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Going ‘green’ at your data center building

More Processing Power, Less Heat and Power Requirements with New

 Eco-Friendly Servers


SAN DIEGO — Feb 16, 2007 — Faster processing speeds have made way for advancements in science and medicine, as well for the elevated popularity of consumer products such as iPods and Blackberries.  But this speed comes with a price, ultimately affecting the bottom line of companies and the environment.

The doubling of processor speed approximately every 18 months has also roughly doubled the rate of heat and power consumption for computer processors as well. This has caused a great deal of alarm among industry and government leaders over the past couple of years as they grapple with ways to advance technology without draining precious energy sources. Meanwhile, the lifetime operating cost of powering inefficient servers and cooling them with air conditioning has become a growing concern among data center managers.

In the last year, several computer manufacturers have introduced “green” servers. These eco-friendly servers, they say, will save money, space and power, and will reduce the overall heating/cooling requirements.  Green servers create less heat and require less power, but have greater processing power than previous generations of microprocessors.

Just last year, Congress approved legislation urging Americans to “give high priority to energy efficiency as a factor in determining the best value and performance for buying computer servers.” Sun Microsystems, for instance, sells servers that use a low power “CoolThreads” microprocessor that uses less power than an average light bulb. Intel’s green processors are expected to consume about 30 watts less than the company’s older models.  Sun, HP, IBM, Advanced Micro Devices, Dell and other companies have also created The Green Grid, an organization that promotes power efficiency.

This action couldn’t have come at a better time as companies and even entire regions have begun to suffer from the effects of energy hungry computer servers.

“Electricity, its generation and the heat it can produce is a relatively old technology. In the co-location world, the demands of increased electricity usage to fuel robust microprocessors is creating lost heat that is difficult and expensive to cool,” said Jerry Morris, founder and general manager of NextLevel Internet, a leading San Diego-based Internet Access and Co-Location Provider. “For example, many co-location facilities in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York are quickly running out of power and, more importantly, the environmental control systems to adequately deal with the heat produced by the power hungry servers.”

Morris pointed out that for every 1x Amp used by a server, approximately 1x extra Amp is required at a co-location facility to cool the air, moderate the humidity, run the fans, power the routers and light the building.

“This is why power costs are so high in closely controlled co-location environments,” he said. “It’s also the reason why you may no longer be able to fill your co-location space from top to bottom with servers.

“It’s no secret to me why Google is semi-secretly building its new data center next to the Columbia River – unlimited power and cooling,” Morris added.

In order to save energy, resources and the environment without compromising their computer networks, Morris said companies must first ask, “How much power do I need and how much will my power cost?”

The following are several key questions companies should ask their Internet Access or Co-Location Provider about when creating or keeping a data center green.

• How much power do my servers consume?

• What is the wattage target per cabinet?

• What is the facility’s desired target for humidity?

• What is the Co-Location Provider’s guarantee from a temperature perspective?

• Do I have hot aisle and cold aisle designations? This means the opposing aisle’s servers are blowing heat into the same aisle and not blowing hot air into the cool intake aisles.

• Are the cooling units on the interior or on the exterior of the building?

• Is the local power company limiting the ability to expand, given the square footage of the co-location facility?

• Does the co-location facility have the ability to co-generate power?

• Does the facility have alternative or preventative cooling measures? For example, some co-location centers are introducing coolant type liquids into the cabinets to cool the servers. Additionally, last November, Hewlett-Packard Co. unveiled its “Dynamic Smart Cooling” for data centers, which has heat sensors on cooling racks that send signals to a control panel that adjusts the air conditioning output.

• Is the data center actively monitoring my power consumption and giving me timely reports?

The first step in deciding to go green in your data center is making sure you can get an accurate and detailed monthly electrical usage reading and bill. The usage reading is important because it’s difficult to do an accurate “bottom-up” accounting for power consumption in a data center. Companies also need to know how much money they are spending on electricity so they can have a baseline for calculating the return on investment (ROI) for any changes or adjustments when purchasing the more “capital intensive” green servers. From an ROI perspective only, it may make sense to purchase the higher heat producing servers if you only have two-to-three servers. As the company expands, however, you may want to look at greener solutions, despite the higher initial cost of the green servers because you would otherwise have to expand your space and power requirement more quickly than you might have anticipated and that can be very expensive.

The second step in going green at the data center is determining where the electricity is going. Air conditioners, environmental control systems and power converters can gobble up nearly half of an energy bill but it’s hard to really determine how much electricity they consume without first knowing how much electricity your servers are currently consuming.

Older facility equipment can also be a hidden energy drainer. Companies should figure out what their oldest equipment is and see if it needs to be updated.

Another factor to take into consideration when going green in the data center is your company’s growth. Some businesses may need to increase their space, number of applications and energy consumption, which all need to be considered when upgrading servers and data centers.

“Today, the first thing companies should do is consider switching to green server solutions,” Morris said. “Given the right conditions, the ROI can be significant. We had a client go from four cabinets loaded with power and blowing out hot air to two cabinets that are blowing out cool air in comparison. It saved them money and space and our environment is better because of it.”

About NextLevel Internet, Inc.

Founded in 1999, NextLevel Internet is a business-to-business co-location, Internet, and managed data services provider that matches its customers’ needs with the highest quality deliverables and customer service available. The company specializes in providing service to companies whose loss of Internet connection will result in the loss of life, money or reputation.

NextLevel Internet provides only the best clear channel connectivity direct to a fully redundant Tier 1 Internet backbone with unbeatable value. NextLevel Internet is managed and operated 24/7 by seasoned Internet and data professionals who understand that impeccable service is paramount. Certified engineers (CCNA™, CCNP™, MCSE™) and highly trained personnel handle all of its client requests from complex design and build-out to simple routing, DNS, IP allocation, router replacement, and tail circuit issues directly and immediately. NextLevel Internet monitors its network connections through its Network Operation Center (NOC) 24×7 using ICMP/SNMP sampling.

For more information on NextLevel Internet, call 858.836.0703 or visit www.nextlevelinternet.com.

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