The VAR Guy Blog
How Energy Management Averted a Data Center Crisis

How Energy Management Averted a Data Center Crisis

I thought that you might be interested in a real-life data center situation that arose recently in China: We’d been approached by a customer who wanted to lower its data center PUE to below 1.5 for a variety of reasons, not least of which included reducing energy costs and carbon emissions. The facility wasn’t old, so the best way forward was an upgrade to its physical infrastructure -- pretty standard stuff, really.

To increase the efficiency of the cooling system, which was where the greatest opportunity for energy savings lay, a chilled water solution was installed utilizing economized Uniflair chillers, computer room air conditioning units (CRACs) and APC InRow cooling units. In addition, the UPS system was upgraded to a more efficient and right-sized system using APC Symmetra PX500 units.

Importantly, the customer subscribed to the idea that you can’t improve what you can’t measure, and so they agreed to our proposal for an energy management system. So we installed our software – StruxureWare for Data Centers including PowerLogic ION Enterprise for detailed power monitoring and control. We use exactly the same system in our own 100,000 square-foot data center in St. Louis. In fact, if you’ve ever stopped by any of our exhibition booths, you’ll have seen dashboards of live data outputs from the facility displayed on screens.

With the system up and running, this winter our customer’s data center showed an immediate efficiency improvement, operating with a recorded PUE of ~1.26. The customer's managers were happy, its upgrade budget is already showing a return on investment and they’re saving operating expense. Everybody’s happy.

Then, in late winter, the energy management system recorded a sudden jump up in chiller energy consumption and the facility PUE rose to over 1.55! The customer got on the phone and a service engineer was immediately dispatched to investigate.

The onsite inspection of the cooling system revealed that the chiller filters were dirty, so the engineer simply replaced them. After replacement, PUE immediately dropped back to 1.26, the crisis was averted, and the customer was returned once again to a happy state of mind!

The point of this story is that without real-time energy monitoring, this issue would not have been identified until a planned maintenance visit, which might not have happened for months. The customer would not have met its energy goals and, of course, would have incurred higher energy costs than necessary.

The energy management system tracked and recorded the issue instantly, providing the service technician a very precise brief as to where the potential source of the problem was.

There’s been a lot of talk about the soft nature of the ROI from DCIM software, and it’s a pity you can’t factor in incidents like this. If you’ve had a similar incident where data center software has provided an unexpected benefit, it would be really interesting to hear your story.

Robert Bunger is Director of Data Center Business Development in China for Schneider Electric. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of APC by Schneider Electric's guest blogs here.

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