Having a network for your business can vastly improve efficiency, allowing you to send
instant communications, files, and other data quickly and easily within the building. In order to
achieve the full potential of this efficiency, one needs to have an efficient network infrastructure.
The network infrastructure is the actual hardware associated with your network. They could be
everything from gigabit switches and servers to routers and wires to cooling units. Constructing
a simple and efficient network will make the act of networking that much easier. Additionally, an
efficient network will reduce power consumption and save energy.
Measuring Power Consumption
The first thing you need to know is where the energy you’re using is going. Get baseline
measurements of your current equipment and see what areas you need to focus on. Break it
down into subcategories like IT systems, Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), Chillers, and
Lighting. Your IT systems are the equipment you conduct your work on, like computers, printers,
and any network devices between them, like routers and switches. UPS systems are battery
backups that will keep electronic equipment functioning even if the power goes out. These can
keep computers online as well as the network itself and can be invaluable when a reliable
connection is needed in an area where outages may be common. Chillers keep servers and
data centers cool to prevent overheating and other issues.
Consolidating equipment means fewer wires to run and less energy to expend.
According to the EPA, half of all data center power gets lost to servers and data storage. By
reducing the number of servers your business has, you can cut back on not only the energy to
power them, but also cut back on energy to cool them and provide backup power. Through
server and storage virtualization, you can pool resources previously spread across several
separate servers into a considerably smaller area. This reduces physical space used while
maintaining virtual storage space. Larger storage drives take much less energy than several
smaller drives totalling the same amount of virtual space.
Just like consolidating storage space to large drives with a small footprint is important,
it’s equally important to consolidate data. Examine records and files to determine their value and
remove unnecessary files to free up storage space. This gives you more virtual space to work
with, reducing the likelihood of needing more hard drives.
Manufacturers base their energy guidelines on running equipment at peak demand.
Most often, your equipment isn’t running at peak demand, so you’re wasting a lot of energy in
the process. Test new equipment before installing it in its permanent home to get baseline
power demands by using ammeters and temperature sensing software or hardware. By being
able to know the power demands of each server or storage rack, you can more accurately
determine the cooling needs, which could be up to 40% lower than manufacturer guides. If
possible, add variable frequency drives to the air handlers. These drives will adjust the fan’s
spin rate based on the temperature, rather than running them at 100% all the time. Dropping a
fan’s speed to 50% can potentially reduce power consumption for it by up to 87%.
Setting up a data center where the cool air comes up from the floor isn’t very efficient.
Cold air sinks while hot air rises, so starting the cold air out on the floor isn’t going to do a whole
lot of good. Instead, use vents to drop the cool air from the ceiling down the front of server and
storage racks. Their fans will draw the cold air in and vent the warmed air out. This warm air will
rise up toward vents behind the racks and be sucked into the ventilation to be vented from the room
Airflow is a must to keep network systems cool and running smoothly. Vinyl curtains and
strips can help contain heat very effectively while keeping the area around your servers and
storage racks relatively open for airflow. Speaking of airflow, in the cooler months, you may be
able to take advantage of natural airflow depending on the cooling needs of your equipment.
Using temperature sensors and dampers, you can have the dampers open when the outside air
temperature drops below your cooling level temperature. As you reduce the amount of
equipment you have for your network, you’ll be able to raise the temperature level on your
dampers, allowing you to utilize more outside air for cooling.
Constantly monitoring and tuning your network will keep it running at peak efficiency.
Instead of tracking ambient temperature of a particular room, monitoring the operating
temperatures of each individual server or storage rack will allow you to pinpoint heat surges.
When you find these, you can tune that rack to respond, rather than the whole room. Monitor
energy use of all of your computer and office equipment, and upgrade devices every 35 years
to ensure efficient models.