Lighting Control Panels and Software as a Means of Data Center Power Management

Contemporary information technology facilities are receiving global attention; owing to the extremely high energy requirement such installations currently demonstrate. It is estimated that data centers in the United States alone utilize over 61 billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy every year, which amounts to over 4.5 billion dollars. To put this in perspective, one could say that data centers are responsible for approximately 1.5 percent of all electrical energy consumed in the United States annually, with these figures only expected to increase as the number of data centers grow. This basically means that data center operations, as they currently stand, are financially unsustainable.

Alterations, Lighting Control Panels and Cooling Techniques

IT companies have known this for quite some time, and have battled with growing energy bills. Many installations have therefore set about making their facilities more energy efficient, making large scale changes, such as:

  • The alteration of data center floor layouts to maximize cooling potential and reduce the amount of cable used.
  • The utilization of more energy efficient cooling techniques.
  • The implementation of energy efficient electrical components, such as servers and power supplies.
  • Improved lighting control panels to automate lighting on an as needed basis.

These changes however, normally require a large financial investment, which is unsuitable for smaller businesses. This has meant that smaller institutions have had to come up with different, more cost effective ways of decreasing their energy consumption. One of these measures has been the utilization of ‘power saving software’.

Power saving software basically refers to software that operates data center hardware components that can include lighting control panels in an energy efficient manner. The most common process implemented by such software is the simple monitoring of energy utilization. This technique allows for data centers to collect energy utilization information from components, such as servers, which in turn permits tweaking of the system in real-time to optimize performance and energy utilization.

Many data centers consequently use this technology to dynamically switch servers on or off to suit the amount of work that is required at a particular moment. This results in decreased operational energy consumption, and a saving of 70 to 80 percent on energy bills. This can also be coupled with simpler energy saving methods to further reduce the amount of electrical energy consumed.

Some simple changes which can also be implemented via software means are measures such as shorter timeout periods. Setting a monitor or USB device to timeout after a very short period for example, or setting computers to go into energy conservation mode when not in use, can conserve large amounts of power.

The issue with some of these methods however, is that data centers often feel that they need to compromise performance, when implementing such schemes. When these processes are properly fitted to the individual center, this should not be the case. Centers also have numerous different software packages to choose from, meaning that there is bound to be a package suited to their needs.

In conclusion, power saving software can be seen to be a cheap alternative for decreasing the amount of energy consumed by contemporary data centers. It is believed that such software should be a standard in data centers due to its ease of use, and ease of implementation.