assist in marketing the data center and company to current and future clients.

Green data centers are popping up all over the world as companies struggle to reduce energy costs and be environmentally responsible. Whether by implementing simple airflow solutions or more complex facility upgrades, green data centers are becoming more common.

Mike Leber is the president and founder of Hurricane Electric. Founded in 1994, Hurricane Electric was started in a garage by founder and President Mike Leber in order to offer co-location, web hosting, dedicated servers, and Internet connections. Hurricane Electric now operates an International network as well as owns several data centers, including the most recent 200,000 square foot Fremont 2 co-location facility.

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